Many people are prone to tension headaches, especially during the crazy winter holiday season. All the running around, shopping, wrapping, and events to attend can be fun for some but a source of agony for others.
Tension headaches are the most common type of headache. Millions of people get them. The trigger could be an argument, poor posture, lack of sleep, overworking yourself, chronic pain, tight muscles, eyestrain, skipping a meal or grinding your teeth. One main reason is muscle tightness.
An occasional tension headache is no big deal, but if they’re “chronic,” defined by more than 15/month for 3 months solid, I can see why people rely on Ibuprofen and triptan meds to get through the day!
Termed CTTH, short for chronic tension-type headaches, these can cause depression, even if you are a happy-go-lucky person. While painful, these headaches differ from migraines because they don’t have the nausea, halo or any type of aura. This makes them much easier to manage as compared to migraines where you have to discover the “migrenade” and eliminate it. The term “migrenade” is my word for a trigger that you eat, inhale or create that goes off in your body like a grenade, causing your migraine. There are no real “migrenades” in CTTH so you can usually eliminate or at least manage these much quicker. The reduction of stress or ending an unhappy relationship can help. Here are some supplements that may help you become headache free:
Rhodiola– Perfect for people with a lot of mental stress, emotional conflict or anxiety. As you know, those can cause tension headaches. Because rhodiola removes ammonia and lactic acid from your blood, it could help with muscle fatigue. Shoot for about 100mg per day, taken anytime before lunch as it may be slightly stimulating.
Magnesium– Simple solution for tight muscles, a common trigger for CTTH. Magnesium relaxes your muscles. If you read my Drug Mugger book, over 200 prescription medications mug it from your body leaving you at risk for muscle aches, migraines, depression, high blood pressure and cardiac arrhythmias. Some forms of magnesium will give you diarrhea, so choose high-quality brands.
Arnica Cream– You can buy this at health food stores, it helps soothe muscle aches and relax tight muscles. When the ingredients found in this beautiful flower extract get into your cells, they temporarily shut down a metabolic pathway called NF Kappa B, (NFκB) which spills nasty pain-causing chemicals (termed “cytokines”). You can have your massage therapist rub it on too.
Hops– Known also as Humulus lupulus, this herb can reduce histamine levels, a compound (better termed a “cytokine”) that is associated with headaches. Hops also helps you to fall asleep, and we know insomnia is a trigger for CTTH (and migraines). When I say hops, I mean the supplement form or tea, not beer! (Hops is most commonly known as a flavoring agent in beer.)
I offer natural and pharmaceutical treatment options for dozens of types of headaches in my best-selling book, Headache Free: Relieve Migraine, Tension, Cluster, Menstrual and Lyme Headaches.
Suzy Cohen, has been a licensed pharmacist for over 30 years and believes the best approach to chronic illness is a combination of natural medicine and conventional. She founded her own dietary supplement company specializing in custom-formulas, some of which have patents. With a special focus on functional medicine, thyroid health and drug nutrient depletion, Suzy is the author of several related books including Thyroid Healthy, Drug Muggers, Diabetes Without Drugs, and a nationally syndicated column.