Holistic Methods for Headaches
It is an understatement to say that no one enjoys a headache. An otherwise great day can be ruined entirely by a headache. Many people resort to NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) – aspirin, ibuprofen, Advil, Motrin, etc. – to combat their headache. A migraine is another beast entirely. Typically affecting one side of the head, and often accompanied by nausea and disturbed vision, a migraine can lay someone up for a day or two, depending on the severity. The word “migraine” comes from the Greek hemi- meaning “half” and kranion meaning “skull,” affecting, as it often does, half of a person’s head. Any weapon against a migraine would be extremely valuable indeed – particularly when it spells prevention. Some factors have been isolated that can cause headaches, including migraines:
- Food additives – Pesticides, preservatives, and chemical additives, such as monosodium glutamate (MSG), can all play a role in migraines. The body is not built to assimilate such compounds. Additionally, GMOs (genetically modified organisms) are increasingly suspect, to put it mildly. Using foods labeled “organic” and “GMO-free,” and checking the ingredients will help you make the right decisions.
- Alcohol – Many people are hypersensitive to alcohol. It is essentially fermented organic material and poisonous to the body.
- Sugar and artificial sweeteners – Processed sugar has long proven an enemy of good health, as well as being addictive and detrimental to your teeth. Be on the lookout for artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, saccharine, and Splenda. Aspartame is widely known as containing poisonous properties. Studies have linked aspartame to headaches, migraines, dizziness, tumors and even cancer. The FDA has admitted to 92 symptoms attributed to aspartame from submitted complaints. It took decades to put warning labels on cigarettes. Check the ingredients of products labeled “sugar free” as these could contain aspartame.Nature has provided plenty of items to satisfy your sweet tooth, such as stevia, honey, and fruit.
- Allergies and irritants – Many people are sensitive to airborne particulates such as mold, pollen, harsh paint, and even heavy perfume. Have you ever gone to a shopping mall, and as soon as you opened the door, been hit with a concentrated barrage of headache-inducing cheap perfume odor? A good argument for outdoor malls. Allergies can also be at the root of headaches. Professional testing can be done for airborne mold spores. A full battery of specialized allergy testing may be needful if you suspect allergies are a factor.
- Lack of sleep – Failure to get a good night’s sleep, or getting insufficient overall rest, can cause headaches. Calcium and magnesium – which can be taken as a hot drink – and the essential amino acid tryptophan, are known to help relax muscles and joints so you can sleep.
- Lack of exercise – Rigorous exercise releases endorphins, neurotransmitters that are your body’s natural analgesics (pain relievers). Your body is not made to sit immobile at a desk, day after day. You’ve got to get out and get some exercise, preferably with fresh air and sunshine.
Certain supplements – vitamins, minerals, herbs – are known to ease and even prevent headaches:
- Vitamins and minerals – B Vitamins: in particular, B1 (Thiamin) and B3 (Niacin) have known pain-reducing characteristics. Calcium and magnesium, and tryptophan – in addition to helping with sleep – are also good for easing pain. When you lose bodily fluids, such as through sweating or exercise, you can get cramps, headaches, dizziness, and even nausea, so it is vital to replenish lost electrolytes, potassium, and sodium. Consumption of sodium (salt) may need to be regulated if you are at risk of high blood pressure, as directed by a medical practitioner.
- Herbs – Lavender, ginger, peppermint, and cayenne, to name a few, are in the herbal playbook for pain relief. You can get supplements, make herbal tea, or use herbal hot packs on the head, neck, shoulders, and back.
- Water – You’ve got to keep yourself hydrated. Many aches and pains are simply due to lack of water.
- Other remedies – Massage, acupuncture, homeopathic remedies, and other techniques exist as alternatives to painkillers.
Heavy painkillers can lead to abuse and addiction. If you suffer from headaches, the above information could help you lead a drug-free and pain-free life!