Nothing can ruin your day quite like a headache. Whether you’re trying to be productive at work, ferrying kids around to summer activities, or just doing your daily chores, a headache can make even the simplest of tasks feel monumentally difficult. In order to reduce headache pain, you might immediately think to reach for over-the-counter painkillers–but that may not be the best idea. In recent years, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen and acetaminophen have been linked to both short-term and long-term side effects, ranging from mild GI distress to serious stomach ulcers. Therefore, more and more headache sufferers are looking to all-natural solutions. Here are a few of the pharmaceutical-free strategies you might want to consider for effective headache management in the future.
Staying Hydrated for Headache Prevention and Treatment
One of the most common underlying causes of headaches is dehydration. When your body doesn’t have enough water, your brain actually shrinks due to the lack of fluid. This decrease in size causes the brain to pull away from the skull, which results in the pain of a headache. Therefore, staying hydrated is essential for headache prevention, and it can help resolve your symptoms once they start. As we discussed in an earlier post, it can be challenging to stay hydrated during the hot Atlanta summer, but if you take action to make sure you’re getting enough water, it’s well within reach! By paying attention to how much you’re drinking and adjusting your diet to include more foods with high water content–like cucumbers and watermelon–you can keep dehydration headaches at bay, even when you’re sweating buckets in the summer heat.
Massage Therapy for Headaches: Targeted and General Approaches
Among the all-natural treatments for headaches, one of the most effective is headache massage. This focused treatment directly targets sites associated with headache pain, so it is optimized for prevention and relief. When a massage therapist gives you a headache massage, their focus is on your scalp, shoulders, neck, and temporomandibular joint (TMJ)–the parts of your upper body that most commonly contribute to headache pain. Through a combination of massage and accupressure, a headache massage can relieve and/or prevent headache pain in just a thirty minute session.
The effectiveness of a targeted massage for headache reduction was recently borne out in a 2015 scientific study by a group of researchers at the University of Colorado at Denver. They conducted a randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial to evaluate how well myofascial, trigger point-focused head and neck massage worked for patients who experienced recurrent tension-type headaches. The study included 56 subjects who received two massage sessions per week for twelve weeks, and the results were promising: there was a statistically significant decrease in the frequency of headaches in patients who received the trigger point-focused massage. This suggests that it may be worthwhile to try a targeted headache massage if frequent headaches are getting in the way of your daily life.
You can also get headache relief from deep tissue massage, a more general massage modality. For one thing, if your headaches are the result of stress, a deep tissue massage can promote relaxation by lowering your levels of cortisol, and prominent stress hormone. That can help you stay calm throughout the day, no matter how hectic your life gets. In addition, deep tissue massage can boost your circulation by relaxing your blood vessels and loosening up the muscles throughout your body. This allows sufficient quantities of nutrients and oxygen to reach your head, which can also help alleviate headache pain.
Nutritional Strategies for Managing Headache Pain
There are also changes you can make to your diet in order to prevent headaches or relieve symptoms after they start. A nutritional counselor like a chiropractor can help you tailor your diet more specifically for headache relief, but here are a few of the key strategies you might consider starting with:
- Adding magnesium to your diet. Like deep tissue massage, magnesium promotes healthy circulation by opening up your blood vessels, and it is also known to reduce anxiety. You can get your daily dose of magnesium in your multivitamin, and you can also boost your intake by adding more magnesium-rich foods to your diet: just a single serving of almonds contains over 20 percent of your daily requirement for magnesium, and you can also get large amounts from other superfoods like spinach, avocado, and pumpkin seeds.
- Trying spicy foods. Sometimes, congestion can contribute to the onset, duration, and intensity of headaches. Whether you’re all stuffed up because the too-tense muscles in your head and neck are preventing the proper clearout of your sinuses, or your congestion is the result of allergies or mold sensitivity, eating more spicy foods may help stop congestion from contributing to headaches. Summer is a great time to mix up a homemade salsa with garden-grown tomatoes, bell peppers, and jalapenos. Make sure to spice it with cayenne pepper and cumin, both of which boast anti-inflammatory properties in addition to adding a spicy flavor..
- Considering a stress-reducing supplement. If there is a clear association between your headaches and your anxiety levels, you may want to consider a stress-reducing supplement. Today’s advanced formulations combine key vitamins and minerals to lower your stress levels naturally, which can help you avoid painful headaches and reduce your intake of over-the-counter drugs to combat your pain.
Atlanta Chiropractic and Wellness offers headache massage, deep tissue massage, nutritional counseling, and a wide range of dietary supplements that can help you fight headaches naturally. Contact us today for more information!Share