Headaches are a very common symptom people experience, and experiencing them can really affect our daily life! Headaches can be caused by many things, some of them including:
- Hormone imbalance
- Blood sugar imbalance
- Dysfunction in the spine (postural issues)
- Food sensitivities
- Chemical sensitivities
- Sinus congestion
- Eye strain
- Vitamin/Mineral imbalance
This month, I'll be giving you 8 tips to treat headaches, and hopefully, keep them at bay!
1. DRINK WATER
This is an all-too-common reason behind headaches. Chronic dehydration is a major issue and can cause multiple symptoms, headaches included. Make sure to be getting enough water daily. Aim for half of your body weight in ounces per day. In addition, be sure to replace any non-water beverages with additional water! (coffee, tea, sodas, juices, etc). Have a headache currently? Drink a healthy dose of water with some fresh lemon for an added alkalinizing benefit! Drinking quality water is also crucial to proper hydration. Tap water is full of harsh chemicals which can wreck havoc on the body. Two of our favorite filters are Nikken and Berkey.
Magnesium has been shown to help people with chronic headaches, and research has shown that many migraine and chronic headache sufferers have low levels of magnesium in their blood. It is certainly a healthy and safe option to supplement magnesium daily, rather than take pain medication. It is recommended to take 200-600mg of daily to prevent headache attacks. Magnesium is a widely available and inexpensive supplement, making it very easy to add to your daily routine. Just be sure to consult with your healthcare provider before beginning any new supplements, and to make sure you're taking the correct type and dosage.
3. REMOVE GLUTEN
Chronic headaches, especially migraines, can often come from gluten sensitivity. If you suffer from chronic headaches, try eliminating gluten from the diet completely for 6-8 weeks. If the headaches subside, it's pretty safe to say you're better off without it! Gluten is a protein found in wheat based products, ie: bread, pasta, cookies, crackers, cakes, etc. It can also commonly sneaked into sauces, dressings, and soups. Be sure to ask at restaurants to verify if a dish is gluten free. Because the inflammatory markers from gluten can stay in the system for so long it's important to eliminate this one 100% to find out if your body is sensitive to it. In our office, we utilize muscle testing as a tool to help see if there is an underlying sensitivity to different foods. To schedule your consult to see if an elimination type diet is the best fit for you, click here.
4. CHIROPRACTIC CARE
Chiropractic is a great way to prevent headaches. Many times, headaches, especially tension headaches are caused by postural dysfunction, causing excess pressure and weight to be put on the neck and spine. Several clinical studies have proven that Chiropractic adjustments can help treat headaches. It is a gentle, safe, and effective treatment to add to your regular regimen!
5. ESSENTIAL OIL BATHS
Not only are baths incredibly supportive to reduce stress, they can help reduce muscle tension and headache frequency. Draw a bath with 1-2 cups of epsom salts and a few drops of your favorite essential oil. In our office, we love to use VerVita's Sore to Soar oil, especially for muscle tension. Soak for 20-30 minutes and watch your tension disappear! This is a great way to apply some self-care to your week (or day!) *You can also apply most essential oils topically to the area of pain for added relief*
6. STRESS REDUCTION
Most people have had the experience of very stressful day, and find themselves experiencing a pounding headache by the end of it. Stress can absolutely manifest in our bodies as physical pain (headaches included!). Start scheduling regular stress reduction as part of your routine to keep your body from screaming at you for some r+r through a headache! Some ideas for stress reduction include:
- Extra rest
- Hot bath (see tip #5!)
- Read a book
- Spend time in nature
7. FEVERFEW + BUTTERBUR
Feverfew and butterbur are two herbs that have been shown to help reduce frequency of headaches, migraines specifically. The great thing about these herbs is that they are taken daily as a preventative for headaches. When used correctly and for the right person, they have shown to be very beneficial. They helped me get rid of chronic migraines, completely! However, make sure to consult a healthcare provider about these first, and any contraindications. Strong herbs should only be taken under the care of a healthcare professional.
8. WARM OR COLD COMPRESS
Hot and cold can provide wonderful headache relief. Many migraine sufferers prefer cold compresses, and those experiencing tension headaches usually prefer heat, however there are benefits to both! Apply a hot or cold compress to the neck and shoulder region for 20-30 minutes at a time, taking a rest in between applications. Another common remedy for migraine utilizes both hot and cold:
Fill the bath or a bucket of water with hot water (as hot as one can stand). Sit on the edge of the tub with feet in the warm water (or in a chair with feet in bucket). Lean forward and place an ice pack on the back of neck. Stay in this position for 20 minutes in a dark room.
I hope that these tips can help you find some relief from headaches! It is important always to get to the root cause of why headaches are happening in the first place. Which is why we recommend working with an applied kinesiologist who can help find where the imbalances are, helping you to thrive in your health, headache free!
Dr. Abby Kramer, DC