Disease Info

Headache

In today’s world headache is the most common health disorders in humans, which frequently doesn’t indicate any significant health issues, but rather is a result of the stressful and unhealthy lifestyle and surroundings. A headache is associated with a pain in any part of a head or a neck. Although deriving its name (cephalgia in Latin) from the Ancient Greek for “pain in the brain”, the headache itself cannot develop in the brain. However, sometime we feel the inner pain in our skull. There are two types of headache identified: one is associated with the disturbance of pain-sensitive structures within the cranial nerves, and another one is connected with outer cranium structures, such as subcutaneous tissues, eyes, ears, mucous membranes, sinuses and periosteum of the skull, nerves, arteries, veins, muscles.In some cases a headache is an indicator of a serious diseases in one’s body.

The classification of headaches, depending on the cause of it, is far more complicated and too extensive, but there are several classification systems in place, which divide it into primarily 3 major categories:

  • Primary headaches (these include migraine, tension, cluster headaches and others, tension type being the most common due to the stress)
    Primary headaches are more frequent with women rather than with men, they are described as mild pain, starting form the back of the head and upper neck. A person will experience tightness, encircling one’s head with the most pressure occurring in the eyebrows region. Usually this is a sporadic pain, but in some people can be frequent but never regular. What differentiates this kind of pain from migraine is the absence of nausea or vomiting, so that a person is able to function.
  • Secondary headaches (due to diseases)
    Secondary headaches can occur due to the major illness and hence are very dangerous and require an early diagnosis. There are eight types of secondary headaches, some of them being due to infections like meningitis, others resulting from head or neck traumas, blood vessel blockage, among them: stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA), carotid artery infection, arteriovenous malformations, inflammation of the temporal artery; non-blood vessel problems like brain tumours, metastases from a cancer originating from another organ, seizures.
  • Cranial neuralgias and other headaches (including facial pain)
    Cranial neuralgias and other headaches, including facial pains.This category includes neuralgias (inflamed nerves in the head and the neck), and migraines. This type of a pain can be prevented early as people can notice early symptoms like flashes of lights, nausea, tightness of the face.

There are other types of headaches, associated with hormonal changes in one’s body, which primarily develop in women during the pregnancy or a period.Migraine or tension headaches are usual types of hormonal headaches, accounting for about 90 percent of all cases. There is a strong association of this type of headaches with the first trimester of child bearing period, while they can significantly diminish or even disappear in the second trimester and onwards. Another type of hormonal disbalance is associated with a headache, which can occur in many women during their period, when other discomforts can occur such as water retention or cramps. Due to high level of stress during one’s period the cause of this type of a headache can lie within the psychological boundaries, while the most common are physical causes of menstrual headaches. The first ones are the same as tension headaches caused by a stress, they will diminish after a woman returns to her healthy life pace. The physical cause of menstrual headaches is connected with the drop in the oestrogen hormone levels, so the preventive measure is to sustain the balanced level of oestrogen hormone. To tackle menstrual problems one should diagnose right the cause of it, be it psychological and physical, the latter being easier to avoid with just a healthy lifestyle and a diet (which apparently also includes exercising and a balanced relationships). In the case of menopause caused headaches the alternative medical treatment being natural and safe can render best results. They will balance the hormones in a most natural way possible. In general, a routine of good life style habits can eliminate any headache cause by hormonal disbalance, however, it is sometimes useful to try one of these advices:

  • Changing birth control pills sometimes can eliminate headaches (usually these include mono-hormon like progestin-only pills and also non-hormonal birth controls).
  • A pain reliever during menstruation can also help if nothing else can eliminate it.
  • Drinking plenty of water but avoiding too much salt and sodium will maintain the healthy hydro balance in your body, thus preventing any headaches associated with water retention or dehydration.
High acidity can cause headaches

Toxin products from the colon can increase the acidity in one’s body. The mechanism is the following: indigested food releases toxins in the course of putrefying and the toxins and gases flow into the blood, then reaching the nerves and nerve cells. This will cause a headache. For this type of a headache taking generic or branded painkillers like Panadol (paracetamol), ibuprofen, aspirin, diclofenac and others will not solve problem all in once, as they also have many side effects (including triggering medication-type headaches) and don’t reach to the cause of a headache, the colon. There are certain home remedies to tackle this problem, for example, apples in the morning on an empty stomach with a little salt, basil leaves will lessen acidity and eliminate a headache. Peppermint oil after meal is also useful, as it will supress the gas formation. Buttermilk combined with coriander also is found to be a good remedy for acidity-caused headaches, as well as Indian gooseberry with raw sugar crystals.

High blood pressure can be another cause for headaches. It can be very severe especially in the mornings, this is due to the small arteries pressure. A person will experience a pain in the back of his/her head. Ayurveda explains this type of a pain as originating from vitiating doshas, actually, all three of them (Vata, Pitta, Kappha).Hence, the remedies will include balancing doshas to bring the blood pressure to normal and this will eliminate a headache.

There are different causes of headaches, some of them include:

  • Eating specific food, among them: papaya, pineapple, raspberries, strawberries,avocado, onion, raw garlic, lentils, mushrooms, olives, sour cream, yogurt, cheese, drinking red wine or consuming the food with monosodium glutamate (MSG) can all trigger headaches in certain individuals. The best way is to avoid eating this food.
  • High stress level will certainly lead to a stress type of headaches and migraines.Meditation is known to relieve this disorder.
  • Even if a person is leading a healthy lifestyle and meditating weather conditions can be blamed for headaches. The change of atmospheric pressure, magnetic storms, seasonal changes (a sufficient and sharp drop and rise of air temperature) affect hypothalamus, thus this type of headache is very difficult to avoid.Nevertheless, given all other causes being removed (like sleep deprivation, stress, eating unhealthy and not exercising, the weather-induced headache can become less long-lasting and milder.
  • Sleep deprivation is one of most common problems with people nowadays due to the ever accelerating pace of life. Getting more than 6 hours of night sleep (which cannot be made up for a daytime) and getting into bed well before the midnight will eliminate the cause of this type of headaches.
  • Some overly strenuous activities including too much sports or even sex can be a cause of headaches due to the swollen blood vessels in the neck, which lead to the rising blood pressure. This can be avoided by letting oneself to relax and not overexercise.
  • Not only eating certain food can lead to headaches, but even depriving oneself of enough hydration and regular meal can trigger this condition by inflating the blood vessels. Try to follow a healthy regimen in drinking water and having meals.
  • Keeping one posture for a prolong time (like sitting at the laptop/computer) and other uncomfortable poses (even during sleep) can lead to developing headaches. This can be easily prevented.
  • Some people notice their headaches after putting certain hair accessories or arranging hair in a certain way, that put a pressure to scalp. Try to avoid it if you notice this type of headaches.
  • Smells can be bad in creating headaches and migraines, this include perfume smells, air fresheners, household cleaners and paint/lacquer used in renovation works. Good ventilation or avoiding smells can eliminate the problem.
  • Sometimes after consuming cold foods like an ice-cream one can develop a pain in the middle of forehead, this won’t last for long time and can be easily avoided.
  • Medications for diabetes, common cold, oral contraceptives can all cause headaches. For this you should consult with your doctor.
  • Painkillers are one of the causes for so called rebound headaches, especially if taken too frequently.
  • Smokers or even second-hand passive smokers (when you are exposed to the smoke) as well as the smoke in the air (when the air is polluted due to the fires) will develop a headache as the blood vessels narrow down.

Headache are sometimes associated with certain disorders, such as vision problems (glaucoma as well), or diseases (some viral infections, strep throat, Lyme disease) so it is smart to always diagnose early to identify the very cause of this pain.

How Ayurveda treats headaches

Depending on the cause of the problem Ayurvedic doctors can prescribe a certain medicine, but never a general painkiller as a medicine of last resort. For example, there are certain Ayurvedic treatments and medicines for menstrual headache problems, including Manasamitra Vatakkam. In general, medications prescribed can be drug therapy, local applications, medicated oil, nasal oil installation, herbal or mineral intakes. For local applications Ayurveda uses the roots of Costus or Kuth along with Oleum Ricini (castor oil). This combination is generally used to treat Vata doshas imbalance. For other types of headaches musk root, dried ginger, bark of pine and East Indian Rosebay can be used as a paste. Another recipe includes nagar motha, aniseed, liquorice, costus root and long pepper for a paste. As mentioned before you cannot get rid of a headache completely if you just take a painkiller,as the cause will be still there. Hence, in Ayurveda there are home remedies for each type of a headache as well as Ayurvedic medications.

Tension headaches can be eliminated by decreasing the fluids in the head, thus clove and salt are used dissolved in milk. Ongoing headaches can make life a real nightmare, so one of the recipes is to eat apple with some salt, then consume Warm milk of water.This regimen sustained for 10 days will grant you with a relief from a continuous headache. If you are not afraid of bad breath but want to get rid of a persistent headache then just a piece of garlic chewed in the mouth for several minutes will help. Common cold is always accompanied by headaches, this can be treated with a mixture of sugar and coriander.Taking a warm water foot bath can also help a lot in tackling common cold induced headaches. Not only home remedies, but a combination of this with diet option will be more efficient in any headache cure. The basic rule is that sweet and mild tastes are good for treatment of headache, while spicy and fried should be avoided. Widely used warm milk (cow’s) or ghee is good for common cold’s headaches. Out of all carbohydrates rice is the best, and one can even use water left after cooking rice, together with ghee to treat a headache.

Ayurvedic medicine is another option if nothing helps, but can be prescribed by an Ayurvedic doctor. Anu tailam is the well known Ayurvedic medicine for all types of headaches, it is a conception of several herbal plants in a sesame oil (gingelly oil).The oil is then inhaled by a patient or dropped into one’s nostril.The inhalation will clear the sinus passages and relieve any headache. Please not, that you should consult the nearest Ayurvedic doctor, if a headache persists or occurs in a regular pattern over period of time.