Headaches. Not the jolliest of holiday topics, but pertinent all the same, since the fast tempo of the season and holiday parties can lead to that most common of human afflictions, headache. When you reach for a headache remedy, if it is a commercially prepared one, you are contributing to the problem. Sad but true. A pharmaceutical drug of any kind is treated in the liver, where congestion may lead to, you guessed it, more headaches.

Causes of headaches are usually classed as environmental, dietary or allergies, hypertension and stress.

So the naturopath in me wants to provide you with a few guidelines. First, some physiology. The large intestine and the liver are intimately involved in headache generation.When our bodies accumulate toxins, we are more susceptible to headaches. So make sure you are well hydrated and that constipation is not a factor. Sleep at regular hours.  Next, the food and drink choices. Why we know that excess alcohol in the system (in the liver, actually) leads to headaches but not that different food combinations do the same is beyond me. Headache may be linked to consumption of cheeses, aged cheese especially, and chocolate. These foods tend to block the system and leave residues that contribute to the body’s toxic load. We are also told that the headaches from wine are not from the good grape, but from the preservatives. We could then remember to avoid foods with preservatives in them, too.

When we observe ourselves and note when and what we eat, there are often patterns emerging that show us where to cut this or that food or make changes in our routines. Regular meals and regular elimination are important factors for managing headache. Complicated? Yes, a little. The good news is that today, we can use applied kinesiology to determine what is causing the headache, and then avoid that substance if possible, or treat the food sensitivity. And we can try two relatively simple approaches: detoxifying and eating clean.

Now for the non-food contributing factors. Headaches are linked to stress, emotional upset, and blocked energy in the meridians, especially the liver meridian. Our Chinese patent friend, the Smooth and Easy Wanderer, is a great remedy for headache: it addresses blocked energy in the liver, relieving mood swings, anger and headaches. The herbs in the formula smooth the liver’s energy, eliminating headaches.

Emotional upset –  “You’re giving me a headache” –  is at the root of many headaches. If you observe yourself, you may notice the headaches coming on right after an argument, or when you feel blocked from expressing some emotions that want to come out. I should add that an argument you are not involved in but that you observe also may result in you getting a headache (we learn this from HMR).

Three essential oils are handy to have on hand as headache remedies. Lavender, for calming, peppermint, for stimulating, and rosemary are particularly known for headache relief. Rubbing in combination on the temples helps. Essential oils are beneficial and avoid the risks of synthetic drugs.

Many herbs are recommended, including of course lavender, peppermint and rosemary, but also thyme, valerian, cayenne and chamomile. These support liver function, and ensure good elimination.

Here is what I do if a headache comes on. First thought: constipation. Eliminate wheat, especially bread flours, dairy and meat. Make a brew of licorice root, dandelion, aniseed, yellow dock. Begin a short course of Hsaio Yao Wan. Second thought (and sometimes when the headache just comes on out of the blue) is to emotional origin. I use the light in my hands to encircle the headache zone, and gently coax it to the front of my forehead. From there I can spiral it off, usually, into the blue, shaking off my hands. Seriously. Try this, it often is all you need to do. Third, use an HMR protocol: tune into it, find its shape and size, and see if I can source its origin. Then flood my head with some kind of colour, until the headache disappears.

Okay, I know I don’t always have the most accessible remedies when I present them like this, but you can learn all these things. Donna Eden in Energy Medicine has an easy to learn routine for headaches too, called the Crown Pull, to remove stagnant energy from your head. A quick reminder of the Crown Pull is the stretching of the scalp out from the midline from forehead towards the back of your head. (Written up in more detail in an older posting). She also suggests the Headache Press for relief from chronic headache. (I’ll describe that another time. You can always look these things up online.)

What I like to do is offer a few ideas that may be outside the box for you, but that are old hat for energy practitioners. And that work. So please chuck the OTC remedy and try TCM or Energy Medicine or HMR. The fixer uppers that work long term.

Yours in health,