Are headaches interfering with your life?

Headaches and migraines are one of the most common complaints in women's health. Personally, I've watched clients cancel sessions and skip weeks of exercise due to headaches.  One of the most common causes of ER visits; headaches disrupt school, work, and family relationships.

Headaches that occur around the menstrual cycle {menopause and pregnancy included}; appear to have their origins in the fluctuations of sex hormones.  Tracking your cycle may help you identify if your headaches are in fact from your cycle.  My new favorite app My Flo; created by Alisa Vitti, functional nutritionist, gives valuable feedback, diet suggestions and exercises suggestions based where you are in your phase of menstruation.  {She also sends an email to your partner to give him a heads-up of what's coming! Isn't that great?}

Estrogen withdrawal in the Luteal phase {the third phase of your cycle before your period} has been shown to precipitate a migraine and may be the primary cause of premenstrual headaches.  If you believe your headaches are cyclical,  begin tracking your symptoms on paper or with an app to see when they appear. You can take teas and tinctures to reduce the liklihood of getting a headache each month. 

A common trigger for both headaches and migraines is stress.  With just two days of increased stress; mood changes, irritability, annoyance, depression or fatigue increases the likelihood of a migraine attack.  Therefore I suggest a group of botanicals called adaptogens and nervines; the former helps us adapt to stress, and the latter helps our nervous system relax.  Along with a change of diet and self-care; these can reduce the occurrence of headaches and migraines dramatically. 

Another reason for reoccurring headaches may be your medication.  

Read this excerpt from Dr. Aviva Romm. 

 "Most people don’t know this, but there is a phenomenon called medication overuse headache (MOH). When you take pain medications for headaches, including narcotics, Tylenol, aspirin, caffeine, and ibuprofen, on a regular basis, these medications start to cause headaches. So as crazy and scary as this might seem to you to try, stop all of your pain medications for a few months. You might be surprised to find that you are having fewer headaches! The triptan drugs and propranolol do not fall into this category. However, they have their side effects." Read more here.

Prevention of Headaches & Migraines

The combination of exercise, self-care {massage, baths and reducing stress}, nutrition, teas, and tinctures may keep you from reaching for the bottle of NSAIDS daily.  Here are some tips to try to reduce your pain.  

Nutritional Considerations to reduce headaches:

  • Avoid dietary triggers {See foods to avoid in the image}
  • Maintain a diet low in pro-inflammatory precursors (i.g. arachidonic acid) by minimizing red meat and dairy in your diet.
  • Encourage whole grains, complex carbohydrates, fish (esp. salmon and tuna), poultry, vegetarian protein and plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Maintain your blood sugar by eating regularly {dont skip meals}, add healthy fats like coconut oil, avocado oil, and avocado to each meal. 
  • Minimize caffeine consumption {caffeine may help some migraine sufferers}. 

  • Add exercise: Exercise is beneficial for stress reduction and promoting mood elevation.

  • Add regular massage to reduce stress and anxiety associated with health problems. 
  • Add daily relaxation techniques like deep breathing and nourishing baths with Epsom salts.

Botanicals for Headaches & Migraines

Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium)

Used for the prevention of migraines and headaches, Feverfew is also used to lower blood pressure, stimulate appetite and improved digestion.  It has been demonstrated a reduction in migraine frequency and pain intensity, but also a profound reduction has been observed in typical accompanying symptoms like colitis, dizziness, tinnitus and menstrual problems.  Feverfew is best used as a tincture; due to taste. Dose: Take 30-60 drops 2-3x day.  

Other botanicals I use in my headache blends are:

Corydalis, Cramp Bark, Jamaican Dogwood & Willow Bark to reduce tension headaches. 

External treatments for Headaches

  • Cold Compress:
    • Dilute five drops of Peppermint Essential Oil and Lavender essential oil in a cup of milk.  Add to a bowl of cool water.  Stir well to distribute the oils.  Dip a cloth into the mixture and apply to your forehead and temples.  Relax your head on a pillow and rest for 10 minutes, breathing deeply.  Repeat 2-3x/day as necessary.
  • Relaxing Bath:
    • Add two cups of Epsom salts to a tub.  {The magnesium helps reduce stress and tension} Stir ten drops of Lavender essential oil in milk; add to a tub.  Sit in the bath for at least 20 minutes. {The milk helps the oil disperse so it does not burn you.  Please always dilute essential oils}

Acute Headache Prevention

“She turned to the sunlight And shook her yellow head,And whispered to her neighbor- -Winter is dead.”.png
  • Teas
    • Drink teas with ginger, peppermint, lavender, lemon balm, chamomile, spearmint, and passionflower.
    • Try a cup of Headache Ease; A nice blend of  Chamomile, Lemon Balm, Lavender & Spearmint.
  • Tinctures
    • Tinctures are quick, efficient and easy to carry around for when you need them in a pinch!  To take: Take a dropper full in water 2-3xday. 
    • Look for tinctures with ashwagandha, feverfew, skullcap, chamomile, and ginger to reduce headaches.

For the past eight years, I have not reached for Advil by using teas and tinctures to reduce stress, tension, and pain.  By blending the herbs, {you may see them called combination tinctures or extracts} you receive benefits from a variety of herbs.  They help reduce inflammation, aid digestion and ease stress.  

Here are some combination tinctures you can purchase for relief.

  • Adrena Soothe; helps you adapt to stress, possibly reducing tension headaches. Take throughout the month to ease stress.

 

  • Herb Pharm Head Soother.  Ingredients include; Feverfew lf. & flwr. (Tanacetum parthenium) (O) Meadowsweet lf. & flwr. (Filipendula ulmaria) (O) Periwinkle flwrg. tip (Vinca major) (O) (W) Lavender flower (Lavandula angustifolia) (O) .  

 

  • For tension headaches you can try: Tension Care Extract from mountain rose herbs.  Ingredients include Organic Linden leaf and flower, organic oats milky tops, organic passionflower herb, organic skullcap herb, St. John’s wort herb, organic grain alcohol, distilled water, and organic soy-derived vegetable glycerine.

Look at your symptoms as an opportunity for self-care.  Do you need rest? Do you need to change your diet? Do you need to carve out time for you? With time, your headaches will ease, and you will feel like yourself again.  For more information on health consultations for headaches, please email  Tara @ info@taragregorio.com

Warmly~ Tara Gregorio

Romm, Aviva; Botanical Medicine for Women's Health. 

For educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Please consult your doctor when needed. Please note there are affiliate links attached to the blog posts.