This week, I want to talk about a health problem that’s nearly as prevalent as the common cold – headaches. The World Health Organization estimates that over half of all adults suffer from current headache disorder (meaning, they’ve had at least one headache in the past year). Neurologists classify headaches into two categories – primary and secondary. Primary headaches are the most widespread and include tension headaches (the most common), migraines (which affect more women than men), and cluster headaches (which affect more men than women). Since June is Migraine and Headache Awareness Month, here are five natural and alternative ways to relieve the symptoms of this recurring pain.
Long used as a pain relief therapy in China, acupressure and acupuncture can potentially diminish the strength of a headache. Acupressure is noninvasive and involves applying force on specific pressure points. In acupuncture, extremely thin and sterilized needles are used to perforate the skin at specific points called acupoints. These acupoints are believed to stimulate the nervous system, promoting the body’s natural healing ability and leading to pain relief, while the traditional Chinese thought is that stimulation can help rebalance inner energy, or qi.
Well-known for its anti-inflammatory properties, spicy ginger is rich in antioxidants and a good source of magnesium. Magnesium helps regulate enzymes in the body and can ease headaches caused by hormonal imbalances. Brew a cup of this ginger root tea or chew raw ginger pieces the moment you feel a headache or migraine settling in.
At the first sign of a tension headache, you can try massaging one or two drops of peppermint oil against your temples or at the nape of your neck to lessen the pain. Use peppermint oil that is diluted with alcohol and only try this option if you aren’t highly sensitive to smell during a headache or migraine.
Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)
Some studies have shown that a high dose of riboflavin or vitamin B2 (about 400mg a day) may lower the amount of recurring migraines or even prevent them completely. Riboflavin is available as a supplement and is found in milk, eggs, lean meats, and leafy green vegetables like spinach. Give your migraine the boot with this milkshake that only has three ingredients.
As a supplement to other migraine relievers, try stretching away your headache pain with yoga. Yoga can help reduce the occurrence and severity of migraines by stretching the muscles in the neck to relieve tension, the culprit of tension headaches. It’s one of the many benefits of this popular exercise that has people adopting a regular practice.
Watch: Everyday Yoga