Click here to sign-up for the Health911 eNewsletter that includes information about seasonal health conditions, links to
our latest articles, alerts to our monthly product specials, health tips,
and wellness programs. Sign-up today!
your health and wellness suggestions. We want to build the Health911
community around the interests of our viewers and customers. Click here
There are four kinds of primary headaches:
Tension. Three out of four are this kind and are characterized by a steady ache rather than a throbbing one, and usually involve tight muscles in the lower back, neck area, and jaw.
Migraine, and migraine with aura. People who suffer from migraines experience throbbing pain on one side of the head, nausea, sensitivity to light and sound, and, sometimes, an aura of bright lights. According to Parade and Natural Health magazines, between 18-28 million Americans suffer from migraines.
Cluster. This form of headache usually strikes men who smoke and drink and will recur over several weeks, with pain generally centering in one eye.
Instead of taking painkillers to alleviate a headache, we recommend that you try to find the underlying cause/s of them instead. All headaches stem from either chemical, emotional, or structural problems, as you will discover as you read the causes in this section. Painkillers just mask the symptom, and, if taken in excess over long periods of time, can result in serious health conditions, including internal bleeding and end-stage kidney disease, among others.
As part of this process of discovery, keep a diary of what you did and ate or drank prior to getting the headaches. Over time this will help you pinpoint the headache trigger.
- One of the causes of headaches is bruxism, or grinding your teeth at night. You may be clenching your jaw during the day and this puts strain on certain bones and muscles in your jaw resulting in headaches. Calcium and magnesium, taken before bedtime, should alleviate the problem. See below for recommendations. Your dentist may recommend a plastic mouthpiece to help reduce the clenching and grinding.
- A related dental problem is called TMD or temporomandibular disorder, which is a cycle of pain, muscle spasms, and joint imbalance where the jaw meets the skull. The lower jaw meets the skull at the temporomandibular joint, known as TMJ.
- The joint between the jaw and the skull has a cushion of cartilage, and when the balance of the bones, cartilage and muscles is interrupted it can cause headaches. If you hear a clicking or popping noise when you open your mouth or have a dull ache around your ear, this is probably the cause of your headache. Have a dentist evaluate your situation.
- Chemical sensitivities are one of the major triggers of headaches, especially migraines, and they are covered below in several headings.
- A Swedish study, published in the Environmental Science and Technology Review, found that chemicals from computer screens can cause allergies and other problems, including headaches. The chemical compound that can trigger these problems is triphenyl phosphate, a flame retardant widely used in the plastic of video monitors and computers. If you use computers in a confined space, make sure you have adequate ventilation.
- Caffeine, found in sodas, coffee, tea, chocolate, NoDoz, some OTC analgesics and antihistamines, and pain remedies such as Anacin, Emperin, Midol and Excedrin, is a major cause of headaches. The headache pain remedies can cause a "rebound" effect - you take it to get rid of the headache, which goes away but then comes back worse than ever. Try to eliminate all sources of caffeine from your diet. Although you may experience withdrawal symptoms for a few days, including headaches, it will be worth the temporary suffering.
- A deficiency in magnesium can cause regular headaches, cluster headaches, and migraines. Magnesium helps the muscles surrounding the veins and arteries relax, thereby increasing the bloodflow. The following factors cause depletion of magnesium: mental stress, coffee, sugar, a high sodium diet, alcohol, cola-type sodas, tobacco, high perspiration, drugs of all types, low thyroid function, diabetes, chronic pain, diuretics, a high carbohydrate diet, and a high calcium diet. Research has found that migraine sufferers often have low magnesium (50% of all sufferers!) and high calcium levels. Magnesium taurate or glycinate may be preferable to other forms of magnesium. The deficiency of magnesium may cause chemical changes in the brain that lead to migraines. A hair analysis will show you your calcium/magnesium ratio, among other mineral and heavy metal levels.
Have your doctor test your magnesium level. However, if you have one or more of the following symptoms, it's likely you have a magnesium deficiency: muscle cramps (especially nighttime leg cramps), menstrual cramps, fatigue, constipation, heart palpitations, insomnia, and anxiety.
- Cluster headaches can be eliminated by taking 400 mg of magnesium 3x a day (make sure one capsule is taken before bedtime). If you get diarrhea, cut the dosage a little. In addition, avoid glutamates.
- High calcium levels are generally associated with headaches, including migraines. Not surprisingly, most chronic headaches are associated with low magnesium and high calcium levels.
- A common cold may have a headache as a symptom. Zinc has been found to help lessen the duration of a cold, and it may also be helpful in eliminating the headache. Zinc may be taken in capsule or lozenge form.
- A potentially serious bacterial disease called ehrlichiosis, caused by the lone star tick, has headaches as a symptom. If you also have fever, fatigue, muscle aches, chills, nausea, and diarrhea, you probably have this disease. See your doctor for proper treatment. Since antibodies don't show up sometimes for a month, blood tests won't detect ehrlichiosis until after you have started treatment.
- Studies have shown that sodium increases before and during headache periods. Make note in your diary of any foods or drinks you may have had shortly before an attack to see if you have ingested too much sodium.
- Heavy metal toxicity, especially mercury and lead, have headaches as a primary symptom. We feel the preferred method of testing for heavy metal toxicity is a hair analysis (this will also test for important mineral ratios), but a specific blood test may also reveal levels of these metals. You will probably have to have a blood test for each metal, however, and this can be more expensive.
- Mold and mildew, two toxins found in damp areas, can trigger headaches. Getting rid of mold and mildew can be tricky, and people often use bleach, which in itself can cause headaches. Heat and air movement work quite well. Since mold can have very adverse effects on your health, we suggest you do extensive research into removal methods.
- Scented candles and other products that have chemically derived scents, such as air fresheners, can also trigger headaches.
- If you have been out in the sun or in very hot conditions inside and are experiencing a headache and have other symptoms of heat stroke, such as: nausea, disorientation and heavy sweating, you should seek immediate medical help. Try to cool off by using a fan, air conditioning, or lukewarm water (NOT cold water!), and drink water or a sports drink to rehydrate your body.
- Muscle tension in the neck and upper body often causes headaches. Try to eliminate the cause of the tension which may be stress-related or due to unnatural ways you hold your head in the workplace, driving, reading in bed or recreational activity. The strain cuts off the blood supply to the brain, thereby inducing the headache. For immediate relief of muscle tension have someone give you a deep massage of the neck and upper body. This will relieve the muscle tension and get the blood flowing again. One form of massage we recommend is to find the pressure points at the end of the tense muscles, hold your finger on this point for 10-15 seconds, release, and repeat several times.
- A skeletal misalignment between your skull and first vertebra may cause headaches. Go to a chiropractor and have him/her check your alignment, including the jaw and top two vertebrae, two other areas that may cause headaches. Cluster headaches seem to respond well to chiropractic adjustment. Many times causes for a health condition don't seem related, so it becomes a process of elimination to see what the true cause is. This misalignment may be due to having forceps used during your birth, an accident or fall, a sports injury, or poor posture or some of the reasons mentioned under muscle tension above. Research has shown that 77% of subjects with a history of chronic headaches showed a marked reduction or reversal of the normal cervical curvature.
- Stress and anxiety lead to tension that will cause headaches. In addition to things that we traditionally think cause stress, such as personal relationships, kids, the job, a sick relative, school, etc., many of the life-choices we make lead to stress. We often make the wrong choices, such as drinking, eating the wrong foods or binge eating, drinking caffeinated sodas, and taking painkillers that mask the underlying cause of our headaches and often cause rebound headaches. Take stock of what you do on a daily basis and try to eliminate those things that are adding stress to your life. The results may surprise you!
- Bright lights trigger headaches in some people because they cause them to squint, straining the eyes and facial muscles and creating tension in the neck. A bright computer screen, fluorescent lighting or high wattage task lights are several possible culprits. The old-style fluorescent lights with flat cover panels are the worst. Have you ever been in an office and felt you wished you had a baseball cap on to shield your eyes? The lighting was the problem! By switching these covers to ones with 1" open grids you will eliminate much of the glare. An even better solution is to use full spectrum lights (Ott lights) that simulate natural light. They are a lot less harsh on the eyes. Also, cutting down the number of fixtures in a room or the number of bulbs in the fixture will be a great help. For some reason lighting gurus have specified too many "foot candles" for office lighting and have created a major source of headaches for workers.
- Bad sleeping habits, especially using too many pillows or too large a pillow, will throw the neck alignment off which will result in neck strain. Too little or too much sleep can also cause headaches.
- Sleeping with a blanket or sheet pulled over your head may cause you to wake up with a headache because the coverings restrict your oxygen intake, thereby causing carbon dioxide to build up in your blood.
- A serotonin deficit in your brain can trigger migraines. With a lack of serotonin, the blood vessels in your brain will swell, creating pressure that causes pain. Talk to your physician about ways to increase your serotonin levels if you get migraines more than twice a month.
- Sleep apnea and regular snoring are major causes of headaches. A study by Ann I. Scher, PhD, as reported in Neurology, found that 24 percent of people with chronic daily headaches (15 or more a month) also were habitual snorers. Some theorize, too, that medication taken for headaches causes sleep disturbances, while, on the other hand, sleep disturbances cause headaches. This is a vicious circle! If you snore or have sleep apnea, a serious health condition, we suggest you deal with the problem and see if your headaches stop.
- Using oral contraceptives can be a cause of migraines.
- Premarin (CEE or conjugated equine estrogen) used to address menopausal symptoms has headaches as one of its most common side effects.
- Menstruation, with its associated fluctuations in hormone levels, is another possible cause. The drop in estrogen can cause constriction in the blood vessels in the head, which in turn triggers the headache. Proper balancing between estrogen and progesterone will help relieve menstruation headaches. Hopefully your doctor will understand the correlation! Some of the supplements listed below, or the use of natural progesterone cream, will help lessen the effects of the estrogenic drop. These hormonal headaches may also be a symptom of menopause. To help with hormonal balancing, take a B-complex with at least 50 mg of B-6, calcium, magnesium (both discussed under Supplements below) and the herb chasteberry (0.5% agnusides) at 375-500 mg twice a day.
- Quite possibly some of your favorite foods and drinks are the source of your headaches. Some of the most common offenders are chocolate, alcohol, diet drinks (see aspartame below), dried fruits, dairy foods, citrus fruits, and any foods that are aged, cured, pickled, soured, yeasty, or fermented. Solution: For two weeks eliminate any suspected food triggers completely from your diet. Read the entire Causes section so that you know what to eliminate (some of the items may surprise you!). If your headaches go away, one by one reintroduce the foods that you have eliminated, allowing a day in between. If your headaches start again, you have found your trigger. During this time be sure to drink several quarts of water every day to cleanse your system (see the water discussion in the TIPS section below) of accumulated toxins.
A food sensitivity test, called IgG, may help pinpoint the problem. Your physician or allergist will be able to help you with this test.
Migraine sufferers are especially sensitive to gluten, sulfites in wine, food additives, cheese, eggs, dairy, soy, corn and nuts.
- Certain food ingredients such as casein, tryamine, nitrites (wine, processed meats, etc.), MSG, and aspartame (mentioned below) are headache triggers for many people.
- Artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame, trigger headaches in some people. Remove these sweeteners completely from your diet, and, if they are the cause of your headaches, the headaches should lessen or disappear completely within two to three weeks. If you are severely poisoned by the sweeteners, you may need to go through a detoxification program to remove them from your body.
- Artificial sweeteners are also found in chewing gum. Check the label for them, including the amino acid phenylalanine, which is a component of aspartame (NutraSweet). Some researchers link aspartame to headaches, as mentioned above, due to the disruption of brain function.
- When you chew you use eight different facial muscles. Excessive chewing, as in chewing gum, can create chronic tightness in two of these muscles close to your temples, and this puts pressure on the nerves that serve this part of your head. The result can be chronic headaches. We surmise that this same problem affects those who chew tobacco.
- Going too long between meals can cause metabolic changes that trigger headaches. Eat some sort of snack, preferably carbohydrates and proteins such as fruit, cheese, or an energy bar. This will keep your blood sugar from that roller-coaster effect, too.
- Wine, especially red wine, has certain compounds in it that trigger headaches or migraines in some people. Researchers believe it is the nitrites used as preservatives that cause the headaches. Even a glass or two can cause serious problems to those who are affected by it.
- Dehydration is a major cause of headaches. Generally, people do not drink enough water, so the body becomes dehydrated causing blood vessels to constrict in an effort to conserve body fluids. Blood vessels may also go into spasm, resulting in a reduced flow of blood and oxygen to the brain.
- Alcohol consumption is a major contributor to dehydration and the resulting problems mentioned above. To help remedy this, drink water while you are consuming alcohol and before bedtime. In addition, impurities in alcohol can exacerbate a headache. Some forms of alcohol have more impurities than others. See the wine entry above for a further explanation.
- Smoking can cause headaches because the nicotine and carbon monoxide in cigarette smoke affect the blood vessels. Nicotine constricts the blood vessels. Secondhand smoke causes headaches in some people, perhaps due to a reaction to chemicals either in the cigarette paper or tobacco.
- Wheat and gluten sensitivity is a major cause of headaches, especially migraines. Ten percent of the population is sensitive to wheat/gluten and this problem may result in a wide variety of diseases, not just digestive ones that come to mind first. Go completely off wheat products for 30 days and see how you feel. If your headaches lessen in frequency or do not occur, then you have found your trigger.
- If you are undergoing detoxification headaches are a positive sign that toxins are being flushed out of your body. Bear with it for a few days and know that you are achieving your goal.
- Changes in barometric pressure due to an oncoming storm or change in altitude can trigger headaches.
- VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) are a major contributing factor to ozone, an air pollutant, and are a leading cause of headaches. VOCs are two to five times higher in indoor air than outdoor air, due in part to the air tightness of today's houses and offices and the prevalence of VOC-producing products. Major sources of VOCs include drinking water, deodorants, nearly anything that is sprayed, cleaning fluids, nail polish remover, pest repellents, carpeting, paints and painting products, such as thinner, dry cleaned clothing, moth repellents, and air fresheners - both spray and the hanging kind. So, don't forget to eliminate air fresheners in your car! Dry cleaned clothes are especially nasty because they are treated with perchloroethylene, better known as "perc," a solvent, which is known to attack the central nervous system. Put your dry cleaning in your trunk instead of inside your car, then let it air out when you get home before you put it in your closet.
Do you have headaches and a new car? Well, that "sweet smell of success" could be the cause of your headaches, as the glues, paints, upholstery and plastics used in new car manufacturing produce VOCs.
Other sources of VOCs emit formaldehyde, a very potent neurotoxin. Some examples are synthetic fabrics and leather, waterproofed clothes, and fabrics treated with fire retardants (especially children's clothing!). Watch for "no-iron," "easy care," or "permanent press" on the label. Others products that emit formaldehyde include particle board, paneling, plywood, drapes, upholstery and carpeting, among others. In addition to headaches, formaldehyde-emitting products may give you watery or irritated eyes, rashes, or chronic respiratory problems. Eliminate these sources and see if your headaches go away.
- Another source of formaldehyde that you might not think of is found in older houses that have been insulated with sprayed-in foam. The only solution in this case is to move.
- Vinyl, found in plumbing pipes and furniture, among other items, emits VOCs, and is another common source of headaches.
These compounds can cause eye and respiratory problems, dizziness, drowsiness, nausea, visual disorders and memory impairment. If you have any of these other symptoms as well as headaches, VOCs may be the answer.
- Fumes from copy machines and laser printers can cause headaches.
- Electromagnetic fields (EMF) cause headaches for many people. All electrically active devices produce EMF. Due to our own personal chemical and electrical makeup, some people are more sensitive to EMF than others. This condition is known as electrosensitivity. For some reason women are more prone to electrosensitivity than men. Such commonly used devices as cell phones, microwave ovens, computers, electric stoves, and electric blankets, to name a few, may the culprit. If you believe one of these devices is causing your headaches, change your usage pattern and see if that helps. Your workplace may have other sources of EMF, too, so it will pay to investigate.
- A Teflon-coated pan, heated to 500 degrees (cooking bacon, for instance), may give off ultrafine particles, and at 680 degrees the pan will emit toxic gas that results in flu-like symptoms, including headaches.
- A survey of 19,000 farmers in North Carolina and Iowa found that their use of agricultural insecticides had headaches as one of their resulting health conditions. If you use insecticides, such as those with organophosphates or organochlorines, stop their use and see if your headaches cease. Other recurring health conditions are: fatigue, insomnia, nausea, hand tremor and numbness.
- Certain insecticide chemicals, such as DEET, used in mosquito and bug sprays, may cause headaches if one has extended exposure.
- Constipation is the culmination of a series of problems: dehydration, digestive problems, toxic overload, and poor food choices, among others. As you can see from reading this section, these factors come into play with causing your headaches. Besides taking into consideration our recommendations for the headache-related causes mentioned here, please see our constipation section for further suggestions and remedies.
- Hypothyroidism (low thyroid) has headaches, including migraines, as one of its symptoms.
- Wilson's Syndrome, a form of low thyroid, can cause headaches and migraines.
- Lyme Disease has headaches as one of the symptoms.
- Hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, is frequently a cause of headaches, especially migraines. Research has shown that blood sugar levels are low during a migraine attack, and the lower the blood sugar level the more severe the headache. We suggest that you eat several small meals, or healthful snacks in between regular meals to keep you from having blood sugar swings.
Food Allergies From our research we have discovered that there may be a possible link between foods that cause migraines and high blood pressure. Dr. Ellen Grant, a neurologist in London, observed that when she took patients off foods that triggered migraines their blood pressure went down. If you have elevated blood pressure and suffer from migraines, eliminate foods that trigger the headaches and record what happens to your blood pressure.
Migraines sometimes simulate sinus problems. For instance, weather changes, altitude changes, and allergens are usually associated with sinus conditions; however, they can also trigger migraines. Sinus problems and migraines can cause pressure in the forehead and around the eyes and nose. In addition, such other symptoms as watery eyes and a runny nose, which are normally associated with allergies or sinus problems, can also be triggered by migraines. Many doctors misdiagnose migraines associated with these symptoms, so it is important for you to understand what is happening to you and what brings on your headache.
If you feel that indoor air pollution is causing your headaches, using indoor house plants will eliminate the most common household pollutants, including formaldehyde, benzene (from cigarette smoke), and acetone (from nail polish remover). The potted plants purify the air by metabolizing the pollutants their leaves draw in. Try Boston ferns, azaleas, dragon tree, dumb cane, peace lilies, dwarf date palm, rubber plants, philodendrons, king of hearts, lady palm, pot mum, spider plants, and English ivy.
Take a hot shower and run the water on your lower back and neck. This will help relax the muscles and improve blood flow to the head. This is an excellent remedy for tension headaches. You can also use a heating pad.
Have someone massage your neck and lower back. This will have a similar effect as the shower.
Acupressure is a good pain relief technique. Place one finger on a spot halfway between your eyebrows and another finger directly above, on the top of your head. Apply gentle pressure and hold for two minutes. Another pressure point is the soft fleshy pad on your hand where the bones of your thumb and index finger meet. Apply pressure for two minutes.
Acupuncture is very effective for relieving headaches. However, we suggest you try to find the actual trigger for them so you can avoid them if possible. A report in the British Medical Journal revealed that subjects who had several days of severe headaches each week and had up to 12 acupuncture treatments over the course of three months, had 22 fewer headaches per year, used 15% less medication, made 25% fewer visits to their regular physician, and were absent from work 15% less than the control group. This latter statistic should be very interesting to all businesses!
As mentioned below, breathing is very important to eliminating headaches. So many people don't breathe deeply enough, and are thereby cutting off the supply of blood and oxygen to the brain. Follow the techniques discussed below.
Exercise will help increase your circulation, and this causes more blood and oxygen to get to your heart and brain. Exercise gets you breathing more than you do in your normal daily routine, and should be part of any wellness program. Anything you can do to increase circulation will greatly benefit your headache problem. Exercise, breathing, and supplements such a arginine, magnesium and cayenne pepper will aid in boosting your circulation.
Relax! Although this seems obvious, tension is one of the major causes of headaches. Practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing to help calm your inner self. Lie down where it is quiet and inhale for the count of eight; exhale slowly; do this several times until you feel yourself relaxing. Draw your breaths deep into your belly.
Another way to help relieve tension headaches is to sit in a chair; tense all your muscles; hold for a second or two, then release; take three slow, deep breaths; close your eyes and imagine yourself completely at ease, calm, and serene; keep still for ten minutes.
If you have throbbing temples, try using an ice pack or a bag of frozen vegetables on your neck. If you don't have anything frozen, use a cold towel. Ice therapy is a good remedy for migraine relief. Place an ice pack behind your neck, on your forehead or temples and lie down for five or ten minutes. The ice will numb the pain and reduce the inflammation, thereby allowing more blood to flow.
As mentioned above in the discussion about dehydration, a lack of water is a primary cause of headaches. In addition to aiding expansion of blood vessels, water will help cleanse the colon and kidneys of any accumulated toxins, thereby helping them to function better. Another organ, the liver (and gallbladder), should be cleansed as well, as, over time, it gets an accumulation of toxins and cholesterol. Once your organs are functioning at their best, many times headaches and other ailment cease. At some point we will have protocols for cleansing your organs, but in the meantime do a search on the Internet.
Arginine An essential amino acid, l-arginine is required by the body to synthesize nitric oxide. Headaches are often caused by constriction or spasms of your blood vessels. Nitric oxide enables the arterial system to maintain its elasticity by relaxing the arteries, thereby allowing the arteries to expand and contract more easily. This allows blood and oxygen to flow more freely throughout your body, thus relieving the headaches. The suggested dose of l-arginine is 4,500 mg three times a day.
Bioflavonoids also known as vitamin P, these are naturally-occurring phytochemicals powerful antioxidants that fight free- radicals. They are found in the pithy layer of skin found in some citrus fruits and vegetables, such as onions and apples, as well as in kale, green beans, broccoli, endive, celery, cranberries and black tea. Another group of flavonoids gives the deep red or blue color to blueberries, blackberries, cherries, hawthorn berries and grapes. One of the flavonoids, quercetin, fights inflammation and improves circulation. Bioflavonoids promote the absorption of vitamin C and reinforce the walls of small blood vessels. To get the best effect, however, it is important to take the complete vitamin C complex, not just some of its individual components. The best way to get them is by taking rutin, in combination with vitamins C (natural only!) and A. Foods rich in potassium also are good sources of the complete vitamin C complex.
B-vitamins help prevent headaches. Take a B-complex of 50 mg or higher potency, especially B-6.
B-2 (riboflavin) has been shown to reduce the frequency and severity of tension and migraine headaches. The journal Headache reported that 25 mg daily provided significant relief for chronic migraine sufferers. Try a product called MigreLief which contains a combination of B-2, feverfew and magnesium.
Calcium will help relax the muscles. We suggest taking a calcium supplement that also has magnesium. Take 800-1,000 mg of calcium citrate.
CoQ10 has recently been shown to reduce the number of migraines by half in those who have chronic migraines. People in the study took 300 mg of CoQ10 daily, and it works as a preventive treatment, not after a migraine has begun. Brain chemistry is very complex and not fully understood, but it seems that CoQ10 increases energy stores in the brain and may have a role in other brain chemical functions.
In research done at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, nine out of 15 patients who suffered from severe migraines got dramatic relief by taking 4,500 mg of EPA (fish oil) daily, in 1,500 mg doses with meals. We recommend taking it in capsules, not tablets, as the study did. Magnesium relaxes the arterial walls, thereby allowing the blood and oxygen to flow more freely. Take 400 mg 2 times a day. If this causes diarrhea, reduce to 1x daily. If you are not getting relief, take another capsule daily, unless it causes loose stools. Be patient - it may take a while to correct a magnesium deficiency. Studies have shown magnesium to be helpful in the reduction of migraines as well as other headaches. Try a product called MigreLief which contains a combination of B-2, feverfew and magnesium. Magnesium taurate or glycinate are the preferred forms of magnesium.
Ammonia Put 5 drops of ammonia in 1/2 glass of water and inhale the fumes.
Apple cider vinegar (ACV) It has been found that a person with a headache has slightly elevated urine alkalinity, so taking some ACV will assist in bringing the body's pH back into sync. You may add a few tablespoons of ACV to a glass of water to accomplish this. Use pH test strips to measure your urine's pH.
- Add a few tablespoons of vinegar to a vaporizer or pan of boiling water and inhale the fumes for five minutes. Lie down for 15-20 minutes afterward and the headache should be gone. Repeat if necessary.
Butterbur (Petasites hybridus) As reported in Neurology, December 28, 2004, a proprietary standardized extract of butterbur reduced the occurrence of migraines by 48%. Participants took two 75 mg tablets of the extract per day for four months. The extract, Petadolex, by Weber & Weber International, Windmere, FL, is standardized to 15% petasins (the active ingredient).
Cayenne pepper Put 1/2 to one teaspoon of cayenne pepper in a glass of water and drink slowly. This will dilate your blood vessels and improve circulation.
Celery seeds Soak the seeds in hot water, strain and sip slowly.
Eucalyptus oil Put a few drops of this essential oil in a carrier oil and massage your forehead. Also, try sniffing the oil - put a few drops on a handkerchief and sniff. This may be beneficial for tension headaches.
Feverfew Chew some feverfew leaves (they are very bitter!) or get a tincture or capsules at a health food store. Take two 300-380 mg capsules in divided doses or 60-80 drops of tincture once a day. This is a good remedy for migraine, pre-menstrual or cluster headaches. Feverfew is very similar to aspirin in the way it works and it inhibits the release of inflammatory substances called prostaglandins, which are believed to contribute to the onset of migraines. It appears that it works on migraines by reducing the swelling that constricts the blood vessels in the head, pain, and blood vessel spasms that are a major cause of headaches.
Feverfew appears to be better at prevention than treatment of migraines, so we suggest that you take it on a regular basis. Recent research has shown that one of the active ingredients in feverfew, parthenolide, has clear anti-inflammatory properties. In addition, researchers believe that parthenolide normalizes the slightly irregular blood cell activity sometimes seen with migraines. Caution: It is not recommended for pregnant or nursing women, and should not be given to a child under two.
Try a product called MigreLief which contains a combination of B-2, feverfew and magnesium.
Ginger inhibits a substance called thromboxane A2 that prevents the release of substances that make blood vessels dilate. Use fresh or powdered ginger when you cook, eat crystallized ginger, or put grated fresh ginger in a drink. Ginger is useful for migraines as well as other headaches.
Honey Take two teaspoons of honey with each meal. Honey contains potassium and magnesium which will help relax the arteries and allow more blood to flow to the brain. This is very good if you feel a migraine coming on or have a hangover.
- Boil equal parts of honey and apple cider vinegar and inhale the steam.
Lavender oil Put a few drops of this essential oil in a carrier oil or lotion and massage your temples and neck. Also, try sniffing the oil - put a few drops on a handkerchief and sniff.
Lithium salts often help those suffering from cluster headaches.
Menthol preparations can be helpful in relieving tension headaches. Massage the oil into the temples which will relax the temporal muscles.
Mustard Soak your feet for 10-20 minutes in a hot footbath to which you have added 2 teaspoons of powdered mustard.
Peppermint oil Place a few drops of this essential oil in a carrier oil or lotion and rub on your forehead, temples or neck. Also, try sniffing the oil - put a few drops on a handkerchief and sniff. This may be beneficial for tension headaches. Warning: Make sure you don't get the peppermint oil too close to your eyes!
- Peppermint tea Drink one or two cups of tea if you have a headache.
Rosemary oil Rub a few drops of oil of rosemary into your temples. Rosemary helps keep blood vessels dilated.
- Make a rosemary tea using one teaspoon of rosemary in a cup of hot water; cover and steep for 10 minutes; strain and sip a cup three times a day.
Walking If you feel a headache coming on, take a brisk walk. This will relax you and your circulatory system so that more blood and oxygen can get to the brain. Your headache should disappear quickly.
Water/hot Soak your feet in a pan of very warm water. Add more as it cools off. This increases the blood flow to the lower extremities and away from the head, where increased blood may be the cause of your headache.
White willow bark (Salix spp.) will give you similar results as aspirin, but is much gentler on the stomach. Capsules or tincture can be found in health food stores.