A lot of people think that getting headaches are “normal”, when really we shouldn’t have to deal with the symptoms associated with these headaches on a regular basis at all.
A headache could just be a warning sign that there’s a deeper problem going on in your body that needs to be addressed. That’s what chiropractic really is, addressing the underlying meaning so your body can function at its highest level.
There are many things people can do in conjunction with chiropractic care to eradicate or reduce headaches to allow our patients to be able to go out and do the things they love to do.
Health really is dependent on eating well, moving well, and thinking well. Here are some things patients can us to help them reduce and hopefully eliminate headaches forever.
Get a Chiropractic Adjustment
Getting a spinal adjustment helps to correct misalignment’s in the vertebral column which in turn helps the nervous system reach its optimal functioning. With our nervous system functioning at a higher level and our spinal joints moving better we’re able to have better posture, fight off fatigue and stress easier, and allow our bodies to regulate itself better. This also helps relieve muscular tension along the spine which can make a big difference in people who get frequent headaches (4). People who’ve never experienced chiropractic can be leery to try it, but if you give it a try once, you’ll wonder why you waited so long to visit a chiropractor.
Practice Meditation and Try Yoga
Stress plays a huge factor in our lives, and can often translate to tight muscles, pain, and often headaches. Naturally we all have varying degrees of stress and how we handle it often dictates our health as well. Stress reduction can be huge in handling headaches and getting rid of them altogether. Doing yoga or meditating can help to shut out some of life’s stressors. Studies have shown that both of these help with not only the frequency of headaches, but also with the pain tolerance in dealing with them (2). Lots of people who’ve never tried yoga or meditating equate it to hippie nonsense, but in actuality just taking a few minutes a day to meditate can really have a factor on productivity and stress reduction. And yoga has proven benefits for flexibility and athletic performance.
Make Changes to Your Diet
Making changes to your dietary habits is one of the best ways to help prevent headaches. Certain foods such as chocolate, dairy, certain fruits, foods that contain nitrates, and even alcohol are just some of the big ones that can trigger or cause headaches. Sugar is also a big concern because it can cause spikes in blood sugar which in turn causes headaches. Sometimes it’s best to start with a simple elimination diet, which is to eliminate common food allergy producers like gluten, dairy, soy, and eggs then slowly reintroduce them to see what could possibly be causing the headaches. Even cutting out a lot of processed foods from one’s diet can help immensely in reducing one’s migraines.
Diet soda, which contains chemical artificial sweeteners, can also be a big cause of headaches as well. A first step in cleaning up your diet is to just really cut out as much of the processed and refined foods as possible. It’s amazing how much healthier you feel when you get a few more fruits and greens in during a day. Also cutting down on any soda consumption can have tremendous effects on not only your body, but how you feel as well.
Use Essential Oils
Lavender oil and peppermint oil have been two essential oils that have gained recognition for helping to ease the pain of headaches (1). Both of these essential oils have been known to help prevent and manage headaches in their own way. Lavender oil can either be inhaled or used topically. Lavender oil also has anti-inflammatory and calming properties to help calm muscle tension and migraine headaches. Peppermint oil has vasodilating properties that can help manage blood flow which can be a common cause of headaches. Both these oils can be purchased relatively cheap at your local health store.
Get a Massage in a Chiropractors Office
For a lot of people most of their headaches are a combination of tension and migraine type headaches. Some patients just never realize just how tight their neck muscles are until a chiropractor tells them that their range of motion in their neck is that of a 50-year-old! A lifetime of physical stress can take a toll on someone’s posture and musculature, which in turn causes a myriad of imbalances throughout the body. People who sit all day at desks, or have rigorous, physical jobs, or even someone who’s had physical trauma are certainly more predisposed to having muscle tension. Everyone to some extent has some degree of muscle stiffness/soreness, it’s just a byproduct of our everyday lives. Going to a massage therapist for the first time can really make someone aware of the usefulness and benefits of getting regular massages. Some therapists specialize in trigger points and reflexology, which actually targets specific areas in the neck and skull that can elicit headaches, and removes the tension. Getting massages have so many therapeutic benefits I think it should actually be included in every single person’s health insurance plan.
There are a lot of supplements gaining traction for helping people find relief from headaches. The most recent that I find the most interesting is capsaicin (the hot pepper) which has been found to not only help benefit with headache problems, but is also becoming a general wellness supplement (3). Capsaicin can be found in powder or pill form. Magnesium is another great supplement to take to help not only with headaches, but it’s great for general muscle soreness Taking 200 mg twice daily can drastically reduce muscular tension and soreness. Feverfew is another natural supplement that has proven to not only shorten headaches but also decreases the severity of them. Taking 250-500 mcg can make a difference almost instantly. Some other supplements that help greatly are B-complex vitamins which help to regulate serotonin and other neurotransmitters that may be diminished in people who get frequent headaches. Taking one of these in the morning along with Rhodiola, another natural herb which helps to regulate cortisol, the stress hormone, can make a big difference.
2.) John, P.J., Sharma, N., Sharma, C. M. and Kankane, A. (2007), Effectiveness of Yoga Therapy in the Treatment of Migraine Without Aura: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain, 47: 654–661. doi:10.1111/j.1526-4610.2007.00789.x
3.) Marks, D. R., Rapoport, A., Padla, D., Weeks, R., Rosum, R., Sheftell, F. and Arrowsmith, F. (1993), A double-blind placebo-controlled trial of intranasal capsaicin for cluster headache. Cephalalgia, 13: 114–116. doi:10.1046/j.1468-2982.1993.1302114.x