There’s nothing like pounding temples and a sore head to ruin your day- are we right? Whether it’s from too much screen time, post-workout dehydration, a moment of acute stress or just a fluke one, it can be all too easy to reach for the painkillers to tame the pain. Knowing how many of you like to take the natural route when it comes to your health, we’ve enlisted nutritionist Rosie Millen to do you + your headaches a solid by rounding up the best alternative skull-soothing treatments.
Dehydration is a big factor in headaches and migraines. We need to drink between 1.5 – 2L of water per day. If you feel a headache coming on then drink 1-2 glasses of water over the next hour to see if it alleviates. Or you can try a cup of white willow bark tea. This is a herb that contains salicin, which is a chemical similar to aspirin.
2) LEVEL YOUR BLOOD SUGAR
Another common cause of headaches is a blood sugar dip. When blood sugar concentration increases, your body tries to dilute the excess sugar concentration by triggering thirst, so you drink more water. If you ignore this signal, the combination of dehydration and blood sugar peaks and troughs can often trigger a headache. The solution is to eat a diet that keeps your blood sugar level even – and avoid sugar and refined carbohydrates. This means never skipping breakfast, eating slow releasing carbs (such as wholegrains, brown rice, lentils and beans) with protein, and snacking on low glycemic index fruit, such as apples, strawberries and pears.
3) NIACIN AKA VITAMIN B3
Try taking 100-200mg of niacin, which is a vasodilator. Start with the smaller dose. This will cause a ‘flushing’ sensation, as well as a feeling of increased heat, but it can often stop or reduce a headache in the early stages. Medical studies have shown substantial relief of migraines by supplementing either vitamin B2 or B3 (niacin). In one study, those taking niacin halved their number of migraines by taking 100mg of niacin every day.
Significant research has shown that people with migraines often have lower levels of magnesium than those without them. One study actually found that regular intake of magnesium reduced the frequency of migraine attacks by 41.6 percent. You can take 400mg of magnesium daily. It’s a major muscle relaxer and as well as a vasodilator.
5) KNOW YOUR FOOD TRIGGERS
Certain foods commonly trigger a migraine particularly foods high in tyramine and histamine. So avoiding cheese, wine and chocolate might be something to consider.
6) WORK IT OUT
We are all aware of the multiple benefits of exercise. When we exercise, the body releases endorphins which make us feel good. Exercise reduces stress and helps us to sleep at night. Stress and inadequate sleep are two migraine triggers.