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May 2010
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Fighting Off Headaches with Home Remedies
Tips and tricks for when your noggin starts throbbin’,

Whether caused by migraines or seasonal allergies, eyestrain or large amounts of stress, headaches can leave you worn out and in unbearable pain. Although your doctor may have prescribed helpful medications or you’re trying out a new approach such as acupuncture or yoga, these quick and convenient remedies may take the edge off or sometimes even take away an ache altogether:

1.    Experiment with extremes: Many people find that cold water brings immediate relief to headaches while others swear by heat. Try applying an icepack to the painful area of your head; if you can’t quite locate it, then apply the cold compress to your forehead, temples or back of your neck. Not working? Take the same steps but with a heating pad. Warm baths and showers often help as well. As you let your body absorb the cold or heat, rub the painful area or aforementioned pressure points with your index finger and/or thumb in a circular motion. Maintain pressure for seven to 10 seconds, then release.

2.    Try a 10-minute hibernation: Lights, noises and scents can trigger a headache or amplify pain that’s already there. If possible, try to escape to a quiet, peaceful place for even just a few moments. Make sure the temperature is comfortable, lighting isn’t bright and noise is kept to a minimum. Next, do a body scan: concentrate on each part of your body, from head to toes, and relax any muscles that are tense. You may be surprised to find that your shoulders are hunched or your teeth are clenched! Take several slow, deep breaths (causing your stomach to move more than your chest) and close your eyes. People who work in high-stress environments often use this type of mini-meditation to bring themselves back in focus.

3.    Exercise – no gym membership required: Dr. Harry C. Ehrmantraut, author of Headaches: The Drugless Way to Lasting Relief, recommends face and scalp calisthenics to relax your muscles and learn how to control them if you feel pain coming on. You may look a little strange practicing, but Dr. Ehrmantraut promises you’ll love the results in the long run. First, start by lifting both eyebrows up quickly, and then let them relax down. After a few reps, lift and relax only one eyebrow at a time (hold the other side still if you need to). Next, squint both eyes hard and release, followed by squinting and relaxing one eye at a time. Other exercises include frowning deeply, yawning nice and wide, moving your jaw left to right and wrinkling your nose. Dr. Ehrmantraut attests that after working out your facial muscles every day, you’ll become conscious of their movements and ultimately be able to flex away headaches!

Unfortunately, headaches caused by more serious health problems may require further aid such as medicine and physical therapy, and you should always start with your doctor or local emergency room if you experience sudden, severe head pain. For minor, every day head pain, however, home remedies often provide complete – or at least temporary – relief. So, if you can spare just a few moments, try a compress, relaxation or facial exercises before you reach for the aspirin. You may be surprised to find that your body can heal itself!


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