Did you know there are over 20 different types of headaches? While tension headaches are said to be the most frequent, migraines are the most debilitating. Here are descriptions of three common types of headaches and potential ways to address each one.
- Tension Headaches – These are associated with muscle rigidity/contraction, start at the back of the neck and shoulders, and then spread forward. The pain is felt as squeezing/pressure, however it does not pulse. It is usually felt as a moderate, dull, steady pain, across forehead or base of skull. These headaches can last for 2 hours or multiple days and often occur due to stress, bad posture, eye strain, overexertion or magnesium deficiency.
Suggestions: Consider massage, acupuncture or chiropractic. Ask about calming herbs (chamomile, kava kava, valerian, skullcap) and supplement with magnesium, an effective “relaxer” which is also essential for stress support! Many have also reported positive results from applying peppermint or lavender essential oil topically.
- Sinusitis – Frontal headaches can be caused by this condition, which is characterized by a vicious cycle of inflammation and/or infection, excess mucous production, and pressure in the sinuses. Other common triggers include allergies, environmental triggers (pollution, chemicals, cigarette smoke) or an underlying health condition. Symptoms include nasal congestion, sneezing and trouble breathing.
Suggestions: Consider natural-anti-inflammatories such as omega oils (high EPA & GLA sources), serrapeptase, bromelain, and curcumin. Quercetin, & Vitamin C act as natural anti-histamines and plant sterols help modulate the immune system for allergic reactions. Ionic Silver, Citrus Extracts, Horseradish, Oregano, Echinacea, and Garlic work to combat infection. Herbs such as mullein, marshmallow, fenugreek, slippery elm, elderflower, goldenseal, thyme work together to help loosen/expel mucous and soothe irritated membranes. Also, N-Acetyl-L-Cysteine (NAC) is especially helpful as it is known as a “mucous buster”. Consider inhaling eucalyptus essential oil to help clear airways. Many have also successfully used a Neti Pot with sea salt or a xylitol based nose spray to clear sinuses.
- Migraines – These are intense headaches that impact quality of life. They are often chronic, periodic and recurring. Migraines are especially painful, usually one-sided (unilateral) and characterized by pulsating, throbbing pain in and around the eye/temple. These can hit without warning or be preceded by blurred vision/spots, numbness, brain fog and can persist for 2-72 hours. Sufferers may also experience nausea, sensitivity to light/sounds/smells in addition to light headedness, irritability, fatigue and lethargy. Migraines are said to be initiated by an accumulation of triggers over time that affect serotonin metabolism and lead to an instability of blood vessels, resulting in a disturbance of blood circulation to the head and pain. Common triggers include food and environmental allergies, constipation, stress and insomnia, hormonal changes, weather and pressure changes, dental problems, nutrient deficiencies, blood sugar imbalances, liver problems, dehydration, overexertion and toxicity.
Suggestions: Vitamin B3, Gingko Biloba and CoQ10 help improve blood flow to the brain. Feverfew and butterbur have been shown to be anti-inflammatory and reduce the frequency and severity of migraines when taken preventatively. White willow and cayenne/capsaicin are useful for migraine pain relief. 5-HTP is effective in helping to control serotonin levels and preventing migraines. Ginger and Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) have also been reported to be effective in avoiding migraine headaches. In addition, some have tried a “Hot & Cold Treatment” and immerse their feet in a hot bath, while placing a cool cloth or ice pack on the back of the neck to help draw blood away from the head to reduce pressure.
General Suggestions for Headaches:
- Ensure proper gut health and support with probiotics, fibre and enzymes if necessary.
- Avoid common allergens and potential food triggers such as sugar, artificial sweeteners, nitrites, gluten, yeast, MSG, citrus, lactose and tyramine-containing foods (i.e. chocolate, aged cheeses, red wine).
- Choose whole, natural and organic ingredients as much as possible.
- Get regular, moderate exercise and practice deep breathing.
- Reduce stress and improve sleep.
- Correct posture and ensure proper lighting.
- Balance thyroid and estrogen/progesterone hormones if necessary.
- Drink plenty of water!
- Avoid excess caffeine, alcohol and cigarette smoke.
- Ensure regular bowel movements to avoid constipation.
- Use natural cleaning and personal care products.
- Minimize exposure to chemicals and heavy metals.
- Eat regular, well balanced meals.
This article is sponsored by Good N Natural in Steinbach -