Headache – its prevention & management
“Today there seems to be no limit to man's desires. The entire human life is spent in the pursuit of these desires. Every moment is filled with insatiable wants. Man's head is filled with these desires. If only the head is filled with sacred thoughts, it will get sanctified.”-- Sri Sathya Sai Baba. 1
1. What is headache?
It is a pain one feels in the region of head or upper neck and can be a real “pain in the neck”. It could be vascular, neurological, exertional, musculoskeletal, or a brain disorder. It can be incapacitating and debilitating enough to affect the quality of one’s life. It is considered as the third most prevalent illness in the world, more common in women.2,3,4,5
2. Nature, cause, and types of headache
Broadly speaking, headaches are either primary or secondary, based on their cause/origin:
A. Primary headache is a standalone illness caused directly due to a problem or over-activity in the pain sensitive blood vessels, muscles, and nerves of the head and neck. This could be triggered by some factors, but are typically benign, without an underlying cause or a structural problem. This includes migraine, cluster headache, and tension headache.5,6,7
- Migraine is a recurring headache of moderate to severe intensity, with pulsating/throbbing pain on one side, that may last for several hours up to 3 days. It is normally accompanied by nausea, vomiting, cold hands, sensitivity to smell, sound, and light, or visual disturbances referred to as “aura”. It gets triggered when the hormonal level changes. Serotonin, a chemical necessary for communication between nerve cells, can also narrow blood vessels and cause migraine.8 It is precipitated by a mix of genetic and environmental factors like stress, lack of sleep, hunger, fatigue, weather changes, and menstruation.2-8
- Cluster headache is one of the most painful headaches, due to a neurological disorder. It gives excruciating pain on one side of the head and around the eyes, accompanied by nasal congestion, watering of eyes, and swelling around the eyes. Pain may develop during sleep and may last several hours, every day, for weeks/months and disappear for a year. It occurs between the age of 20-50, mostly in males, often mistaken for migraine or sinusitis. Exactly what triggers it, is not known but hypothalamus and trigeminal nerve are known to be involved. Sometimes it could be due to tobacco smoke, alcohol, or a strong smell.5,6,7
- Tension headache is the most common one characterized by a dull non-throbbing radiating pain from the lower back of the head, including the neck, eyes and other muscles, typically felt on both sides of the head. A person may feel as if he has a tight band around the head. It could be episodic, frequent, or chronic accompanied by slight nausea, and last for a few minutes to hours, days, months, or even years. Despite its high occurrence, it is the least researched headache.9 The triggers are mostly stress, poor posture, lack of sleep, hidden depression, eye strain, and musculoskeletal problems.5,6,7,9
B. Secondary headache happens when there is an underlying cause or condition, like, sinusitis, vascular disorder, brain or head injury, or brain tumour, that may stimulate the pain sensitive nerves of the head. In other words, a secondary headache is a symptom of a disease or a problem, known or unknown, unlike a primary headache. 5,6,7,10
- Sinus headache gives a gnawing pain over the nasal area, especially the bridge of the nose, cheek bones, and forehead, often accompanied by swelling of face, pressure inside the ears, and fever. It could be due to inflamed and blocked sinuses due to an allergy or infection. It could also be due to deviated septum that blocks the sinus ducts leading to sinusitis. It is often confused with one of the primary headaches.5,6,7
- Brain tumour headache gives pain that progressively worsens accompanied by projectile vomiting, visual disturbance, speech or personality changes, problems with equilibrium, gait, or co-ordination, and seizures. It is a rare condition. 5,6,7
- Thunderclap headache is a severe one, described as the ‘worst headache of my life”, as it can start suddenly and reach maximum intensity in less than one minute and last longer than 5 minutes. Its underlying cause could be a life-threatening one due to cerebral haemorrhage/thrombosis or meningitis needing urgent medical attention.6
- Menstrual headache with migraine type pain normally occurs shortly before, during, or after menstruation, or at mid-cycle, due to variation in oestrogen levels.
- Lifestyle headache may occur due to strenuous dieting, skipping meals, highly acidic diet, habitual sleeping at late hours, texting, watching TV, or too much sleep. There could be hunger headache just before mealtime (that may vanish soon after); hangover headache due to alcohol; and rebound/withdrawal headache due to dependence on caffeine.5,6,7 For instance, regular consumption of caffeine constricts blood vessels in the brain and the body adjusts to fight this effect. But when it is not consumed on time or stopped abruptly, blood vessels dilate too much causing a headache. It will take a while for the body to adjust to fight the withdrawal effect; till then one may find taking caffeine only can cure headache caused by its withdrawal—anomalous situation indeed!11
- Other kinds of headaches could be due to allergens like pollen, accompanied by nasal congestion and watery eyes; high BP with generalised or hairband type pain, most severe in the morning and reducing as the day passes (correlation of headache with BP is not proven); overuse of medications; exertion, fever, or eye strain due to muscle imbalance or uncorrected vision; and depression.
3. Treatment of headache!
Is there a cure for headache? Research is on in several institutions worldwide, especially for migraine but there is no scientific evidence at present to show what exactly would prevent, manage easily, or cure headache.
Treatment of migraine without medicine! A research on migraine has revealed that it occurs as part of a chain reaction during which veins in the brain contract due to which blood cannot supply sufficient oxygen to brain. A pilot study was done for a year in 2016-17 using an “inhaler” which was made utilising body’s natural molecules, carbon dioxide and oxygen, for mobilizing its own defence against migraine attacks. The inhaler expanded the blood vessels which supplied the brain with enough oxygen to stop the destructive chain reaction. It was found that pain relief increased significantly with each use of the inhaler.12
Hypoglycaemic/ketogenic diet: A researcher, who himself suffered from migraine for years and found relief, says that one can eliminate migraine by managing blood sugar levels through a hypoglycaemic diet of more protein more often, especially in the morning, and fewer simple carbs.13
Ketogenic diet of low carbohydrates and high fats and oils, (best obtained from coconut oil) with moderate protein, was found to reduce migraine frequency in 90% of patients in one study.14
Alternative physical therapies like chiropractic therapy, physiotherapy, acupressure, acupuncture are in vogue. Some clinical trials have found that chiropractic spinal manipulation, which is a drug-free and surgery-free path to realign the spine, reduced headaches substantially.15 A chiropractic therapy treats joints and musculoskeletal problems including pain using manipulation techniques, whereas physiotherapy uses mobilization techniques.16 Other therapies like acupressure and acupuncture have also been found reasonably effective in giving relief from migraine and tension headaches.17,18
Yogasanas and Pranayama are known to relieve as well as cure headaches including migraine.19,20
Vibrionics: Many have found relief and cure by taking Sai vibrionics remedies blessed by Sri Sathya Sai Baba. One can prevent and counter headache through these remedies: CC11.3 Headaches, CC11.4 Migraines, CC15.1 Mental & Emotional tonic, CC18.5 Neuralgia, CC20.5 Spine or any other suitable combo from 108CC box; NM5 Brain TS, NM44 Trigeminal Neuralgia, NM59 Pain, NM85 Headache-BP, SM6 Stress, SM39 Tension or any suitable combination from the 576 cards.
4. Management of headache
One may or may not have the facility or access to try a therapy, but one should know how to manage a headache once it starts.
Some home remedies for relief:
- Inhale steam after boiling a mixture of apple cider vinegar and water in equal quantity.21
- Smell / inhale natural essential oils like peppermint, lavender, thyme or rosemary, or basil, or crushed cloves; sniff roasted caraway seeds or black cumin tied in a soft cloth.15,21,22
- Apply cinnamon or ginger paste on forehead and rest for a while.21
- Eat a piece of apple sprinkled with salt and then drink some warm water; this is known to give instant relief from sinus headache.21
- Drink warm ginger juice with lemon; take extract of tension-easing herbs like feverfew and butterbur, which are used in making headache medicines; a study has found them to be effective in helping with migraine.15,21
- A cold pack on the forehead to reduce muscle spasms and inflammation; a heat pack on the back of the neck, or a hot shower; get a gentle massage done.23
- Just relax or sleep with a suitable pillow for appropriate head-neck alignment.23
Self-monitoring: Keep a diary about your diet and life style; observe and note what triggered the headache, when it started and flared up, how long it lasted, and how it was relieved. It is best to catch the sign just when it is about to start, you will know this with experience. The memory of a flare up can be so intense that impulsively you may go for a painkiller; it may not help to ease a headache if it has already started, especially if it is migraine.
Consult a physician promptly and get the necessary tests done when a headache is unbearable or keeps recurring or when its cause is unclear or not known or when no therapy gives relief.
5. Prevention of headache
Wisdom lies in taking the necessary precautions to prevent headache by:
- Choosing an appropriate lifestyle consisting of a balanced diet of whole grains, nuts, seeds, fresh fruits and vegetables, adequate water intake, exercise, walking in fresh air every morning to get sunshine, silent sitting, sleeping on time, but not oversleep.23 A relaxed mind and an active body will prevent headaches from taking root in a person.
- Slow and deep relaxed breathing like a seal (inhale deeply for 4 seconds, exhale deeply for 4 seconds, continue the cycle for one minute).14
- Taking short breaks and stretching or taking short walks at regular intervals, if one is working for long in closed rooms with poor ventilation.
- Avoiding the triggers. If someone is headache prone, he should avoid using beverages like coffee, tea, cola, chocolate, or un-soaked nuts. The golden rule to follow is “kick the caffeine”.11.
- Adopting a right posture of erect spine; it is very important to be at ease. Wrong posture may lead to neck pain along with a headache. According to yogic science, erect posture enables smooth flow of cosmic energy along the spine and maintains the equilibrium within. Only then all the organs in the body, especially the muscular and the skeletal, will be in order and not impaired.24
References and Links:
- Sathya Sai Speaks on Head and Heart, vol 25,1992, chapter 9: http://www.sssbpt.info/ssspeaks/volume25/sss25-09.pdf
- What is headache: https://migraineresearchfoundation.org/about-migraine/migraine-facts/
- Types of headache: https://hmccentre.com/5-common-types-of-headaches-types-causes-diagnosis-treatment/
- Tension headache, least studied:https://www.migrainerelief.com/migraine/conditions/tension-headaches/
- Secondary headache is a symptom: https://www.mayoclinic.org/symptoms/headache/basics/causes/sym-20050800
- Avoid caffeine: https://www.livescience.com/35949-caffeine-causes-cures-headaches.html
- Migraine can be treated without medicine: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/10/181004110050.htm
- Diet to eliminate migraine: http://www.consciouslifestylemag.com/migraine-diet-foods-to-prevent-headaches/
- Eliminate migraine: https://www.migrainekey.com/blog/8-ways-to-eliminate-migraines-forever/
- Chiropractic spinal care: https://draxe.com/natural-headache-remedies-relief/
- Chiropractor/physiotherapist: https://waldegraveclinic.co.uk/should-you-see-a-chiropractor-or-physiotherapist/
- Alternative therapy acupuncture:https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1253662
- Acupressure therapy: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20128040
- Yoga for headache: https://www.artofliving.org/in-en/yoga/health-and-wellness/yoga-for-migraine
- Yoga & Pranayama for cure: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9xL-15RsQxo; https://www.youtube.com/watchv=I6HDvqjOkPw; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yJcX0hLcwoQ
- Home Remedies: https://food.ndtv.com/health/10-natural-home-remedies-for-headaches-that-actually-work-1215616
- Erect spine important: https://isha.sadhguru.org/in/en/wisdom/article/the-importance-of-a-good-posture
2. Refresher Seminar, Pune, Maharashtra, India, 15 June 2019
In the hostel of a girl’s school 16 practitioners got together with great enthusiasm and had a very interactive Refresher conducted by Senior Vibrionics teacher10375 who inspired them to delve deeper into the subject of vibrionics and freely share their experiences.
The main points of discussion were: mutual learning about correct identification of acute and chronic cases, giving only the most appropriate combos in a single bottle, when to change a combo, tapering the dosage appropriately, keeping patient records complete and up-to-date, counselling patients with love, and initiating a cleansing - immunity cycle for patients and their families. The participants felt they had enriched their knowledge. They also reaffirmed their commitment to do vibrionics seva as their life’s mission and to take greater responsibility in taking vibrionics forward.
3. Local meetings in U.K.
1. West London 6 April 2019
A highly interactive meeting attended by 13 practitioners was held at the house of Senior Practitioner 02799. She refreshed the topics discussed earlier on pain combo, adrenal dysfunction, diet and lifestyle especially for cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases, and use of nosodes. While sharing her experiences and successful cases, she told how most of her patients took remedies and followed a healthy lifestyle as advised. This was because she would tell her patients at the outset that she will treat them only if they follow the instructions.
Participants shared their successful and difficult cases, and how CC1.2 Plant tonic + CC17.2 Cleansing + CC21.7 Fungus used as a spray transformed gardens and cleared up dirty side alleyways and the mould in the sheds. They volunteered to research on the efficacy of “hair nosodes” for hair problems and “potentised Alendronic Acid” for osteoporosis. One practitioner shared several cases where he simply broadcasted remedies to patients with amazing results.
While concluding, practitioners were reminded to ensure timely submission of their monthly reports, remember God was present in all, and say always that “peace, purity and love is my nature.”
2. Midlands 27 April 2019
The meeting held in Leicester at the residence of Senior Practitioner 02802 had 8 participants including two new practitioners who shared their experience of the application process, correspondence course, week-long practical workshop at Puttaparthi and mentoring thereafter. Doubts were cleared and cases were discussed. Pre-made combos used successfully in summer holidays to prevent digestive disorders and tropical diseases and in winter for cold, throat infection, and flu, were shared by some practitioners, which was appreciated. Before dispersing, the participants decided to hold vibrionics awareness drive in their respective localities by contacting local temples & community centres.
3. East London 5 May 2019
Seven practitioners (including 3 on skype) interacted at the meeting held at the residence of UK Coordinator02822. The new practitioners were urged to be well versed with the combos so that they can quickly make remedies during camps. Some of their practical concerns like obtaining supplies, regularly topping up the combo bottles, minimizing evaporation of alcohol from combo boxes, were addressed. While sharing cases, efficacy of using water/vibhuthi as medium for external application and using eye drops made from pure water were discussed. The coordinator gave tips on how to obtain new patients, how to communicate contact details to friends and prospective patients through visiting card with Logo of IASVP, and how to spread awareness about vibrionics.
Om Sai Ram