Headaches are one of the most common ailments that effect people, with up to 3 million Australians being migraine sufferers and up to 7 million having tension headaches. Headaches can range from a mild, dull ache to severe pain which leaves the sufferer incapacitated.
Migraine headaches are defined by changes in blood flow to the brain – usually starting with a constriction of blood flow which causes visual symptoms, called the aura, with a rebound vasodilation which causes the severe head pain which is usually only relieved by strong medication or sleep. The vasodilation causes a release of chemicals into the brain that causes inflammation and pain.
Headaches are a sign of imbalance in the body. At Brisbane Natural Health we commonly see patients with both headaches and migraines. Some of the causes include misalignment of the spine, muscular tension, stress, food allergies, hormonal imbalance and toxicity.
There are several natural therapies that can help with headache management. In our clinic our patients get good results from myotherapy/or massage, particularly for migraine headaches and tension related headaches. Tension headaches often will be felt around the base or back of the head and are common after sitting at a computer all day. A lot of people hold stress and tension in their shoulders and neck – this can be a major contributor to their headaches. Chiropractors can be a good first point of call as they will order you x-rays of the back and neck to see if there is any structural reason for the headaches developing.
Where food allergies, hormones or toxicity play a role our naturopaths can be of help. Naturopathic treatment of headaches involves identifying food allergies (through elimination or testing), dietary modification and reducing stress and toxicity. This is achieved with the use of herbal medicines and nutritional supplementation specific to you case.
If stress is the major cause of your headaches then hypnotherapy or energetic healing can be a big help. During these sessions you can learn valuable coping mechanisms to help you deal with everyday stressors.
Acupuncture also has great results for the treatment of migraines and headaches. Acupuncture involves the use of fine needles to stimulate specific points on the body to bring you back into balance. You may also be prescribed Chinese herbal medicine to help with your headaches. Our acupuncturist can help with headaches from most causes.
Sometimes patients with chronic headaches will need a team approach to help them. If this is the case for you your therapist will discuss this with you and recommend other therapies which may get you the fastest results.
There are some basic lifestyle changes that you can make to help to reduce headache occurrence:
1. Drink at least 1.5 litres of purified water every day. Keeping hydrated is one of the best things you can do to avoid a headache.
2. Have a regular stretching routine that you do frequently. Our myotherapists can set up a program for you to follow if you are unsure of what to do.
3. Keep your diet free from artificial sweeteners, colorings and flavorings (like MSG). These chemicals have a strong association with headaches.
4. Eat a diet high in fibre to help your bowels move regularly. Constipation can contribute to headache frequency.
5. Avoid having too much sugar, coffee and refined grains.