By Ashley Watson
If you get severe headaches, you probably know that they can be difficult to manage due to the intense pain and the large number of potential triggers. While there are prescription drugs on the market designed to treat severe headaches, many of these pharmaceuticals have adverse side effects that many people cannot tolerate. However, sometimes, you just have to accept the inevitable and take some time out from your day. That may not always be possible if you have a full-time job, or a family to take care of. This week's blog post lists some alternative ways to manage your headaches. Some of the suggestions may work better than others, but you should try them under your doctor’s supervision.
Part of managing severe headaches without the use of prescription drugs is recognizing what triggers them for you. Stress, lack of sleep, exposure to bright light, shift in weather or barometric pressure, certain foods, loud noises, and extreme temperatures can all be potential triggers. In addition to recognizing triggers and avoiding them when possible, it also helps to pay close attention to the signs and symptoms as you feel a headache coming on. This allows you to take action before it becomes too painful.
For some people, severe headaches can be caused by eating certain foods, such as chocolate, aged cheese, processed foods, or anything that puts extra stress on the digestive system. By the same token, caffeine, red wine, and some beers can also be a trigger. It’s not always easy to give up your favorite foods or beverages, but many natural practitioners believe that poor digestion can lead to severe headaches.
When you detox your system, it may make it easier to give up certain foods. A natural cleanse helps clean out your GI tract, and after a certain point in the cleanse, you may even find that you have less of a craving for problem foods. You should speak with your doctor before attempting any type of intestinal or liver cleanse or product designed for detoxification. Because there are a variety of products designed to support the detoxification process, it helps to speak with your doctor about which one can benefit you most without harmful side effects.
For instance, Hepaticlear from DaVinci® Laboratories is a dietary supplement designed to support liver health and normal detoxification functions.* This formula contains L-Glycine, which is important for the amino acid conjugation pathway used to neutralize and eliminate unwanted substances.* It also contains powerful antioxidants to help protect important cells in the body.*
Supplements for Severe Headaches
February is heart health month, and this month we're featuring CoQ10 because it supports cardiovascular health. Coenzyme Q10 (commonly known as CoQ10) is also known to support liver health and normal detoxification processes.* Additionally, researchers have studied CoQ10 to determine how it supports the body’s ability to reduce severe headaches.
Magnesium, and the herbs feverfew and butterbur have also been studied for their effectiveness in headache support, but you should always ask your doctor for advice before taking any new supplements. Some ingredients may interact with other medications.
Acupuncture and Craniosacral Therapy
According to the Alternative Medicine division of the National Institute of Health (NIH), acupuncture is one of the oldest natural healing practices in the world, and it is often used to treat intense pain, such as headaches. The theory behind this traditional Chinese practice involves inserting thin needles into the skin on certain parts of the body, which “regulates the flow of qi (vital energy) along pathways known as meridians.”
Many patients suffering from pain due to injuries or severe headaches use acupuncture to treat their symptoms. The NHIS reports that while acupuncture does show some positive results as a natural alternative to treating pain conditions, clinical trials are difficult to conduct due to the nature of this treatment. Even though further research is needed, many major health insurance companies have policies that help cover the cost of acupuncture.
Craniosacral therapy is also used to treat severe pain and headaches. However, this practice is not as widely accepted as acupuncture and typically not covered by standard health insurance policies. Ultimately, it is up to the patient to decide if these types of alternative treatments work, or if it’s worth any out-of-pocket costs.
Do you or your patients suffer from severe headaches? What do you do to manage the pain? Share your experience and tips with us on our Facebook page.