18 Natural Migraine + Headache Remedies

Types of HeadachesNot all headaches and migraines are created equally, and unfortunately that makes them hard to identify and pin-point the cause. There are tension headaches, sinus headaches, cluster headaches, migraines and more. I highly suggest doing research and talking with a Neurologist to better understand what type of headache you have and how to properly treat it. Foods that Fight Pain by Dr. Neal Barnard is a great resource and the source for much of this post. I've suffered from most types of headaches from a very young age. I've gotten better at identifying triggers, but unfortunately I still get them often. I get auras before my migraines, throbbing sinus headaches, tension headaches, and basically every kind. So, I wanted to share some of the research I've done in the hopes that these methods will help someone eliminate a few headaches!

Triggers, or things that set a migraine or headache in motion, can include:

  • Perfumes
  • Dental problems
  • Previous injuries
  • Cigarette smoke
  • Changes in weather
  • Sunlight
  • Florescent lights
  • Eye strain (computer screens, uncorrected vision, etc.)
  • Dehydration
  • Stress
  • Too little or too much sleep
  • Too much caffeine (caffeine withdrawal is more of a dull pain)
  • Hormone changes (menstrual cycle)
  • Intense exercise
  • Environmental chemicals
    • Cleaning or painting solvents
    • Formaldahyde
    • Ammonia
    • Pesticides
    • Diesel fuel
  • Foods + food allergies
    • Food additives like MSG, food colorings,
    • Artificial sweeteners (especially Aspartame)
    • Nitrites (used to cure meats)
    • Sulfites (preservative)
    • Tyramine (chemical found in cheese, wine, chocolate, coffee, beer, yeast, licorice, and more)

Some are accompanied with an aura that looks like blind spots in vision and flashing, sparkling lights. Migraines are often hereditary, as well. Unfortunately, both have been my case. I get an aura that starts as a small black spot of missing vision and spreads into lines of sparkling lights. After about 20 minutes the migraine will start to set in. My latest neurologist believes some of my migraines are really tension headaches. Either way, they're not fun! I get anywhere from 1-10 per month and am usually out of commission for a few hours to a few days.

Migraines

Food allergies or sensitivities play a big part in migraines and headaches. By eliminating these triggers, many people find relief. You can try a simple elimination diet, or keep a food diary to help determine if a food allergy is your issue. This is something I'm still trying to figure out for myself. I haven't discovered anything yet, but it's not always easy.

Common migraine or headache food triggers:

  • Dairy products
  • Chocolate
  • Eggs
  • Citrus fruits
  • Meat
  • Wheat (bread, pasta, etc.)
  • Nuts and peanuts
  • Tomatoes
  • Onions
  • Corn
  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Cheese (especially aged cheeses)
  • Wine (especially red wine)

18 Natural Headache Remedies

1. Coffee Contains analgesic properties1. The caffeine also expands blood vessels, so medicine will be absorbed more quickly. This is why many medications contain caffeine, such as Tylenol and Excedrin Migraine. "Researchers at the National Headache Foundation say washing it down with a strong 12- ounce cup of coffee will boost the effectiveness of your medication by 40 percent or more. Experts say caffeine stimulates the stomach lining to absorb painkillers more quickly and more effectively."3 Usage: 1-2 cups at migraine onset. Avoid if it's triggered migraines in the past.

2. Feverfew Ancient Greeks used this wild flower herb to reduce fevers. Modern studies show that it reduced migraine pain in 2/3 of the trial patients, which is equivalent to most medicines on the market. 1 It seems to be most effective for people who find relief with a hot compress when experiencing a migraine. "100-150 mg daily of a product standardized to contain at least 0.2 percent parthenolides. This herb helps prevent the release of substances that dilate blood vessels in the head. You can stay on it indefinitely."4 Usage: 50-114 mg per day

3. Ginger This root has the ability to block histamines and reduce inflammation. It has been used for centuries to treat neurological conditions. It is also rare to have an allergy or sensitivity to ginger. Usage: 1/2-1 tsp of powdered ginger per day

4. Magnesium Studies have shown up to 80% of trial participants benefiting from 200mg of magnesium per day. If you suffer from pre-menstral headaches, magnesium may help significantly.1 Usage: 200 mg per day in supplemental form. Look for magnesium citrate or ___, as they are more easily absorbed. Foods rich in magnesium: whole grains, leafy green vegetables such as spinach, chard, broccoli, figs and some nuts.

5. Calcium + Vitamin D These are best consumed in their natural states, such as food and sunlight. Calcium rich foods include many dark leafy greens and legumes. When it comes to calcium, the biggest problem in the US has more to do with losing the calcium we do take in. Eating animal products (yes, especially dairy!), eating excessive salt and sugar and smoking all leach calcium from our bones. Your ability to absorb and use this calcium is dependent upon your Vitamin D levels, which many people, especially in climates above Atlanta, are low in.1 Usage for supplements: 1000-2000mg per day of calcium in a highly absorb-able form, such as calcium citrate, and 200 IU of vitamin D.1

6. Relaxing Techniques (for tension headaches) Try lying down in a dark room and breathing deeply. Focus on relaxing all of your muscles, but especially those in your neck, face and head. If you get frequent tension headaches, you'll need to incorporate more stress management. Frequent exercise, adequate sleep and proper nutrition are very important. 1 You may also want to try epsom salt baths, long walks in nature, meditation, positive thinking and listening to relaxing music.

7. Cherries "Research reveals that anthocyanins, the compounds that give cherries their brilliant red color, are anti-inflammatories 10 times stronger than ibuprofen and aspirin."3

8. Peppermint essential oil Dab a small amount of peppermint essential oil on your temples or under your nose.

9. Massage Massages increase blood circulation and relaxation. It can be especially helpful if you suffer from tension headaches.

10. Acupuncture Like massage, acupuncture increases blood circulation and promotes relaxation. They can both be highly focused to trouble areas on the body.

11. Butterbur This herb has been taken for centuries and is thought to have antispasmodic and anti-inflammatory effects. 2 "If you decide to try it, avoid the crude herb, which contains toxic pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs). Instead, choose PA-free butterbur extracts standardized to contain a minimum of 7.5 mg of petasin and isopetasin. The adult dosage ranges from 50-100 mg twice daily with meals. Side effects are rare." 4 I did some research on this and was scared off by what I found. There's a lot of information about carcinogens (petasin) in the supplements because they aren't regulated. Research and use with caution. Consult your doctor or neurologist, as well.

12. Turmeric This root is highly anti-inflammatory and great at fighting chronic pain. "Studies show turmeric, a popular East Indian spice, is actually three times more effective at easing pain than aspirin, ibuprofen or naproxen, plus it can help relieve chronic pain for 50 percent of people struggling with arthritis and even fibromyalgia, according to Cornell researchers"3

13. Cold or Hot Compress Heat can help to loosen the muscles if you're experiencing a tension headache. Ice can help to numb the pain. Does anyone remember those Migraine Ice strips? What ever happened to those?

14. Exercise This may not help during a headache or migraine, but increasing exercise will help the frequency. Be careful with intense exercise, as that can also trigger a migraine. Exercise increases blood flow, regulates hormones and promotes stress relief.

15. Aromatherapy "Boil a handful of rosemary in a liter of water and place it in a bowl after it boils. Place a towel over your head and inhale the steam for as long as you can. Keep repeating this until the headache goes away. Peppermint, lavender, eucalyptus, sandalwood, and basil work well also."2

16. Vitamin B2 (Raboflavin) "Taking high-dose riboflavin (400 mg/day) seems to significantly reduce the number of migraine headache attacks. However, taking riboflavin does not appear to reduce the amount of pain or the amount of time a migraine headache lasts."5 Usage: 200 mg per day supplement

17. Fish Oil / Omega 3 Fatty Acids "Omega 3 Fatty Acids are natural anti-inflammatories and may help to reduce the frequency, duration, and severity of migraine headaches."6 Usage: 1000 mg supplement if you don't eat fish often.

18. Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) "A handful of studies have shown that CoQ10 reduces the frequency and severity of migraines"6 Usage: 100-200 mg per day supplement

Have you found any natural remedies for your headaches or migraines? Please share in the comments below!

 Migraine Headache Compress

Please consult with your doctor before starting any new supplements or making large dietary changes. Migraines and headaches should be examined by a Neurologist.

Sources: 1. Foods That Fight Pain by Dr. Neal Barnard 2. One Good Thing by Jillee 3. iVillage 4. Dr. Andrew Weil 5. National Institute for Health 6. Joy Bauer, RD

 

My Experience at The Institute for Integrative Nutrition + Special Offer

I officially graduated from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition as a Health Coach two weeks ago. It's hard to believe it's already over. I wanted to recap my experience while it's still fresh in my mind, PLUS I have a great special offer for anyone who enrolls with me as a referral.

Summary

You'll hear the same thing from most IIN graduates. The experience is life changing. You'll learn to think critically about what you're putting into your body and how your lifestyle affects your overall well-being.

You'll not only learn over 100 dietary theories, but also about the sustainability of our food choices and how big business impacts the USDA guidelines. This leading-edge nutrition information comes from the top experts in the field of nutrition and health.

Looking to turn your passion into a full or part-time business? You'll also receive the necessary business and marketing training through the program.

Integrative Nutrition's mission is to “play a crucial role in improving health and happiness, and through that process, create a ripple effect that transforms the world.”

Watch this video to find out why the world needs health coaches.

Why I Enrolled

It's hard to pinpoint the exact reason I enrolled at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. It was the perfect storm of interest in nutrition; major health struggles between my fiance and I ranging from migraines to Ulcerative Colitis; and searching for a more fulfilling career, whether that be part-time or full-time. All of my reasons are enough for multiple posts, so I'll save all of that and jump into the details!

IINPackage

Community

The community at IIN is one of the best parts. Connecting with people all over the world who are interested in alternative medicine and holistic nutrition is amazing. I was part of the May 2013 class, which had around 1200 students. We had a Facebook group for our class and numerous side groups for specific topics, such as Plant-Based Eaters, Women's Health or Blogging.

We had students from all over the world, of all different ages and from all different career backgrounds. You'll encounter medical doctors, pharmacists, school teachers, stay at home mothers, and anything else you can imagine.

Students are encouraged to create a study group in their geographic locations. After you graduate, you'll start coming across other graduates in your every day life. I promise you'll be immediate friends.

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Classes + Curriculum

The curriculum is separated into 40 modules, with 10 modules per quarter and 4 tests (one at the end of each quarter). It's recommended to spend at least 5-10 hours per week on your course work, or potentially more if you're ready to plan a business or already have one. Between the tests you can go at your own pace with the modules. You download them to your Apple device and listen to lectures and read PowerPoints at your leisure. You'll also receive a workbook that contains your assignments. These are optional, but I highly recommend completing them!

The course work is a mix of nutrition, business/marketing and coaching skills. Even if you plan to create a product, open a yoga studio, or just want the nutrition knowledge for your family, all of these skills are applicable to every day life. You'll learn over 100 different dietary theories, but you'll also learn how everything works together holistically. You'll touch on topics such as positive psychology, relationships, sleeping habits, and so much more. A recurring theme is bio-indivuality, which is the belief that no one diet is perfect for every single person. This also applies to lifestyles. From veganism to the paleo movement, you'll help people find what's right for them.

You'll be able to access your course work for life, as long as you download it to your device. This is a plus for me, because sometimes it takes a few times of hearing something for it to sink in!

You'll have the opportunity to apply for AADP (American Association of Drugless Practitioners) membership and also to apply your certificate toward credits to a growing variety of college programs. More information can be found here.

After the normal one-year period course, you'll also be able to enroll in a the Immersion Program. This is geared toward those who are ready to take their businesses to the next level. I'll be enrolling in the January Immersion Program and can't wait. From what I understand, you can complete Immersion as many times as you like.

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Tests + Requirements

We had 4 tests during my class with two chances to take the test. We had a 2 week window to take each test, so that was perfect for those who were extremely busy. The staff and curriculum creators at IIN really understand the fast-paced lifestyle that nearly everyone has, and has developed a way to work around it. Keep in mind that the curriculum is constantly updated, so I can't promise that's how it will be.

During my class we also had to complete coaching calls (small groups discussing the curriculum) and practice "health histories." So, despite the school being a distance learning, go-at-your-pace style, there was plenty of hands-on learning and communication.

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Overall Pros
  • Great community of people. You're sure to make life-long friends
  • Diverse education on nutrition
  • Skills to build a business and help others achieve their health goals
  • Manageable for those working full-time, mothers and busy people in general
  • Taught by the leading nutrition experts
  • Continuously updated material so it is never outdated
  • A variety of payment plans are available
Overall Cons
  • Some people in my class complained that they wanted more nutrition information and less business. I wouldn't personally say this is a con, but it's the only one I can think of. The education sets you up to seek out information and how to make sense of all the different theories floating around.
  • I would have enjoyed a little more science behind the information. The more in-depth information can be found in the books written by the presenters, however.

 

I am in SUCH a better place in life since completing the program, both mentally and physically. There were many times when I doubted myself, my business ideas, and my goals, but everyone is extremely supportive at IIN. It takes courage and dedication, but you really can have the life you want. You just have to create it. Plus, everyone is a work in progress at all times. Nutrition, health and wellness are an ongoing education process.

Enroll and let IIN know that I, Danielle Zeigler, referred you, and you'll receive up to $1000 off tuition + any other special offers going on right now.

Please contact me at danielle[at]daniellezeigler.com if you have any questions or would like to know more. It was hard to include everything I wanted to in this post without making it extremely long!

The Real Benefits of Oil Pulling

It seems "oil pulling" has tipped over into the mainstream media. I've been hearing about it everywhere from ABC News articles to E! News. Oil pulling is something I've been practicing for about a year and a half, but it's one of those strange things I didn't want tell anyone about. Now that it's becoming a little more mainstream, I think it's a good time to dispel any unwarranted hype and explain the real benefits. What is oil pulling? "Oil pulling, or the practice of swishing oil around your mouth every day, has roots in Ayurvedic medicine, a holistic system of medicine that developed 3,000 to 5,000 years ago." Huffington Post The idea is to swish oil around in your mouth for up to 20 minutes to kill bacteria. It is said to "pull" bacteria out of crevices and into the oil.

Beneficial claims of oil pulling: -Kill bacteria + bad breath -Strengthen teeth + gums -Prevention of mouth-related diseases such as gingivitis and cavities -Prevent dryness in mouth, lips + throat -Clear sinuses -Whiten teeth -Aid in curing heart disease and chronic illnesses -Possible holistic treatment for TMJ and general soreness in the jaw area -Prevent dry mouth

Other possible benefits of oil pulling for overall health include: (foodmatters.tv) • Migraine headache relief • Correcting hormone imbalances • Reducing inflammation of arthritis • May help with gastro-enteritis • Aids in the reduction of eczema • May reduce symptoms of bronchitis • Helps support normal kidney function • May help reduce sinus congestion • Some people report improved vision • Helps reduce insomnia • Reduced hangover after alcohol consumption • Aids in reducing pain • Reduces the symptoms of allergies • Helps detoxify the body of harmful metals and organisms

Science-backed truth: -A Huffington Post article states, "According to the handful of published clinical trials out there, oil pulling is an effective way to kill some forms of mouth bacteria, including bacteria associated with bad breath and gingivitis. But what about all those claims that oil pulling can prevent heart disease or cancer? While there is an established link between oral health and chronic illness, oil pulling's effects on other areas of the body beside the mouth have yet to be proven."

-Foodmatters.tv claims, "these studies showed an overall reduction of bacteria from 10 to 33.4% in participants, and after 40 days of oil-pulling, participants were found to show 20% in average reduction in oral bacteria. Moreover, half of all participants in this case study showed a drastic reduction in susceptibility to dental caries."

My experience: I generally only oil pull when I have a cold. It works very well to clear my sinuses!

How to Oil Pull: 1. Choose your oil. You can choose extra virgin cold pressed coconut, sunflower or olive oil. Many prefer coconut oil. 2. Use about 1-2 tbsp 3. Swish around in your mouth for 5-20 minutes until the liquid is white and cloudy (Ugh, I know. Typing that was painful enough). You might have to work your way up to 20 minutes until you get used to it. Don't do it much longer than 20 minutes because you don't want the bacteria to be re-absorbed by your mouth. 4. Don't swallow! The oil will be full of bacteria. Spit into a trash can so you don't clog your sink. 5. Rinse your mouth with water, then brush your teeth to remove remaining bacteria. 6. Tip: the shower is a good place to oil pull. The warmth will help open your sinuses, the timing is right, and you'll be distracted so you won't focus as much on the taste.

Have you tried oil pulling? Share your experience in the comments!

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4 Comments

Danielle Zeigler

I'm Danielle, an SEO and Digital Marketing Strategist on a mission to help creatives and entrepreneurs harness their strengths, personality, and energy to easily + authentically market their work to exactly the people who need it.
I specialize in SEO and content marketing as ways to attract clients TO you. I'm extremely introverted, so I'm allll about the inbound marketing!

6 Healthier Alternatives to Drinking Diet Soda

Is diet soda bad for you?1. Aspartame is a neurotoxin, carcinogen and has been linked to weight gain. It increases the risk for heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure and osteoporosis, among other things. [see below]

2. Artificial Coloring aka Caramel Coloring has been listed as a carcinogen by the FDA.

I'm focusing on diet soda because this is something I've struggled to give up. There's just something about a cold, fizzy, sweet drink in the afternoon! And while I don't think having one every so often will do all that much harm, people tend to over-do it. These are alternatives that have personally helped me.

6 Healthier Alternatives to Drinking Diet Soda (or regular soda!)

Start by adding in other drinks so you can crowd out the diet soda. Experiment to see what you like best.

1. Add lemon, lime, mint or berries to your water Get creative! Fresh lemon juice and frozen berries are a great addition.

2. Flavored carbonated water La Croix has some great flavors like coconut and citrus. You can also use something like a Soda Stream and experiment with making your own flavors like homemade ginger ale.

La Criox Water

 

 

 

 

3. Kombucha Kombucha is a fermented tea. Eating + drinking fermented foods is great for your digestive system. The good bacteria help break down the food that passes through. You've heard that you should eat more yogurt, but there are many more options! Fermented tea and water (below) are also naturally effervescent, so they have a little fizz and they usually have a little sweetness. My personal favorite Kombucha is GT's brand, but there are tons of brands available now.

Kombucha

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Water Kefir Kefir is another fermented option. Kefir comes in either water kefir or milk kefir, but for this purpose I recommend water kefir. You can purchase kefir grains from places like CulturedforHealth.com and watch their videos for home fermentation.

How to Make Water Kefir Soda Homemade Soda Pop

5. Brew your own iced tea {or buy unsweetened ice tea} This can be done with your favorite tea bags, or buy your favorite unsweetened tea. This puts the sweetening in your hands. You can use something like stevia extract or limited amounts of natural sweeteners.

How to Make the Best Iced Tea

6. Green Smoothies This one may seem like a bit of a stretch, but hear me out. Why are you drinking that soda? For me it was an afternoon energy boost and treat to keep from snacking. Green smoothies offer the sweetness, give you energy and are full of nutrients. They're not calorie and sugar free, but they're probably my favorite alternative. Remember to make your green smoothies with 60-70% vegetables and avoid high-GI fruits like mangos.

The Hari Shake New Ideas for the Green Smoothie Lover Guide to Building a Perfect Green Smoothie

Note: Be wary of sodas found in health food stores. Many brands still contain caramel coloring and other unfavorable ingredients. Zevia and Whole Food's 365 brand are examples.

Zevia Ingredients

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Regular soda is no better. A single can may include anywhere from 20-40g of sugar, plus the caramel coloring. Alternatives to regular soda:

Fizzy, Bubbly, & Fresh: 10 Recipes for Homemade Soda D.I.Y. Healthy Soda Recipes (Fizz Ed) Soda Pop Stars: The Best Fizzy Drinks 20 Recipes for Healthy Alternatives to Drinking Soda

Have you stopped drinking or limited drinking soda or diet soda? How did you do it?

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