Headaches & Migraines

Headaches (all types) plague more people in the United States than perhaps any single symptom (except fatigue).  Headaches can be simply an annoyance, or severe, such as a migraine – incapacitating the person for up to several days at a time.

As with all of the many symptoms a person can have, headaches are the body’s way of alerting the person to the fact that something is wrong. I was stunned the first time someone said to me “yes, I get normal headaches”!  There is no such thing as a “normal headache”.  All headaches mean something, and can mean several different things. 

The good news is you don’t have to suffer!  There is a causative factor (or factors) and once that is discovered, treatment can commence and life can return to normal (whatever that is!).  Life should not be dictated by your symptoms.

Headaches located at different areas of your head mean different things – different causes.  In other words, if your headache is on top of your head it means something entirely different than if it’s located between your neck and head, or on your forehead. 

So what are the causes of headaches?  There are lots of reasons.  Low blood sugar can cause headaches (missed or prolonged time between meals), toxic overload in the liver, fatigue, stress (physical or emotional), neck tension, digestive difficulties, alcohol in the blood or accumulated in the liver, loud noises, bright lights, inadequate sleep (and sometimes too much sleep), smoking or exposure to smoking, imbalanced hormones, strong odors such as perfume or cleaning supplies, sinus infections or congestion and allergic reactions.

Certain foods can trigger headaches such as foods which contain the amino acid tyramine (found in red wine, aged cheese, smoked fish, chicken livers, figs and some beans), chocolate, nuts, peanut butter, foods with monosodium glutamate (MSG – an additive in many foods), processed meats (contain nitrates), pickled or fermented foods, dairy products, caffeine and onions.  Mineral imbalances can also trigger headaches.

Some people do well during stressful periods, and then when the stress is gone, the headache comes.

What can you do about it?  First find the offender.  If it’s something in your diet, eliminate it. That sounds simple, but it isn’t always easy to find.  You need someone who is skilled in helping decipher your symptoms (all of them, not just the headache – after all, you are a person, not a set of symptoms!).

Treat your headaches naturally.  Don’t depend on drugs.  The problem with drugs is that while they may help initially, the load they cause on the liver generally leaves you more susceptible to the next headache and it then becomes a vicious cycle.

Different types of hydrotherapy (hot or cold packs or baths) can be very helpful, especially with migraines.  Some people get relief by taking an enema (cool water or coffee enema).  This eliminates the toxic burden in the colon and if using coffee, the liver too.

Some people also use guided imagery or meditation.  Yoga helps some.

But the most effective methods we have found are using acupuncture, nutrition and detox programs. Eliminating the toxins will reduce the load on your liver so that it is more effective in dealing with headaches, reduce your chemical sensitivities, help your body regulate sugars better and much more. 

Acupuncture is a very effective way to manage headaches.  Studies on acupuncture alone show that headaches are reduced in intensity by about 80% and frequency by 50%.  When nutrition is added the results skyrocket and most headaches are alleviated totally, without residue.

©2005 Holly A. Carling, O.M.D., L.Ac., Ph.D.

Dr. Holly Carling

Dr. Holly Carling

Dr. Holly Carling is a Doctor of Oriental Medicine, Licensed Acupuncturist, Doctor of Naturopathy, Clinical Nutritionist and Master Herbologist with nearly four decades of experience. Dr. Carling is a “Health Detective,” she looks beyond your symptom picture and investigates WHY you are experiencing your symptoms in the first place. Dr. Carling considers herself a “professional student” – she has attended more than 600 post-secondary education courses related to health and healing. Dr. Carling gives lectures here in the U.S. and internationally and has been noted as the “Doctor’s Doctor”. When other healthcare practitioners hit a roadblock when treating their patients nutritionally, Dr. Carling is who they call. Dr. Carling is currently accepting new patients and offers natural health care services and whole food nutritional supplements in her Coeur d’ Alene clinic.

Medical/Health Disclaimer:

The information provided in this article or podcast should not be construed as personal medical advice or instruction. No action should be taken based solely on the contents of this article or podcast. Readers/listeners should consult appropriate health professionals on any matter relating to their health and well-being. The information and opinions provided here are believed to be accurate and sound, based on the best judgment available to the author, but readers/listeners who fail to consult appropriate health authorities assume the risk of any injuries.

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