IN BALANCE — Natural headache remedies

March 31, 2017

By Aleisha Anderson

Headaches are so common that it can be easy to forget how abnormal it is to have them on a consistent basis. Headaches can be a symptom of a variety of health issues, but can also be the main reason for seeking medication or healthcare. Instead of popping an ibuprofen, get to know which holistic remedies may be effective for providing pain relief.

The first medicine for headaches is water. If dehydration is a chronic issue, the cure may be as simple as drinking a lot more water. Get a reusable water bottle to keep in the car, at work, or in a computer bag or purse. Make water the first priority upon waking in the morning and a routine part of the day.

Acupressure can provide acute relief as well as preventative care for all types of headaches. The best acupressure point for nagging pain is called Large Intestine 4. This is a soft area on the web of the hand between the thumb and first finger. Apply steady firm pressure to this little soft spot on the hand for 30-90 seconds at a time. This point can dull a headache and occasionally totally resolve acute pain.

Supplementing deficient minerals and nutrients may also be the solution for persistent headaches and migraines. The most common nutrient deficiencies linked to headaches are magnesium, B vitamins, and Vitamin D. Magnesium can help at the onset of pain and also be taken regularly to prevent the next headache. Low levels of Vitamins D, B2, B6, and B12 have been linked to chronic headaches. Supplementing with a recommended daily dose of these vitamins may reduce or even eliminate regularly occurring headaches.

Essential oils can provide local relief. Peppermint oil is the most commonly used essential oil for all types of headaches. Dabbing a small amount of peppermint oil on the temples, back of the neck, sinuses, and forehead creates a cooling sensation that relaxes muscles and reduces swelling.

Deep breathing and light stretching can remedy chronically tense muscles and shallow breathing patterns that instigate restricted blood flow to the head. Starting and ending each day with light stretching of the neck, low back, and hamstrings will reduce tension in the entire body. Daily stretching will also provide more flexibility in the chest making it easier to take deeper breaths. Shallow breathing can enhance neck and shoulder stiffness so practicing regular deep breathing will provide an internal stretch that keeps those muscles from hunching over and locking up.

Herbal remedies can be easy and effective as well. Ginger and turmeric can be taken to reduce pain and prevent the onset of recurring headaches. Drinking ginger tea may reduce intensity and inflammation during a headache. Turmeric can be taken as a general anti-inflammatory.

If headaches are a routine issue that only medication seems to help, then it is time investigate the cause what may be a symptom of a more serious imbalance. Occasional use of over-the-counter pain medications can be a huge help, but should not be taken on a routine basis due to an increasing number of side effects linked to their regular usage. Acupuncture, nutrition counseling, and chiropractic and integrative medicine are more advanced therapies that may help diagnose the root cause and provide a cure for chronic and recurring headaches.

Bay View resident Aleisha Anderson, L.Ac., is the clinic director and acupuncturist at Mke Mindbody Wellness, an integrative wellness center with holistic therapies focused on mental health. More info: mkewellness.com. 

Disclaimer: The information provided in this column is designed for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for medical advice or care. 

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