Chuck Norris should be the only person on earth who doesn’t get headaches; he gives headache, even to aspirin! Let’s keep these Chuck Norris facts apart; almost every person has had headache at least once a year. Technically there are more than 300 different types of headaches, but two types of headache which affect majority – Tension headache and vascular headache. 9 out of 10 people having headache would have tension headache. It is caused by spasms in neck and scalp muscles. Other is vascular headache, which includes painful migraines. They occur when blood vessels in head, face or neck expand or contract. Vascular headache often gives feeling of pulsating pain. Only in less than 1% cases, still significant, aching head can be because of serious underlying problem, even life threatening cases like cancer.
Headache is essential pain in head and neck; interestingly our brain itself cannot feel any pain. However there are nine pain sensitive structures around brain – back of the skull, muscles, nerves, arteries and veins, tissues directly under the skin, eyes, ears, sinuses and mucous membranes, which gives you a painful head. National Institutes of Health tried had to classify these types of headaches in some classes – primary headaches and secondary headaches. What are primary headaches? Any disorders in head and neck region which causes headaches are primary headaches. Sinus headache is example of primary headache. If the cause of headache is something beyond head or neck, it is secondary headache. Consider constipation resulting in headache, it would be secondary headache. Generally secondary headache accompany other symptoms like nausea, vomiting, photosensitivity, etc.
What causes headache? It could be triggered from various sources, some like stress, strain, heat, pollution, caffeine, blood sugar, hyperacidity, indigestion, allergies, odor, noise, hormonal change, menstruation, diet deficiencies, vision or eyestrain, insomnia, hunger, sinus problem, hangover, Lyme disease, etc. Hence there cannot be one treatment for headache.
What food causes headache?
Ever heard of an ice-cream headache? It is scientifically a brain freeze or cold stimulus response. Often quick consumption of cold food items like ice cream stimulates nerves that cause blood vessels to contract and swell and cause pain – we know this pain as ice cream headache.
Tyramine is substance formed when protein in food protein tyrosine breaks down due to fermentation or decay. Tyramine sparks release of hormones that constrict blood vessels and cause headache. Spoiled, pickled, aged, smoked, fermented or marinated food items may trigger headaches. So next time you have pain, just recollect what did you eat that day or day before. You might be able to trace regular headaches to your food habits.
Today it is difficult to avoid fast food from our diet. These foods often contain additives – stabilizers, coloring agent, nitrates or preservatives which can trigger headache. Nitrates are known to dilate blood vessels. Chinese restaurant syndrome headaches are such case which was traced to presence of Monosodium glutamate in Chinese food.
No food is as good as above foods in causing head ache. So natural ways getting rid of headache is not skip meals.
Why do you get headaches? In case you are getting headache regularly, start maintaining a food log. So next time you seek answer for this question, just go back to your log and find what food is triggering headache. Some popular triggers are sweet foods, caffeine, chocolate, nuts, alcohol, aged or canned food, dairy products – curd, cheese, dry fruits, fish.
What food relieves headaches?
While avoiding some food may help prevent headache, food also contains various nutrients which helps relieve headache. Nutrient deficiency or low levels of nutrients in body can cause headache. Thus consuming natural foods rich with these nutrients is natural way to cure headache.
Water – prevent dehydration
Man went on moon searching for water, as he felt presence of water can provide sign of life. Water has such importance for life and our body. In case of dehydration, our body may respond strongly with headache. Drinking lot of fluids daily natural cure for headache. Not only drinking water but consuming food like watermelon, grapes, cucumber, soups, beverages and juice are natural cures for headache.
Did you ever have hangover headache? Causes of hangover headache could be many. One of the major causes of hangover headache is dehydration. Alcohol has dehydrating effect by causing increase in urination and may cause electrolytic imbalance. Drinking plenty of water can cure hangover headache. Consuming electrolyte water is very good hangover headache cure. Juice works same way while being headache hangover cure. Consuming potassium rich food like banana along with plenty of fluids is also helpful to relive hangover headache.
Carbohydrates – blood sugar and headaches
Starvation or irregular meals causes body to use glycogen stored in liver to generate calories for body processes. This process may cause stress in body and require more water. Carbohydrate rich food provides sufficient nutrients required to generate energy and provide relief in headache.
Tryptophan rich foods
In our article, natural food for insomnia, we talked about tryptophan rich foods and how it helps in serotonin synthesis. Serotonin is chemical which makes brain feel good. Low levels of serotonin, as is in case of stress or depression, may often be responsible for headache. Alternatively enjoying food which contains tryptophan is just answer for how to cure headache naturally. Just try a glass of milk with almonds before going to bed with a headache.
Magnesium – as muscle relaxant
Magnesium is an important metal in the body and lower levels of it can have many consequences, including causing a headache, or migraine. It is essential for proper functioning of nerves and muscles and helps relax muscles. Normal magnesium levels can help prevent migraines and headaches by stimulating a healthy neutrostansmitter and neurohormone balance. Good sources of magnesium are nuts, especially almonds and almond milk, legumes like peas or beans, some fruit, like avocados and whole grains including wheat germ.
Calcium – for muscle function
Calcium together with magnesium is important for functioning of muscles. While magnesium helps relaxation, calcium is responsible for contraction. Any imbalance can result in spasm; often painful headache due to spasm of face muscles. Ensuring your body gets sufficient calcium helps ward off headache.
Iron – oxygen carrying capacity
Did you know yawning is body response for lack of oxygen to brain? If oxygen supply to brain is not sufficient, blood vessels will dilate to enable larger volumes of blood reaching brain. Oxygen is carried by blood cells – hemoglobin, where iron is integral part. Iron deficiency or anemia can cause headache. Ensuring you consume iron rich food items regularly helps brain get sufficient oxygen. Women are more prone to anemic conditions. Period related headache in women can be well traced to anemic conditions along with hormonal change.
Vitamins – for a healthy brain
Study suggests that Vitamin B2 or Riboflavin present in ample quantities in body can help relieve headaches. Riboflavin helps in production of coenzymes which have larger impact on body functioning. Similarly, vitamin B6 is also found to be useful in preventing headache. It helps in function of serotonin and other neurotransmitters in body
Caffeine – helpful in moderation
Coffee or Java has been used in many cultures are a cure for headaches for centuries. Caffeine as a vasoconstrictor reduces the size of the blood vessels, thereby reducing the blood flow. In case of headache due to dilated vessels, coffee can work as cure. Effect of coffee can counter effect of alcohol in hangover. Caution is required as overdose of coffee itself can cause headache.
Phytochemicals – pain management
Our food is good source of various phytochemicals like flavonoids which are known to help in pain management. They offer analgesic properties which helps in pain relief.
Combination to all the above through a healthy management of diet can contribute significantly to reducing the probability of a headache. Eating healthy protein and carbohydrate rich food, lots of fresh vegetables and greens and an eating schedule where you eat little amounts (up to 300 kcal) every 3-4 hours is the best way to prevent headaches.
16 Natural Foods for headaches
Ginger: Using ginger is how to cure headaches without pills. Consuming ginger in form of tea can provide relief. It is an excellent painkiller and helpful on all pains including headache. Applying ointment made by rubbing dry ginger with litter water and applied to forehead offers relief. With its ability to treat indigestion, Ginger is also helpful in treating secondary headache. Ginger offers anti inflammatory and blood thinning properties which is helpful to reduce inflammation and pain.
Lemongrass lemongrass is also known to be a great pain killer. It offers great relief against various pains such as toothache, joint pain and muscle pain. It helps in alleviating pain and discomfort caused by headaches and migraine attributing to its analgesic properties. The phytonutrients present in lemongrass improves the blood circulation and helps in relieving the spasms, muscle cramps and sprains. Use lemongrass in salad or lemongrass tea to treat headache. If you have sinus headache, lemongrass acts over common cold and sinus and relieves sinus headache symptoms.
Cayenne pepper: Research has shown that capsaicin, the chemical responsible for the hotness of spicy food can help with pain management by influencing prostaglandin, the neurotransmitter responsible for the inflammatory process and pain. Although it does not influence the processes that lead to a headache directly, it can help reduce the amount of pain experienced during one. Cayenne pepper, spicy Chinese food, chili or any hot and spicy food can help.
Himalayan Salt: Massaging the brine solution or sole solution (Himalayan salt in distilled water) in the affected area is a great way to ease up the pain. The good thing about such remedies is that they are not only effective, but also free from any kind of side effects.
Cloves: Flavonoids in cloves are strong anti-inflammatory agents. Topical application of clove oil can help relieve pain. Drops of clove oil can be place on handkerchief and inhaled. One may ground cloves and apply paste to temple and back of neck for relief from headache. Cloves add distinct flavor to rice preparations and may be tried.
Sea buckthorn: Sea buckthorn contains chemical 5-HT (serotonin) which acts as neurotransmitter and helps regulate emotions naturally. Drinking Sea buckthorn juice helps relive headache. Sinus headache treatment shall be effective along with Vitamin C in Seabuckthorn.
Rosemary: Rosmarinic acid is powerful anti-inflammatory. Rosemary tea can prevent migrane and tension headache.
Watermelon – Watermelon along with various nutrients offer body necessary fluids and electrolyte and is refreshing. It may not cure headache, but offers power to relive some symptoms and body recovery.
Wheat Germ – Whole grain are good source of magnesium which can relive headache. Once may consider eating wheat germ as source of magnesium if you have headache everyday.
Milk and almond- Drinking almond milk while going go bed can help sound sleep and relive you from headache. Both are considered good food for brain and sleep. It offers tryptophan, magnesium and Calcium, which helps regulate serotonin production in brain.
Spinach– Spinach offer nutrients which are useful in treating headache. Ofcourse, Popeye didn’t get any headache 🙂
Bananas – Bananas are rich source of magnesium. With potassium content they are good in maintaining electrolytic balance in body.
Mushrooms – They offer high Vitamin B2 or Riboflavin. We have seen how Vitamin B2 can help prevent headache.
Cherries - They contain quercetin which relieves pain and may calm headache. Sipping cherry juice or munching fresh cherries can help.
Basil Oil: Basil leaves or basil oil has analgesic effect and help in providing relief in painful head. With muscle relaxant properties it can help if you are having headache. Enjoying herbal Basil tea is refreshing in headache. You may also rub basil leaves to your forehead or apply basil oil if you have moderate headache.
What are some home remedies for headache
Regular Exercise: Regular exercise help keep blood circulation in perfect shape and ensure necessary oxygen to various parts of body. This can help in preventing headache. If you have chronic headache or want relief from constant headache, you should consider yourselves involved in physical exercise and workout, along with healthy diet regime.
Meditation: Without having to prove, meditation can relax your mind and brain. Meditation can help relieve toughest of headaches, including migraine. Medication is very good on tension headache. Tension headache symptoms gradually disappear if you meditate regularly. People meditating regularly have been able to treat chronic tension headaches. Can anxiety cause headaches? Yes, meditation helps relive anxiety too.
Aromatherapy: Aromatherapy using various essential oil helps relax muscles and can alleviate headache. Consider treating with peppermint oil or lavender oil or chamomile oil. Apply some oil to your temple or put some drops on your sleeping pillows. Consider massaging your head with menthol or peppermint oil. It will calm your nerves and cure stress headache. Peppermint oil is pain reliever makes it good for stress headache treatment. Various pain balms available in market are mainly beewax along with these essential oils.
Pressure points – Pressing certain pressure points in head provides relief from headache. Consider a good gentle massage which shall press these points and help manage pain. Headache relief with pressure points cures headache naturally. Temple region, region near eyebrow, neck region back of your ear and tips of ears are some pressure points for headache. Try pulling your hair in short intervals; it also works as pressure headache remedies.
Compresses: Cold compress reduces inflammation and slows down blood flow in case of throbbing pain. Hot compress may increase blood circulation and oxygen supply to brain. Either of them shall work in treating headache.
Sex and Headache (cures without pills): A German study found that sex can improve symptoms of headache. Instead of refusing sex over a headache, it would be better indulge, as it may provide you relief. Orgasm can make you feel relaxed and sedated. Sex triggers release of endorphins in body, which work as painkillers for nervous system. So sexual activities are natural ways to cure headaches. Some people however may experience headache during or after sex, often termed orgasm headaches or coital headaches. This may occur due to muscle spasms during sex. Sex hormone works as natural headache cure while at same time imbalance may trigger headache as in case of women with period related headache. Estrogen hormone triggers menstruation headache.
Hope this article did not cause you headache 🙂 Even if it had, try some of our natural remedies for headache!Image Credits: Flickr - Threephin, Wikimedia - Sauligno