Holistic Treatments and Practices for Headache

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Massage helps to achieve deep relaxation, reduce stress levels and anxiety, improve blood circulation, and create mental clarity.  Massage therapy is probably one of the most effective ways to relieve headaches, more specifically tension headaches or those which are caused by physical and mental stress.

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This technique involves inserting very fine needles at the specific pressure points in the body to relieve headache pain.

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A popular natural treatment that has been used in China and some parts of Asia for at least 2000 years, Acupressure works to relieve virtually any type of headache, but especially those which are caused by stress, anxiety, colds or flu, and fatigue.

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Aromatherapy is a form of alternative medicine that uses volatile liquid plant materials, known as essential oils (EOs), and other aromatic compounds from plants to relieve heachaches and migraines.

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Depending on the root cause of your headache, herbal medicine can effectively help relieve the pain associated with it.  Each herb contains individual properties which address specific causes and symptoms. 

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Physiotherapy can be beneficial in treating tension headaches and migraines because relieving tension in the muscles is usually key to treating the pain.

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In biofeedback, headaches can be relieved by helping you to control bodily responses such as heart rate, muscle tension, and skin temperature. But before it can be done, one must render themselves to be fully aware of the headaches which is where the biofeedback machines come into play.

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Bowen Therapy can reduce the severity and frequency of headaches. The treatment is done primarily by pressing on specific neurovascular points located at the different parts of the body.

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Spinal manipulation, the treatment form most commonly used by chiropractic doctors, may effectively relieve headaches that originate in the neck. It is found out that such technique gives immediate relief, has fewer side effects, and produces long-lasting effects compared to the medications prescribed for headaches. 

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It is believed that many of those suffering headache do so due to there inability to relax and to release stress and anxiety.  EFT can release negative emotions that are preventing you from relaxing and causing you headache pain.

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Guided imagery is helpful in reducing the intensity, duration, and frequency of headaches by promoting deep relaxation and producing positive thoughts. This is especially true for tension headaches. 

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Hypnosis, being described as a relaxed state of mind, is an effective way to manage headaches since it involves shifting of attention away from the pain, causing a person to no longer focus on it.

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Magnets, usually in the form of rings, bracelets and necklaces, have long been proposed for use in treating various conditions, most recent of which is headache. 

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Craniosacral therapy is based on the functionality of the central nervous system. The practitioner administers craniosacral therapy by applying small amounts of pressure to various parts of the head, neck spine and tailbone to relieve pain and tension.

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Foot reflexology, or reflexology in general, relieves headaches by promoting relaxation and sense of well-being.

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Homeopathy is a system of medicine which involves treating the individual with the aim of triggering the body's natural system of healing the condition (in this case headache). There are a lot of homeopathic remedies suited for different types of headaches.

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Meditation allows us to be relaxed both mentally and physically. When the body is in a relaxed state, breathing slows and muscles relax, thereby helping to reduce the intensity of headaches.

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Color therapy makes use of the visual sensation and perception to promote healing from headache. Some colors may be more pleasing and relaxing, and somehow can be perceived as a positive impulse towards the mind.

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Feldenkrais Method teaches exercises, breathing techniques, and movements and identifies which postures must be avoided to prevent the development of nervous system disorders. This technique can help reduce pain and prevent future causes of headaches.

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Headache

Summary

A headache is pain anywhere in the region of the head or neck. It can be a symptom of a number of different conditions of the head and neck. The brain tissue itself is not sensitive to pain because it lacks pain receptors. Rather, the pain is caused by disturbance of the pain-sensitive structures around the brain.

There are a number of different classification systems for headaches. The most well-recognized is that of the International Headache Society. Headache is a non-specific symptom, which means that it has many possible causes. Treatment of a headache depends on the underlying cause, but commonly involves analgesics.

A migraine is a severe, painful headache that is often preceded or accompanied by sensory warning signs such as flashes of light, blind spots, tingling in the arms and legs, nausea, vomiting, and increased sensitivity to light and sound. The excruciating pain that migraines bring can last for hours or even days. 

Migraine headaches result from a combination of blood vessel enlargement and the release of chemicals from nerve fibers that coil around these blood vessels. During the headache, an artery enlarges that is located on the outside of the skull just under the skin of the temple (temporal artery). This causes a release of chemicals that cause inflammation, pain, and further enlargement of the artery. 

A migraine headache causes the sympathetic nervous system to respond with feelings of nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting. This response also delays the emptying of the stomach into the small intestine (affecting food absorption), decreases blood circulation (leading to cold hands and feet), and increases sensitivity to light and sound. 

More Details:

Headaches are extremely common; about seven out of 10 Americans will have one this year. Over 45 million people in the United States suffer from chronic headaches, which are headaches that return with some frequency.

Headache symptoms can vary between different people, but there are three main types: tension headaches, migraine headaches, and cluster headaches.

Tension headaches tend to feel like a tightening around the head. These types of headaches were once thought to be associated with stress or poor posture, resulting in tightness of the muscles of the head and neck. It is difficult to determine with certainty what causes headaches since there are many factors to consider. Women are more likely to develop tension headaches than men. But most adults between ages 20 to 50 will have at least one tension headache in their lifetime.

Migraine headaches are usually intense and throbbing, often involving one side of the head, although they can affect the entire head. As is the case for tension headaches, the cause of migraine headaches is still being researched. There is some thought that an imbalance in the nervous system, especially in the trigeminal nerve, may trigger dilation and inflammation of blood vessels in the head. This dilation and inflammation is responsible for the pain experienced during a migraine. Many times, they are associated with light or sound sensitivity (photophobia and phonophobia), and occasionally with nausea and vomiting. Women are nearly three times more likely to have a migraine than men, with 17 of women experiencing a migraine during their lifetime. Migraine headaches can occur with or without an aura, a group of symptoms that occur before a headache starts.

Cluster headaches are far less common than other types of headaches and, unlike migraines and tension headaches, affect men more than women. Altered blood flow in the blood vessels of the head and involvement of the trigeminal nerve are two possible causes of cluster headaches, but the true cause is not yet clear to researchers. The pain is typically a sharp, stabbing pain located behind one of the eyes. The pain associated with a cluster headache usually lasts 30 to 45 minutes and crescendos toward the end of the episode.

Occasionally headaches may be caused by a more serious medical condition. A severe headache associated with fever could indicate meningitis, or an infection of the tissues surrounding the brain and spinal cord. In the elderly, a headache accompanied by tenderness of the temple and scalp could be a sign of temporal arteritis, inflammation of a major artery of the scalp. In any case, a headache lasting over 24 hours or associated with severe symptoms, such as vomiting or visual changes, should be reported to a healthcare professional for further evaluation.

Also known as

Cephalalgia, Cluster Headache, Head Ache, Migraine, Tension Headache