Headaches can be debilitating, and those that suffer from them often suffer silently. Whilst modern medicine has come along way, more and more people are turning to alternative natural therapies to help alleviate headaches.
What is a Headache?
A headache is when someone feels pain or discomfort in the head and/or face. It is a symptom of many different conditions, and physiologically may be caused by a disruption to pain-sensitivity structures in the head.
Headaches may be classified as either primary or secondary. Primary headaches develop on their own, whereas secondary headaches develop as a symptom of another disease, condition or illness.
Common headache causes include:
- Any activity that holds the head in a single position for an extended period of time (for e.g., when at the computer)
- Changes in temperature
- Jaw clenching/grinding
- Illness & fever
- Muscular tension
- Hormonal fluctuations
- Vision problems
- Ear. nose and throat problems
- Some medications
- Poor posture
- Temporal arteritis
Common Headache Types & Symptoms
- Vomiting and nausea
- Light sensitivity
- Sound sensitivity
- Affected vision, such as an aura
- Smell and touch sensitivity
- Severe pain surrounding one eye.
- Potential drooping eyelid.
- Watering eye and nasal congestion.
- Most commonly affects males.
- May be chronic or episodic.
- Pressure like pain in one specific area of your face or head (for example, behind your eyes)
- A tender face to touch.
- Sudden movements of the head and bending forward worsen the headache.
- Intensified pain in the morning (as mucus builds up and is unable to drain overnight).
- Sudden temperature changes worsen the pain.
- A dull, non-throbbing pain.
- Frequently bilateral.
- Associated with tightness of scalp or neck.
- Degree of severity remains constant.
- Throbbing headache caused by rebound dilation of the blood vessels.
- A muscle-contraction type of pain
- Occasionally accompanied by painful “clicking” sound on opening the jaw.
Natural Treatments for Headaches
- Acupuncture for headaches: Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese practice that aims to heal the body and mind by needling specific acupuncture points on the skin to clear energy blocked along meridians and in the organs. It also directly reduces ones perception of pain, and decreases the physical, emotional and mental stress levels associated with headache onset.
- Chiropractic for headaches: A chiropractor diagnoses, treats and prevents any musculoskeletal mechanical disorders that may be causing the pain of a headache. It does so by realigning the spine, thus restoring normal functioning to the nervous system, reducing any nerve irritation, muscle tension and irregular blood circulation that may be causing a headache. A Chiropractor may also treat headaches with other techniques including massage, Trigger Point Therapy, x-ray, exercise plans, posture series and daily stretches.
- Reflexology for headaches: Reflexology is a complimentary therapy whose principles are based on the reflexive action of organs, tissues, glands and other body parts. This reflex action is triggered by pressure applied to certain points on the feet and hands that correspond with to other zones in the body. In treating headaches, Reflexologists focus on head and spinal reflex points whose reflexive action soothes both the nervous system and eases any tension being held in the muslces
- Massage for headaches: Massage therapy is a bodywork technique that uses touch and manipulation of the soft tissues of the body to reduce headache symptoms. It does so by releasing any tension in the muscle, assisting the body in detoxification, reducing levels of stress and by stimulating a natural release of the body’s feel-good hormones, endorphins. Whilst Shiatsu, Trager and Trigger Point Therapy massage has been shown to be especially beneficial to headaches, any massage will help ease headache symptom frequency and severity.
- Aromatherapy for headaches: Aromatherapy is an alternative healing practice that relieves headaches through the use of essential oils and other aromatic plant compounds. It does so by stimulating the brains olfactory and limbic systems, which in turn triggers a release of the feel-good hormones endorphins, reducing any stress and hormonal imbalances that may be causing a headache.
- Meditation for headaches: Meditation calms the thinking mind and increases awareness by creating a sustained focus and insight through observation. It works to reduce headache severity and frequency by reducing pain perception, physical pain in the body as well as the stress that often triggers a headache.