Healthy Living | Healthy Ageing

Headaches and Migraines

Headache and migraine sufferers know only too well how debilitating it can be to go through this period where it seems a whole army is running amok within the confines of the skull.

There are many reasons why we have headaches and migraines, I will only cover a few here.

Stress
At high stressful times, muscles around the skull tighten and become painful. Rubbing them doesn’t seem to help much. As the fibres in the muscles tighten, blood flow to the brain is restricted and as blood carries oxygen and nutrients, the brain is in effect starved of these important nutrients.

Stress triggers the body to produce more of the ‘stress chemicals’ such as adrenaline and cortisol whilst the feel-good hormones such as the endorphins are reduced. These may interfere with blood pressure which in turn may bring on headaches.

Diet
“Food is thy medicine” and hydration plays a very important part as proper hydration promotes and improves blood circulation. Nutrients from a healthy and balanced diet are carried through a well hydrated bloodstream to all cells in the body including to the brain.
Certain foods, fasting, a diet high in sugar or processed foods may trigger headaches as fluctuations in blood sugar levels may lead to spasm of the arteries in the head. Some of the culprits are chocolate, coffee, alcohol and cheese.

Hormonal
When oestrogen and progesterone levels fluctuate too much, headaches may appear at various times during a monthly cycle, often before or during menstruation. As we have seen earlier, stress also affects the production of the hormones adrenaline and the endorphins which may bring on headaches.

Ear, nose and throat disorders
Sinus, nose and ear infections may affect pressure on facial nerves where pain receptors are triggered. These infections may also affect blood flow creating a fluctuation in pressure.

 

Solutions

There are some natural ways to reduce the above causes of migraines and they would be good to test to see if they make a difference.

Eliminating foods that are known to trigger headaches is a first step. Over a period of at least a month, observe and keep a diary to record changes.

Reflexology is a champion when it comes to stress. It is so deeply relaxing that you enter the alpha state which is an invaluable time of respite for the whole body, including the mind. It is literally ‘time out’. By directly working at reducing stress, Reflexology naturally balances the endocrine system which includes the stress hormones. Facial Reflexology, using acupressure points and zones that reflect the whole body on the face, also works all cranial nerves and organs relieving pressure and helping to reduce inflammation and congestion. Combining Face and Foot Reflexology, it is possible to work a body part in more than one way which has shown to be very beneficial.

Meditation helps deep relaxation and this can be done in the comfort of your own home. I hear you say ‘I can’t meditate, I can’t still my mind’. When thoughts come up, acknowledge them and release them. Concentrate on the in and out breaths to help focus your mind.

Exercise promotes increased blood flow and lymphatic drainage. Both help the flow of nutrients and the elimination of waste materials. The blood flow serves as the feeding force whilst the lymphatic system is the garbage disposal system.

Aromatherapy is very beneficial to relieve the edge of a migraine and help in the relief of headaches as well as ear, nose and throat infections. A blend of Peppermint and Basil infused in a vegetable oil or cream, can be applied around the temples, forehead and back of neck. This blend possibly takes the edge off the pain and/or gives relief.

References

  1. Schneider, R. (2014). Natural Therapy Pages. Reflexology for hormonal imbalances. Retrieved from http://www.naturaltherapypages.com.au/article/reflexology_for_hormonal_imbalances
  2. Mayo Clinic. Chronic daily headaches: Headaches and hormones: what’s the connection? Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/chronic-daily-headaches/in-depth/headaches/art-20046729
  3. Fauguierent Ear Nose & Throat Consultants of Virginia. (2016) Sinus headaches. Retrieved from http://www.fauquierent.net/sinusheadache.htm
  4. Better Health Channel. (2015). Headache. Retrieved from https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/headache

DISCLAIMER: Please note this article does not replace medical advice. Consult with your medical doctor, naturopath and/or Chinese doctor if there are any health concerns.

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