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Home > Health Concerns Articles > Headaches & Migraines
    Health Concerns Articles  
HEADACHES  AND  MIGRAINES
Articles by a Naturopathic Doctor ( N.D.)
Last Updated:

PAIN, PAIN, GO AWAY

Including supplements & herbs in your headache protocol can offer a safe and effective alternative to con-ventional pain relievers and drugs.
Recurrent headaches can be caused by many different factors.  Controlling stress helps, but for migraine sufferers the solution is not so easy.  The right supplements and herbs can help...

Who hasn’t had a headache?  Headaches can have origins in the physical, mental or emotional sphere.  They can be very debilitating and difficult to cure.  Tension headaches are the most common type of headache and result from muscular tension.

Migraines are also common and may be due to vascular changes in the brain.  Some other common headache types are caffeine, cluster, hangover, menstrual and sinus headaches.  In cases of prolonged or recurrent headaches, see your practitioner for an evaluation.

A variety of medical concerns can also lead to headaches for example aneurysm, arthritis, dehydration, food allergies, hypoglycemia, hypertension, trauma and TMJ disorders.  The most important thing about treating a headache is to figure out its origin.  Then natural remedies can be tailored to that cause.  This article will focus on migraine and tension headaches.

Migraine headaches have one-sided throbbing pain.  Nausea, vomiting, cold hands, dizziness and sensitivity to light and sound are often present.  Some migraine sufferers experience auras that precede the headache.  They can include visual disturbances, odour disturbances or numbness.  Tension headaches have constant pain in one area or over the entire head.  Trigger points in sore muscles can cause headache pain when they are stimulated.

There are a few conventional treatments for headaches that treat the symptoms, however these will not treat the underlying cause for the pain. Over time, painkillers like acetaminophen, aspirin and ibuprofen can disrupt the brain’s capacity to effectively handle whatever might be causing the headache. For migraine sufferers, a drug called Imitrex can be useful in increasing serotonin levels to affect vascular tone. Imitrex has side effects such as hypertension, heart palpitations and tightness in the neck, jaw or chest. Sometimes migraines can be related to hormone fluctuations; in this case a health care professional may prescribe contraceptives.

What you can do to help

- CONTROL STRESS WITH EXERCISES LIKE YOGA AND TAI CHI
- TAKE B VITAMINS;  THEY HELP THE BODY COPE WITH STRESS EFFECTIVELY
- TAKE SUPPLEMENTS TO IMPROVE BLOOD VESSEL TONE IN THE BRAIN
- IDENTIFY AND ELIMINATE POTENTIALLY ALLERGENIC FOODS
- KEEP YOUR BLOOD SUGAR STABLE BY EATING REGULAR MEALS & BY TAKING THE RIGHT SUPPLEMENTS

DID YOU KNOW?
(HEADACHE FACTS)

- AT ONE TIME HEADACHES WERE THOUGHT TO BE CAUSED BY EVIL SPIRITS
- HORMONAL FLUCTUATIONS CAN CAUSE HEADACHES.

To avoid headaches reduce your stress level, stretch to keep muscles loose, have regular chiropractic adjustments and get proper rest.

Practice deep breathing exercises to increase brain oxygenation.  Keep a log of your headaches to see if things such as food, stress or your monthly cycle affect them.

Use a cold compress on the origin of the headache pain to constrict vessels.  Apply warm compresses over muscles to decrease spasms, which may cause tension headaches.

Rub essential oils such as peppermint or lavender over the painful area (keep away from the eyes) to provide quick relief of headaches.

Dietary considerations for headaches include cleansing the body of toxins.  If the body is overloaded it is less able to deal with stressors and headaches are more likely to occur.  See the section on detoxification for more information on cleansing.  Prevent dehydration by drinking 2L of filtered water daily.  Avoid any foods you are sensitive to.  Foods containing tyramine and phenylalanine are well known for their headache promoting properties. 

Tyramine containing foods are alcohol, bananas, cheese, chicken, chocolate, citrus fruit, cold cuts, herring, onions, peanuts, pork, smoked fish, sour cream, vinegar, wine and fresh baked yeast products.  Phenylalanine containing foods are aspartame, monosodium glutamate (MSG) and foods preserved with nitrates like hot dogs and luncheon meat.  Eat a well balanced diet with ample protein to keep the blood sugar level.

The following list of supplements can be used for headaches.  Adult doses are given.  (CLICK SUPPLEMENT NAME FOR PRODUCTS).

SUPPLEMENT DOSAGE THERAPEUTIC EFFECT
VALERIAN As directed on label A natural relaxant.
5HTP As directed on label Supports serotonin levels naturally.  Do not use if on prescription antidepressants.
White willow extract As directed on label A natural pain reliever.  Do not use in cases where Aspirin (ASA) is contraindicated.
Calcium and magnesium Calcium 2000mg daily, Magnesium 1000mg daily Are natural tranquilizers.  Relieves muscle spasm and helps to transmit nerve impulses.
Coenzyme Q10 60mg daily Increases blood flow to the brain.
Vitamin B complex 100mg three times daily Many of the B vitamins are involved in nervous system regulation and the production of neurochemicals.  B3 increases blood flow.  B6 helps headaches caused by hormone changes.
Dimethylglycine 125mg twice daily Improves brain oxygenation.
greens
supplement
As directed on label Use in cases of headache caused by low blood sugar.  Helps keep blood sugar levels stable.
chromium picolinate 200-400mcg daily Use in cases of headache caused by low blood sugar.  Helps keep blood sugar levels stable.
Bromelain 500mg as needed during a headache A natural anti-inflammatory.  Can be used acutely to relieve headaches.
Gingko biloba As directed on label Increases blood flow to the brain.  Avoid if you are taking blood thinners or have hypertension.
Feverfew As directed on label Inhibits the production of inflammatory molecules, dilates blood vessels.  Helps migraines caused by vessel constriction.
Also beneficial for HEADACHES & MIGRAINES: Multivitamins, vitamin C with bioflavinoids, vitamin E, chromium, potassium, zinc, DL-phenylalanine, essential fatty acids, MSM, 5-hydroxytryptophan, melatonin, cayenne, chamomile, cordyceps, ginger, kava kava, skullcap, valerian, willow bark, homeopathic remedies and tissue salts.
For informational purposes only.  Please consult your health care practitioner before taking natural health care products. Click here for full disclaimer.


All articles copyright National Nutrition 2001 - 2015.  For educational purposes only.  Please note that while National Nutrition supports your right to use natural health care products for any therapeutic purpose that you see fit, that the information on this website should not be considered as a claim or as a substitute for medical advice.

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