How to Treat Headaches Naturally

Understanding the cause so that you can use the right cure

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migraine woman

You don’t have to look very far to find someone that suffers from migraines, or at the very least, has experienced a migraine at some point in time. 

Migraines, as a general rule, are debilitating. They make normal life just about impossible to lead. Whether they land you in a pitch black room with a heat pack on your head, or in a hospital room with an IV stuck in your arm, migraines are not something to take lightly.

Although the medical establishment simply treats the symptoms, and offers up the possibility of wine or chocolate being the causative factor, migraines are NOT something that should be considered “normal” or incurable.   

The first step in curing migraines is to take a really close look at what may be causing your body to *mount* such a strong inflammatory response.

Possible CAUSES of Migraines

 The Cause  Hormonal Imbalance- Hormones can have a direct impact on migraines. Notice that you get a migraine around the same time every month? Better get those hormone levels checked!

 The Cure   Balance Those Hormones

Too high in estrogen? You may not only have identified the cause of your migraine, but mood disorders, breast cancer, and much more can be prevented by getting hormones under control.

A Naturopath can give you a hormone test which generally involves taking a test kit home and on the 21st day of your cycle (men don’t generally have a migraine issue that is related to hormones, but it’s not unheard of) taking a sample of urine and saliva at various intervals throughout the day. You then send in the test kit and a couple of weeks later, you and your Naturopath go over the results together. *I do not recommend doing this without the support of a doctor of Naturopath who is skilled at deciphering the results and making recommendations as to how to remedy the situation.

If you are not able to see a Naturopath I highly recommend the book The Hormone Cure by Sara Gottfried,MD. She does a very good job of explaining how hormones affect us throughout our lives, the havoc they can wreak when they are out of balance, and gives many natural remedies for hormonal imbalance. Included in the book is a quiz which helps you identify where your imbalance(s) may be. It is then followed by specific chapters for each category or imbalance.

Please note that Wild Yam Cream does NOT work.

Although the active component of wild yam, diosgenein, can be converted into progesterone in a lab, it cannot be converted by the human body. A randomized trial of wild yam cream versus placebo for menopausal symptoms showed no difference in symptoms or progesterone levels. (source) 

 The Cause   Food Intolerance- You may not notice any correlation between a migraine and that toast you just ate, but it may be a hidden food intolerance that is causing your migraine.

I’ll use myself as an example here. For years I pretty much lived off of (what I thought of as), healthy homemade whole grain bread. I’d eat slices slathered with jam and butter for breakfast, then have a sandwich for lunch, a snack of another slice of bread, and dinner included a roll, croutons, or breading.

Those same years included excruciating and debilitating headaches accompanied by jaw aches so severe I thought my head might explode.

While on my quest to have some relief from constant pain without going on the heavy meds that medical professionals recommended, I learned that grains, wheat in particular, had direct correlation to inflammation, and arthritis in particular. Because of this I ended up going through an elimination diet, cutting out all grains, dairy, and anything else I ate regularly.

When I added the wheat in particular (but really any grain) back into my diet, I’d get severe pain in my jaw and migraine type headaches. They were so directly correlated I couldn’t believe that I hadn’t made the connection sooner! The weird thing was that before I did the elimination diet I could not directly correlate eating wheat or grains with the onset of a headache. 

 The Cure  Identify and cut out foods that cause migraines

An elimination diet involves cutting out all grains, dairy, coffee, and anything else that you eat on a regular basis, for two weeks. During the 3rd and 4th weeks you add foods back in one at a time (for example, when you add back in egg whites, you use boiled eggs, even going so far as to wash the yolk residue from the white). It is an intense and lengthy process.

I am currently busy writing an e-book that tells exactly how to implement, follow, and cook for an elimination diet.  In the meantime Gwyneth Paltrow has a new recipe book out specifically designed for elimination diets and cleanses, click here.

Want to know more about gluten sensitivity and migraines? Click here for a video podcast

 The Cause  Vitamin and Mineral deficiency- Vitamins and minerals are often used to treat those suffering from migraines. Among the most popular are vitamin B2, B12 (if you have a gluten sensitivity then you likely are deficient in B12), magnesium and CoQ10. This is because these are common vitamins and minerals which we either do not get enough of because of soil depletion, blockage of absorption from anti-nutrients, or poor diet.

Magnesium in particular is a mineral that we MUST have in order to keep all sorts of functions of the body running smoothly. Everything from constipation, to heart health (circulation of the blood), to inflammatory responses in the body can have direct correlation to being low in magnesium. Magnesium is, quite frankly, a miracle cure for any inflammatory response, but especially a migraine.

 The Cure   Magnesium (The key to magnesium is heat)

Mag phos cell salt or Magnesia Phosphorica homeopathic remedy– Place Mag Phos (follow dosage on bottle) in 4 oz. hot water. Sip contents, with the goal being to drink the last drop while the water is hot. This has no taste and no laxative effect. Can be repeated every 15 minutes. (This is what Mag Phos cell salts look like. This is what magnesia phosphorica homeopathic remedy looks like.)

CALM magnesium drink– My entire family takes this almost every night, and when I forget, I get reminded. Be aware that it is very relaxing and can make you feel sleepy, so if you need to be peppy for an afternoon meeting, you might take a lesser dose!

Place 1 teaspoon powder in hot water. Mix (it will fizz) and drink while hot.

Notes: My family likes the raspberry-lemonade flavor. Do not get the kind that also has calcium. Just magnesium. 

 I have had many clients take this and not one has complained of it causing loose stool.  To purchase CALM magnesium drink, click here

Magnesium Glycinate– Although the CALM magnesium is fabulous, and everyone who tries it loves it, it is not the most absorbable kind of magnesium out there. Magnesium glycinate one of the most highly absorbable kinds of magnesium, and if you are severely deficient then you’ll want to take this. (click here to purchase magnesium glycinate)

Epsom salt bath– If you are in a bad place and nothing else is working. Place 2-4 cups of epsom salts in a hot bath. Stir to combine. Soak entire body for as long as possible. This will NOT cause loose bowels. Epsom salt I use and recommend.

When I feel a migraine coming on I start drinking CALM and Mag Phos cell salts every half hour or so. CALM tends to put me to sleep. Too much can also cause loose bowels, so I often will take CALM at night and then take Mag Phos every 15 minutes until the pain dissipates.  If it’s being stubborn, then an epsom salt bath is recommended.

 The Cure    Vitamin B12

Get tested by your naturopath for vitamin B deficiencies. The best route to upping your B vitamins quickly is to have it directly injected (usually into the nice fatty part above the buttox or in the arm). If needles aren’t for you, or you’re not under the care of a Naturopath, you can buy sublingual B-12 vitamins.

 The Cause  Environmental Chemical Exposure– Soaps, laundry detergent, dryer sheets, perfumes, off-gassing of new carpet/furniture/bedding can all trigger a migraine. If you are sensitive to smells, notice that a twinge of a headache comes on whenever you are in a certain room, or around a certain person, take note and investigate what might be triggering a response.

 The Cure   Lessen Exposure to Toxic Chemicals- Use environmentally friendly, as natural as you can get, laundry detergent, stain removers, soaps, make-up, etc. Ditch the dryer sheets, as the chemical solvents used are toxic and stay on your clothing (and you) 24 hours per day. 

Bought a new chair/mattress/piece of furniture? Let it off-gas in the garage for a few weeks, or open a window or two.

 The Cause  Align Your Spine-Sometimes people are out of alignment and simply need to be adjusted.

 The Cure  Chiropractic helps many people to keep migraines at bay by being adjusted on a regular basis. CranioSacral Therapy and Acupuncture can also greatly reduce symptoms and re-occurrence of migraines.

 The Cause  For some people low blood sugar can bring on a migraine. Whether it’s too much caffeine, too much sugar, or infrequent meals, it’s important to keep your blood sugar stable.

 The Cure  Stabilize Blood Sugar- Eat plenty of protein and healthy fats. Eat frequently, and cut out all caffeine if you notice that it causes a drop in blood sugar.

More Natural Remedies

Herbal Supplementation–  There are two herbal supplements that have greatly reduced the chance of another migraine bullying its way into my life.

Migra-Clear is a supplement that I take on a daily basis. It is cumulative so you generally start by taking 4-6 per day and work your way down to 1 per day. Click here for the best price on Migra Clear I’ve found. I personally take this on a daily basis.

CLEAR Headache is a mix of homeopathic remedies and herbs. It can be taken on a daily basis for prevention of headaches as well as when a headache or migraine appears. Click here for the best price on CLEAR Headache. I have used this with great success recently!

Homeopathic remedies are a fantastic resource. They are inexpensive, have absolutely zero side effects or drug- interaction issues, and are easy and discreet to take. Arnica Montana 30c is a great place to start. I use this anytime I would use an aspirin. It can be taken every 15 minutes and is a remedy that I carry in my purse. If I feel a headache coming on (say I had a sample at the store that contained wheat and I didn’t realize it) I’ll pop Arnica and Magnesia Phosphorica alternating every 15 minutes until I can get home. Often this is all I need. 

What are your tips and tricks to keep a migraine or headache from taking over, and ruining, your day? Please share in the comments below. Maybe together we can be pain free!

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Comments

  1. I’ve had migraines since I was 8, while pregnant, after nursing and throughout my life. I’ll be 60 this month…and haven’t had a “cycle” since I had a partial hystorectomy at age 39. I’m fairly certain my migraines are hormonal in nature, as they are few and far between these days…and quite different than they were in the beginning. Early in life, they had an aura, numbness, vomiting, photophobia, phonophobia and finally, a throbbing headache until I could fall asleep. For the last few years, they wake me up between 3am and 6am, but are abated with a dose of Imitrex. The only residual effects of which are a stiff, sore and sluggish body, as if hung over. So, since there’s no “cycle” to do the “21st day of” for the hormonal testing…and they show up while I’m SLEEPING, what would be your suggestion?

    • Barbara- Yes, migraines still can be related to hormones after menopause. It’s not as likely, but worth getting checked out. That being said, because you say that you are woken up by migraines between 3-6 AM, I am more suspicious that it is food related.

      Depending on your response to food, you can have a reaction to food either instantly, or many hours down the road- around 8-12 hours. For instance, I ate at a restaurant yesterday for lunch. I didn’t ask whether or not the tortilla chips were all corn or if they had some wheat. I ate plenty (the salsa was good!) and woke up around 3:30am with a horrible headache that was so painful I had to get up and take some arnica and get a heat pack.

      So you see, we often do not see the link between what we eat and getting a migraine because the response is often not right away.

      Thanks for your comment and let me know if you figure out the cause.

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