One of the issues we see more frequently here in the clinic is headaches. While there are many causes and treatments for this ailment, here are my top five:
Well, it would seem obvious that the way to treat dehydration is to drink water, but there are some things that can hinder getting that done:
Remembering to drink. This is one of those times I like to use technology for assistance. You can set a regular reminder or use the timer on your smartphone or computer (or even use a kitchen timer if you don’t have those!) every 30-60 minutes to help you remember to take a drink.
Not liking the taste. I hear this one a lot, so I say spruce it up! Add some fresh lemon or lime juice, cut fruit, or get fancy with cucumber and mint or some ginger. Or get yourself a Soda Stream to make your own bubbly water at home. (I would just stay away from their artificial flavors.)
Needing electrolytes. Sometimes, you need to add some electrolytes to help you absorb better. I don’t recommend drinking electrolyte replacement drinks all day, but 8-12oz a day could be helpful. I like plain coconut water or a Skratch Labs mix, or to make my own:
8 ounces water (warm or at room temperature)
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
a pinch of salt
2 tablespoons or more of honey or maple syrup
A little lemon juice to taste
This is a time of year when many people experience sinus headaches. Between allergies, the tail end of cold season and weather changes, sinus pain can be a doozy. Here are a few things that can help:
Sinus rinses. Either with a Neti pot or bottle, getting those sinuses rinsed out and hydrated can go a long way to reducing headaches.
Eating right. What you eat can have a strong effect on the health of your sinuses. Both dairy and sugar are big contributors to sinus problems.
Acupuncture and herbs. This is an area where our medicine really excels. We can look for and address underlying causes, such as allergies or a gut imbalance, while treating the symptom of the headache. Often, we will also use some moxa with this type of headache to help treat those underlying causes.
Our current lifestyle can wreak havoc on our bodies, often leading to headaches. Here are a couple of ideas to reduce that tension and stress:
Stretching. Gentle stretching of the upper back and shoulders can reduce the tension in those areas, reducing the referral pain that can go into the back of your head, or up and over into your forehead.
Meditation. Starting a meditation practice, even just a few minutes a day, can help bring down your stress levels and reduce headaches.
Trigger Point Acupuncture. Also known as dry needling, we can address knots and tightness in the neck and shoulders that contribute to headaches. We follow up this type of needling with a complete acupuncture treatment to address the underlying stress as well.
Hormone Related Headaches
Hormones can be a complicated matter, but there are a few things you can do right off the bat to get things back in order:
Eating right. Too much processed foods, sugar or soy can really throw your hormones out of whack. Filling up on vegetables and organic/free range animal protein can help your body get back into balance.
Exercise. Getting that body moving, especially before your typical trigger time (but throughout the whole month, ideally) can help regulate hormones and reduce headaches.
Acupuncture and herbs. Again, TCM can address the underlying issue (hormone imbalance) while also relieving the symptom (hormones).
I’m afraid to admit that I treated this a lot while I was in acupuncture school. I certainly had some friends who liked to have fun. Anyway, here are a few tools:
Water. Drink lots of water during your night (or day) out - a glass for each alcoholic drink you consume.
Electrolyte replacement. Use any of the options listed above - coconut water, skratch labs or make your own. Drink at bedtime and when you wake up.
Curcumin. This is a great natural anti-inflammatory that may reduce the elevated number of cytokines released after drinking too much. Take a dose at bedtime and another upon waking.
Acupuncture. Make sure to do your partying on Friday and come see us Saturday morning!
Herbs. TCM formulas such as Curing Pills and Bao He Wan can make a dent in that hangover headache. Take them before bed and again in the morning.
Headaches can have all kinds of causes, but the good news is that most of them can be treated or avoided. As always, feel free to get in touch if you have any questions or if you need some help!