Nothing can ruin your day like a headache. We all have had them, some more than others. Some mild, dull annoyances, others migraine quality, forcing us to hide in a dark room, maybe vomiting, often losing an entire day. Something I hear often in my practice is, “Well, I’ve just learned to live with it.” Or, “I’ve tried EVERYTHING!” The truth is headaches are not normal, and there are some very simple and effective solutions.
1) Drink more water! For more on the importance of water, check out this article from 2014 about WATER
Dehydration is a very common cause of headaches. The blood vessels, particularly venous drainage around the brain are very sensitive structures. Called the Dural Sinuses, they can cause a headache when blood volume decreases from dehydration. So many things can dehydrate us: poor food choices, not drinking enough or drinking too much non-hydrating beverages (even excess sports drinks can actually cause dehydration-like symptoms by increasing electrolyte levels too much), excessive sweating, certain medications… just remember, next time you get a headache drink two tall glasses of water ASAP.
2) Pressure Points: Rub any tender points along base of skull. While massage can be very effective at relaxing tight muscles that contribute to head and neck tension, there are more specific, and often more effective points to rub. Feel from the bump behind your ears all the way to the center point at the base of your skull. If you find any sensitive spots, apply medium to firm pressure for about 30 seconds. Repeat the process but a little higher up on the base of the skull each time. You’ll be amazed at how far up onto the skull you will find tender spots.
3) Essential Oils: Peppermint, Lavender, Eucalyptus and Rosemary are four of the best oils for headaches. Peppermint: rub a few drops of peppermint oil into the temples and/or back of neck for a tension headache. Also good for focus and concentration Lavender: can be applied just like Peppermint oil for tension headaches. In addition it can be added to a warm bath, or a few drops can be put into a spray bottle of water and misted on the face and neck. Eucalyptus: has similar effects to the last two. It is also a great expectorant and can be rubbed on the chest to relieve pressure. Rosemary: is also good for tension headaches, but is especially effective if the headache is related to low blood sugar. With all of these oils you should use a carrier oil. This is a regular food grade oil, like Coconut or grape seed oil. Place some in your hand or a small dish and then add the Essential Oil to it. This will prevent skin irritation, as some of the oils can be quite strong, and also helps your oils last longer. Remember, a little bit goes a long way.
4) Get Adjusted!: When spinal bones in the neck move out of alignment, from either stress or injury, headache is a very common result. Increased pressure on the sensitive nerve fibers that exit between every vertebrae can cause a wide array of symptoms, as well as changes in physiology that remain assymptomatic. Follow these links for references to research studies related to headache and getting adjusted.
You’ll find over 30 different studies on everything from the common headache, to migraines, to post-concussive, even pediatric headaches and how chiropractic care can alleviate them.
5) Chemical Origin: Many headaches are related to a build-up of toxins in the body or certain chemical toxins, often times a food additive. Many people have headaches following ingestion of MSG, Nitrates/Nitrites, Gluten (wheat), food preservatives/dyes, even plain old sugar. Keeping a food journal can help you identify the types of foods/additives that you react to. Cleansing can help if it is due to a build-up of toxins.
While medication has its place, over-medicating can often create worse effects than the original issue. Over 125,000 people a year die from NSAIDS (Ibuprofen, Naproxen, etc). Opiod pain medication is creating an epidemic of addiction, with many of its victims resorting to a much cheaper form, heroin, to get their fix. The resulting addiction often forces them into crime to support their habit. There are much better choices out there to get to the root cause of the headache and not just mask the symptom. It is NOT normal to have regular headaches. Do something about it! 🙂
For more information about any of the topics listed above, please contact our office.