Natural Remedies for Headaches and Migraines
By Marilee Nelson |
Is your first go-to when you get a headache taking Aleve, Advil, or some other pain medication? Did you know that a headache is our body’s way of telling us something is not right? A headache is not a medication deficiency. Taking a pill will only address the symptoms not the cause. Usually there is an underlying immune stressor of some kind that is causing the headache.
It’s a rare person who doesn’t suffer from acute or chronic headaches these days. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) roughly 50% of the world’s adult population has had a headache in the last year1. The WHO also suggests headaches are one of the most common disorders of the nervous system. The nervous system is definitely involved. But we need to go deeper and ask the simple question: what’s causing the nervous system to create such painful headache symptoms?
In my practice, I’ve been fortunate to help countless clients discover and eliminate the underlying cause of acute or chronic headaches and migraines by asking the right questions.
DISCOVER THE TRUE CAUSE OF YOUR HEADACHES
Many of us are familiar with the role stress can play in triggering headaches, but few of us are aware of the other sneaky triggers lurking in our everyday lives. You can uncover these lesser-known causal factors, by asking yourself the following questions:
- How is my stress level/emotional health?—emotional stressors are a double-whammy because they cause headaches and can also make them worse2.
- Is there something in my environment that could be causing headaches?—some of the biggest environmental triggers are fragranced products of all kinds3, toxic laundry products, soft plastics (such as water bottles, Tupperware, etc.)4, hair, skin, and body care products with harmful toxins such as synthetic preservatives, fragrance, chemical ingredients, etc.
- Could technology be a factor?—certain technologies are major headache triggers for some people, including cell phones, which are best used on speaker-mode and not pressed up against your head; cordless phones, or Wi-Fi which can be turned off when not in use and at night.
- Are there dietary factors at play?—only eat real food that is free of chemicals that undermine your health. The top headache food triggers I see in practice are chemical additives like excitotoxins, additives, preservatives and dyes5. Other common triggers include excess sugar, salt, inflammatory Omega 6 oils, and icy cold drinks.
- Do you have any ozone producing items in your home or workplace?—these include electrostatic filters, laser printers, ozone-emitting air purifiers, and UV lights in the HVAC system.
- What type of light bulbs do you use at home or work?—compact fluorescent lights, fluorescent lights, or LEDs in your home or office can be headache triggers.
- Are you getting enough sleep at the right time of day?—this means you consistently get at least 7-9 hours of sleep a night, and are asleep by 10:00PM. Why 10PM? The majority of your body’s detoxification and restoration happens between 10PM-2AM.
- Do you get enough natural sunlight daily?—ideally you’d get at least 10 minutes of unfiltered morning light (without sunglasses) minimum. Aim for 1 hour outside each day.
- Do you drink enough water? Your urine should be a pale straw color. If your urine is dark yellow, then you need to drink more. If it is clear then you are drinking too much.
HOW TO TREAT YOUR HEADACHES NATURALLY
Since getting to the root cause of your headaches or migraines typically doesn’t happen overnight, it’s important to learn how to treat headaches as they arise. Many of us have been trained to reach for over-the-counter painkillers to cope, however the use of these drugs has been associated with a variety of health issues including heart attack, stroke, stomach pain, internal bleeding, ulcers, liver and kidney issues, hearing problems, and rash6 It’s kind of shocking when you stop and think about it, isn’t it? Yet most of us will pop a pain killer without a second thought because we don’t know what else to do.
The good news is, there are some highly effective natural remedies and home remedies for different types of headaches. AND just the removal of food with harmful chemicals such as excitotoxins, dyes, additives, and preservatives as well as inflammatory Omega 6 oils like safflower, sunflower, canola, soy, and vegetable oils may be enough to prevent the following headache types from even occurring!
HEADACHES IN FRONT OF YOUR HEAD OR FOREHEAD
- Avoid all alcoholic drinks, sugar, and even natural sweeteners like honey or maple syrup until the pain resolves.
- Since heat or warm weather can make these headaches worse, a cool compress can be helpful.
- Soak your feet in cold, salty water to bring energy down from the head.
- Massage your second and third toes by pulling and squeezing them.
HEADACHES IN THE BACK OF YOUR HEAD
- Avoid salt, animal foods, salty cheese, eggs; and baked flour goods like cookies, bread, and crackers.
- Cold temperatures can make these worse, so stay warm.
- Drink a small glass of organic apple or orange juice.
- Soak your feet in warm water.
- Massage the ball of your food and your fifth toe (the pinkie).
HEADACHES ON THE SIDE OF YOUR HEAD
- Avoid eating too much fat including greasy, fried, or oily foods.
- For headaches on the right side, also avoid salt, animal foods, salty cheese, eggs; and baked flour goods such as cookies, breads, and crackers.
- For headaches on the left side, avoid simple sugars, fruit, and fruit juice.
- Regardless of side, alternate warm and cold compresses on the head.
- Soak feet in warm water and massage your fourth toe.
MIGRAINES/HEADACHES DEEP WITHIN THE HEAD
- Avoid overconsumption of animal foods and salt.
- Avoid foods high in histamine like fermented foods, aged cheeses, smoked fish, beer, wine, cured and deli meats
- It usually helps to reduce all exposure to light and to eliminate compact fluorescent lights, some LEDs, and fluorescent lighting from your home.
- Some people find relief with a cold pack on the head – bag of frozen peas or ice in washrag.
- Eat a warm cooked apple or drink hot organic apple juice.
- Massage your big toes.
HEADACHES WITH SHARP, STABBING PAIN
- Avoid hot spicy foods and stimulants like alcohol, coffee, tea, and drugs.
DULL OR GENERAL HEADACHES
- Do not overeat and avoid cold foods.
A FINAL THOUGHT
If you have headaches, don’t give up! I’ve worked with so many clients who wind up on my doorstep because their doctors can’t figure out what’s causing their headaches. This isn’t the fault of their doctors or the patients, there just isn’t a lot of awareness in Western medicine about the true triggers and causes of headaches. The big takeaway is: if you’re experiencing headaches there is most definitely a reason for it, and now you have the information you need to begin the detective work and treat your headaches naturally.
Marilee Nelson is an Environmental Toxins expert who has spent nearly 30 years advocating for the chemically-sensitive and chronically-ill. She is a Board Certified Nutritionist, Certified Bau-Biologist and Bau-Biology Inspector and specializes in Food As Medicine. She has helped thousands of families and individuals identify, heal and recover from toxic exposures and is on a mission to revolutionize the way American families view their health.