by Dr. Maoshing Ni
One in six Americans experience chronic headaches. Headaches are especially common at this time of year when allergies wreak havoc on your sinuses. Luckily, Chinese medicine has an arsenal of natural remedies to help soothe your aching head.
Your body is trying to tell you something
According to Chinese medicine, pain is your body’s signal that there is a blockage of energy and blood. Your body is asking you to notice, evaluate, and change the behavior that caused the pain in the first place. For example, a headache may be pointing to improper diet. It is best to treat pain using natural methods, so you can avoid side effects and also become more aware of your body’s unique needs.
What is happening when you get a headache? In a migraine, blood vessels contract, causing pressure, inflammation, and a throbbing, pounding pain. Tension headaches are often the result of muscle tightness and spasm in the neck, upper back and shoulder areas pulling on the scalp. Most headaches, whether migraine or tension, are most commonly triggered by sinus problems, muscle tension, eye strain, jaw clenching, a virus, stress, hormonal imbalance, lack of sleep, or allergies.
Headaches may be due to severe medical conditions like glaucoma and brain hemorrhaging. If you experience severe, debilitating headaches that don’t respond to over the counter medication, visit your physician or the emergency room immediately.
Here are 6 all-natural remedies to alleviate headaches:
1. Press Valley of Harmony for headache relief
Recently, a patient’s eight-year-old child was suffering from a headache. I was able to bring her the benefits of acupuncture without the needles. I simply used my own fingers to administer acupressure on an acupoint in the web between her thumb and index finger called Valley of Harmony. Within five minutes, her headache was gone.
Find the acupoint Valley of Harmony (Li 4) on yourself. It’s in the web between the thumb and index finger on both hands. Apply steady pressure with your thumb until you feel soreness. Hold for 2 minutes. Repeat on the other hand.
Find the acupoint Great Yang (taiyang), which is in the indentation of the temples. Stimulate the point with the knuckles of your thumbs or the tips of your index fingers. Massage in circular motion for 5 minutes.
2. Massage your headache away
Give yourself a simple spa experience to help relieve a headache. Put 5 drops of lavender essential oil in 1 cup of warm water. Soak a small towel in the water, wring it dry, and then place it on your forehead as a compress during a headache.
You can also apply tonic oil, which consists of oils of camphor, peppermint, eucalyptus, fennel, and wintergreen, to your forehead and massage gently in a circular motion
3. Heal with white light
How often have you uttered these words in a stressful situation, “This is giving me a headache!” It turns out that the human brain is genetically programmed to translate physical and emotional stress into headaches. Headaches can typically be prevented by relaxation or stress releasing techniques like meditation and tai chi. Here is a simple visualization meditation called White Light Meditation that I have taught to my patients to reduce stress and headaches:
1. Sit or lie down comfortably. Clear your mind, relax your body, and breathe deeply and slowly.
2. Inhale and visualize a white light or clear mountain spring water entering your body at the top of your head and flowing down to your abdomen.
3. Exhale and visualize the white light or water continuing its downward course from your abdomen to the bottom of your feet, where it drains out.
Repeat for 10 minutes. Usually you will experience a quick reduction in symptoms right after this exercise.
4. Be free from headaches with vitamins
B-complex vitamins are one of my recommendations for headaches — not only for their pain-relieving properties, but because they are crucial for energy production and help the nervous system. Vitamin B6, in particular, can be very effective for alleviating pressure headaches. Use supplements of B-complex vitamins to relieve pain when a headache strikes and take them daily to prevent headaches.
5. Herbal tea helps headaches
• Sichuan lovage, or ligusticum, has for centuries, been a traditional Chinese remedy for agonizing migraines. The usual dosage is 300 to 500 mg daily, or it can be taken as tea, 2 or 3 cups a day. You can find ligusticum (not to be confused with European lovage) in health food stores, online, and at the offices of acupuncturists and Chinese herbalists.
• Ginger, a natural anti-inflammatory, has been used for thousands of years by the Chinese to cure pain. To make ginger tea, you can cut up the root, boil it for 10 minutes, then strain the water and sip as tea; or, use ginger tea bags available in health food stores.
• Plum, mint, green tea will help release tension. Boil 5 dried plums, 1 tablespoon of green tea, and 2 tablespoons of mint in 3-1/2 cups of water for 15 minutes. Drink 3 cups a day until the headache subsides.
6. The Food Factor
What we eat on a regular basis affects the energy flow in our body. The foods we eat eventually end up in our blood and meridians in the form of energy. Good eating habits help maintain a good flow of energy and blood to the head, preventing headaches. Some common headache-causing culprits to cut back on include sugar, wine, cheese, and caffeine (although caffeine may alleviate one temporarily, especially if you are addicted to it).
Here’s an uncommon food remedy: Drink a glass of fresh carrot juice every 4 hours until the headache subsides.
If you are suffering from the headaches that come with allergies, try Allergy Tamer, a traditional Chinese herbal blend that promotes temporary relief from nasal congestion, sneezing, itchiness and watery eyes.
If all-around head health is what you’re after, try Super Clarity, an herbal blend that nourishes the brain and clears the mind.
I hope you have found ways to heal your headaches naturally! I invite you to visit often and share your own personal health and longevity tips with me.
May you live long, live strong, and live happy!
This blog is meant to educate, but it should not be used as a substitute for personal medical advice. The reader should consult his or her physician or clinician for specific information concerning specific medical conditions. While all reasonable efforts have been made to ensure that all information presented is accurate, as research and development in the medical field is ongoing, it is possible that new findings may supersede some data presented.