Why be concerned?
90% of adults will experience at some time a Tension Headaches. 12% of the population experience Migraine Headaches that often impede one’s ability to participate in life’s activities.
Why is this happening?
Day to Day headaches most often occur from the constriction of blood vessels or the tightening of facial and scalp muscles when feeling stress can result in decreased blood and oxygen flow to the brain.
What are the diagnostic criteria for headaches?
Because of the vast number of different types of causes of headaches 3 categories have been created for diagnostic purposes. The 3 categories for classification are: 1. Primary, 2. Secondary and 3. Cranial Neuralgias and Facial Pain. For a full outline see addendum 1. Headache Categorization Chart. It is recommended that your Wellness Professional assist in proper diagnosis to ensure rule out serious disease and the correct treatment options are chosen.
The most common causes include:
- Alcohol & Drugs- Prescription The active use of or withdrawal from: Drugs, Cocaine, Amphetamines and Diet Pills can cause headaches. Rebound headaches can be a result of using some painkillers once they start to wear off
- Dehydration- Simply not getting enough fluid throughout the day
- Digestive and Liver Dysfunction ( Toxicity)- Either constipation or loose stools can contribute to liver congestion which can trigger headaches
- Food Sensitivities- Chocolate, Caffeine, Dairy , Food Additives such as nitrates, nitrites and monosodium glutamate are well known headache triggers
- Hormones-Many migraines begin at puberty. There are many things in the environment which have an estrogenic like effect such as pesticides & PCBs
- Hypoglycemia or Missing Meals-Low blood sugar levels often leads to headaches
- Illness- Sinus Infections, Eyestrain, Vision Problems, Allergies, Dental Infections, Grinding and Clenching of Teeth, Viral Infections, Urinary Tract Infections and Headaches
- Insomnia- Lack of sleep can cause muscle tension which in turn leads to headaches
- Stress- Leading to muscular tension and or grinding of teeth
- Other Factors- Glare, Poor Lighting conditions, physical exertion and chemical sensitivities
When should seek medical attention immediately?
If you experience.. • A headache with symptoms of numbness, speech difficulties and one sided weakness which may be a sign of a stroke • A sudden onset of a headache as well as symptoms of a fever and stiff neck may be a sign of meningitis • An extremely painful, headache, possibly the worst you’ve ever head which may be associated with an aneurysm. • A headache that worsens over time ( especially if neurological symptoms are displayed) which may be indicative of a tumor or an abscess.
What are the Health Connections related to this trend?
Natural approaches understand the root cause and the Health Connections in the path that resulted in their outcome. The pathway from beginning to end result in the Health Wellness Spectrum( HWS)© is as follows: ( For more details of the HWS © see the April 2008 Newsletter Allergies, Asthma and Eczema)
- Nervous System– Balance of states of energy and relaxation II. Adrenal Gland I– Hyper energy, Reduced Sleep III. Adrenal Gland II– Reduced energy, Need for More Sleep IV. Inflammation V. Digestion– FIT ( food intolerances) VI. Insulin Resistance– Hypoglycemia VII. Liver Congestion VIII. Hormonal Changes IX. Anxiety, Depression X. Headaches
Thus Headache concerns are about the nervous system being hyper stimulated . This in turn over stimulates the adrenal gland to produce higher amounts of hormones such as cortisol and phase 1 migraines.
When the body is in this sympathetic state for too long it reduces the digestive enzymes it produces and thus the body has more of a difficult time digesting and the individual develops inflammation patterns , food ( i.e. sugar, colours and dyes used in foods, dairy etc.) and environmental sensitivities.
The body eventually becomes tired and the individual has to pump out a lot of adrenaline to stay awake, causing hyper activity.
Because these individuals burn so much fuel in the day with their high energy they tend to have hypoglycaemic traits where their blood sugar quickly can go low and thus they crave sugars, carbohydrates for quick fuel.
The above cycles and the environmental chemicals that we are exposed to daily lead to liver congestion whereby the liver can’t focus on its other roles including the conjugation of hormones.
What are the Traditional Treatment Options?
If you suffer from chronic headaches, your doctor will more than likely prescribe medication such as antidepressants, beta-blockers and calcium channel blockers to prevent headaches before they occur. Although these provide relief there maybe side effects and concerns with long term use.
What are our Natural Treatment Options?
Thus one can see that in treating any one of these conditions layers of support are needed. A customized Revivelife Wellness Centre Approach would be to:
- Fill in your Health Wellness Spectrum( HWS)© Questionnaire- Adult or Kids Wellness 2. Have your Metabolic Urine Tested 3. Assess your score on the HWS 4. Have a New Patient Visit 5. Test for Food and Environmental Intolerances 6. Individual Plan of Management
- What are a few home treatment options?
- Cold Application- Put something cold on the back of your neck
- Cold and Warm Application-Put a cold compress on your forehead and your feet in warm water
- Water– During a migraine a person makes more urine than usual. One thus has to drink more than usual. A good recommendation is to take 15mls of water every 15 minutes during a headache and in general take half your body weight in ounces of water per day.
- Keeping Blood Sugar Levels even– i.e. protein snacks and food every 3 hrs. Studies show that when a person who experiences migraines eats refined sugar their blood sugar levels to up very high then quickly come down so fast that it can often be missed on standard glucose testing . When refined sugar is eaten the pancreas releases insulin. Insulin then stimulates the release of adrenaline which starts phase I of migraines.( Low, Rodolfo, 1987. Migraine: The Breakthrough Study That Explains What Causes It and How it Can Be Completely Prevented Through Diet. Henry Holt & Co. Inc. New York NY. ) Research shows that those with migraines release more than the normal amount of insulin
- Exercise– Provides long term benefits however avoid during an acute migraine.
- Acupressure- Use pressure for a minute or two on two points at the base of the neck which are about two inches apart this releases endorphins that help ease the pain
- Acupuressure-LI4-massage or press on the fleshy part between the thumb and index finger
- What are some of the Natural Remedy Options? Check with your Naturopath for exact dosing that is customized.
- Detoxification- Can improve hormonal , bowl and liver congestion related headaches. The liver is the organ that assists the clearing of environmental estrogens i.e. pesticides & PCBs that have an estrogenic like effect.
- Managing Food Intolerances– Foods such as chocolate (amines), cheese (tyramine) avocadoes, pineapples, beans, peas, lentils, MSG, pork, shrimp, alcohol, caffeine, and nitrites are common culprits of migraines. People with migraines have less monoamine oxidase ( MAO) the enzyme in platelets that breaks down amines. It is important to know which ones are unique to you, so it is recommended to be tested.
- Acupuncture-In traditional Chinese Medicine pain results from blocked energy along energy pathways of the body, which are unblocked when acupuncture needles are inserted along these pathways. The treatment stimulates release of pain relieving opioids that send signals to calm the sympathetic nervous system and triggers the release of neurotransmitters ( brain chemicals) and hormones. A randomized controlled trial-BMJ Online found that acupuncture can reduce tension headaches by at least 50%
- Bowen Therapy www.bowtech.com -An effective technique that assists in reduction of stress and relaxation of smooth muscles.
- Herbal Remedies
- Cayenne-Pounding headaches b. Peppermint-Pounding headaches c. Devil’s Claw-Pounding headaches d. Ginkgo Biloba-Pounding headaches. Ginkgo improves the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain , hence relieving headaches but also improving memory and alertness. Ginkgo also relieves ringing in the ear and dizziness often associated with headaches. e. Feverfew– for migraine headaches. Studies have shown that both feverfew and ginkgo can reduce migraines and vascular headaches. Feverfew contains parthenolide which inhibits the production of substances that dilate the blood vessels and cause inflammation f. Skullcap-Relaxes muscles g. Passiflora-Acts to relax the nervous system to reduce anxiety, pain and inflammation h. Ginger-Relaxes blood vessels in the head and reduces swelling in the brain. It activates natural opiates in the brain that relieve pain.
- Custom Herbal Combinations– such as-Feverfew, Milk Thistle and Passiflora- Aids Vascular headaches, Liver congestion and Muscular headaches
- Massage- can relieve muscular tension that contributes to headaches.
- Aromatherapy– Peppermint or Lavender –Can be smelled or can be rubbed on adjoining muscles that are tense. The olfactory organ in the nose is connected to parts of the brain that manage emotions and hormone release
- Biofeedback and relaxation therapy- Encourages one to become conscious of body reactions. By learning to respond to measurements of muscle tension one can learn to create change of relaxation 9. Chiropractic- When muscles contract bones in the neck and spine may move into the wrong place which is called a subluxation. Because the nerves that lead out from the spine can be irritated they may lead to migraines. Chiropractic support gently realigns the boney structure and thus the adjoining muscles can relax. Research indicates that chiropractic treatment can improve headaches by 80%
- Chromium-The excess consumption of refined sugars can lead to chromium deficiency and contribute further to hypoglycaemia. The use of chromium in supplement form can thus improve migraines
- Vitamin C– Is needed to convert tryptophan to serotonin which can relax smooth muscles
- Calcium & Magnesium– Equal amounts of magnesium and calcium both work to create smooth muscle relaxation
- B6- Is needed to convert tryptophan to serotonin
- Trytophan– Is converted to serotonin in the body when needed
- EFAs– W-3 FAs- Food sources include flax seeds, wheat germ, and fish. The EFAs are used by the body to make prostaglandins which in turn support the conversion to hormones.
- Friendly Bacteria– Acidophilus and Digestive Enzymes– to promote digestion and reduce reactions to food sensitivities
- Homeopathy– Enhances the body’s natural healing and encourages your body’s own ability to heal itself. Treatment works to increase the production of endorphins which are the body’s natural pain killers. Treatment is customized to the source of your headaches.
Some common homeopathic headache remedies include:
Belladonna- throbbing, pounding headaches that onset quickly and the person is sensitive to noise and light Colubrina-headaches of excess food or alcohol Silicea-migraines triggered by hormones Ignatia-headaches from the stress of grief or depression Arnica-for headaches due to physical injury Iris-intense migraines , particularly for those with an aura or other visual disturbances Spigelia– sharp painful throbbing headaches Lachesis– excruciating migraines often on the left side Sanguinaria-migraines that are often on the right side with painful sensitivity to light and sounds
Natural Relief from Headaches, Insomnia & Stress: Safe, Effective Herbal Remedies (Paperback) by David Hoffmann (Author)
Wellness Comment: Introduces one to the common herbals that can be considered for headache support. It is always recommended to consult your Wellness Professional before beginning any treatment plan.
References: Brainard, John B., 1979. Control of Migraine. W.W. Norton & Co., New York — London.
Colborn, Theo, Dianne Dumanoski, and John Peterson Myers, 1996. Our Stolen Future. Penguin Books, New York, NY.
Frykholm R. Cervical Migraine: the clinical pictures. In : Hirsch C, Zotterman Y, eds. Cervical pain. Oxford, Great Britain: Pergamon Press 1972; 13-16.
Gosling, Nalda. Herbs for Headaches and Migraine. ISBN 0-7225-0396-2 Thorsons Publishing Ltd. 1978.
Hanington, Edda, MD MRCP, 1980. The Headache Book. Technomic, Westport CT.
Kohlenberg, R.J. Migraine Relief: A Personal Treatment Program, 1995
Low, Rodolfo, 1987. Migraine: The Breakthrough Study That Explains What Causes It and How it Can Be Completely Prevented Through Diet. Henry Holt & Co. Inc. New York NY.
Vernon H. Manipulative therapy in the chiropractic treatment of headaches: a retrospective and prospective study. J Manipulative Physiol Ther 1982; 5:109-12
Wight JS. Migraine: a statistical analysis of chiropractic treatment. J Am Chiro Assoc 1978; 12: 363-67.
Addendum 1-Headaches Classification , Cause, Stats, Location, Symptoms- Reference
National Headache Foundation-2008
|Tension*90% of adults will have *Most Common* Primarily Women||*Uncertain*Stress*Leads to contraction of muscles covering skull
|*Back of head(trapezius)*Temples(jaw muscles)*Forehead||*Band like pressure at the back of head or settling over the *Dull, non-throbbing pain *Frequently bilateral*Associated with tension* Degree of severity remains constant||Rest, aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, naproxen sodium, combinations of analgesics with caffeine, ice packs, muscle relaxants. Antidepressants if appropriate, biofeedback, psychotherapy|
|Migraine *12% of the population (US)will have*Equally affects boys and girls before puberty
*After puberty up to 18% of women and 6% of men will experience
|Hormonal changes that cause contraction (aura i.e. spots, cold hands or feet and difficulty concentrating) of blood vessels, dilation (Pain) *Certain foods *The Pill *Menopausal hormones*Excessive hunger *Changes in altitude, weather*Lights
* Excessive smoking *Emotional stress. *Hereditary component
|*Often one sided but may affect the whole head||*Severe throbbing pain*Often accompanied by nausea, vomiting, cold hands, sensitivity to sound and light.*May have aura preceding||Note because of the two phases and different hormones relating to each phase different treatments can be helpful at different times of the migraine. Acute: Ice packs; isometheptene mucate, combo pdts containing caffeine, ergotamine, DHE injectable and nasal spray, 5-HT agonists; analgesics or medications, which constrict the blood vessels. For prolonged attacks steroids may be helpful. Prevention: Betablockers (propranolol, timolol), anti-convulsant (divalproex sodium), Calcium blockers and NSAIDs|
|Cluster* 0.1% of the population* Estimated 85% are men
*Average age of cluster headache sufferers is 28-30
|*Uncertain*Alcohol or Smoking*Abnormal activity in hypothalamus (biological clock)
*Run in families
*May be triggered by sleep patterns or medications i.e. nitroglycerin
|*Excruciating pain in vicinity of one eye (hot poker like sensation)||* Watering of eye and nose with nose congestion, flushing of face *Pain frequently develops during sleep and may last for several hours* Attacks occur every day for weeks/month, then disappear for up to a year*Restless, pacing, banging head on wall||Acute: Oxygen, ergotamine, sumatriptan or intranasal application of local anesthetic agent Prevention: Use of steroids, ergotamine, calcium channel blockers and lithium.|
|Exertion Headaches*10% caused by organic diseases (aneurysms, tumors, or blood vessel malformation)*90% are related to migraine or cluster headaches||*Physical Exertion active(sexual intercourse) or passive (sneezing, bowel movements, coughing)||*Generalized head pain of short duration (minutes to 1 hour)||*Acute: aspirin, indomethacin, or propranolol* Extensive testing to determine the cause*Surgery to correct organic disease is occasionally indicated.|
*Medication & Drugs
*Changes in body`s environment
*Bleeding in Brain
|*Head and neck trauma (concussion, whiplash)*Blood vessel problems in the head and neck (stroke)*Non blood vessel related (tumors, seizures)
*Medications & Drugs
*Infections (meningitis, encephalitis, pneumonia, flu, cold)
*Changes in the body’s environment (high bp, dehydration, hypothyroidism)
*Problems with the eyes, ears, nose, throat, teeth and neck
|Allergy & Sensitivity Headaches||*Allergens||Antihistamine medication; topical, nasal cortisonerelated sprays or desensitization injections|
|Aneurysm||*Caused by balloon-like weakness or bulge in blood-vessel wall*May rupture (stroke) or allow blood to leak slowly* Congenital tendency. Extreme hypertension||*May mimic frequent migraine or cluster headaches, *Stroke-resulting in a sudden, unbearable headache, double vision, rigid neck. Individual rapidly becomes unconscious.|
|Infection||Generalized head pain that develops with fever. Caused by swelling of the blood vessels of the head Gnawing pain over nasal area, often increasing in severity throughout day. Caused by acute infection, usually with fever, producing blockage of sinus ducts and preventing normal drainage. Sinus headaches are rare. Migraine and cluster headaches are often misdiagnosed as sinus in origin.||acetaminophen, NSAIDs, antibiotics|
|Hangover Headaches||Alcohol, which causes dilation and irritation of the blood vessels of the brain and surrounding tissue.||Migraine-like symptoms of throbbing pain and nausea not localized to one side.||Liquids (including broth). Consumption of fructose (honey, tomato juice are good sources) to help burn alcohol|
|Caffeine- Withdrawal Headaches||Caffeine.||Throbbing headache caused by rebound dilation of the blood vessels, occurring multiple days after consumption of large quantities of caffeine.|
|Post-Traumatic Headaches||Localized or generalized pain, can mimic migraine or tension-type headache symptoms. Headaches usually occur on daily basis and are frequently resistant to treatment.||Pain can occur after relatively minor traumas. Cause of pain is often difficult to diagnose.||Possible treatment by use of anti-inflammatory drugs, propranolol, or biofeedback.|
|Hunger Headaches||Pain strikes just before mealtime. Caused by muscle tension, low blood sugar, and rebound dilation of the blood vessels, oversleeping or missing a meal.||Regular, nourishing meals containing adequate protein and complex carbohydrates|
|Eyestrain Headaches||Muscle imbalance. Uncorrected vision, astigmatism||Usually frontal, bilateral pain, directly related to eyestrain. Rare cause of headache.||Correction of vision.|
|Hormonal Migraine-type pain that occurs shortly before, during, or immediately after menstruation or at mid-cycle (at time of ovulation||Fluctuations in Estrogen||Migraine Like||Small doses of vasoconstrictors and/or anti-inflammatory drugs before and during menstrual period may prevent headaches. Hysterectomy does not cure menstrual headaches|
|III. Cranial Neuralgias, Facial Pain, Other Headaches||*Cranial Neuralgia’s-Inflammation of nerves of head and upper neck||.|
|Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Headaches||Caused by malocclusion (poor bite), stress, and jaw clenching.||A muscle-contraction type of pain, sometimes accompanied by a painful “clicking” sound on opening the jaw. Infrequent cause of headache.||Relaxation, biofeedback, use of bite plate. In extreme cases, correction of malocclusion|
|Tic Douloureux Headaches||unknown. Pain from chewing, cold air, touching face. If under age 55, may result from neurological disease, such as MS.||Short, jab like pain in trigger areas found in the face around the mouth or jaw. Frequency and longevity of pain varies. Relatively rare disease of the neural impulses; more common in women after age 55.||Anticonvulsants and muscle relaxants. Neurosurgery|
|Arthritis Headaches||Intensifies on movement. Caused by inflammation of the blood vessels of the head or bony changes in the structures of the neck.||Pain at the back of head or neck.||Anti-inflammatory drugs, muscle relaxants.|
|Temporal Arteritis||Cause is unknown. May be due to immune disorder||. Pain, often around ear, on chewing.||A boring, burning, or jabbing pain caused by inflammation of the temporal arteries Weight loss, eyesight problems. Rarely affects people under 50.||Steroids after diagnosis. Confirmed by biopsy.|