Whether it’s genuine or not, a headache will always ruin somebody’s fun. They’re extremely common, utterly inconvenient, (can be) totally debilitating, but mostly are just down right irritating! There are also lots of different types of headache: tension, cluster, migraine, hormonal etc. etc. but, let’s be honest, you just want to know how to make them go away! So for simplicity (and time)’s sake when I say ‘headache’ take it as a blanket term that covers all the different types (unless otherwise stated).
Here are 7 causes of a headache and what to do about it;
1. Food Allergies
Studies have shown most headache sufferers to have food allergies. If a person eats a food they are sensitive to (e.g. gluten, dairy etc), the body will mount an immune response. This triggers the release of histamine, which can cause a headache. Certain foods also naturally contain higher amounts of histamine and are best avoided. These include; avocado, oranges, tomato, walnuts, spinach, eggplant, dried fruit, pickles, mayonnaise and olives. Tyramine is another naturally occurring chemical that is best avoided if you are prone to getting headaches. Foods high in tyramine include; aged meats, cheese, fermented foods, sausage, beer, wine and chocolate.
2. Gut Dysbiosis
This basically means the number of bad bacteria in the digestive system far outnumber the good – which is not good! Too many bad microbes can wreak havoc on one’s body. Candida overgrowth is one such issue which may result in the production of unwanted chemicals such as, aldehyde and benzene. Both of these chemicals are known to cause a wide range of physical effects, including severe headaches.
A change of diet is highly recommended along with targeted herbs (such as pau d’arco and wild oregano oil) to help destroy any unwanted pathogens. Next, supplement with specific nutrients (such as l-glutamine, aloe and deglycerrized licorice) to restore gut health and finally take high dose probiotics to recolonise the gut with good bacteria.
It is also worth mentioning that gut dysbiosis naturally increases inflammation… which of course also causes headaches.
3. Nutritional Deficiencies
Stress, an unhealthy diet, gut dysbiosis and inflammation all cause the mal-absorption of important nutrients from our food. Nutrient deficiencies of essential fatty acids, vitamin B6, zinc, folic acid, calcium and magnesium (to name a few) can all cause headaches.
Address the issue(s) that may be causing these deficiencies, while supplementing with a full-spectrum, high quality multi-mineral and multi-vitamin to cover all your bases.
We are exposed to a wide variety of environmental toxins and chemicals on a daily basis – many of which can cause headaches. Examples include; perfume, synthetic fragrances, make-up, shampoo, household cleaning products, pollution in the air, etc. Look for non-toxic alternatives for these products and (as far as possible) avoid polluted and industrial areas.
5. Joint Dysfunction
Headaches can simply be referred pain from the joints and/or muscles in the neck and spine. If there is any tension, misalignment, injury or impaired movement, it can cause irritation to the surrounding nerves. This irritation can then lead to a headache. Get your body assessed by a movement specialist to check whether this is the cause of your pain and follow the recommended course of treatment/therapy.
Note: Pilates is an excellent form of exercise to help strengthen, stabilise and support proper joint movement and body alignment!
6. Blood Sugar Imbalances
The more your blood sugar goes up and down by eating sugary foods the more likely you are to experience a headache. A low carb high fat (LCHF) diet is an excellent way to balance blood sugar levels, regulate appetite and thus reduce the occurrence of headaches. Useful blood sugar balancing supplements to consider include cinnamon and chromium.
Even a slight imbalance in the natural ebb and flow of progesterone and estrogen in the monthly female cycle can trigger a headache. Hormonal imbalances can be caused by the dietary intake of xeno-estrogens, liver dysfunction, stress and nutrient deficiencies. Get your hormones tested and seek the necessary treatment if you think this may be the cause of your headaches.
But I’m still getting headaches!
So if you have ruled out the above 7 then other possible causes to consider are; dietary MSG & aspartame intake, caffeine intake, obesity, drugs and certain medications, lack of sleep, dehydration, lack of exercise, sitting long hours, too much blue-light exposure (from computers, cellphones, TV etc), never going outside and mental/emotional stress.
Supplements can help.
Aside from those already mentioned;
- Magnesium is excellent as a muscle relaxant, anti-inflammatory, sleep-aid and anti-stress mineral.
- Feverfew & ginger have shown to reduce the severity of migraines when taken soon after the onset of an attack.
- Omega 3 fish oil is anti-inflammatory, helps balance hormones as well as blood sugar levels.
- Co-Q10 helps reduce the severity and frequency of headaches.
Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits all approach to treating headaches. However, they CAN be reduced and, I believe, totally eliminated once you discover the cause and take the appropriate steps to heal and support your body.