Headaches afflict almost everyone at some time or the other. Most headaches are functional, being caused by temporary upsets, and are not related to any organic changes in the brain. They are often nature’s warning that something is wrong somewhere in the body. The actual pain, however, arises from irritation to nerve endings in the shoulder, neck, and scalp muscles, and also in the smooth muscles encircling the blood vessels which serve these areas.
Causes and Symptoms
The common causes of headaches are allergy, emotional stress, eye strain, high blood pressure, a hangover, infection, low blood sugar, nutritional deficiency, tension, and the presence of poisons and toxins in the body. Allergies are often the unsuspected cause I of headaches. The foods to which some people are allergic and j, which can trigger headaches are milk and milk products, chocolates, chicken, liver, alcohol, and strong cheese. Sneezing and diarrhoea are further indications of an allergy.
Lemon: There are several remedies for various types oil headaches. Lemon is beneficial in its treatment. The juice of thref or four slices of lemon should be squeezed in a cup of tea and taken by the patient for treating this condition. It gives immediate relief. The crust of lemon, which is generally thrown away, been found useful in headaches caused by heat. Lemon crusB should be pounded into a fine paste in a mortar and applied as plaster on the forehead. Applying the yellow, freshly pared-off rind of a lemon to each temple will also give relief.
Apple: Apples are valuable in all types of headaches. After removing the upper rind and the inner hard portion of a ripe apple, it should be taken with a little salt every morning on an empty stomach in such cases. This should be continued for about a week.
Henna: The flowers of henna have been found valuable in headaches caused by hot sun. The flowers should be rubbed in vinegar and applied over the forehead. This remedy will soon provide relief.
Cinnamon: Cinnamon is useful in headaches caused by exposure to cold air. A fine paste of this spice should be prepared by mixing it with water and it should be applied over the temples and forehead to obtain relief.
Marjoram: The herb marjoram is beneficial in the treaUnent of a nervous headache. An infusion of the leaves is taken as a tea in the treatment of this disorder.
Rosemary: The herb rosemary has been found valuable in headaches resulting from cold. A handful of this herb should be boiled in a litre of water and put in a mug. The head should be covered with a towel and the steam inhaled for as long as the patient can bear. This should be repeated till the headache is relieved.
The best way to prevent headaches is to build up physical resistance through proper nutrition, physical exercise and positive thinking. As a first step, the patient should undertake a short fast, and take citrus fruit juices diluted with water every two hours from H.CX) a.m. to 8.(X) p.m. daily. Thereafter, he should plan his diet in such a way as to put the least possible strain on the digestion. Breakfast may consist of fruits, both fresh and dried. Lunch may consist of protein foods. Starchy foods such as wholewheat bread, cereals, rice, or potatoes should be taken at dinner along with raw salads. Spices, condiments, sour buttermilk, and oily foodstuffs should be avoided. Drinking a glass of water (warm water in winter and cool water in summer), mixed with a teaspoon of honey first in the morning, is also a good remedy. Copious drinking of Water throughout the day is also advised.
Other helpful measures in the treatment of headaches are a cleansing enema with water temperature at 37°C, a cold throat pack, frequent applications of towels wrung out from very hot water to the back of the neck, a cold compress at 4.4°C to 15.6°C applied to the head and face, or ail alternate spinal compress. Hot fomentations over the abdominal region just before retiring relieve headaches caused by stomach and liver upsets.
Hot foot baths are also beneficial in the treatment of chronic headaches. The patient should keep his legs in a tub or bucket filled with hot water at a temperature of 40°C to 45°C for fifteen minutes every night before retiring. This treatment should be continued for two or three weeks.
Yogic kriyas like jalneti and kunjai, pranayamas like anuloma- viloma, shitali, and sitkari; and asanas such as uttanpadasana, sarvangasana, paschimottanasana, halasana, and shavasana are also beneficial in the treatment of headaches.