Simple Natural Solutions to Alleviate Headaches

By Judith Reid - Naturopathic Nutritionist -

Headaches can range from mild aches to excruciating pain; from dulled senses to complete debilitation. When this happens, it’s all too tempting to reach for the painkillers, and pop a pill or two so that you can get on with your day, uninterrupted. Long term, however, you could be making matters worse.

If you suffer with a headache more frequently than once in a blue moon, it is well worth exploring why you keep succumbing. It’s not a case of rushing to your GP for tests. Instead, consider the points below to see if you can ease the problem yourself.

1 – DEHYDRATION

Be honest with yourself. How much plain water are you drinking each day? Dehydration is a major cause of headaches. Clients often say to me “I realised I hadn’t drunk enough water yesterday as I had a headache in the evening”.

Tip: Drink at least 2 litres (approximately 4 pints) spread throughout the day, and ditch the diuretics (coffee, tea, sodas and alcohol) which dehydrate the body big time. Just doing something as simple as drinking more water can make a big difference.

2 – POOR DIGESTION

If your eating habits (what and how you eat) are poor, your digestion is likely to suffer sooner or later, and headaches can often be an indirect way of your body telling you that you need to give your digestion some much needed TLC.  Constipation is a very common cause of headaches. If you don’t eliminate waste in a timely fashion, toxins can re-enter the bloodstream, leading to headaches. If you overeat, or don’t chew your food particularly well, partially digested food in your gut can promote inflammation, as well as feeding bad bacteria which produce yet more toxins for your body to cope with.

Tip: A happy digestive tract should lead to fewer headaches. Drinking water and eating plenty of fruit and vegetables are just a couple of things you can do to alleviate constipation. Taking time over your food and chewing well can take the strain off your digestive tract.

3 – STRESSED LIVER

Your liver is your body’s major detoxing plant. It is designed to break things down so that they can be eliminated safely. The problem is that modern-day living can put too many demands on the liver. Man-made chemicals in your food, air, and water, as well as household and beauty products all enter the body, and the liver has to cope with them all, which can be quite a tall order! Add to this the toxins from an overstrained digestive tract, and the liver over time can become sluggish and less efficient. Headaches usually result. Ironically, when you take painkillers, it is the poor old liver that has to detox these too, so by popping that pill you are just adding to its already stretched workload!!

Tip: In addition to adopting better eating habits, explore greener products for you and your house so that your “chemical load” is reduced. Consider a water filter and eating organic food.  Read labels and opt for more natural beauty and household products!   

4 – INADEQUATE SLEEP and RELAXATION

Overnight, whilst you are travelling in the land of nod, your body is busy cleansing and repairing, as well as filing and processing experiences from the previous day. If you don’t get sufficient quality sleep, you are cutting short this essential maintenance work and you don’t get the chance to truly relax. Headaches can often result.

Tip: Honouring your body’s need for a decent night’s sleep every night is another simple step you can take to eliminate headaches! Book yourself in for some early nights!!

5 – STRESS

This is a big cause of headaches. It’s hugely dehydrating (see point-1), and tension held in the body can constrict blood and energy flow, leading to pain.

Tip: Seek ways to reduce or even eliminate stress in your life. Meditation, yoga, massage, and taking a daily walk are just some suggestions. Find something which resonates with you and do it regularly.

Many years ago I suffered with regular headaches (daily at one time). By addressing all the above points, and in particular changing my diet, I waved goodbye to headaches for good. I would strongly recommend seeing a nutritionist to advise and support you in adopting a more health-giving diet.

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