Headaches can be triggered by a variety of different ways such as eating a poor diet, dehydration, stress, fatigue, food allergies and intolerance. Not only that, physical signs such as eye fatigue and strain, poor posture, muscle trigger points and arthritis should be considered.

There are so many factors to consider with headaches on a physical, mental, nutritional level

Poor lifestyle choices and over consumption of alcohol, taking recreational drugs, blood sugar handling issues that lead to hormone imbalance can be other causes as well as constipation and nutritional deficiencies. A headache should be the warning sign that something needs to change. In this article I am going to discuss 10 ways that may help you get over your headaches.

Do you suffer with regular headaches or migraines? Taking on too much or constantly trying to multitask is quite stressful to our bodies which often lead to poor self-management. The common headache is often overlooked or masked with an over the counter pain killer which can cause more harm than good when overused.

A headache is often a warning sign and that the cause of the headache needs to be addressed rather than eliminating the symptom.

Types of Headache

Tension Headache

The tension headache is the most common type of headache experienced in adulthood and can be put down to lifestyle factors such as stress, dehydration and diet. Typically a tension headache will consist of a tight band around the head and can be continuous and reoccur daily. Poor posture, eye fatigue, neck and jaw problems can all be physical causes for tension type headaches.

Migraine Headache

Migraines are another common type of headache experienced in adulthood and can classically be associated with:

  • Depression, fatigue, yawning 24 hours before
  • Flashing lights, zig zags, jigsaw appearances and maybe numbness in the face and hands 30 minutes before a migraine attack. This is called an “Aura” and occurs in a small percentage of migraine sufferers. The pain is normally on one side of the face/eye region and can last a few hours.

Sudden and Rapidly Developing Headache

This can be due to the after effects of some kind of trauma, like a fall or being struck on the head in sports. If this type of headache is followed by nausea or vomiting and neck stiffness then this is not for the Osteopath. You will need to make your way to the hospital in A&E.

Headache in the Elderly

A common cause of headaches in the elderly is arthritis in the neck that can lead to compression of the nerve that links to the back of the head. Although it is important to watch for some other signs of headaches in the elderly such as pain that is worse on waking, pain that is associated with morning sickness and pain when straining, bending and lying down.

Referred Pain Headache

Pain that is located at one side of the head and over the eye is many times referred pain from a joint or muscle in the base of the skull and neck. Osteopathy is a great natural solution to dealing with this type of headache.

Top 10 Headache Remedies

  1. Magnesium

Magnesium is one of the bodies’ most abundant minerals. It helps with more than 300 enzymatic reactions, and is crucial for adenosine triphosphate (ATP) metabolism. Low levels of magnesium have been associated with a number of chronic diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, type-2 diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and in those who suffer with migraine headaches. [1]

Try using a multi-vitamin that includes magnesium.

  1. Go Gluten-Free

Eating gluten based foods such as bread, pasta, oats, wheat and cereals can be a cause for headaches. For those who suffer with Celiac disease will stay away from gluten anyway however there are a large number of people who are sensitive to it and have a food intolerance. I see this clinically on a regular basis. The thing with eating gluten is that you may not see symptoms of an intolerance for 10 days of eating it. What I find is the best thing to do is going on a food rotation diet where you won’t eat a particular food or food that belongs to the same food family within 4 days or simply cut it out for at least 2 weeks. After not eating gluten for 2-3 weeks, I would reintroduce the gluten again and look out for strong symptoms of an intolerance – such as headaches!

  1. Osteopathic Treatment

Osteopathy is a natural, holistic hands on manual therapy treatment for people who have everyday aches and pains. Osteopathy can be very effective for headaches. Not only do Osteopath’s use manipulation (see my other blog post on Osteopathic manipulation) but also Neuromuscular Therapy can be used to eliminate trigger points and help you restore your posture. Osteopathy can also help influence better blood supply, increase the drainage of metabolic waste products and restore better balance to a possibly out of balance musculoskeletal system.

  1. Sports Massage Therapy

Sports Massage treatment is often thought of as a type of massage that athletes can only benefit from. Sports and remedial massage can benefit expectant mothers, the elderly and also everyone else in between. Sports Massage in the context of headaches can help release the tension that gets built up in the back, neck and shoulders that can all cause headaches. Sports massage also improves blood flow, circulation, lymphatic drainage and encourages relaxation.

  1. B-Complex Vitamins

Many B vitamins are involved in the formation of neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, which may be deficient in people who suffer from migraines. Sadly, millions of people do not eat good quality food that contain B vitamins and this can cause energy slumps, unhealthy blood cell and adrenal effects, foggy thinking, and headache symptoms.

A B vitamin complex includes a group of eight water-soluble vitamins: thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, folate, vitamin B12, biotin and pantothenic acid. Together, these vitamins improve brain cells, circulation, immune function and cardiovascular health.

  1. Water Intake

Clinically, unless I treat an athlete or an avid gym goer, no one drinks enough water on a daily basis. Sugary energy drinks, caffeinated beverages like tea or coffee and alcohol can all leave you feeling a little dehydrated and certainly can be a cause of headache. The important thing to know is that every 2% you are dehydrated will lead to about 10% lack in concentration and performance. When you are dehydrated the nervous system will take water away from other reservoirs throughout your body such as the joints and nervous system leading to further aches and pains.

Drinking more water is an easy and natural healthy way to improve your general health. It just takes a little focus.

One of my favourite sayings:

“The only solution for pollution is dilution”

  1. Have more relaxation time

Find more time in your life to enjoy the things you do. This may be doing outdoor activities or playing sport but really I mean spending more time relaxing, having quiet time. Having more quality quiet time helps to settle down the nervous system and therefore having a mind body affect by relaxing the muscles.

If you find it hard to relax or even enjoy quiet time, try doing yoga, tai chi or “Qi Gong” an active form of meditation that allows you to quieten down the monkey mind.

  1. Regular Exercise

Motion is lotion, exercise helps lubricate the body, it boosts your metabolism, improves strength and general suppleness.

Staying still in one position for prolonged periods of time, like sitting at your desk or computer, can lead to body tension and create headache symptoms.

Many of us spend hours a day hunched over looking at a mobile phone or tablet. This posture, with your head sticking out, can put extra pressure on your neck and lead to fatigue of the muscles.

Doing yoga, tai chi or Qi Gong is a great way to relieve built-up tension. These forms of exercise help to clear your mind as well as improving your breathing patterns.

  1. Diet

Eating well is not only just good for preventing headaches, but also for your general health and wellbeing. I have already touched upon Gluten and B-vitamins above however eating according to your metabolic type will help balance your blood sugar levels and also improve your mood and energy levels.

An imbalance in your blood sugar levels will have a big affect on how much cortisol your body will produce. Cortisol is a stress hormone and when the bodies glucose levels fall too low this adds stress to the body.

I hope this helps give you some better understanding to the complexity of headaches and how multifactorial they are in the way of causes.

All the best for now

Tom

[1] Gröber U, Schmidt J, Kisters K. Magnesium in Prevention and Therapy. Nutrients. 2015 Sep 23;7(9):8199-226.