Chronic headaches can be separated into 3 categories: tension headaches, migraine headaches, and cluster headaches. So, how can we differentiate between these types of headaches?
This is the most frequent and chronic headache. It is bilateral, frequently located in the occipital (back of the head) region, with pressing pain or pain that feels like being tightened up. Stiff shoulder and a feeling of dizziness can occur, but no vomiting or hypersensitivity to light and sound. Posture is a main cause of this kind of headache. Also looking down, stress and over-fatigue.
Onset and intervals of migraines can have a duration of several days or weeks, but tend to only last a few days. They are often accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and hypersensitivity to light and sound in the duration of the attack. The pain can be caused by release from stress, hunger, crowdedness, excessive sleep, being in direct hot sunlight, drinking, or exercise. Lying down in a dark room can help. Migraine can occur with or without aura.
Cluster headaches take place in clusters frequently at a set time. They can occur daily and in many cases can last for one to two months. The cluster period, presents with severe headache behind the eyes and is accompanied by lacrimation from the eyes and a stuffed nostril, can take place once or twice a year, or once in several years. However, when the period passes, no headaches take place. The headache often lasts for one to two hours and can be severe, after which it resolves on its own. Cluster headaches are uncommon. Cluster headache occurs with relatively characteristic symptoms. It is one of the most excruciating pains people experience, and its existence should be known.
Suggestions for Alternative Pain Relief
Was used by European practitioners and remains popular today for the treatment of pain, fever and inflammatory conditions. The key ingredient in willow bark- which also goes by the name Salix alba and White Willow- is Salicilin, a derivative of the active ingredient in aspirin. In addition to Willow Bark, Salicilin and Salicylic acid can be found in several fruits including cantaloupe and grapes as well as the spices thyme, paprika, cumin, dill, oregano, turmeric, and curry powder.
When it is applied topically, it serves as a natural analgesic by blocking activity at the vanilloid receptor, which sits on pain sensory nerve endings.
The active ingredient, gingerols, mimics the chemical structure of capsaicin to block the vanilloid receptor and reduce pain. Ginger is most frequently taken in the form of a herbal tea, however, researchers are currently exploring whether powdered forms may be more effective.
Studies show that Omega-3s can reduce inflammation and pain, particularly those associated with chronic back ailments, osteoarthritis and other chronic pain conditions such as headaches. The key behind Omega-3s healing powers lies in its EPA and DHA content, which boost your body's levels of the chemicals that minimise inflammation and its associated pain. To increase your Omega-3 intake, add cold water fish- such as salmon, tuna and mackerel- to your diet or try a pharmaceutical-grade supplement that contains low levels of mercury and other harmful heavy metals.
More specifically Ascorbic Acid- has some pain-relieving properties found in broccoli, black currants, citrus fruits, kale, parsley, and peppers. Vitamin C helps build collagen in the muscles to prevent injury and pain, and also has diuretic properties that flush muscles of toxins.
Plays an integral role in over 300 body processes, one of which is pain relief. Touted most frequently as a treatment for migraines, magnesium acts as a muscle relaxant and has been shown to reduce the intensity and duration of migraines as well as reduce reliance on prescription migraine medications. Food sources include soy, nuts, seeds, and leafy green vegetables.
Although most frequently touted as an anti-inflammatory, glucosamine has been shown to be as effective as ibuprofen at reducing pain, but with fewer side effects.
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Written by Tanya Lim
Medical Herbalist & Nutritionist at Evelyn Faye Nutrition
360 Bourke Street, Melbourne, 3000