Do you suffer from headaches?
Well that’s easy I hear you say – take a couple of the strongest painkillers available and lock yourself in a dark room for a few hours.
But if you are a parent, or pregnant, or breastfeeding, or absolutely cannot miss a day of work for any reason then you’ll know this is just the stuff dreams are made of and not a real life option to you.
I’ve suffered from headaches for years – they’ve always been my Achilles heel whilst I can count on one hand the amount of times I’ve had a stomach bug or gastro. There are so many different reasons for headaches and I’ve had them all – stress induced, hormone and pregnancy related (they plagued my whole first trimester with no sign of any morning sickness), overheating (I live in a tropical climate and sometimes think it’s a good idea to have a hot bath or go for a run – I never learn), sinus problems, fatigue and of course wine.
I’ve had a lot of opportunities to find relief and here are 5 of my finest – even now I can take painkillers again I always try these first as they have served me so well in the past. I hope one or all of them can help you too.
I first discovered magnesium supplements when I got seriously into running a few years ago and was suffering from leg cramps at night and also headaches when I was running in extreme temperatures. They helped me so much I now always keep a bottle of magnesium tablets in my medicine cupboard and a bag of Epsom salts in my bathroom (try a quick google search for Epsom salt uses and you’ll be amazed at what it can do). I’ve also heard that magnesium has been successfully used to treat chronic migraine sufferers due to it’s muscle relaxing properties so it’s definitely worth a try – especially since it has no side effects and is safe during pregnancy and for most adults (check with your doctor before starting any supplements of course).
I am a massive advocate for using essential oils in your life as often and as liberally as possible. I’ve got electric oil diffusers in almost every room and can’t get enough of the delicious, relaxing, divine and therapeutic smells (that completely eliminate the lingering aroma of dog, nappy, milk and socks that normally pervade). The 2 most helpful oils for headaches for me would have to be Lavender and Peppermint. Luckily they are also the easiest to buy and also the cheapest. You can put a few drops directly onto your temples, forehead and the back of the neck (I find this the most effective) , make a steam bath for your head so you can directly inhale the scents, put a few drops on a tissue or your pillow or in a diffuser or oil burner in your home.
There is also an absolute genius out there who invented something called the Migrastick – a small roll on essential oil dispenser containing Lavender and Peppermint essential oils in a perfect blend – I keep one in my handbag and in my bedroom and roll some on my temples, forehead and back of neck at the first sign of a headache. Not only does it give instant relief it also smells amazing and has great stress busting properties so its also brilliant to use when you’re feeling a bit frazzled or can’t get to sleep. Their website can be found here for more info and you can buy them at the chemist.
I keep a load in the freezer and use one on the back of my neck and one on my forehead when a bad headache attacks. When there’s no chance of a lie down I’ve been known to secure them in place with a headband (imagine how awesome that looks) and when I’ve forgotten to freeze the ice packs I’ve used a bag of frozen peas. The brain freeze effect somehow lessens the pain and gives some of the other remedies time to work.
This is going to sound so obvious as everyone knows that not drinking enough water is a sure fire way to give yourself a headache but what I recently learned is that when you are dehydrated simply drinking water is not enough – you need to replace all sorts of salts and scientific things that water simply does not contain. Beware of sports drinks that are laden with sugars and check your pharmacy for healthier options – my favourite is Hydralite but there are loads of brands out there that do just the same thing. They are also really handy to have around when anyone is sick and they make icy pole versions that are great for hot days and for hydrating the kids. Another drink to try which won’t replace any of your electrolytes but will definitely help is herbal tea. My favourites for headaches are chamomile, peppermint, lavender, rosehip, hibiscus, spearmint or ginger. The steam and aroma of the tea also help clear the head and the different therapeutic elements of the herbs add to the benefits of rehydration. Get the kettle on!
I don’t know how, or why, or if the negative health impact outweighs the pain relief benefits but for some reason if all else fails then a full strength can of coke and one paracetamol tablet works wonders.(and is safe for pregnancy and breastfeeding). Maybe it’s the sugar hit or the caffeine boost but I’ve tried coffee and other sugary drinks all to no avail. It must be that same secret ingredient that removes rust from cars and cleans toilets!
I’d love to hear if any of these tips help you or if you have any other ideas I may not have tried. And remember the only cure for a headache caused by too much wine is more wine!