Many people suffer from migraines on a regular basis and can be caused by a variety of factors, but what about milder, more common headaches? While not as severe as migraines, common headaches can be a real pain to deal with literally and figuratively speaking. For the occasional afternoon headache, an extra cup of coffee or green tea might do the trick but consistent headaches that occur on a daily basis without abandon require a whole other approach and protocol.
Here’s the deal: headaches are a form of inflammation that the body uses to tell us that something is wrong or that it is under some sort of threat. For example: if you’re exposed to higher levels of noise than your auditory system senses it can manage (such as a rock concert or intense noise from something else), you might get a headache. If you hit your head, you might get a headache. Both of these are forms of inflammation that lead to the production of changes in the blood vessels which leads to the pain we call a headache. However, these examples are circumstantial. Daily headaches are much different and much more serious. No matter how mild, they should not be occurring, especially for long periods of time such as more than a week because they’re a signal something is very wrong.
Here are three highly likely reasons for daily headaches and what should be avoided to prevent them:
1. Lack of Sleep
A lack of sleep can throw off all your hormones and this can lead to everything from headaches to mood swings and even digestive upset as a result. Our hormones control —or play a role— in nearly every function of our bodies. The best thing we can do to support them before anything else is to get a good night’s rest. A lack of sleep directly leads to inflammation because the organs and major systems of the body don’t receive adequate time to heal, repair and cleanse as they prefer. Headaches can occur from this because of several reasons: hormones that alter blood sugar leading to headaches (and even false sugar cravings), changes in neurotransmitter hormones such as serotonin, or a change in sex hormones such as estrogen and testosterone.
The bottom line? Go to bed and make sure you’re there at least 7-8 hours at an absolute minimum. The whole body works better and responds to stress differently with adequate rest and rejuvenation.
2. Too Much Caffeine or Alcohol
If you like your coffee and tea a great deal and have a daily headache in the afternoon, consider this no coincidence. On the other hand, if you love to drink at night and wake up with a regular headache, it should go without saying that your regular nightcap is the reason. Or maybe you have an active lifestyle and down caffeine pills or energy drinks to get through the day. Both caffeine and alcohol both cause dehydration in the body which restricts blood flow to the brain and they change hormonal function. Both causes lead to a headache. They also promote inflammation when consumed in excess because they’re naturally acidic to the body.
The bottom line? If you love coffee and tea (the healthiest forms of caffeine) then split your servings to morning and early afternoon (just be sure to ditch the sugar which is incredibly inflammatory). If you like to have wine or beer at night, cap it at two servings and make it a point to stop no matter what. For energy drink lovers, ditch the cans and opt for natural energizers like matcha, yerba mate, and cacao which are quite strong, yet much gentler and come with health benefits with no sugar or chemical additives.
3. Internal or External Stress
And finally, if you have a stressful job and leave with a headache every day at the end of work, then it’s time to address this pronto. Stress causes inflammation in the body and while it might seem just fine to pop a pill or stop for a drink after a long day, a much healthier approach is to find ways to reduce the problem of the stress to begin with. Other causes for stress-related headaches may be working in a loud atmosphere or around toxic chemicals that lead to internal stress. Whatever the case, work on reducing the cause of the stress before you turn to OTC remedies without abandon. While they may be harmless every once in a while, these synthetic drugs can do severe harm to your liver and heart over the long haul.
The bottom line? Address the causes of stress first to prevent the problem instead of cover it up with a temporary solution. And don’t forget that lack of sleep and alcohol both put stress on the body, so don’t ignore the first two reasons above while considering this reason too.
A Few More Tips …
And finally, be sure you address your diet when approaching a natural way to heal your headaches. Reducing sugar and processed foods will help balance your blood sugar and hormones to prevent headaches, and eating an anti-inflammatory diet can also help too. If you’re still doing all these things and not seeing results, make sure that you’re getting enough magnesium. Magnesium is found in our foods, but due to the way our soil has been depleted from minerals, we might not be getting as much as we think from our diets. You can take a natural magnesium supplement if necessary, but might want to take it before bed since it can lead to relaxation and sleepiness quite quickly. Magnesium can help everything from headaches to cramps and even mood swings, so find more ways to add this important mineral to your diet in any way possible.
If you have a natural way you overcame daily headaches, leave us a comment and let us know!
Lead image source: Kizzbeth/Flickr