Try These Natural Ways to Ease Tension Headaches
Tension headaches are the most common among headache types. The pain can be compared to a band that tightens around the head. The pain of tension headaches ranges from mild to moderate.
Interesting Facts About Tension Headaches
Before we dive into the natural methods to alleviate tension headaches, here are some interesting facts about the condition:
- A physical examination and a discussion of symptoms are done before a diagnosis of tension headaches is given. In some cases, imaging tests may be required to rule out other conditions.
- Tension headaches may hit for a few or many days during the month.
- Stress management and relaxation are useful in providing relief as much as pain relievers.
- Neck pain and jaw pain can trigger tension headaches.
Contributing Factors to Tension Headaches
Studies are underway to discover the causes of tension headaches. In most people, the cause is muscle tension in the shoulder, neck, head, and face. Stress is commonly involved. However, this is not the single reason for the symptoms. Other contributing factors considered are listed below:
- Sleep disturbances
- Neck misalignment
- TMJ disorder
Symptoms of Tension Headaches
Here are some of the common symptoms associated with tension headaches:
- Feeling as if a band is tightening around the head
- Pain that begins in the front of the head or near the eyes and then radiates through the entire head
- They can be episodic or chronic:
- Episodic: Displays mild to moderate pain. It occurs less than 15 days a month. It can persist for 30 minutes to a couple of days. It worsens as the day progresses.
- Chronic: It occurs for 15 or more days a month. It turns more severe as more headaches arise. The pain can get more intense as the day goes on.
Home Remedies for Tension Headaches
Over-the-counter medications are commonly the first option for tension headaches. However, they just cover up the symptoms and do not resolve the underlying cause of the problem. While natural remedies do not work instantly like pain relievers, they are safe and do not come with unpleasant side effects. They are also not addicting. So, consider these home remedies instead of taking medication.
- Cayenne pepper: Cayenne is widely used in treating inflammation and pain. It contains a lot of capsaicin, an ingredient that inhibits pain perception called Substance P. Substance P makes us feel pain, while the capsaicin reduces it. Studies have shown that when capsaicin is applied to the nasal passages, people experience a dramatic reduction in the severity of their tension headache. To try this you will need:
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne powder
- Cotton swabs
- 4 ounces of warm water
Directions: Put the cayenne powder in the water and dilute. Use the cotton swab to stir and be sure it is covered with the cayenne. Apply to the inside of the nostrils until you feel the heat. Do not use this relief method if you are allergic to cayenne pepper.
- Feverfew: A natural herb called feverfew is recognized for relaxing the tension and constricting blood vessels in your head. This alleviates the severe pressure you feel when a tension headache arrives. It is also effective in reducing inflammation and pain, thanks to an ingredient called parthenolide, similar to aspirin.
Directions: Mix 1 ounce of fresh or dried feverfew flowers to 1 pint of boiling water. Wait for 10 minutes, strain, and drink a ½ cup twice a day.
- Almonds: Eating almonds is a natural remedy and a healthier option to taking medication. Almonds contain salicin, an ingredient in some over-the-counter painkillers. Eating a handful of these delicious nuts can help tone down the pain of tension headaches.
- Relax, stretch, and breathe: When we are under stress, our bodies respond by tensing up, leading to tightened muscles in the back, shoulders, and neck. These can all lead to tension headaches. Here are some steps you can follow to stay calm:
- Drop your shoulders: We may not realize it, but we often carry our shoulders scrunched up and too high. Be aware of this habit and keep them relaxed.
- Breathe properly: Most of us breathe too shallow, especially when we are under stress or feeling pain. It is essential to get a good lungful of air to get the most out of the oxygen we take in.
A Less-Known Natural Way to Release Tension Headaches
Having a misalignment in the bones of the upper neck is another contributing factor to a tension headache. If the atlas (the top vertebra of the spine) misaligns, it can put tension in your spinal cord. When this happens, it distorts the signals being sent between the brain and body, causing tension-type headaches.
A noteworthy study showed that out of 47 patients with non-migraine type headaches, all of them reported a 75% reduction in their symptoms after three to four months of receiving upper cervical chiropractic care. They started experiencing results after the first adjustment was made.
Here at Centre Kiro Spécifik in Laval, Quebec, we use a similar technique. We have a gentle, accurate technique to encourage the bones of the neck to move back into their correct places. We do not resort to popping or cracking the spine. Through upper cervical chiropractic care, our patients can benefit from a drug-free and safe method to get rid of their tension headaches. Many patients who have received adjustments in our clinic have reported similar results to those mentioned in the study above. Our adjustments lead to longer-lasting, positive effects in your overall health.