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Headache Relief 101

Updated: Feb 3

Beat Headaches Without Pain Killers.


Try natural headache relief methods instead of the typical pill.

Try natural headache relief methods instead of the typical pill.


Many of us reach for pills to relieve the pain from tension headaches. But keep in mind that acetaminophen (aspirin) can cause liver damage over time and ibuprofen can even cause heart problems. So, the first choice should be to try natural therapy and only as a last resort, turn to the drugs. Natural remedies often help alleviate tension headaches without the potentially dangerous side effects of over-the-counter drugs.


In holistic and functional medicine, we always look at the whole picture and try to determine the cause of the illness so we can approach the situation to correct the problem, rather than a band-aid approach. The sensation of pain is usually the result of blockage of flow in the body. In this case, tension typically causes the blood vessels to become constricted and this, as a result, is manifested as a headache.


Here are 10 suggestions to try to control headaches naturally:


1. Drink more water.

Researchers at Mayo clinic found that many headaches are caused by dehydration. Most of us didn’t need a research trial to figure this one out, but one of the first things to do when you get a headache is to rehydrate your body with good, clean water.


2. Reduce stress.

According to Brian Seaward, author of The Mindy-Body-Spirit Connection, stress is responsible for over 80% of all illnesses. By deep breathing, especially when you feel a headache coming on, you can relax the body and thwart a full blown headache from happening.


3. Exercise.

Bringing oxygen and blood to the brain through excise may often prevent or take care of headaches.


4. Watch out for triggers.

Whether it is certain foods, situations, or habits, keep a watchful eye to pinpoint what sets off headaches for you. Common factors to watch for include: eye strain, poor posture, stressful circumstances, or food intolerances and allergies. Examples are florescent lighting, hypoglycemia, medications, high blood pressure, MSG, aspartame, etc.


5. Take Supplements.

Taking certain supplements may be extremely helpful. Here are some to consider:

  • Magnesium, 250-500 mg up to three times per day for tension headaches and 800-1200 for migraines.

  • CoQ10, 300 mg (CoQnol) will help to oxygenate your blood.

  • Vitamin B2, 400 mg for prevention

  • Vitamin D/Fish Oil. A deficiency in this vitamin may be a trigger for you. A remedy that has been clinically effective is taking 1 tablespoon of a high quality fish oil (with omega 3) an hour for 3 hours. High levels of omega 3 fatty acid provides dramatic anti-inflammatory properties.


6. Try Essential Oils.

Soothe away the pain with essential oils. Peppermint oil massaged into the neck, applied at the temples and hairline often provides relief. Lavender oil can be inhaled or topically applied at the temples and the base of the nose. Other oils to try include Rosemary, Eucalyptus, Sandalwood, Wintergreen or Basil.


7. Use Herbs.

Several herbs can provide amazing relief for headaches. When selecting an herb for the headache, always go back to the cause and identify specific symptoms/tissue states and/or the organs affected to best match the person to get the best results. All of the following herbs are used in the tincture form unless otherwise indicated.

  • Feverfew contains parthenlides, a compound that dilates blood vessels that help control the constriction of blood moving in the head.

  • Ginger, an anti-inflammatory, will often work in the same time it takes aspirin to kick in. Try making Ginger tea by chopping 1 inch of a fresh ginger root and steeping it in hot water for 15 minutes.

  • Lemon Balm or Linden Flower may relieve stress headaches.

  • Blue Vervain and Black Cohosh work great for headaches that involve tension in the neck and shoulder region.

  • Burdock Root is effective for frontal type headaches.

  • Yarrow may relieve headaches that are a result of constricted blood flow to the brain.

  • Cayenne is a well known remedy for cluster headaches.

  • Others possibilities include Willow Bark, Wood Betony and more. Consult an herbalist to help you decide which herbal remedy is right for you.

8. Hydrotherapy.

Alternating between hot and cold water may be very effective. A longtime remedy is stand or put your feet in the hottest water you can tolerate. This technique increases the blood flow to the lower extremities, relieving the constriction in the head region. Others have used very cold water for the feet and then put a hot rag on the back of the neck. Experiment and see what may work for you.


9. Acupressure Points.

This type of therapy has been around for centuries. A good spot to try is to pinch the skin in between the thumb and forefinger. Sometimes you can just feel the headache melt away while applying this pressure. Also consider massaging the foot guided by a reflexology chart.


10. Chiropractic Adjustment.

Very often a misalignment may be the root cause of the headache. Proper adjustments may give you immediate relief.


For educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

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