Headaches are a common symptom and source of pain and debilitation for many people. Conventional medical advice recommends taking over-the-counter medications for headaches including ibuprofen and acetaminophen products such as Tylenol.
Acetaminophen is a non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory (NSAID) drugs that have risks to health such as liver and other digestive or wide-spread, systemic damage. Use of acetaminophen is linked to a reduction in glutathione levels in the body. Glutathione is the body’s most important endogenous antioxidant (produced by the body). Glutathione is a sulfur-containing molecule that can absorb impact of many free-radicals that enter the body. Reduction of this important antioxidant can lead to the inability of the body to detoxify itself of harmful substances. A study from 2018 reveals that some people have exceeded dosing limit of non-steroidal anti inflammatory drugs and experienced gastrointestinal side-effects including bleeding, ulceration and vomiting.
Other over-the-counter anti-inflammatory products like Advil or Motrin (Ibuprofen) also have a list of harmful side effects including stomach pain, constipation, diarrhea, gas, bloating, heartburn, nausea, and vomiting, to name a few.
In 2017, the FDA issued a strong warning that NSAID use increases the risk of heart attack and stroke.
What causes a headache?
- Alcohol induced “hangover”
- Lack of sleep
- Sinus infection
- Teeth grinding during nighttime hours
- Stress / tension or anxiety
- Exposure to electronic devices including computers, tablets or cellphones (EMF emitting devices and wireless equipment)
Persistent, regular and severe headaches can also be an indication of a more serious, life-threatening condition, including the following:
- Blood clots
- Brain tumor
- Head injury
- Bleeding in the brain
- Carbon monoxide exposure or poisoning
Types of headaches
- Primary -can be dull, moderate or severe, and is usually sometimes relieved by change of environment, eating a nutritious meal, or taking a nap or going to bed for the night.
- Tension – caused by stress, eye strain, repetitive motion, straining to read or use eyesight in less than optimal conditions (poor light, for example), or from sitting in one position that isn’t optimal for your body, posture, etc.
- Cluster – characterized by severe, burning pain and occurring behind the eye or on one side of the head or face. Can occur frequently including daily or for weeks or months at a time.
- Migraine – intense, pulsing pain in the head that can start out early in the a.m. and worsen as the day progresses. Typically in severe stages, migraines are accompanied by extreme sensitivity to light and sound, and sometimes nausea or vomiting. Some are accompanied by visual disturbances and auras. An aura is characterized by tingling on one side of face or arm and sometimes trouble speaking. Some triggers include environmental, dietary, skipped meals or sleep, stress, chemicals, hormonal disruptions or genetic pre-disposition to migraines. Doctors typically prescribe pharmaceutical medications for migraines, but these are also not without side-effects and other risks, and fail to address the root of the problem.
What are underlying causes of most headaches?
Headaches are a symptom indicating something in the body is out-of-balance. Chronic headaches are typically a symptom that can be treated and eliminated through addressing dietary and environmental factors. Nutrients such as minerals and vitamins, rest, avoidance of harmful chemicals/products in the diet or environment, and proper nutrition can be an effective preventative measure for future recurrence of chronic headaches.
Chronic mineral and vitamin deficiencies are one of the most common culprits of headaches. Dr. Joseph Mercola, M.D. and Dr. Carolyn Dean both cite Vitamin D and magnesium deficiencies as one of the most common reasons why people experience both typical and migraine headaches. Migraines headaches are a severe and persistent headache that can last for hours, days, and weeks. Migraines occur among 38 million people in the U.S. annually. The body needs nutritional co-factors magnesium and Vitamins A and K2 to enable absorption of Vitamin D.
Dietary changes to prevent and support healing for headache
- Avoid processed and packaged foods, ingredients, and other products. Processed foods contain ingredients that can cause headaches and other chronic health issues to occur.
- Consume real, organic foods – nutrient-dense foods such as grassfed and finished meats, pasture-raised poultry and eggs and safe-sourced seafood. All these foods are abundant in important nutrients including fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K2, CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) and Omega 3 essential fatty acids important for health.
- Avoid sugar – sugar depletes the body of important minerals and displaces truly nutrient-dense foods that support wellness.
- Avoid alcohol. Alcohol causes dehydration and mineral depletion (see avoid sugar and processed products, above. Both contain sugar and other ingredients that can easily deplete nutrients from the body, contain toxins, and contribute to headaches and other chronic health issues).
- Consume fermented and cultured foods – sauerkraut, pickles and other cultured vegetables, yogurt, sour cream and kefir made from organic, whole, raw milk.
- Consume fermented beverages – cultured vegetable juices from sauerkraut, pickles, beet kvass (a Ukrainian drink made from beets, salt and filtered water), kombucha and water kefir. Fermented foods and beverages contain minerals, vitamins and enzymes that contribute to health and can help keep the body replete with nutrients that prevent headaches and other chronic health issues.
- Consume homemade bone broth with sea salt – broths and sea salt contain amino acids and trace minerals that are helpful in maintaining wellness and can contribute to keeping headaches away.
- Use sea salt in food preparation and cooking – sea salt contains critical, trace minerals for health including magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, boron, zinc, iron, and many others that can help eliminate headaches.
- Avoid foods that can contribute to nutrient-depletion – soy, corn, grain and gluten foods that aren’t traditionally prepared via soaking, sprouting and fermentation can leach minerals from the body – which contributes to headaches – and also contribute to other health issues
- Heal your digestive tract, naturally. The digestive tract is where most illness and disease originates.
- Avoid GMOs (genetically-modified organisms, found in 90% or more of our mainstream food supply). Any artificial, synthetic, or toxic substances in your diet or environment can contribute to headaches and other chronic health issues.
Natural remedies and other preparations for headaches
- Magnesium oil (topical application) spray. Our bodies become depleted from important minerals such as magnesium easily from daily stress, anxiety and life tasks. Magnesium spray absorbs quickly and easily via the skin, and is more easily absorbed than through the digestive track topically. Recommended: 12foru magnesium spray, can also be put into capsules and taken orally.
- Liposomal Vitamin C – Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant and important nutrient. Reduces bioaccumulation of toxins and enhancesand rebuilds glutathione functions, both of which can help prevent headaches.Recommended: 12foru liposomal Vitamin C.
- Epsom and/or magnesium salt baths as needed or 2-3 times weekly. Epsom and magnesium salts can be purchased at most health food stores and are excellent for promoting relaxation and detox in the body to help prevent headaches and other chronic health issues.
- Use a water filtration / purification system for drinking/bathing and cooking, if possible
- Avoid chemicals and toxins in clothing, personal and beauty care products, and commercial products in your home or business environments – eliminate commercial and chemical cleaners, detergents, soaps, shampoos, conditioners, toothpaste, solvents, plastics, formaldehyde and others that could be lurking in garments, furniture, paint, carpets, and others. Read labels and purchasing natural products with few ingredients, and those that are real, plant-based, and eco-friendly. For example, products with vinegar, baking soda, lemon juice, hydrogen peroxide and essential oils are preferable to products containing harmful chemicals with warning labels.
- Reduce stress and anxiety. Lowering your blood pressure naturally via diet and other means is one way to accomplish this task.
- Drink plenty of filtered water throughout the day. See above on water purification / filtration.
- Obtain adequate sleep and rest. Sleep and rest allow the body to replenish, repair and rejuvenate its cells, organ systems and the brain. These can all contribute to reduction and avoidance of headaches and other chronic health issues.
- Use massage, chiropractic, reflexology and other holistic care to help promote circulation, muscle-loosening and relaxation, stress-relief and obstructions in the spine or muscular-skeletal system that can contribute to headaches and other chronic health issues.
- Herbal tinctures (or teas) to help with headache tension and relief: feverfew, ginger, butterbur, willow, and lemon balm tinctures.
Note: as with any one dietary, supplemental or habit change, daily tea and/or consumption of extracts can help keep headaches away, but should not be considered a stand-alone cure for a headache or any health challenge. Underlying issues (see above) such as nutrient deficiencies, environmental toxins, rest, stress, and others also need consideration and addressing. Tinctures and teas can also be found at most health food stores.