A headache can strike any of us at any time, and are usually uncomfortable and inconvenient. A variety of over-the-counter painkillers are available, usually in pill-form, but many of these have negative side effects such as stomach upsets and, with prolonged use, kidney and liver damage.
Many plants and herbs are able to offer natural headache treatments without the negative impact of over-the-counter drugs.
Feverfew is a medicinal herb which limits the production of prostaglandins, the chemicals responsible for the contraction of blood vessels in your head. This reduces the constriction and expansion of blood vessels which causes the common “pounding” sensation. Feverfew is effective at easing headaches though prolonged use needs to be reduced gradually to minimize any withdrawal effects.
Willowbark contains salicillin, which derives from the active ingredient in asprin. It is a popular natural treatment for fever, inflammation and pain. Willowbark can be bought in powder form, making it easy to brew into water, teas or even juice and smoothies.
Ginger is traditionally used as an anti-nausea ingredient, which also helps to ease headaches. The active ingredient in ginger- gingerols- block the vanilloid pain receptor, reducing pain in the head. Ginger also improves blood flow by preventing the build up of blood platelets. This reduces inflammation and thins the blood, allowing oxygen to travel more efficiently to the source of pain.
This “super fruit” from South America is packed with antioxidants and vitamins which promote all-round good health. On top of this, they contain anthrocyanins which are said to contain powerful anti-inflammatories, similar in chemical structure to asprin and ibuprofen, as well as promoting healthy blood flow. Acerola cherries can most commonly be bought dried or in powdered form. They have no known side effects specifically but due to their high vitamin C content, should be eaten in moderation.
A head massage is an effective natural headache treatment which reduces pain without the need for either drugs or herbal remedies. Applying strong pressure to the source of pain is often found to reduce the pain itself. Massaging the temples in small circles helps to increase blood flow, and rubbing the forehead and scalp with the palms of the hands also stimulates blood flow, reducing some of the pain. This technique is useful when you are on the go and suffering from a tension headache with no access to other treatments.
These treatments and techniques help to ease the discomfort of tension headaches, however, it is always more effective to prevent headaches occurring in the first place. Eating well and avoiding excess sugars and processed foods will reduce your suceptibility to headaches. Stress is a also a key cause of headaches and so sometimes a bit of relaxation is all you need for your pain to ease.
As with any medical conditions, check with your doctor before taking herbal remedies if you have any pre existing health conditions, and if your headaches persist, seek medical assistance!
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tagsacerola cherryfeverfewgingerheadachenatural treatmentswillowbark