Who has this problem?
According to the World Health Organization globally at least 50% of adults have had a headache in the last year and many of them have had a lot more than one. Between 1.7% and 4% of the earth’s entire adult population have headaches 15 days a month; this is considered to be a chronic headache condition or a headache disorder. These poor people experience headache symptoms of migraines or tension headaches for about fifty percent of their lives.
I was shocked by the number of things that are supposed to cause common headaches. Stress, medications, infections and hangovers these were all things I expected would show up on the list. Imagine my surprise when things like: coughing, sneezing, dental work, eating cold food, eye strain, muscle strain, sexual activity and premenstrual syndrome also showed up on the list. So basically, you are exposed to a myriad of things that cause headaches every single day.
Headaches can vary from mild pain to a debilitating migraine that can leave you sick for days. You could experience symptoms like: nausea, vomiting, eye pain, neck pain, dizziness and light sensitivity. Whether you occasionally get a stress headache or suffer from chronic sinus headaches you are likely going to want some pain relief to help you get your day back on track.
The Problem with Pain Relief
Common tension headaches are often treated with ibuprofen or acetaminophen both of which can cause side effects such as upset stomach, nausea, vomiting, decreased appetite and problems going to the washroom. Over use of some common pain relief products can place a burden on your liver and kidney function too! What about people that get severe headaches like migraines? Prescription strength medications are often the suggested treatment. NSAIDs, barbiturates , narcotics, antidepressants and anti-seizure medications have an impressive and somewhat terrifying list of possible side effects. Please click on the links to see for yourself.
Ouch is right, serious headache medication has some serious side effects! Infact some pain med’s can even cause “overuse” headaches when they are taken too often. So what are you supposed to do? You can’t stop working, driving and looking after your family just because your head hurts.
Good news there are a lot of natural alternatives and one, (or more), of them might be just the right thing for your headache pain.
NATURAL RELIEF OF HEADACHES
Believe it or not you have options here; some you probably already know and some you probably never even thought about.
Hot & Cold– You can put a cold pack or heating pad on the back of your neck or head to ease the symptoms of a tension headache. A cold pack to the forehead can help numb the pain of a migraine attack.
Let Your Hair Down– Seriously, get rid of your ponytail, take off that headband or hat to relieve pressure and ease the pain of an external compression headache.
Massage– You can do this yourself, but it is even better if someone else eases away your tension by massaging your neck, shoulders and temples. Some people find scalp massage is also effective for pain management. Adding essential oils to your massage can enhance the benefits.
Get Your Caffeine Fix– Caffeine is a stimulant drug and can actually be addictive, however, it also increases alertness and constricts blood vessels which can have a positive effect on headache symptoms
Relaxation Techniques– Yoga, meditation and a physical activity like hiking can have a positive impact on the frequency and intensity of your headaches. These changes can occur over time and keeping track of your headaches will help you recognize gradual changes; a daily log can be very useful in pinpointing and tracking patterns.
Acupuncture– So what is acupuncture? It is 2000 year old Chinese medical treatment where extremely thin needles are inserted into the skin at very specific spots to provide symptom relief. This one is a bit controversial, some people think it is just hocus pocus and not a legitimate treatment for migraine headaches or anything else.
Before you decide what to think about acupuncture you should be aware that even Harvard Medical School had to change their opinion about the effectiveness of acupuncture. In January 2018 Harvard Health Publishing posted a blog with a great deal of evidence showing acupuncture really does work.
Natural Supplement & Remedies– Certain plants, herbs and even minerals can reduce headache symptoms; your natural health food store, grocery store or even local Walmart may have an impressive number of options you can choose from. Magnesium deficiency has been linked to migraine attacks. Brocoli and bananas are a great natural source of magnesium. Want a relaxing way to absorb magnesium? Try an epsom salt bath just put 300 grams of epsom salts in the tub; you can also add an essential oil like lavender which can be used to support headache relief. You will need to relax for 15-20 minutes in the tub for maxium absorption. You can also buy magnesium supplments, but do your research you want to make sure you are buying a good quality supplement that is bioavailable.
Vitamin D deficiency might also play a roll in frequent headaches. So get outside and get moving… that would be a double bonus both exercise and vit D at the same time. Want to take a supplment instead? Double check that you are getting the correct dosage, you don’t want to do more harm than good. According to the Mayo Clinic The main consequence of vitamin D toxicity is a buildup of calcium in your blood (hypercalcemia), which can cause nausea and vomiting, weakness, and frequent urination. Feverfew is a medicinal plant that grows in Balkan Mountains and it has been shown to help with the symptoms of migraines such as pain, sensitivity to light and nausea. For best results you will need to take this for about 1 month. When purchasing vitamines and supplement it is “Buyer beware”, because not all pain relief supplements are of equal quality or effectiveness, so do your research. That way you can be safe and pain free. Some safe, effective and trusted options …
Mayo Clinic Staff. Headache Causes. Retrieved from
WebMD.10 Ways to Get Rid of a Headache. (2018). Retrieved from