Left-field Cures for Headaches

Heal yourself with left-field cures you may never heard of before…
getting stubborn headaches that just won’t go? Maybe worth investigating some of these less obvious cures….

1. Omega 3 fatty acids as found in fish oils. Scientific reviews suggest there is moderate evidence to suggest the therapeutic role of omega 3 in treating headaches, most probably by reducing inflammation (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7572026/). Interestingly the same studies suggest that omega 6 induces an inflammatory response. So try to reduce intake of seeds, nuts, poor quality meat, dairy, sunflower or corn oil and up your intake of omega 3 fish oils if you want to reduce inflammation. There are very few contra-indications other than the risk of bleeding at high doses beyond 3grams per day.

2. Creatine Monohydrate. Better known by weight-lifters used to bulk up muscle. Low creatine levels have been found in the thalamus of brains of some migraine sufferers. This suggests that taking creatine as a supplement may increase these endogenous creatine levels and reduce symptoms of migraine. It’s important to remain hydrated when taking creatine. If not , perversely, you may get a headache caused by dehydration.

3. Turmeric. A potent anti-inflammatory. So potent that there are some caveats. Don’t take too much if exercising as you’ll not benefit from the inflammatory phase of exercise. Turmeric can also affect clotting, acting as a blood thinner. This may be an issue if you’re already on blood thinners such as warfarin. Or it may be an added bonus as it may also help protect against heart disease (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8833931/) due to its anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative properties.

4. Muscular Tension. Numerous muscles can cause headache. Typically tension from neck muscles refers pain on to the head. What makes this difficult to diagnose is that for some muscles you can’t feel any pain in the neck, just the head. Whilst there are numerous culprits the most prolific muscle is the upper trapezius. This tends to refer to the back of the head and when its really thumping, onto the front of the head as well. To check if this muscle could be contributing to your headaches try pinching the muscle that slopes down from your neck to your shoulder.

5. Sleep. Numerous bad things come from not getting enough sleep; poor memory & function, compromised immune system, poor tissue repair compromising rehabilitation from injury, depression. Increased feelings of sleepiness may also predispose you to poor diet choices – reaching for high glucose foods to give you an instant energy boost, which could lead to a lack in the following essential nutrients.

6. Vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to demyelination of nerve sheaths (essentially damaging the nerves), mimicking symptoms of MS; weakness, tiredness, numbness and tingling, depression. Up to 20% of the elderly are estimated to be vitamin B12 deficient. Check you are eating enough B12 rich foods (red meat, fish, shell fish, fortified soy products, dairy).

7. Vitamin D. Spend a lot of time indoors? Symptoms get worse in the winter? Don’t eat much in the way of fish, eggs or diary? Perhaps you have a Vitamin D deficiency. Particularly important to check out given that Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with increased risk of cancer.

8. Magnesium is an essential electrolyte, Its a macro nutrient meaning its needed in large quantities. It’s a nutrient important for proper muscle and nerve function, allowing muscles to relax. Deficiency can result in muscle weakness, twitching, dizziness, nausea and irritability. It can even be the root cause of low calcium or potassium levels.

Magnesium is also critical for production of. the feel good hormone serotonin. Low levels can be responsible for depression. Requirements will rise for magnesium if you’re doing hard physical work, are under emotional stress or taking certain medications such as chemotherapy, anti- fungals, medications for infections and others.
In trials magnesium tends to work best for migraine and menstrual headaches.
Bananas, avocados, nuts, dark green leafy vegetables and dark chocolate all contain high levels of magnesium.

9. Stress is a common trigger for both tension type headaches and migraine. So lowering stress and anxiety should be an integral part of your plan to get better. In brief; exercise, breathing exercises, connecting emotionally with others, reframing apparently negative events into positives and meditation can all help.

This is a far from exhaustive list of potential culprits. I haven’t even considered environmental toxins, bowel function, other nutrients such as riboflavin, thiamine, co-enzyme Q10, carnitine (from meat products) or niacin. As you may have gathered pinning down the cause of your headache and fixing it is no easy solution. And some solutions contradict others. For example lowering your omega 6 intake by eating fewer nuts may then adversely impact your magnesium levels.

Thankfully acupuncture is effective at treating a great deal of headaches and migraines without the need for a radical dietary overhaul. If you’d like to see if I can help please book a free 15 minute consultation using the book now button below…