HEADACHES – causes, symptoms and treatments

* Headache is a common ailment suffered by everyone from time to time, however chronic or severe headache is a problem that about 40 million Americans suffer from.
* There are three major types of headaches including:

  • Tension headaches, which account for about ninety percent of headaches and affect both men and women at about the same rate.
  • Migraine headaches, which account for about six percent of headaches and tend to affect more women than men.
  • Cluster headaches are severe recurring headaches, which are more likely to occur in men than women.

* Causes of tension headache may include dilation and contraction of blood vessels in the head, stress, lack of sleep, posture problems, muscle tension, fatigue and grinding of the teeth.
* Causes of migraine headache may include disturbance of brain chemical levels, contraction or dilation of blood vessels in the brain, hormones, allergies, strong odors, mood swings, lighting conditions and seasonal or sudden changes in the weather.
* Causes of cluster headache may include drug use such as alcohol, caffeine, cigarette smoke and also allergies.
* Other causes of headaches include eyestrain, prescription and recreational drugs, anxiety, PMS, fever, sinus, chemical exposure, diet or another underlying medical disorder.

* Symptoms of tension headache include a dull steady pain or ache in the back of the neck, temples and the front of the head.
* Symptoms of migraine headache include a pulsing pain often only on one side of the head that may cause vomiting, light sensitivity, nausea, and distorted vision. Migraines may last up to two or three days.
* Symptoms of cluster headache include severe pain behind the eye, which lasts for a matter of hours and recurs the next day. This pattern may go on in clusters for a number of months.

Lifestyle symptoms
* Quit Smoking – cigarette smoke contains poisons that may cause or aggravate headaches. See smoking for information on how to quit.
* Stress Management – meditation, yoga, and breathing exercises help to reduce stress levels.
* Diagnose Allergies – certain foods, perfumes, detergents, pollens, chemicals and other toxins may be the cause headaches. It is important to have any allergies diagnosed and treated accordingly, as it may relieve you of your headaches.
* Exercise – is known to help reduce the frequency and severity of headaches, however it is important to seek medical advice before undertaking an exercise regimen as some headaches may be exacerbated with exercise. Low impact exercise such as cycling, swimming and walking at least thirty minutes three times weekly may help.
* Rest – get adequate sleep.
* Dietary Changes – – Eliiminate meat, as it is extremely toxin-forming. Also avoid alcohol, salt, caffeine, onions, chewing gum, aspartame, MSG, nitrates (in preserved foods such as meat products), ice cream and iced drinks, chocolate, cheese, baked yeast products, legumes, seeds, and nuts, as they are often causes of headaches, or may exacerbate headaches. – Eat regular small meals to avoid blood sugar level swings.

Treatments for headaches:

headache * Generally speaking, all types of headaches may be prevented or relieved with natural therapies such as stress management, massage, acupuncture, acupressure, reflexology, aromatherapy, hydrotherapy (hot packs on tense muscles, a warm bath, or cold a pack on the pain site), chiropractic and physiotherapy. It is important to determine what the cause of the headache is and apply the appropriate treatment. It is recommended that if you take over the counter painkillers more than four times a week, it is time to have the cause of the headaches diagnosed and treated accordingly. You may be best to take a headache diary (detailed descriptions of the kind of headaches you have) to your practitioner. If you have severe stabbing pain, vision problems, are sick, or have received a blow to the head please seek medical advice immediately.


VITAMIN C – with bioflavonoids. Anti stress vitamin, improves circulation and immunity. Natural sources of vitamin c include citrus fruits, berries, seaweed – dulse and kelp, peppermint, parsley, alfalfa, broccoli, dandelion and turnip greens, fenugreek, rose hip, papaya, cantaloupe, pineapple, silverbeet, tomatoes, radishes, avocados and plantain. 2,000 – 8,000 mg daily in divided doses may help with headaches. Do not use more than 5,000 mg daily if pregnant. Use esterified vitamin C if you use aspirin. Large doses of vitamin C may cause diarrhea, may deplete the body of copper and affect the reliability of oral contraceptives.

CALCIUM – is thought to help with the treatment of migraines. Natural sources of calcium include green leafy vegetables, brewer’s yeast, fennel seed, parsley, flaxseed, alfalfa, carob, figs, seaweed – dulse and kelp, oats, sesame seeds, lemongrass, kale, prunes, chamomile and turnip greens. 800 – 1,500 mg daily of calcium in chelate form may help. Seek medical advice before taking calcium if you suffer from hyperparathyroidism, kidney disease or sarcoidosis, or if you are taking a calcium channel blocker for heart problems or high blood pressure. Increased calcium intake may require increased magnesium intake.

MAGNESIUM – may be used intravenously to treat migraines (medical supervision is required). Deficiency is linked with migraines and premenstrual headaches, helps to relieve PMS and helps with calcium absorption. Natural sources of magnesium include avocados, brown rice, brewer’s and torula yeast, blackstrap molasses, parsley, seaweed – dulse and kelp, lemongrass, peaches, parsley, bananas, soy products, peppermint, chamomile, figs, garlic, apples, black eyed peas and watercress. 600 – 1,000 mg daily may be helpful for PMS and migraines. High doses of magnesium may cause diarrhea. Consult your physician before taking magnesium supplementation if you have kidney disease.

BIOFLAVONOIDS & RUTIN – Bioflavonoid – quercetin. Helps with the uptake of vitamin C, relieves pain and stimulates the circulation. Natural sources of bioflavonoids include grapes, citrus fruits, rose hip, apricots, cherries, elderberries and horsetail. See vitamin C for dosing.

FENUGREEK – reduces mucous and inflammation, used for sinus. Use according to label instructions.

FEVERFEW, FEATHERFEW, FEATHERFOIL. – used for PMS, pain, muscular tension and headaches. Feverfew is used on a long term basis as a preventative measure and will not relieve a headache once you have one. Do not use if pregnant or lactating.

GINGER – ginger tea improves stimulation, and is used for headaches and nausea that may accompany it. Essential oil may be inhaled for relief of nausea, or may be added to massage oil and massaged onto tense muscles to relieve headaches. Do not use for a prolonged period during pregnancy or if you have gallstones.

GINKGO, MAIDENHAIR TREE – used for headaches and improves cerebral circulation. Use according to label instructions. Take for at least two weeks for optimal results.

LAVENDER – essential oil. Is used undiluted massaged onto the temples for relief of headaches. Use six drops in a ceramic burner with a deep dish, filled with filtered water, to relieve stress. Lavender may also be used in massage oil, massaged onto the back of the neck and shoulders to relieve stress. Essential oil should equal three percent of total oil content. Lavender is also used in a warm bath to help with insomnia, stress and headaches.

PEPPERMINT – essential oil. Used to treat migraine in a cold compress to the back of the neck, especially if used with lavender. Helps to relieve mental fatigue if used in a burner or if inhaled. Do not use if pregnant.

THYME – used for headaches. Take according to label instructions. Do not use if you have high blood pressure.

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