I´ve had problems with headaches most of my life. I started having bad migraine at the age of 18, and since then I´ve suffered from different kind of headaches. For many years I´ve tried to figure out why I have them. They´ve been all from pretty mild to terrible migraine when nothing helps. When I talked to my mother about this she told me I actually suffered from bad headaches from the age of 10. I can´t remember this, for me these headaches have become like a normal state in my life.
Today I don´t suffer from headaches anymore. Sure, they show up sometimes but I have them under control. For me the reason of my pain has been more than one cause and that´s why it has been such a long journey to find the cures. It has been like a huge jigsaw-puzzle, where I´ve tried to find all the missing pieces and put them together. Now, after many years of suffering I have found all of the missing pieces and know what all of my different headaches are all about, and this I want to share with you today, just in case you have the same problem as I had.
1. Drink enough water.
Maybe this sound obvious, but at least I forget to drink the amount of water I need to drink every day. Do you know that you need to drink around 30 ml/kg you weigh (that is almost 2 liter per day). Being dehydrated can give you headache. Drinking water is also good to help to cleanse toxins out of your body (that also can give you headache) so drinking enough water is a good idea.
2. Do yoga and meditation
Many yoga poses, relaxation and meditations have helped me with headaches. Stress is a well known factor to cause tension headaches and migraine. When your sympathetic nervous system is activated (the fight and flight response) the muscles are contracting and headache can show up. When you are stressed you often breathe very shallow and that can also give you headache. When you breathe shallow your blood is not oxygenated enough and if your oxygen levels are low you can get headaches and migraine. So simply by breathing long and deeply you can get rid of your headache.
There are also great yoga poses for headache, you can check out these three yoga poses for headache.
I also want to mention anxiety as a cause for headaches. Having a background of anxiety issue myself, I know that you can be very tense in an anxiety situation. You get a stress response and your muscles are tightening and the breathing becomes shallow. My personal belief is that many people are anxious without knowing and are suffering from different pain issues that they can´t get rid of because they are not aware of their anxiety. One great meditation if you suffer from anxiety is to try this Meditation if you are stressed like crazy.
If you have bad problems with anxiety, like Generalized Anxiety Disorder or Social Anxiety I recommend that you go to a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or Acceptance Commitment Therapy. Often you need to work on your negative thought patterns together with a skilled therapist. But you can also do yoga parallel to your therapy.
3. Remove sensitivity food
Over the years I´ve found out that some food give me headaches (and also IBS, maybe there´s a connection between the two?) This can be a little bit tricky to find out, depending on quantity of the food and combinations. Sometimes I can eat some chocolate, but if I eat the day after it doesn´t work, or in combination with other foods. My theory here is that these kind of foods release histamine and that my body can take some histamine release, but when it´s too much, it gives me headache. I see it as I have a certain amount of histamine that is totally ok, but when I exceed that limit I get a headache or IBS. Some foods that are known to be sensitivity food are: Chocolate (sigh, my only addiction…), nuts, soy, gluten, dairy. It can take some time to figure out what you can be sensitive to, so the best way is to try to remove one thing at a time and journal how you feel. I also want to say that adding the good stuff is important too, so you don´t remove all your food only! ☺
If you want to look more into this with histamine and food I recommend the Low Histamine Chef that is a great source. And don´t forget my recipes to get some inspiration!
But before you remove food I would actually go to the next step first!
This was my last peace that was missing in the big jigsaw puzzle to figure out my sources for my headaches. I have written about it in this blog post: Whatever you do detox first! I have detoxed before and it has helped a bit, but not as clearly as last time. What I needed was some supplement to help the detox to go deeper and make the detox smoother, supporting the liver. (It contained pectasol, chlorella, beetroot and choline among other ingredients. It´s a Swedish brand so maybe you can find a similar where you live) It worked wonders!
So what the detox does is to get rid of the toxins in your body (obviously).We all get toxins in many ways, unfortunately, through food, water, air, things around us. If the liver doesn´t function in an optimal way, it doesn´t neutralize the toxins and other substances that needs to flush out of our system like hormones. It continues to circulate in our system and that can give you headache. In some traditions, it is claimed that migraine is caused by toxins. Well, I don´t know about that, but I do believe it can be one cause for many migraine sufferers out there. But, why not try a detox, you have nothing to lose really.
Tip: A mini detox I do myself everyday is to start the day with some warm water. Drink a glass of this warm water the first thing you do. It helps to flush out the toxins and also is good to help your elimination that also is important to help get rid of toxins.
5. Balance your hormones
It is well known that imbalanced hormones can cause headaches. It is common to get headache before your period or during your period. You can also have headaches from estrogen dominance. So to balance your hormones is a great way to decrease your hormonal headaches. My number one way to balance hormones is to lower the stress. To do yoga that helps you to relax in the pelvic region. My Online course Breathe and open up is focusing on this, to balance the hormones and reduce pain so check it out and read more about this there.
If I would choose 4 things to do balance the hormones it would be to
1. Start a yoga practice
2. Eat a good plant based diet
When I write this article I´m sitting on the boat landing at the cottage. The sun is shining, it´s hot and a mild breeze touches my skin. I can´t believe my headaches are gone! It feels unreal! I´m so happy the tears are coming.
Do you have problems with headaches? What has helped you? Please share with us in the comments below!
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Helen Kåselöv is a yoga teacher and yoga therapist and the founder of Healing from within with yoga & food (former Yoga for Endometriosis & Pelvic pain). Helen has a history of severe endometriosis and is today helping women with endometriosis, PCOS, uterine fibroids and other pelvic pain online, with yoga, nutrition and other lifestyle changes. Using yoga both as a tool in different kinds of healing programs, pain management, yoga has become the foundation in her work. “Yoga can help you in so many ways: Physically, mentally, spiritually and as a personal development tool.”