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Headaches

Headaches are among the most common of human complaints, and frequent, recurring, or chronic headaches affect millions of people. Headaches are among the top ten conditions that are treated with naturopathic medicine.

Naturopathic medicine, also called naturopathy, can relieve the root problems that cause headaches. The reflex therapies, dietary changes and other methods practiced by naturopaths treat the whole body, improving overall health—which can lessen the frequency of, and even prevent, headaches.

How Does Naturopathic Medicine Treat Headaches?
Although naturopathic medicine can treat most types of headaches, tension headaches and migraine headaches are the two types that most often require medical attention.

The naturopathic physician will take a thorough medical and family history, collect information about the patient’s diet, perform a physical examination, and perhaps order laboratory tests.

Naturopathic medicine treatment for headaches may include an examination of the bones, joints, muscles, and other tissues using x-rays, an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), or a CT (computed tomography) scan to identify the source of the headache.

Depending on the suspected source or cause and type of headache, naturopathic treatment can utilize a variety of protocols including:
Diet

  • IV Therapy
  • Nutritional supplements
  • Herbal supplements
  • Chiropractic adjustments and alignments
  • Acupuncture or acupressure
  • Stress-reduction techniques
  • Diet and nutrition are central to naturopathic medicine and poor nutrition can cause headaches. In addition, many headaches are caused by allergies to foods or food additives, environmental chemicals, or medications.

    Naturopathic medicine can identify these allergies and eliminate the offending agent. Naturopathic treatment for headaches includes detailed recommendations for nutrient intake, and reducing food additives and refined and processed foods.

    Many headaches are also caused by dehydration. Naturopathic medicine evaluates fluid intake and exercise and lifestyle factors that can cause dehydration.

    Typical naturopathic medicine treatment for headaches includes:

  • Magnesium, vitamin B6, 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) can be used to relax muscles, boost metabolism and act as an antidepressant, respectively.
  • Vitamin C or the bioflavonoid quercetin are used to reduce allergic responses.
  • White Willow Bark is used for pain management.
  • How Does Naturopathic Medicine Treat Tension Headaches?
    Often brought on by stress or poor posture, tension-type headaches are caused by the tightening or contraction of the shoulder, neck, and scalp muscles. Relaxing these muscles relieves the blood vessel constriction that causes the pain.

    With naturopathic medicine, tension headaches are often diagnosed by applying pressure with the hand to trigger points on the neck muscles and identifying points that increase or relieve the pain.

    Naturopathic medicine for tension headaches may include supplements and therapies. Fish-oil supplements contain omega-3 fatty acids that can reduce inflammation, while magnesium and calcium supplements promote muscle relaxation.

    Herbs such as bromelain and curcumin have anti-inflammatory properties, which can also reduce tension headaches. Massage and physical therapy can help relieve the tension that builds up from day to day and leads to tension headaches.

    A chiropractor can also perform an adjustment that would correct misalignment of the spine, thus also reducing the tension that causes headaches.

    Naturopathic medicine includes stress-reduction techniques to relax tight muscles and relieve tension headaches, including:

  • Stretching
  • Hydrotherapy (water therapy) for relaxation
  • Exercise
  • Deep breathing
  • How Does Naturopathic Medicine Treat Migraine Headaches? Migraines are severe recurrent headaches that are often accompanied by other symptoms such as visual disturbances or nausea. Although the underlying cause of migraine headaches is unknown, dilation of blood vessels in the head is the source of migraine pain.

    A Naturopath can identify underlying conditions that can also trigger migraine headaches, including:

  • Dehydration
  • High blood pressure
  • Vitamin deficiencies
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Musculoskeletal problems
  • Food allergies and/or sensitivities are very common in migraine sufferers and identification of food allergies and intolerances is central to naturopathic medicine.

    A Naturopath may recommend that a patient suffering from migraines avoid common triggers such as cheese, chocolate, beer, and wine. Food or beverages containing caffeine or aspartame (artificial sweeteners) can also cause migraines, as can some medications. A naturopathic physician can help patients create a nutritious dietary plan excluding allergens and foods that trigger migraines.

    IV Therapy:
    Dr. Yores’ choice treatment for headaches. A formula known as Myers’ Cocktail is administered intravenously. The Myers’ Cocktail consists of Vitamin B Complex, Magnesium, Calcium, Vitamin C, Selenium and other nutrients depending on the indication.

    Common nutritional therapies for migraine headaches include:

  • Magnesium
  • Calcium
  • Niacin and other B vitamins
  • Vitamin C
  • Botanical medicines can also be effective; some herbs used for migraine headaches include:

  • Ginger or ginger extract
  • Wobenzyme
  • Feverfew
  • Butterbur
  • Other therapies that can, when practiced on a regular basis, reduce frequency or severity of migraine headaches, are those that relax the body and restore it to its natural balance, including:

  • Spinal manipulation
  • Acupuncture
  • Homeopathy
  • Page Last Updated: October 25, 2009

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