Your Guide To Natural Headache Therapy

So, you’re a young woman with breast cancer and ever since you started Tamoxifen, the headaches have been hitting you hard. What is up with that? 

According to Dr. Tonia Winchester, a naturopathic doctor from Nanaimo BC, hormonal therapies can actually affect the diameter (or width) of the head’s blood vessels. So treatments like Tamoxifen can cause blood vessels to tighten, limiting blood flow and causing a nasty headache. In our fast-paced, busy lives, it’s tempting to switch to easy fixes – like over-the-counter drugs or even just the grin-and-bear-it method. But what if there are actually some natural methods for helping you with your headache pain? Well, there are!

The following are 4 steps that Dr. Tonia suggests when making the switch to natural headache therapies:

1. Diagnose.


There are many reasons why a person could have a headache. Some of the most common ones are: dehydration, toxicity (ie/ sensitivity to scents), and food allergies. Finding the actual source of your headaches is the most important step to treating it effectively. Dr. Tonia puts it this way: “It’s important to remember that any symptom your body has is trying to get your attention about something. Make sure you’re adequately hydrated, eating balanced nutrient dense meals, and avoiding toxins as much as possible.”  

2. Cleanse.


Similar to finding source of your headaches, putting down over-the-counter medications like Advil can be one of the best things for your headaches. In her practice, Dr. Tonia found that a good portion of her clients suffer from “Rebound Headaches.” This is when your body suffers withdrawals from continued use of pain medications. So, as soon as you stop taking these medications, your body reacts with a headache (the very thing you were trying to stop!) Try cleansing your body of the medication for 3 days. Instead, Dr. Tonia suggests incorporating natural anti-inflammatories like turmeric, ginger, or milk thistle – which also boost liver function and the Advil-cleansing process! You might find that you have a better idea of what the real problem is and develop a plan to treat it.  

3. Educate.


There’s lots being said about natural remedies for a variety of things. It can be easy to get lost in the wake of all this new information. So it’s important to educate yourself on what’s true and what’s not. For example, when faced with health challenges, people often try turning to gluten free diets. While there may be certain benefits of these kinds of diets, Dr. Tonia suggests not jumping on that bandwagon too quickly. Often times gluten free foods substitute gluten for other problematic starches like potato, tapioca, rice, or even corn flours. Instead, she says we are all better off eating whole foods. These are foods that are not processed, artificial in any way, and are well – whole! This means things like veggies, legumes, fruits, and nuts. As this quote from Jamie Oliver puts it: “Whole foods don’t have ingredients – they are ingredients!”  

4. Introduce.


Dr. Tonia suggest the following natural methods for becoming headache-free:

WATER, WATER, WATER! his is brain tissue’s best friend. Our bodies use anywhere from 70-100 ounces of water per day. It’s important that we’re replenishing it.

SELF MASSAGES. For tension headaches this can work wonders – whether it be your temples, eyebrows, neck or jaw.

ESSENTIAL OILS. Some of Tonia’s favourites are peppermint, rosemary, eucalyptus, and lavender. You can even incorporate this one with the self-massaging technique.

ACUPUNCTURE. Turns out you might be surprised by where headache pressure points are actually located on your body (for example, between your thumb and index finger)! This is something you can’t do on your own, so seeing a specialist might give you the relief your looking for.

However, it’s important to note that before starting any kind of treatment, it’s best to check in with a healthcare professional who’s familiar with your situation in order to find out what makes the most sense for you. This is especially important when it comes to acute pain. Everyone is different and each treatment plan will be different. But for now, hopefully you have a better idea where to start!  

Dr. Tonia Winchester is a naturopathic doctor, BodyTalk practitioner, acupuncturist, and writer based in Nanaimo, British Colombia. After having many personal experiences that discouraged her from conventional medical practice, Tonia decided to explore alternative forms of medicine and has since helped reintroduce people to their bodies in a safe, open, non-judgmental environment. Find out more about her practice or read her blog by checking out her website.

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