Since I started eating a 95-100% raw vegetarian diet, it is very, very unusual that I get a headache. But once in a while I still do. These are the strategies that I take to get rid of them.
1. Re-hydrate. Medical researchers still don't know fully understand why, but dehydration is a common trigger for all kinds of headaches. Whenever I notice the beginning of a headache, I make sure to drink pure water right away. If it's available, I drink fresh coconut water instead. That’s because it is so high in electrolytes which serve to re-hydrate the cells of the body more quickly than plain water.
2. Pressure massage. Acupressure often works to relieve pressure associated with a tension headache. I have had success by using my fingertips to push firmly on the very top of my skull while taking a few deep breaths. Try 30 seconds of pressure then 30 seconds of relaxation for 3-4 rounds. I also like to add in a neck firm neck massage.
3. Use essential oils. Studies at the Christian-Albrechts University in Kiel, Germany show that essential oils are as good in blocking pain from tension headaches as acetominophen (ie., Tylenol). My favorite is essential oil to use is Peppermint. Clove, Lavender, Basil and Fir can also be helpful.
To use an essential oil for headache, dilute 2-3 drops with a vegetable oil and apply it to the temples, the back of the neck, behind the ears, the forehead and under the nose. Make sure to use only therapeutic grade oils. Alternatively try rubbing a few drops on the palms of your hands, then place them over your nose and inhale deeply for several minutes. If this doesn't work, sometimes I'll put a drop of oil on my thumb and place it on the roof of my mouth.
4. Rebounding. As strange as this may sound, if none of these other methods work for me, I almost always get rid of a headache by spending a few minutes gently jumping on my rebounder. At first it's a bit uncomfortable, but within a minute the headache often vanishes. I haven't read anything about this anywhere, but my guess is that the rebounding helps relieve tension and spinal misalignment that may be causing the pain.
I also want to share a couple more herbal headache remedies that that I haven’t used yet, but are reported to be effective by herbalists.
5. Cayenne pepper. Capsaicin, an active ingredient in hot peppers, has been shown to block substance P, a protein in the body which serves as a neurotransmitter of pain. For that reason, cayenne and chili peppers can be used for pain relief. You can purchase a cream with capsaicin in it at a health food store. Alternatively, try this more intense remedy: using a toothpick, sniff a little bit of cayenne into each nostril.
6. Willow bark tea. Willow bark contains salicylic acid, which is the active ingredient in aspirin. To make the tea, add 1 teaspoon of dried willow bark to a cup of hot water. Let steep for 10 minutes and enjoy warm.
These natural headache remedies are best used with occasional headaches. If you have regular headaches of any kind there may be something else out of balance that you need to take care of. Some things to look at are:
A. Your diet. Cut out all dairy and wheat products for at least a week. I've met some long term migraine sufferers who have totally eliminated their pain this way. Also, you may want to consider completing a thorough intestinal cleanse.
B. Your spinal alignment. Misalignment of the spine is a major cause of tension headaches. Try yoga, a chiropractic session or a raindrop technique massage to begin to retrain the spine.
C. Your hormones. If you are menopausal, talk to your doctor about using natural hormone replacement therapies.
D. You electromagnetic environment. Limit your exposure to harmful EMF radiation from computers, cell phones, fluorescent lights and more. Visit my website for a detailed article on how to do this.
By Mark Ament
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Biography: Mark Ament is the author of several books and programs on natural health, including his unique introduction to natural healing course called the "5 Master Keys To Ultimate Healing."
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