Head hurts? If you want to remedy the pressure and pain, there’s a natural way to do it
If you suffer from headaches, you’re not alone. Data from the World Health Organisation shows that 50 percent of the global adult population get headaches, with 30 percent suffering migraines. Fortunately, there are proven ways to get relief. And while your instinct may be to head to the pharmacist, hold up a second because the cure could be lurking in your home! Want to beat that thumping pain without reaching for ibuprofen? Try one of these natural remedies.
A healthy diet should be your first weapon against head pain, but poor lifestyle habits could be to blame, too. Keep headaches at bay with these expert, and natural, cures.
1. Sweet temptation
Got a sweet tooth? Try to keep it under control if you want to ward off head pain. “One of the most important nutritional recommendations for preventing headaches is to keep blood sugar levels balanced,” says Dr Marilyn Glenville’s, nutritionist and author of The Natural Health Bible for Women (marilynglenville.com). “This means eating little and often (go no longer than three hours without eating) and avoiding sugar and refined carbohydrates, which cause your blood sugar levels to fluctuate.”
2. Drink up…
…But make sure it’s caffeine-free. “Withdrawal from caffeine [such as that found in coffee and tea] can lead to headaches, plus the caffeine will add to the roller coaster of blood sugar swings,” adds Dr Glenville. “It’s important to avoid getting dehydrated, so make sure you drink enough water and herbal teas throughout the day.” Try to drink at least two litres of water each day.
3. Sit straight
Televisions have a lot to answer for, and headaches are something the devices could be causing. “Bad sitting posture is common when we sit in front of screens, maybe for eight hours a day without a rest,” says Martina Della Vedova, nutritionist at Nature’s Plus (naturesplus. co.uk). “A bad posture causes muscle contractions that, if not corrected, lead to muscle soreness in the neck and cervical area that can irradiate to our head.” Be aware of your posture and take regular breaks to stretch and walk about.
4. Take a note
Keep a food diary to find out whether a certain food or drink is triggering your headache, says Dr Glenville. “Write down what you ate and at what time, as well as what you drank. The aim is to find a pattern or trigger. Foods containing substances such as tyramine, phenylethylamine and histamine can trigger headaches and migraines. These foods can include cheese, citrus fruit, red wine, chocolate and coffee.”
5. Stress relief
When it comes to sore heads, stress is one of the common culprits. “Stress is a big factor and it comprehends lots of aspects of life,” says Martina. “Stress depletes us of nutrients such as magnesium and B vitamins. When we are stressed the needs for these nutrients spike up drastically. Supplementing with these nutrients during a stressful moment in life is highly recommended.”
There are times when you can predict the onset of a headache – after a night spent tossing and turning, perhaps, or following a day spent soaking up the sun. At other times, a pounding pain in the head happens unexpectedly. Be prepared for the worst with these natural cures.
1. Diy massage
Yes, you really can massage away a migraine – and you don’t need to pay an expert for the luxury. “Rubbing the temples can help to relieve the pain,” says Dr Glenville. “A neck and shoulder massage should also help.” Use a blend of relaxing essential oils (see below) to enhance the benefits of this natural treatment.
2. Make scents
Aromatherapy can make a great headache cure. I recommend chamomile, lavender, rosemary, eucalyptus and sandalwood. Lavender is an anti-inflammatory and chamomile is well-known to ease pains,” says Penny Price (penny-price.com). “To ease your headache, make a compress by putting 4-6 drops of oil into water. Use a cloth to soak up the water, wring it out and then place the compress on the afflicted area.”
3. Ice it
Hot and cold therapy can be used to ease the discomfort. “Putting an ice pack on the pain can reduce the blood flow, which allows the muscles to relax,” explains Dr Glenville. “However, it has been found that the side of the head affected by the pain seems to be cooler than the other. In this instance, heat may be more useful. You’ll need to experiment with each of these to find out which is more useful for your individual symptoms.” Interestingly, some migraine sufferers feel better after a warm bath. Try having one with your chosen essential oil!
4. Add magnesium
If stress is giving you a headache, magnesium supplementation can help. “Magnesium is helpful if stress is causing the headache,” reveals Dr Glenville. “It’s a muscle relaxant, and a magnesium deficiency can cause blood vessels to go into spasms. Ensuring good levels of magnesium is important for prevention. Taking magnesium daily has been shown to help not only the intensity but also the duration of menstrual migraines, too.” Foods that are high in magnesium include greens, nuts, seeds and sea food.
5. …And relax!
If all else fails, try this handy exercise from Dr Glenville to relax the muscles around your head: “Sit in a chair and place your elbows on a table. Clasp your hands together, round the back of your head, and slowly press your chin down on your chest. Hold this position for two minutes. Use your hands to turn your head to the right. Hold for two minutes, then come back to the centre. Use your hands to turn your head to the left and hold again for two minutes before releasing.”
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