hat are headaches caused by?

If someone comes to see me and says they are suffering headaches – my first instinct is to look at the diet.

Dietary Factors

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– are they eating enough greens rich in calcium and magnesium?
– is the headache a symptom of a food intolerance?
– could they be sensitive to sulphites, present in red wine and cured meats?
– could it be an amine intolerance?
– are they managing their blood sugar properly?

Other factors to consider

– hydration
– changes in hormone levels
– are they getting enough sleep/ is their sleep posture poor?
– are they spending too much time in front of the computer?
– is it blocked sinuses?
– do they have high blood pressure?
– are they on medication and if so, could this be a side-effect?
– are they skipping meals and are the headaches related to hunger?

Treatment strategies

Treatment depends on how the headache presents and how often it presents, how severe it is and whether there are symptoms occurring alongside. 

Foods that are common headache triggers include dairy, wheat, chocolate, peanuts, coffee and alcohol, sulphite and high amine-containing foods. If you start to notice which foods are your triggers, eliminate them from the diet. Caffeine withdrawal can also cause headaches, as can undergoing a detox regime so bear these in mind and know that it’s toxins leaving your body as your liver detoxification capability improves.

Cutting artificial sweeteners such as aspartame (which turns to formaldehyde in the brain!) are also known headache triggers and can also cause withdrawal headaches.

Certain herbs and nutrients which exert a hypotensive action include magnesium-rich foods such as green leafy vegetables and beetroot which contains high levels of nitric oxide. Omega 3 fish oil is also useful for improving elasticity of arteries.

Try including herbs in the diet which contain anti-inflammatory properties such as turmeric, which is great fresh in juice or use the powder to sprinkle on food. A favourite of mine is scrambled eggs with lots of onions, spinach and turmeric.

Remember that if you start to suffer migraines and are on birth control medication you must inform your GP!
best natural remedies for headaches_2

Some of the best natural remedies for headaches

– Magnesium and zinc are great minerals for the nervous system and are useful when headaches are induced by stress. Great herbs for the nervous system and for improving stress resilience include oat straw, great as a tea or lavender which is useful as an essential oil and can be mixed with a carrier oil such as almond and rubbed on the temples and wrists.

– Feverfew is a popular herb used for migraine relief and valerian is great for nervous headache in some people (I say some because there is a small section of the population including myself who find that valerian can make the situation worse and cause energetic hyperactivity!)

– Epsom salt baths or magnesium oil sprayed around the neck and shoulders area are great when headaches are caused by muscular tension.

– Balance blood sugar and ensure adequate good quality protein in the diet by always pairing carbohydrate with protein and ensuring regular meals and healthy snacks.

– Acupuncture or ear acupuncture is also very useful to reduce headaches and encourage relaxation. Shen Men or point zero are two of my favorite points. Acupuncture treatment is great for both immediate relief and for preventing recurrence.

Connect with WatchFit Expert Carolina Brooks.

 

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