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This is one of the most common complaints in the world. In general, there are essentially three kinds of headaches: tension headaches, resulting from muscle tension or spasm in the neck, scalp or forehead; sinus headaches, resulting from inflammation of the membranes lining the nasal sinuses; and vascular headaches, stemming from spasm or other dysfunction in the vessels inside the head, in and around the brain. Migraines belong to the vascular type.
Some possible causes of headaches are: trauma anywhere in the head or neck, diseases of the eyes, ears, nose or throat, certain drugs, alcohol, cigarette smoke, air pollution, food sensitivities or allergies, any allergy, anemia, hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), excessive salt intake, menopause, birth control pills, pms (pre-menstrual syndrome), dental disease, the grinding of teeth during night or day ("bruxism"), tmj syndrome (a painful condition of the area just in front of the ear where the jaw meets the face), fever from any source, and any chronic illness.
Medical treatment usually consists of removing any known causative factors or diseases, and drug therapy. Drugs, unfortunately, usually do nothing about the underlying problem, merely masking the pain. Newer drugs, such as sumatryptan (aka: Imitrex), can be very effective, particularly for migraines.
Of course, such common headache-causing problems as sinusitis and neck muscle spasm should be dealt with first when treating headaches.
Acupuncture is often a very helpful treatment modality, and is highly recommended, as is relaxation therapy and biofeedback.
Nutritional factors: Caffeine has an interesting relationship to headaches: It can both cause the vascular kinds and alleviate them. If you are one of the many people who drink coffee every day, be aware that you are probably addicted to it by now. Addiction in this case means physically dependent, which is what you may well be. How can you tell? Try stopping the coffee "cold turkey". If you’re like most heavy coffee drinkers, you’ll probably have a headache every day for 5-7 days after stopping caffeine. This is a withdrawal response: it means you are physically dependent on caffeine. Remember, caffeine is a drug!
Coffee can be a direct cause of vascular headaches (migraines). If you suffer from headaches and drink coffee, you should stop. The best way to break a coffee addiction is to gradually taper down your daily dose of caffeine over a period of about two weeks. This should minimize withdrawal symptoms. And be sure to include in your diet some high quality nutritional support.
Avoiding food sensitivities is often important in the prevention of headaches, though difficult to do. The best approach is personal experimentation, during which keeping a careful record of all ingested foods and resultant symptoms is essential. The avoidance of all milk products and all forms of sugar is also highly recommended.
Note that headaches are often associated with gastrointestinal problems, especially constipation, which should be treated aggressively in such cases. See the Constipation section above for treatments.
Specific nutrients that may be helpful include: vitamin B6 (particularly for women with hormone-related headaches), magnesium, zinc (particularly for cluster headaches), niacin and calcium. All are in the BioSlim Formulas. Essential Fatty Acids and two natural herbs, Feverfew and Angelica sinensis (aka: Dong Quai or Tang Kwei) may also be helpful.
As you get healthier and improve overall, your headaches should diminish and finally disappear, assuming you are given a clean bill of health by your physician. And don’t forget your Activity Plan, which can also help relieve chronic headaches.