Headaches and Natural Therapies

Conditions
Last Updated Oct 20, 2020
Conditions

Everyone suffers from a headache at some point in their lives but there is no need to turn straight to drugs to get rid of the pain.  Medication is not an optimal treatment choice as it just masks the symptoms, rather than addressing the cause of the headache.  There are some natural therapies that are very effective.  They are designed to treat the root cause of the headache, with the aim of significantly reducing the amount of headaches that you suffer, or even eliminating them altogether in some cases.

Acupuncture

Acupuncture is a popular way to relieve chronic headaches without the side effects that are associated with medication.  Acupuncture is capable of treating all kinds of headache – including migraines, cluster headaches, and tension headaches.  There have been studies that have shown that acupuncture, used for the treatment of headaches, has resulted in the lessening of the frequency and severity of headaches.  People treated with acupuncture are also often able to reduce the amount of medication that they take to relieve headaches.

Acupuncture, which is a part of Traditional Chinese Medicine, believes that headaches are the result of disharmony within the body.  Unless the disharmony is corrected, the headaches will continue.  The aim is to get to the root cause of the problem, rather than just treating the symptoms.  The acupuncture treatments that you receive will be tailored to your individual condition and circumstances.

Chiropractic

If you suffer from headaches, then a chiropractic checkup or treatment may be extremely beneficial for you.  One common cause of headaches that is often overlooked by people is when the bones in the upper back and neck are not working properly or not correctly aligned.  When the bones of the spine are out of their correct position or do not have full range of motion, the nerves and blood vessels that lead to the head can be affected, resulting in headaches.

Chiropractic treatment can relieve these headaches by realigning the bones and joints in the upper back and neck, as well as improving their balance and function.  This treats the cause of the problem, rather than just the symptoms.

Reflexology

Reflexology is a type of natural therapy that focuses on applying pressure to specific areas of the feet or other areas of the body.  It is different to massage in that reflexology works through the nerve endings while massage focuses on the muscles and soft tissues of the body.

A study undertaken in Denmark found that of 220 participants, 81 percent of patients said that reflexology had either cured or helped their symptoms.  Almost 20 percent of patients stopped taking medication they had been taking before the three month study.

A simple way to use reflexology yourself to treat a headache is to press on the fleshy spot of your hand between the forefinger and the thumb.  Press until the tender spot is relieved.  Alternatively, for sinus and allergy headaches, use a light massage oil and massage the top of each finger.

Massage

Massage can relieve a headache by releasing the tension that is causing the pain, making it great for stress-related headaches.  Rub your head starting from under the ears and slowly working towards the forehead.  Massage the rest of your scalp using your fingertips.  Finish by rubbing along the jaws, neck, and shoulders.

Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy can be an effective way to relieve a headache.  Use one drop of lavender essential oil diluted in half a teaspoon of jojoba oil or other carrier oil.  Apply this to your temples and rub in along the hairline.  Only use a tiny amount as it works quickly and effectively.

Feverfew

Feverfew is a well known remedy for headaches and it has been used for this purpose for centuries.  Feverfew is a preventative medicine.  Its key compound is parthenolide which regulates the pulsating blood vessels in the brain, controlling the tension and headache.

Be aware that if you have an allergy to chamomile, ragweed, or yarrow, you should not take feverfew.  It should not be taken by people that have bleeding disorders or two to three weeks before or after surgery as it can increase bleeding time.

5-HTP

5-HTP (5-Hydroxytryptophan) is a compound that is made in the body from the amino acid tryptophan.  The body uses 5-HTP to make serotonin and melatonin.  5-HTP is also available in supplement form.  Research has indicated that 5-HTP may prevent migraines and reduce the frequency and severity of migraines.

Magnesium

Magnesium is found in foods such as green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds, and wholegrains, and also in nutritional supplements.  It is necessary for over 300 processes in the body.  It helps to regulate blood sugar levels, and is needed for normal muscle and nerve function, heart rhythm, immune function, blood pressure, and for bone health.  When it comes to headaches, studies have shown that magnesium can reduce the severity and frequency of these.

Butterbur

Butterbur is an herb that can help to prevent headaches and migraines.  It is in the ragweed family so it should not be taken by people that are allergic to ragweed, marigold, daisy, or chrysanthemum.

Chamomile

Chamomile is a naturally calming herb.  A cup of chamomile tea can help to calm the nerves and naturally relieve a headache.

Ginkgo Biloba

Ginkgo biloba can relieve the pain from a headache by dilating the blood vessels in the head. 

Ginger

Ginger is known to relieve and prevent headaches.  It is anti-inflammatory and contains substances that relieve pain.  For headaches, it is best taken in capsule form in accordance with instructions.

Peppermint

Whether used internally or externally, peppermint can help to relieve a headache.  For internal use, drink peppermint tea.  Externally, mix several drops of peppermint oil in a carrier oil and massage into the temples.

Cool Compresses

A cool compress held to the forehead helps to keep the blood flowing by opening up constricted blood vessels.  Hold a cool compress on your head or forehead for several minutes a time.  This method is most effective if it is used just as a headache is coming on.

Trigger Point Therapy

Trigger points in certain muscles may actually be responsible for headaches.  These include tension headaches, cervicogenic headaches, cluster headaches, vascular headaches, and migraine headaches.  The trapezius trigger point is a major factor in temple headaches and eye pain.  There are many other trigger points that can also cause headaches.  To treat the trapezius trigger point yourself, use the opposite hand to massage it repeatedly with the fingers and thumb – it is located in the angle of the neck in a band of muscle about the thickness of a knitting needle. Six to twelve strokes is one treatment but you can repeat it throughout the day for relief.

Many common headaches are simply pain referred from trigger points in the muscles of the jaw, neck, and upper back.

Allergy Testing

Migraine headaches can be caused or triggered by delayed food allergies or sensitivities.  This is due to an inflammatory response in the brain.  A study conducted a few years ago showed that the vast majority of people that suffer from migraines got relief after eliminating specific foods from their diet.

Allergy testing allows you to identify the specific food or group of foods that may be causing you problems, so that you can restrict your intake of it or eliminate it from your diet.

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Originally published on Jan 23, 2009

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