13 February 2009

Homeopathic remedies for headaches

Homeopathic products are often overlooked when you've got a blinding migraine or throbbing headache, but if you know how to use them you might never need a painkiller again.

Anyone who suffers from regular headaches or migraines and knows the agony will attest to the fact they will take anything if it promises relief. But before you decide to pop yet another handful of headache pills you know probably won't work, why not try some homeopathic remedies first?

  • Location: where is the pain? (Frontal, on the top of the head, at the back of the head, and so forth)
  • Sensation: how does it feel? (Bursting, splitting, pounding, and so forth)
  • Modality: what makes it better or worse? (Light or darkness, warmth or cold, movement or rest, and so forth)

"Some headaches have a known cause, such as emotional and physical stress, eye strain, dehydration, toxicity, alcohol, lack of sleep or tiredness. However, others seem unrelated to any particular circumstance or trigger. Regardless of whether the origin of the headache is known or not, homeopathy has a remedy to match every imaginable head pain," she said.

Identifying the headache

  • Belladonna 200C –an excellent remedy for the classic throbbing headache that comes on suddenly, either in the forehead, or at the back of the head/neck or temples; feels worse when lying down flat and better when sitting or raised on lots of pillows. You feel hot but not very thirsty, and have an aversion to noise and light.
  • Bryonia 200C – when the headache begins in the back of the neck and moves to the front of the head, remaining over the forehead and eyes. Head feels like it is bursting or splitting, is very sore to move, and eyes feel painful and worse for the slightest movement. May feel dizzy and even nauseous, with a great thirst for long drinks.
  • Gelsemium 200C – for a headache which makes you feel dizzy, weak and heavy-headed; or it feels like a band around the head; a dull, heavy ache with heaviness of the eyelids; pain in the head extends from the temples to the ears or chin. Neck and shoulder muscles may also be sore.
  • Glonoinum 200C – a very effective remedy for a pulsating, throbbing headache accompanied by extreme irritability. Accompanied by throbbing in the ears. Cannot tolerate anything hot near the head – a cool, damp face cloth might help. Excellent for a headache after sitting in the sun too long.
  • Nat Mur 200C – for the typical migraine-type headache; can be severe and varied and may be throbbing, beating, pressing or hammering in nature; it is either frontal or one-sided. May be accompanied by nausea and vomiting with a need to lie quietly in the dark and sleep.

  • Nux Vom 200C – great option for headaches that result from modern-life excesses; the typical hangover-type or over-indulgence headache. Headache is frontal, seated over the eyes, or at the back of the head and neck. Brain feels like it is swirling. May be worse in the morning (especially if over-indulgence is the cause). Accompanied by hypersensitivity and irritability, impatience, light sensitivity of the eyes and an intolerance of noise or odours.
  • Silica 200C – pain begins at the back of the neck and spreads forward over the whole head, affecting the eyes. Feels as if the head might burst. May have sharp pains moving through the eyes, causing blurred vision, sensitivity to light, dizziness (especially when looking up). Cannot tolerate alcohol. Person feels anxious and nervous and cannot stand noise or cold air. Might want to tie something tight around the head for relief. (N.B. Silica should not be taken by anyone with breast, dental or other implants.

How to take them
"Since we heal from the inside out, homeopathic medicines are usually taken orally for maximum effect," said Rowson. She advised the following as the best way for taking tablets:

  • The tablet or pillules should be taken by tipping one dose into the cap or lid of the container and then tipping this into the mouth, either onto or under the tongue.
  • This can either be sucked or crushed with the teeth and allowed to dissolve in the mouth. If the remedy is swallowed by mistake, a second dose should be taken but, this time, allowed to dissolve in the mouth.
  • Mouth sprays can be sprayed directly into the mouth.
  • For infants and small children the tablets or pillules can be crushed between two plastic spoons (never use metal spoons) and sprinkled onto the tongue, a little at a time, or the teat of a bottle or dummy can be dipped into the powder and placed in baby’s mouth to suck on.
  • To maximise the effect of the remedy and absorption in the mouth, try not to drink or brush your teeth 10 minutes before or after taking a remedy.
  • Creams, ointments and lotions are for topical application (on the skin) and should be applied as directed.

Headache? Or migraine misery?
How not to treat a migraine


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Ask the Expert

Headache expert

Dr Elliot Shevel is a South African migraine surgery pioneer and the founder and medical director of The Headache Clinic in Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town, South Africa. The Headache Clinic is a multidisciplinary practice dedicated to the diagnosis and treatment of Primary Headaches and Migraines. Dr Shevel is also the main author of all scientific publications generated by his team. He recently won a high level science debate in which he was able to prove that the current migraine diagnosis and classification is not based on data. Tertiary Education - Dr Shevel holds both Dental and Medical degrees, and practises as a specialist Maxillo-facial and Oral Surgeon. Follow the Headache Clinic on Twitter@HeadacheClinic.

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