The Headache

This information is not intended to replace medical advice or treatment. If conditions worsen or persist, consult your healthcare practitioner.

There are several types of headaches, and reasons for their existence.

  • The Tension Headache

    These are your standard headaches; usually they are not too severe. They may signify stress, vascular changes, and similar events. If they persist, or change their pattern of occurrence over time, see your MEDICAL doctor. Persistent or severe headaches may mask far more severe ailments not amenable to herbology, and which require immediate attention.

    • Increase fluid intake.
      Often headaches may occur due to a fluid imbalance. Dehydration may bring on a headache. Sometimes these may also be the warning signs of a cold or fever (for which fluids aren't amiss, either).
    • Practice stress-relieving activities such as meditation, or easy breathing exercises.
      I have success with a slow modulated breath, visualizing the exhale as relieving pressure at the base of the skull (nape of the neck). One may deal with stress-causers in life as appropriate -- sometimes it is a matter of deep-down learning to live with them. Other things, with sufficient forethought, can be modified. Stress management principles may be appropriate.
    • White willow bark.
      This contains a small amount of salicin, a close analogue of aspirin. It is not recommended for persons allergic to aspirin, or for those have gastric ulcer problems. As it is not wise to mix aspirin with acetomenophen (Tylenol), or with ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) due to competing modes of action, I'd advise one not to mix white willow bark, either. (Do not give white willow bark to your pets; aspirin is highly toxic for cats.) The bark itself is often used as a tea or infusion. There is also a tincture available; this is typically more potent than the tea. Salicin is an anti-inflammatory agent, and it also decreases blood clotting.

  • The Hangover

    No, hair of the dog is not a cure.

    • Drink plenty of gentle (non-alcoholic) fluids.
      Many people turn to coffee, which gives the stomach a double whammy, although caffeine does seem to have some effect on its own against headaches. However, fluids will help restore the water balance. Juices are good, because they also help to restore the electrolyte balance as well.
    • Practice stress-relieving activities such as meditation, or easy breathing exercises.
      The exercise given above can prove useful.
    • If hangovers are habitual with you, perhaps now is the time to give an abstinence program a try.
      There are now many types of abstinence programs available, ranging from Alcoholics Anonymous to Rational Recovery. Pick what you can handle/suits you/is available, and DO IT. (And don't beat up on yourself, or use the hangover as your symbol for self-anger -- ANYONE can make changes when they're ready, especially if they allow themselves honest patience. Get the support you need, and go for it!)
  • The Migraine

    Some migraines are seemingly a part of a person's life, other ones have been known to come from reactions to certain medications. (I, for instance, am prone to migraines when I go off of a standard non- steroidal anti-inflammatory drug). Avoid such drugs if that is the case for you.

    • Avoid bright lights. You will probably also instinctively avoid sharp sounds. Rest has been known to lessen the effects of a migraine, if done soon after onset.
    • See a qualified doctor. She may have suitable treatments; at this point, the problem cannot be solved (as far as I know), but it can in many cases be relieved to some extent.
    • Feverfew.
      The fresh leaves may be chewed, or freeze-dried or low-heat dried leaves may be substituted. (If the mouth should get irritated [potential allergic reaction], discontinuing this is recommended.) Tablets can be bought, but quality control is evidently minimal; in some preparations, the active ingredient, parthenolide, was not detected.


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Last Updated: March 6, 1999.