There’s no doubt that ours is a near-empty civilization, when it comes to healing simple body ailments with simple provision for them from Mother Nature. When my younger sister was a teenager, she suffered almost every month from severe migraine headache which seemed incurable. She had to be taken to our maternal grandfather in the village who possessed bit of knowledge of healing herbs. He took her to a nearby bush, picked a leaf which he placed on her head, asked her to hold it there with a head scarf, remove the leaf at sunset and bury it in the soil. And, pronto, she hasn’t had migraine headaches ever since. She was 63 last September. Unfortunately, we his grandchildren were too young to appreciate what he did, and he died with this knowledge just as I was about to proceed on national youth service in 1977.
Today, many people suffer not only from migraine headaches, but from other types of headache as well. But rather than seek to understand the cause(s) and avoid them, or address the symptoms with natural remedies, these headache sufferers gobble pharmaceutical pain killers which may compound the problems.
To begin with, it is important to know that there is not only one type of headache, but many which may include:
(1) Migraine headache, (2) Cluster headache and (3) Tension headache
Tension headache: Believed to be the most common, originates from tensions in the muscles of the head, the shoulders and the neck. But other researchers see muscle contractions in these.
People say it may be caused by “Heightened sensitivity to stress” or a “sensitised pain system”, whatever the cause, the symptoms are clear. According to MAYO CLINIC, these may include dull, aching head pain, sensation of tightness or pressure across your forehead or on the sides and back of your head, tenderness on your back, neck and shoulder muscle.” If the muscles are tense, in tension headache, the next step towards a healing is how to relax them. There are a thousand and one suggestions. Eno Asam, of Abuja, eulogizes massage with coconut oil or palm kernel oil and speaks well, also, about massage with Guardian Angel, a hand-held acupressure device. Many people find that a Guardian Angel massage relaxes muscles, perhaps by causing tension in them to drain off and, thereafter, promoting blood circulation. Tightening of muscles produces lactic acid which makes them sore unless it is drained off or neutralised by alkaline agents. Today’s lifestyles filled with emotional and work stress cause muscles to tighten. At the work place, especially when we sit behind the computer, we tend to slump, launch, or slouch. When we sit before a desk to read or to write, some of us lean over so badly that our eyes are just about a foot from the print! In this condition, some muscles are over worked and stressed up. One of the solutions to posture problems, especially, in this computer age is the ergonomic (adjustable) chair and table. Back to massage, I find Magnesiumoil soothing and relaxing. Even in severe menstrual cramping and pain, massage with this oil helps to relax muscles and quiten pain. Tension depletes magnesium levels in the blood and tissue. According to www.ancientminerals.com: “Ancient mineral Magnesium Oil is considered the gold standard for rapidly restoring cellular magnesium level through the skin… Magnesium benefit can include reduced symptoms from condition such as chronic pain, fatigue, and insomnia. Magnesium may also provide protection from a number of chronic diseases, especially those associated with aging and stress. Recently, rediscovered as an overlooked key to good health, a number of medical researchers are recommending increases to the RDA for Magnesium sometimes suggesting as much as double the current recommendations to ensure protection from diseases such as osteoporosis, and hypertension. Essential to life, necessary for good health, and a vital component within our cells, Magnesium benefits help our bodies maintain balance, and illness, perform well under stress, and maintain a general state of good health.
his column speaks always of the need to add Magnesium supplement to the daily diet, suggesting NATURAL CALM for stress, insomnia, pain etc. and OSTEO CALM for serious bone joint disorders. www.ancientminerals.comoffers an insight into the value of this ancient mineral: to good health: “without Magnesium, we could not produce energy, our muscles would be in a permanent state of contraction, and we could not adjust the level of cholesterol produced into the body stream. Magnesium is the central element in chlorophyll and the basis of early life on the planet. Magnesium ions regulate over 300 biochemical reactions in the body through their role as enzyme co-factors. They also play a vital role in the reactions that generate and use ATP, the fundamental unit of energy within the body’s cell.”
Magnesium is plentiful in deep green vegetables, particularly spinach and kale, which in powder form, I enjoy for their vast amounts of LUTEIN and ZEAZAN THIN, two eye antioxidants which protects the lens of the eye against cataract formation, and the retina against free radical damage, a cause of vision loss. To rice, beans, soups or stew or yoghourt, water or juice, I add pinches of the powder of Inash, Kale, Chlorella and Cayenne, the anti-inflammatory, anti-pain and heart health and blood circulation African pepper. Lately, I have shifted to a breakfast of the porridge of ground whole millet and ground whole guinea corn to which I add Spirulina, the blue green algae, and the aforementioned powder of vegetables.
The bar is inexhaustible. When it comes to massage therapy to chase away tension and their headaches,Aromatherapists often prescribe Lavender, Rosemary or peppermint essential oils. These may be too “hot” for some skin types and may, therefore, not be applied directly on them but diluted with water or Olive oil.
In www.naturalremedies.com, Dr. Axe says: “In a 1996 study, 41 patients (and 174 headaches attacks) were analyzed in a placebo controlled, double blind cross-over study. The peppermint oil was applied topically 15 and 30 minutes after a headache began. Participants reported headache relief in their health diaries and peppermint oil proved to be a well-tolerated and cost effective alternative to usual headache therapies.
There were also no adverse side effects reported after peppermint treatment. Another important study was conducted in 1995 and published in the International Journal of Phytotherapy and Phytophamacology.
Thirty-two healthy participants were evaluated and essential oil treatment was investigated by comparing the baseline and treatment measurements. One effective treatment was a combination of Peppermint Oil, Eucalyptus Oil and Ethanol. Researchers used a small sponge to apply this mixture, which has a muscle soothing and mentally relaxing effects, to the participants’ foreheads and temples. When Peppermint was mixed with just ethanol, researchers found that it reduced sensitivity during a headache.
In order to improve blood circulation, reduce pain and relieve tension, dilute two to three drugs of Peppermint Oil with Coconut oil and role it into the shoulders, forehead and back of neck.
As for Lavender essential oil, www.naturalremedies.com says:
“Lavender essential oil has a variety of therapeutic and curative properties. It induces relaxation and relives tension and stress, working as a sedative, antidepressant, anti-anxiety, anti-convultant and calming agent.
There is also growing evidence that Lavender Oil serves as an effective treatment of neurological conditions and disorders. According to researchers, aromatic and topical use of Lavender oil affects the Limbic system because the main constituent Linaline, and Linalyl acetate are rapidly absorbed through the skin, and are thoughts to cause central nervous system (CNS) depression. For this reason, Lavender oil can be used to treat headaches caused by anxiety disorders and related conditions.”
This is a battery or group of headaches which pounds together, or one after the other, making one part of the heads a punch bag. This pain affects more men than women and is likely to go away today only to return the day after. This cycle may run from weeks to months before the sufferer gets a remission. Often, it brings aches and pains in and around one eye. In a remission period, this headache may disappear for months or years, and then suddenly end its holiday, coming on often in the night and following a calendar. Some researchers believe that a cluster headache arises from the activation of the trigeminal nerve, which causes the eye pain associated with this type of headache. This nerve is also believed to stimulate the eye tearing and redness and nasal congestion and discharge of cluster headache attacks.
The trigeminal nerve is reported to be the fifth cranial nerve located within the brain. Its primary job is to transmit sensations from the face to the brain. It has three main branches. One goes to the eyes, another to the cheeks and the last, the mouth. Years ago, I saw a young woman of about 24 in my housing estate who suffered twisted cheek after a headache. She was too young to be considered a candidate or victim of partial stroke. The trigeminal nerve had probably contracted or become Suboptimal in tone and function. Happily, her face is normal again. She may, therefore, have overcome trigeminal neuralgia. The late Maria Treben, the legendary Austrian herbalist and author of HELP THROUGH GOD’S PHARMACY, recommends St. John’s Worth tea and St. John’s Wort Oil (for massage) to treat this condition. She says: “A tincture of St. John’s Wort, easily prepared, is described as ‘arnica of the nerves’ and is effectively used for nervous complaints, neuritis, neurosis nervous debility. Speech disorder, fitful sleep, hysterics, sleep walking are remedied with St. John’s Wort, as well as bed wetting and depression.” Trigeminal neuralgia usually occurs when a blood vessel (vein or artery) in the brain expands or enlarges and piles pressure on the nerve. Rarely, it is said, do brain tumour cause this condition. But tumour occurrence cannot be ruled out. One of my “O” Level classmate died a few years ago from multiple tumours in the brain. He hadn’t responded well to headache medication. A brain scan suggested a few tumours which the neurosurgeons at the University College Hospital (UCH) Ibadan thought they could handle. But when they opened the skull, they found far too many tumours for their competence and facilities, and closed it up. He was then left to die. One of the natural solutions for cluster headache is CAYENNE PEPPER. It blocks pain transmission by nerves. In nutrition facts.org, Dr Micheal Gregar, M.D., reports on a study in which medical student placed pepper cuts in their nostrils. At first, it hurt badly and their noses ran. But they felt no pain and the nose stopped running after a few days. It was determined that a substance in pepper, capsaicin, had blocked a pain transmitting substance in the nerves called substance P. When the experiment was resumed after the break, the pain and runny nose resumed, indicating that the nerves had made new substance P in the interim. Today, Cayenne is used as a dietary supplement for a variety of reasons, which includes anodyne (anti-pain/anti-inflammatory), anti-congestant, anti-fungal, anti-cold and anti-flu, anti-irritant, anti-allergen, digestive aid, saliva production for digestion, dissolution of blood clots, detoxification support, anti-bacterial, possible anti-cancer agent, weight loss support, heart health promotion, remedy for tooth ache e.t.c. Blocking the pain of cluster headache is not enough. What causes blood vessels to inflame and inconvenient the trigeminal nerve is important. If there is too much blood entering the brain, a cold compress may be placed on the nape of the head to constrict the vessels while, simultaneously, the feet may be immersed in hot or warm water to cause dialation of blood vessels there. Less blood flows through constricted muscles while more circulate in dilated vessels. Orthodox medicine believes there is no permanent cure for cluster headache. For this reason, many pharmaceutical drugs are presented only for its management. Among the protocol suggested by MAYO CLINIC which interests me is the inhalation of pure oxygen during acute attacks. It is said to often bring relief in about 15 minutes. May it not help, I wonder, if sufferers regularly take oxygen capsules or oxygen-rich herbs (Spirulina, kale and chlorella for example) in their diet? Additionally, Nature presents powerful anti-inflammation to present blood vessel enlargement. An example is CURCUMIN. In Nigeria now, there is a preparatory blend of Curcumin with Cayenne (Curcumin 2000 X) which is saidto make Curcumin 2000 times more effective. Also available now is AMAZON CNS SUPPORT. CNS stands for Central Nervous System and may help, although the Trigeminal be longs to the Autonomic Nervous System. The Homeopathic remedy NATRUM MUR has been known to resolve many types of headaches. Magnesium remains a great anti-inflammatory mineral. We cannot ignore Fever few. Both the British Medical Journal and Harvard Medical School Health Letter have mentioned this herb as a migraine reliever. Clinical studies suggest it may work better than some Non-Steroidalanti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin. It inhibits the release of two inflammatory substances, serotonin and prostaglandins which cause headaches and migraine, skullcap, too, is anti-inflammatory and anti-spasmodic and is widely used in Alternative Medicine to treat all sorts of nervous system conditions. Two more herbs worth mentioning are orange peel, to which about 50 health benefits, including headache remedy, had been ascribed, and Walnut leaf.
ll remedies suggest so far are helpful in this condition as well. Migraine headaches usually affect one side of the head, inducing nasal problems, vomiting and sensitivity to light and sound. Dr. Max Gerson (see Gerson therapy on the internet), a German doctor, suffered migraine headache for an average of two weeks in one month until a medical lay person advised him to try vegetable and fruit juice. He did. And his migraine disappeared. Dr. Gerson was to discover these juices contained a lot of potassium and was to successfully employ them to treat some causes of cancer and tuberculosis of the skin. More women and girls than men and boys suffer from migraines. Sometimes, migraine are hormone related, especially when estrogen out strips its level. In a 2011 study published in PHARMACOGNOSY REVIEW, it is reported that Fewer can prevent and curb migraine. The small-flowered Willow herb, used to reduce prostate enlargement, helps in the treatment of migraine. It is from the bark of the Willowtree that Aspirin, a pain killer, was extracted. Willows has been used since the time of Hippocrates, the father of medicine, in about 400BC to treat conditions such as fever, inflammation, headaches, tendonitis and lower back pain. Other useful tips are Valerian root, Ginger, Peppermint, Lavender oil, rosemary, lime, raw potato, Honeysuckle, Mullein, and Yarrow.