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  • Stephanie Metzger, RHN

Are your headaches a pain in the ... head?


There are so many different internal and environmental factors that can cause headaches. Pain, stress, neck/back strain, eye strain, sickness (sinus infections, colds, fevers, sore throats), strong smells, food allergies/sensitivities, food additives/fillers, artificial sweeteners, hormonal imbalance, mineral/vitamin deficiencies, to name a few.

Here are some natural remedies and ways to manage or get rid of your headache so you can get on with your day!

1. Drink lots of water! Dehydration can cause tension headaches and migraines as well as irritability. Make sure you're getting lots of water in throughout the day.

2. Magnesium is a very important mineral in the body that has been known to reduce headaches. Load up on magnesium rich foods such as green leafy vegetables, fruit (figs, avocado, bananas, raspberries), squash, nuts/seeds, legumes (black beans, chickpeas, kidney beans), green vegetables, seafood, whole grains, dark chocolate and raw cocao. If you want to include a supplement in your diet, aim for 200-600mg/day, just be aware that magnesium is also a natural laxative :)

3. Get Enough Sleep! Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep each night and wake up feeling rested. If you're experiencing a headache, close your eyes and try to rest and reduce visual stimulation.

4. Limit Alcohol. Alcohol causes vasodilation of the blood vessels which may cause headaches. Also, alcohol is a diuretic which results in loss of fluid/electrolytes and ultimately dehydration.

5. Essential Oils have therapeutic benefits and can help reduce the symptoms of a headache. Try applying peppermint essential oil to your temples or the back your neck or diffusing lavender.

6. B vitamins may have protective effects against headaches. Include foods rich in B Vitamins and include a good vitamin B complex into your daily supplemental routine if you need it. Food Sources of Vitamin B include whole grains, meat (red meat, poultry, fish), eggs and dairy, legumes (beans/lentils), seeds/nuts (sunflower seeds, almonds, pecans), dark leafy greens, fruits (avocado, citrus, bananas), etc.

7. Apply a cold compress to your neck or head. This may help reduce the pressure, pain and symptoms associated with a migraine or cluster headache by reducing inflammation, slowing nerve conduction and constricting blood flow. For tension headaches, try a hot compress.

8. Drink Coffee or Caffeinated Tea. Caffeine constricts blood vessels, increases alertness and improves mood which can have a positive impact on headache symptoms. However, too much caffeine can cause dehydration so be mindful of your intake.

9. Chiropractic Adjustments, Acupuncture & Massage may help to reduce headache symptoms.

10. Yoga, Meditation, Massage, Breathing & Stretching Exercises. Yoga is an excellent way to relieve stress, increase flexibility and reduce pain. Also, simple stretches of your head and neck or a massage can help reduce the intensity of your headache.

11. Ginger Tea has been known to help reduce pain and symptoms associated with migraine headaches. Mix 3 cups of water with 2 tbsp. freshly grated ginger, steep for 5 minutes and enjoy!

12. Avoid Monosodium Glutamate (MSG). This ingredient is added to food to enhance flavour and it can be a potential trigger for people who suffer from headaches and migraines. Read food labels.

13. Herbal Supplements such as feverfew and butterbur may be beneficial in reducing migraine pain and frequency.

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