Naturopath Elizabeth D’Avigdor casts light on the causes and cures for headaches.
Q: What are some of the most common triggers of headaches you see?
A: Nine times out of ten, the trigger is over-tight muscles from either prolonged stress and/or poor posture. The most common presentations I see would be chronic recurring headaches. In women, these will worsen towards the end of the menstrual cycle. Most often, headaches can be put down to sheer muscle tension over an extended period. Related to this is the ‘weekend’ headache which comes up when a person starts to relax after a hectic week. More serious causes of headaches include high blood pressure.
Q: How can headaches be treated naturally (ie. without aspirin)?
A: It may be far less complicated to treat headaches than many people think. I often say to my patients, ‘We may not be able to remove the source of stress but we can help protect the body from some of the physiological effects of it.’ The simplest, and often the most effective remedy in the short term, is magnesium. It is the ace muscle relaxant mineral, helping to relieve everything from muscle spasm, to period pain, to the occasional twitching of an eye. I will also often recommend regular massages and a visit to the osteopath or chiropractor to check out the neck and correct any postural problems which would contribute to excessive muscle tightness.
Q: What are some long-term solutions for people who suffer from headaches regularly?
A: It depends largely on the individual, but I do always recommend some lifestyle assessment, checking out the various ways people can incorporate stress relieving activities into their every day. Yoga, for example, can be brilliant for keeping a supple body that will release tension more easily. Taking magnesium, and perhaps calcium, will help address excessive muscle tension and the symptoms of stress. Very often, there may also be a digestive component to the headache. A poorly functioning digestive system prevents the proper absorption of nutrients into the body. This would be another important area to address, as a sluggish digestion will mean poor elimination of waste and added stress on the body. If I were to prioritise, I would suggest that a person look at lifestyle factors and try to work out new ways to manage stress; visit an osteopath or chiropractor and follow up with regular massage; and take magnesium supplements.