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Natural relief for headaches
Headaches go back as far as when man first started to dabble in the medicinal arts and a variety of procedures, home remedies and health supplements have been used over the centuries in the treatment of headaches. In fact the earliest known surgical procedure is thought to have been an attempt to cure headaches and became popular in the Middle Ages (along with comparably credible treatments such as leeches, humor balancing and flogging). This procedure, known as trepanning or trephining, simply involves drilling a large hole in the head that was ironically thought to release the pressure causing the headache.
Thankfully science has come a long way since then although our relatively poor knowledge of the brain and its function means that the cause of the majority of headaches is still unknown although there are now many drugs, health supplements and natural remedies that can assist the treatment of headaches.
We will talk about primary headaches here or those that are not caused by an underlying medical condition. Secondary headaches can be indicative of serious problems so any headache that is frequent, severe or accompanied by any other symptoms (vomiting, diarrhea sensitivity to light, dizziness, slurred speech etc) should be checked out by a physician. If you are in any doubt as to whether you should see a physician, see one.
The medical world has split headaches into a number of different categories, although you may have your own expletive laden terms, for our purposes we will divide these headaches or cephalalgia into the following two types with some suggestions for supplements and natural solutions that may help to relieve the pain assist in the treatment of headaches.
Tension headaches - These are the most common and are usually caused by tension in the muscles of the scalp or neck. Poor posture, repetitive actions or overuse of the jaw muscles can all cause excess strain, resulting in mild to moderate pain.
Relaxation is usually the best good remedy so a hot bath or a cold pack on the neck can help. Slow and deep breathing is also a good way to relive pain and bring headache relief.
Natural herbal health supplements including Chamomile, Peppermint Oil and Lavender can all help the relaxation process and bring headache relief. Additionally health supplements Vitamin A, Vitamin C and Pantothenic Acid are important for supporting functions in the head and Calcium and Magnesium can relieve muscle tension. If bruxism or teeth grinding in the night is suspected then Passionflower, Hops and Valerian may have a positive effect and a good night’s sleep is never a bad thing in the treatment of headaches.
Vascular headaches - These include migraine headaches, flu headaches, cluster headaches and premenstrual headaches and are caused by dilation of the blood vessels around the head. Movement or physical activity can make it worse and some episodes can go on for days.
In addition to pharmaceutical options there are a few natural herbal health supplements that are known to be effective in the prevention and treatment of vascular headaches including; Feverfew, which can reduce inflammation in the brain; White Willow, a natural analgesic; and Gingko Biloba which helps maintain peripheral circulation to the brain (although check with your doctor as some peoples migraines have intensified after using gingko biloba). It is important to try to find out what triggers your headache symptoms and either avoid the triggers (such as red wine, aged cheese and tyramine containing foods etc) or be prepared when the times comes (menstruation or bouts of flu).
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