What is the difference between a migraine and a tension headache? A lot of people believe that migraine headaches are just severe tension headaches. This is false. A migraine happens when the blood vessels dilate (get bigger) in the brain. Migraines often occur with visual changes and/or nausea. Tension headaches are sometimes triggered by stress but occur when muscle tension in the neck and shoulders pulls on the connective tissue sheath that covers the head.
What can I do at home to treat a headache? While most headaches are not dangerous, please contact a health care professional if you have new/ severe headaches.
At home, Acupressure may be your best bet for quick relief. I recommend deep pressure at the following points for at least 30 seconds each. If you’re finding a point that seems especially effective, massage that area longer. Sometimes, the point between the thumb and finger (LI 4) alone can be helpful. This point along with the ones between the big toe and the second toe (Lv 3) can offer a lot in terms of migraine prevention.
What herbs/ supplements can be used to treat or prevent headaches? Migraines can sometimes be stopped with an herb called crampbark. At our office we will sometimes recommend a high dose (2-3 tablets) of a supplement called Cramplex that contains this herb. Feverfew (contained in Rehmannia Complex) can be a good preventive. We can treat the blood vessels with buckwheat and treat common mineral deficiencies with whole food magnesium and phosphorous.
Feverfew is also helpful for tension headache prevention as is rosemary. We recommend Vitanox or LivCo when we want to give rosemary. Ultimately, we want to try to relax the muscles. This can often be accomplished with a bioavailable form of calcium and essential fatty acids.
Could something in my diet cause headaches? Dehydration can be a major trigger and you will need to be sure to drink an appropriate amount of water. Common triggers are alcohol, aged cheeses, caffeine and chocolate. You may have to try to remove common inflammatory foods as well. We have a list available at our office.
There are many underlying causes of headaches. If self care is not successful, please contact our office for a consultation. 616-855-7718.
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