16 Natural Remedies for Headaches (could be your hormones)

16 Natural Remedies for Headaches (could be your hormones)

Chronic headaches. Yup. They are red flags my body frantically waves around whenever my thyroid medication dosage is off. When I was first diagnosed I had no clue those headaches were a sign of my hypothyroidism but once my doctor would adjust my thyroid meds and got my Free T3 back to the top quarter of the normal range where I feel my best VOILA my headaches were gone. Just like magic, right? No, actually there are many studies linking headaches and migraines to our hormones (not just our thyroid hormones, but also our sex hormones and the hormones produced by our adrenal glands) but I wonder how many doctors and their struggling patients know this.[1-8]

Written by Dr. Jolene Brighten, ND

Ladies, There are natural remedies for headaches and today I want to share them with you some of the most effective strategies to be free of pain meds and headaches.

Acetaminophen—a well known hepatotoxin… wait, Hepata, what?

Hepatotoxin is the term for substances that are toxic for the liver cells and acetaminophen is among the worst when it comes to over the counter drugs. In fact, it is the number one cause of acute liver failure in America.[9]

As I’ve shared previously, NSAIDs can cause leaky gut, suppress ovulation, make headaches worse, and mask the root cause of your ailments.

What’s one of the most common root causes of headaches?

Hormones.

An imbalance of sex hormones such as in the case of estrogen dominance is a common (yet overlooked) cause of headaches and migraines. Have you noticed a relationship between your headaches and hormonal changes? Do you notice, for example, the onset of your headaches around the time of your menstrual cycles when hormone levels are naturally shifting? Or are you pregnant or postpartum, times when your body experiences dramatic changes in sex hormones, and experiencing headaches? Have your headaches troubled you through perimenopause and/or menopause? Did your headaches and migraines begin (or stop) when you started taking birth control?

But other hormones can also cause headaches, like your adrenals and thyroid. Nutrient deficiencies such as magnesium can also be the cause.

Finding your root cause is important to understand if something bigger is at play.

Ok, so finding the root cause is important and sure Ibuprofen and Tylenol are bad, but when there’s pain, what’s a girl to do?

16 Natural Remedies for Headaches

Vitamin B2 (riboflavin).
At a dose of 400 mg of Riboflavin a day many people see a reduction in the number of migraines they have. Riboflavin is more of a preventative therapy and has to be taken consistently for at least 1 month to see any effects, with 3 months being the ideal minimum amount of time to evaluate the therapy.

Feverfew.
This little herb has been shown to prevent migraines. It has been used for centuries. I recommend women aim for at least 25 mg daily of Feverfew to get the most benefit of this anti-inflammatory herb.

Essential Oils.
One to two drops of Peppermint Oil and Lavender Oil applied or massaged into the temples can safely alleviate headaches.

Bromelain.
This is derived from the core of a pineapple and is a natural way to break down the inflammation causing molecules in your body. When taken with food it acts as a digestive enzyme. But taking Bromelain between meals can help lower your pain and inflammation. It also reduces the accumulation of mucus in sinus headaches.

Hydration.
I know it seems obvious, but for real, if you’re dehydrated and prone to headaches then odds are one is brewing. Dehydration is a common cause of headaches. Aim for about 3 liters of water, herbal tea, bone broth, or mineral water daily.

Stress.
Catch yourself clenching your jaw? What about pulling your shoulders to your ears? Many headaches can come from tension and if your hormones are imbalanced then stress is going to take a greater toll.

Turmeric.
This beautiful golden root works on some of the major inflammatory pathways in the body to bring down pain and inflammation. Golden Milk (high in turmeric) is an excellent beverage. Turmeric can also be taken in supplement form at a dose of 1,000-2,500 mg daily.

EPA.
Fish oil is rich in omega-3 fatty acids that help lower inflammation and can help bring hormones back into balance. Aim to eat 2-3 servings of fatty fish or supplement 1,000-2,000 mg daily. Yes ladies, sardines can help your headaches!

Movement.
Stretching, movement, and exercise can go a long way in keeping pain at bay. Consider working with an exercise physiologist, functional trainer, physical therapist, or other movement expert as part of your pain prevention regimen.

Ginger.
This little root is a rival to NSAIDs! It’s been shown to be as effective as NSAIDs at reducing pain. In general, a dose of 1,000 mg twice daily works well for most people. Ginger is also lovely as a tea and can be combined with turmeric for double the herbal anti-inflammatory power. Nausea and vomiting are common symptoms of migraines and ginger can also be helpful in relief of these symptoms.

Massage.
Body work can’t be underestimated for ladies who suffer from hormonal headaches. It’ll not only soothe your stress, but it will also allow your nervous system to take some much needed R & R while your muscles get a good release.

Chiropractic Care.
Gentle chiropractic care can help alleviate musculoskeletal pain.

Liver Loving Foods.
The liver supports hormone breakdown and metabolism. A diet rich in high quality proteins, leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, and root vegetables like burdock, carrots, and beets supports a healthy functioning liver.

Heat.
Apply heat. Also, alternating hot and cold therapy can be very effective.

Digestive Enzymes.
Taken between meals, Digestive Enzymes can help cut down inflammation and pain.

Magnesium.
This mineral has been shown to prevent headaches. It acts as a muscle relaxant and is also anti-inflammatory. The diet is the best starting place. Foods rich in magnesium include spinach, chard, pumpkin sees, almonds, black beans, avocado, figs, and banana. Magnesium can also be taken in supplement form. If taken before bed, magnesium supplements also improves sleep and relieves constipation.

And sometimes, you just might need a medication and that is ok. I would still recommend seeking adjunct therapies and work with your doctor to ensure you are taking the right supplements for your body and maintaining a safe dose, especially if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Bonus: Cramp Bark for Menstrual Cramps.
This is one every woman should keep in her medicine cabinet. If you have menstrual cramps taking Cramp Bark two days prior to your period and during may be just the herb you need to break up with those NSAIDs. Cramp Bark is also helpful for menstrual migraines. Women generally report relief with 1-2 droppers full (30-60 drops) three to five times daily of Cramp Bark.

Headaches Have a Root Cause

Headaches are more than just a pain—they are a sign that something is out of balance in your body and in need of attention.

About Dr. Jolene Brighten, ND

Dr. Jolene Brighten is a licensed Functional Medicine Naturopathic Doctor, best selling author of the book Healing Your Body Naturally After Childbirth, speaker, and mother with offices in Portland, OR and Oakland, CA. Dr. Brighten specializes in women’s health, from fertility to postpartum care, adrenal and thyroid support, autoimmune conditions, and digestive disorders. In her patient centered practice, Dr. Brighten thrives on navigating the space between conventional and alternative medicine, all while working with patients to help them achieve optimum balance, health, and happiness.

References:

  1. Mirouliaei, M. et al. Efficacy of Levothyroxine in Migraine Headaches in Children with Subclinical Hypothyroidism, Iran J Child Neurol. 2012 Autumn;6(4):23-26.
  2. Moreau T, Manceau E, Giroud- Baleydier F, Dumas R, Giroud M. Headache in hypothyroidism. Prevalence and outcome under thyroid hormone therapy. Cephalalgia 1998;18:687–689.
  3. Amy, J.R.Tests of thyroid func- tion in chronic headache patients. Headache 1987;27:351–353.
  4. Martin, A.T. et al. Headache Disorders May Be a Risk Factor for the Development of New Onset Hypothyroidism. Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain, 2016.
  5. Martin, V.T. et al. Perimenopause and Menopause Are Associated With High Frequency Headache in Women With Migraine: Results of the American Migraine Prevalence and Prevention Study. The Journal of Head and Face Pain.56: 292–305.
  6. Cahi, N.C. et al. Migraine and estrogen. Curr Opin Nuerol. 2014 Jul 17.
  7. Pavlovic, J.M. et al. Sex hormones in women with and without migraine: Evidence of migraine-specific hormone profiles. Neurology 2016.
  8. Lipton, R.B. et al. Reduction in perceived stress as a migraine trigger: testing the “let-down headache” hypothesis. Neurology. 2014 Apr 22;82(16):1395-401.
  9. William Bernal and Julian Wendon. Acute Liver Failure. N Engl J Med 2013;369:2525-2534.

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About Dana Trentini

Who knew that little butterfly-shaped thyroid gland at the base of my neck could affect my life so completely? I founded Hypothyroid Mom in memory of the unborn baby I lost to hypothyroidism. Winner of two 2014 WEGO Health Activist Awards: Health Activist Hero & Best In Show Twitter. *Hypothyroid Mom includes Affiliate links. Connect with me on Google+

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