No one likes headaches. If you’re a regular sufferer, you will know the severe and debilitating pain all too well. Next time you go to pop a painkiller, consider these solutions to find relief, naturally.
Headaches are one of the symptoms of dehydration. Some experts believe that a dehydration headache occurs as a result of narrowing blood vessels as the body tries to maintain enough fluid. Making sure you’re well hydrated will help ease the pain. Drink a glass of water at the first sign of a headache and continue to sip on water throughout the day. Avoid dehydrating fluids such as coffee, tea, energy drinks and alcohol until the headache subsides.
Skipping meals and subsequent hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar levels) have been identified as a headache trigger. Opt for small frequent meals with a combination of fibre-rich carbohydrates, like veggies, fruit and wholegrains with protein (lean meats, tofu, nuts, seeds, eggs, yoghurt).
CHOOSE MAGNESIUM-RICH FOODS
Research suggests that sufferers of headaches (particularly migraine headaches) often have low levels of magnesium. Magnesium plays an important role in over 300 reactions in our body reactions including helping cells to make energy and relaxing muscles. Magnesium-rich foods include, leafy greens, nuts, seeds, fish, legumes and wholegrains (rye, oats, quinoa, barley, spelt).
DITCH THE ARTIFICIAL STUFF
Common culprits include MSG (a synthetic flavour enhancer) and aspartame (an artificial sweetener used as a sugar substitute). MSG activates neurons in the brain and constricts blood vessels, which can cause the throbbing and pulsating sensation of a headache. MSG (commonly labelled as 621) is found in packaged foods including potato chips, frozen meals, sauces and salt flavoured snacks. Scientists have suggested that aspartame may lower serotonin levels contributing to migraine headaches. Aspartame is found in products such as diet soft drinks, artificial sweeteners and chewing gum.
HEAT IT UP
Applying heat on the back of your neck can help relieve headaches caused by stress. Heat relaxes tense muscles to increase blood flow. Hot showers or wheat bags are also helpful. This remedy will also cause you make time to put your feet and relax.
A tension headache is the most common type of headache, which is often caused by physical or emotional stress. When we are stressed, our muscles tighten up, particularly of the upper back, shoulders, neck and head. Massage works by soothing soft tissue, encouraging relaxation, releasing endorphins (feel good hormones) and reducing levels of stress hormones.
DISCOVER ESSENTIAL OILS
Lavender and peppermint oil, in particular can help reduce pain for tension headaches. Lavender is known for its anti-inflammatory characteristics and its ability to dilate blood vessels to improve blood flow and relieve tension. Peppermint has significant analgesic (pain-killer) properties and has been shown to relieve tension-type headaches. Use a couple of drops in a bowl of steaming water and breathing in the steam. Alternatively, you can massage oils around the base of the skull or temples.
SIT UP STRAIGHT
Are you chained to a desk all day and find yourself slouching over the computer? Poor posture can lead to muscle straining and changes in the your breathing patterns affecting oxygen supply to the brain, circulation and muscles. Making a conscious effort to take regular breaks will help – along with regular strength training, targeting the muscles in the back and core to improve posture.
DO YOU SUFFER FROM HEADACHES?