Today, I was listening to a local talk radio show, and a commercial came on for headache control using over the counter pain medications. While I’m a big proponent of taking Western pharmaceuticals and using surgery on an as needed basis, I feel that many of us use medications due to laziness or lack of knowledge.
Almost all headaches, including migraine types of headaches, can be successfully treated without the use of Western medications. In my mind, the goal should always be to first try and treat pain problems without the use of Western medications. Then, if it doesn’t work, we can always go the easy way out, and take a pill. But in almost all the cases of headaches that I see in an average year, there are only a few that don’t respond to complementary healing methods.
This short article will discuss the four most common types of headaches, and the treatments that work almost all the time:
The first type is a migraine headache. I won’t discuss the Western physiology behind the migraine, because if you get them, you most likely already know all about the aura that precedes the headache, and that you feel better in a dark room, etc., etc.
I treat migraine headaches very successfully. As with all headache treatments, I first look at diet. The important factors are to reduce sodium, or salt, and increase protein to three or four times per day. Blood sugar and allergies often set off a migraine, so it’s important to eliminate dairy, gluten, oranges, citrus, chocolate, nuts and to stay out of the direct sun.
I use a liver detoxification and colon detoxification pills for about one month to balance and regulate the body and to throw off many of the accumulated toxins. Supplements are very important, and include magnesium, calcium, potassium, chromium, and a well-rounded multi-vitamin.
Acupuncture is indispensable and is done once weekly for 10 weeks, or stopped earlier once improvement is seen. The homeopathic remedies most often seen to be effective in migraine headaches are Natrum Mur, Lachesis, and Magnesium Phosphoricum.
The second type of headache is the common stress headache, also called neck and shoulder tension headaches. This type is usually caused either from poor diet, ineffective coping mechanisms when under stress, or poor ergonomics at work. If your neck is tilted, and your arms are too high at your computer, this will throw out the spine and cause the muscles in the back and neck to contract, causing poor blood flow.
I use the same liver detoxification and colon detoxification program as with the migraine headache for the first month of treatment. The supplement program consists of double the magnesium to calcium ratio and I also always do a blood lab analysis to see if the minerals, protein and red blood cells are balanced.
Acupuncture is performed once weekly, until the desired results are achieved. This is usually from four to eight weeks. I sometimes use a homeopathic remedy for stress and muscle tension such at Kali phos, Avena sativa or Magnesium phos.
The third type is the sinus, hay fever, or allergy headache. This headache is often accompanied by a sinus infection, dizziness, and other flu-like symptoms. I use the same detoxification pills for this type, but also emphasize digestion and the colon more than in the previous two types.
Supplements include a good pro-biotic and digestive enzyme to assure assimilation and breakdown of food. Magnolia flower Chinese herbal, or Pe Min Kan Wan, or another such Chinese herbal formula is used, depending on the exact symptoms.
Acupuncture is done mainly on the face, for the sinuses, and on the back of the neck to help relax the muscles of the upper back, neck and head. And homeopathy is not usually used, unless hay fever symptoms are prevalent, and then I use Allium cepa, Pulsatilla or Kali Mur for the congestion. If there is vertigo, or dizziness, I may also use Cocculus.
And the fourth type of headache that I most commonly see is related to hormones and is usually called the Pre-menstrual Syndrome type of headache. This is by far the easiest type of headache to cure. I use the same two detoxification pills that I use for the previous three types of headaches, in addition to the Chinese herbal formula Bupleurum and Dong Quai.
Acupuncture is used twice per month, just after the menstrual period has ended and then again, just before the period starts. The homeopathic remedies that have proven most helpful for the PMS types of headaches are Sepia, Natrum Mur, Lachesis and Nux vomica, depending on the specific symptoms.
Note that treatments for all four types of headaches may vary, depending on individual symptoms, and that the length of time it takes to cure a headache will also vary, from about one to four months. Generally, the shorter time you’ve had the headache, the easier it is to cure it. The best time to treat headaches is when you are not actually in pain. Occasionally, headaches will resolve and never return after just one acupuncture treatment or one dose of the correct homeopathic remedy.
Often I’ll have a desperate patient call my office who has a throbbing headache and wants an immediate cure with acupuncture. Traditionally, the superior Doctor of Chinese medicine would only use acupuncture as a last resort. First he would use nutrition, diet, Chinese herbal treatments, and massage, and then only if none of these worked, would he resort to acupuncture. Sometimes these desperate patients leave my office with relief of their headache. But the importance of preventive treatment cannot be overemphasized.
Headaches are one type of problem that almost all of us have at one time or another, and fortunately, most health insurance companies will pay for your treatment. If you have health insurance, whether an HMO or PPO, you are most likely covered for acupuncture treatment, which is nice.