It’s so easy to take a pill when you have a headache… or is it? More and more people are complaining that they don’t like taking anything when they have a headache, and they’d rather suffer through them instead. Sound like you? Well suffer no further! By using some (or all) of these natural remedies, you can help find relief for your headaches, without having to worry about taking a pill.
1. Oil Up. Using peppermint oil (especially for tension-type headaches) can be very relieving. The cool sensation it provides has been known to help relieve pain, while also lowering stress and even treating depression and anxiety. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), mint (known as Bo He in Mandarin) taken internally can be used for headaches due to what is called Wind-Heat. Also, try mint tea to soothe lower abdominal pain.
2. Sweat it Out. Depending on your current level of exercise, getting a little more or a little less may help reduce the number and/or intensity of your headaches. If you feel agitated and restless without enough exercise in your life, you’ll probably benefit with a little more. If you have to drag yourself to the gym, ease up and do more stretching than strengthening exercises.
3. Breath and Release, then Repeat. With headaches caused by stress, taking some time to breathe deeply can do wonders. The extra oxygen to your brain and muscles will help you relax, and imagining your shoulders dropping down will also help to ease your tension. Try some yoga if you think your posture could improve, which would also help keep tension away and allow your lungs to more fully expand and let in air when you breathe normally.
4. Give it Some Good Press. Getting a massage is an excellent way to relieve tension, and a Registered Massage Therapist is trained in helping find all the trigger points that can relieve you of your pain and discomfort. You may need to go back for more than one treatment depending on the state your muscles are in, but it’s worth it! In the meantime, give your muscles a rest in an Epsom salts bath. The magnesium in the salts helps reduce inflammation, while improving nerve and muscle function as well. Add some lavender essential oil to your bath for added relaxation.
5. Eat a Little Fishy. Fish oil, your best source for omega-3 fatty acids, can help reduce inflammation and is good for your circulation as well. These beneficial factors may help reduce the number and severity of your headaches and migraines. Try to use the oil itself, as the oral supplements may not digest as well.
6. Tell Your Diary. If you think that your headaches might be food-related, start keeping a diary of what you’re eating, plus when you’re getting headaches and how severe they are. This may take a month or so to nail down, but it’s worth it to know if there’s any relation to your pain and your diet – if it’s just one or two things you’re eating, eliminating them could mean a world of difference.
7. Poke Around. Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) have been helping people with migraines and headaches for thousands of years. Whatever type of headaches you suffer from, there is hope for you as many different TCM energy patterns can lead to this type of pain, and there are herbs and acupuncture points to address each of them. Be sure to see a Registered TCM Practitioner, as this type of acupuncturist is best trained in TCM diagnosis, and can prescribe medicinal herbs that may be what does the trick for you in the end.
By Richard Lobbenberg, Acupuncturist and TCM Practitioner