You Are At: AllSands Home > Health > Alternative > Natural cure for headaches
Some 40 million Americans have at least one headache a week. Ninety percent of those headaches are tension headaches and the other ten percent include cluster headaches and migraine headaches. Cluster and migraine headaches develop when dilating and contracting blood vessels trigger nerve pain. Tension headaches occur when muscles contract.

Tension headaches bring a steady pressure that, while painful in a steady way, does not disable. Migraine headaches bring intense, throbbing pain, sometimes nausea and vomiting, and sensitivity to light and sound. Migraine pain can last for days.

Women, especially, suffer from headache caused by hormonal changes related to the menstrual cycle or pregnancy. The estrogen in birth control pills can also cause migraine pain. Migraines afflict 25 million American women. Usually they disappear after menopause.

No single drug or therapy works for all headaches.

Migraine sufferers can apply ice wrapped in a towel to try to shrink the blood vessels that are pressing on nerve endings. Lying down and napping in a dark room for an hour also helps alleviate migraine pain. Migraine triggers include foods that have been fermented or aged, pickled or marinated, or contain MSG, so these foods should be avoided.

Studies show that low levels of magnesium in the system may indicate a propensity toward migraines. Green leafy vegetables, seafood, nuts, beans and whole grains are good sources of magnesium. Bay leaf contains a compound called parthenolides, which inhibit the release of serotonin. There is some indication that the release of serotonin may play a role in causing migraines.

British studies have shown that taking the herb feverfew may prevent migraine headaches. The herb can be taken in capsules or as a tea brewed from 5-8 fresh leaves in boiling water. Pregnant or nursing women should not ingest feverfew.

A stiff neck can cause headache. A heating pad may help to loosen the stiff muscles of the neck and alleviate the head pain. Sometimes headache is caused by hunger, so be sure to eat properly and regularly.

Herbalists talk about willow bark as herbal aspirin. Aspirin is the pharmaceutical derivative of willow bark, an herb containing the substance salicin. Willow bark is said to act gently without the stomach irritation sometimes caused by aspirin. One teaspoon of a high-salicin willow bark or one and one-half teaspoons of white willow bark is the correct dosage in a tea. Children with colds or flu should not be treated with willow bark.

There are hundreds of health conditions that can contribute to head pain. If you experience confusion, numbness, vision problems, more severe than usual pain, or chronic headache that worsens, talk to your doctor.