With midterms on the brain, “Hallo-weekend” part two fast approaching, and all the hard work you’ve been putting in this semester finally catching up to you, it’s easy to feel stressed, overwhelmed, and frankly, burnout. And with this stress and exhaustion, headaches are more likely have found a “fun” new place in your life, becoming more frequent and more severe.
While it’s tempting to reach for that Aleve bottle in your backpack and pop a couple pills, new studies have shown that ibuprofen’s like Advil and Aleve and other pain relievers might be doing your body more harm than good.
Did you know that regular use of pain relievers can actually cause more headaches? One dose may have initially been enough to rid your head pain, but soon it may take two, maybe even three times the suggested dosage to get the same relief that one used to provide you relief. Just like caffeine or alcohol, it is easy to build a tolerance towards these common pain-relievers. This is dangerous because of the adverse effects seen in regular to heavy use of pain relievers, due to their chemical ingredients.
Advil, for example is an Ibuprofen, also known as an anti-inflammatory drug. Regular, long-term use of it can increase your risk of heart disease, kidney problems, and cause ulcers and/or gastrointestinal bleeding. On the other hand, Tylenol is an Acetaminophen, also known as an analgesic (pain and fever reducer). This drug can cause damage to the liver, especially if used with alcohol. Both drugs can cause small increases in blood pressure.
Reducing your use of these common headache-commbatters can only be beneficial towards your health. Below are some common, natural headache remedies that can be found in most kitchens that can hinder your awful headaches!
Ginger is an Asian spice that has been used since the 1500’s as a natural remedy for head pain. Some of it’s uses are for treatment of:
- Upset stomach
Headaches often occur alongside nausea or upset stomaches. In severe cases, these are called migraines. Because ginger is anti-inflammatory and soothes the stomach, it is a perfect natural remedy for a headache or migraine. I recommend brewing a hot cup of ginger tea in bed to fight an incoming headache.
Caffeine is a controversial subject when it comes headaches; some people find it helps treat headaches, while others find it to be a trigger. When consumed in small amounts (less than 200mg, or a 12oz cup of coffee), caffeine can actually relieve headaches by reducing inflammation in the brain. When consumed on a daily basis or in amounts >200mg, however, caffeine can lead to withdrawal symptoms like nausea, stomach pain, dizziness, and of course headaches.
The science behind this is that when a headache comes on, our blood vessels begin to enlarge. Caffeine constricts your blood vessels; therefore in small amounts (in order to avoid withdrawal headaches) caffeine can reverse an oncoming headache or migraine.
Green and black teas are a good choice instead of coffee, since they have small amounts of caffeine while being full of antioxidants. They also help boost your metabolism and are beneficial towards your cardiovascular system!
Peppermint leaves contain essential oils that can be beneficial medicinally. One of these oils is menthol, which a study from 2010 shows is a migraine-fighter when applied in a solution to the forehead and temples. In addition to headaches, peppermint can help treat:
- Gastrointestinal upset
If you have any of these symptoms in addition to your headache, a cup of peppermint tea is the perfect healthy qne natural cure.
If you are interested in preventing future headaches, here are some common triggers of headaches and migraines. Reducing your exposure to these products may prevent future headaches:
- Alcohol (red wine)
- Caffeinated beverages (in excess)
- Aged cheeses (Gorgonzola, Camembert, cheddar, etc.)
- Cured/processed meats (hot dogs, sausages, lunch meats, etc.)
- MSG (common in processed foods)
- Aspartame (an artificial sweetener common in chewing gum and other candies)
Lastly, here are some general tips to reduce your risk of headache:
- Maintain a sleep schedule
- Eat at regular intervals each day
- Stay hydrated
- Avoid hangover situations
- Avoid strong fragrances
- Avoid bright lights when possible. Turn your phone and computer brightness down!
- Set aside time for yourself to relax, stress-free
Next time you go to grab some Advil or Tylenol, think twice! Some of these natural remedies may supply the same effects without harming your health. It’s a win-win!
By: Allie Urso