Along with Stress, headaches seem to be one of the most common wellness challenges that most people face in today’s society. In fact, I would say that headache and stress go hand in hand. Most people that are stressed definitely experience some type of headache. When a headache strikes, most people will reach for either a Tylenol, Advil (Ibuprofen), Aspirin or an Aleve (Naprosyn). While over the counter pain relievers offer temporary relief, they do not address the root cause of the headache and often the headache will return. Ayurveda is the science of how to create optimal health. It is the traditional medicine of India, is holistic and approaches health and wellness from a natural point of view. Within Ayurveda, herbs are used to bring natural relief with the goal of correcting internal imbalances. Because Ayurveda is a holistic in nature it covers the mind, body and spirit and assesses a person’s lifestyle and how factors within the lifestyle may be the primary factor causing the headaches.
Headaches fall into three major categories, Cluster headaches, Migraine headaches and Tension headaches.
Cluster headaches can be very intense. They have the tendency to last from a few minutes to a few hours and will often come and go throughout the day. These headaches tend to be “pulsing” type of headaches in the temporal area and may be accompanied by tearing or redness of the eye, sweating or constriction of one pupil.
Migraine headaches are extremely intense in nature often inhibiting the individual’s daily function. These types of headaches cause great distress and often have the signs and symptoms of nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light, noise and smells. These headaches can last from hours to days.
Tension headaches are the most common type of headaches experienced by individuals. These headaches are intense but are the mildest of the three major types. This type of headache can last from a few minutes to hours.
The cause of Cluster and Migraine headaches are not fully understood although significant strides have been made in the management of Migraine headaches. Tension headaches tend to be highly related to stress, anxiety, poor sleep quality and toxins. Ayurveda views the common cause for the three major types of headaches is that the individual is out of balance.
In Ayurveda, the goal is always to restore balance and optimal health with the individual. This is accomplished through proper diet, herbs, exercise, and stress reduction. Stress reduction may include meditation, yoga and the creation of a harmonious lifestyle.
It is the creation of a harmonious lifestyle that is the most challenging for people. With the challenges faced in today’s society many people are just keeping their head above water or are caught up in the challenge of crisis management and struggling to survive. The busier we become the more difficult our lifestyle, the more our lifestyle suffers, and the more difficult it is to take proper care of ourselves. It is no wonder so many people suffer from stress related illnesses. If a plant is ignored it will wilt and eventually die. If a car is ignored, it will eventually begin to develop problems and if it is still ignored, it will break down. If a human is ignored and not properly cared for, it will eventually begin to develop problems that lead to suffering, illness and disease.
Take this moment and think about one that you can do to decrease the stress in your life. It can be something small like taking 3-5 mindful breaths before you eat your meals to doing 15-20 minutes of a mindful breathing meditation. Whatever you choose to do, just know that you will be doing something very beneficial for your mind, body and spirit, reducing your stress and decreasing the frequency of your headaches.
Rochele Lawson, RN,AHP,CMS