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Nutrition

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The (nearly) complete home remedy guide to headache cures

What to do about headaches?

Last October I had the privilege of teaching a headache management and recovery class at UVic.

It came as a surprise to my students that most headaches fall into the category of tension type headaches. Yet the American Headache Association and the World Health Organization state that nearly 80% of headache sufferers do not have migraines, but headaches that classify as tension type.

Make no mistake, the pain for these types of headaches can be debilitating. In some cases more so than migraines.

The good news is, that with modifications to diet, exercise and lifestyle, all tension type headaches should technically be curable.

It has been my experience that if patients who have tension headaches diligently follow my instructions, they can recover from even years of debilitating headaches.

A patient of mine had suffered for over 12 years and was cured due to following our protocol.

Her testimony is on our Dr Parenteau channel (click below, a must see).

http://drparenteauimagebank.files.wordpress.com/2012/01/testimonial-mclennan.jpg

How do I know if I have a tension type headache?

Here is a side by side comparison of typical tension headaches vs migraines:

http://drparenteauimagebank.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/headache-newsletter-image-1.jpg

 “Okay, I suffer tension headaches, now what?”

EXERCISES:

First, you’ll need to incorporate a neck exercise program. The following is called the “2 minute neck roll,” and helps patients attempt to rehab their tension headaches without having to come into the clinic and do an exercise rehabilitation program. Here it is:

A. Neck flexors:  

– Lay on floor
– Tuck chin into neck and lift head off floor approx. 1/2 inch only

Hold position for 30 seconds
(head is not touching floor in part 2 of picture below)

 

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B. Scalene muscles:  

 – Roll onto your right side (on right shoulder).

– Keep head/neck perfectly straight, don’t let it slouch towards the ground or bend towards ceiling.

Hold 30 seconds

   

once this becomes too easy (3-5 weeks later), go to phase 2 =

In Phase 2, you bend the neck so that the top ear is moving toward top shoulder.

You then hold for a “one” count and return to start position.

= 12 reps

Phase 3 = Once phase 2 becomes too easy, you will perform phase 3. The difference being that once you have bent your ear toward your shoulder, you will add a “shoulder check” (look over your shoulder) before returning to neutral start position.

Once returned to starting position, repeat.

10 repititions (remember, to start, don’t do repetitions as described above, just hold head for 30 seconds)

 

http://drparenteauimagebank.files.wordpress.com/2012/02/scalene.jpg

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C. Face Downs:
– roll onto stomach,
– forehead resting on floor/bed and arms at sides, palms up.
– Retract chin and lift forehead off ground.
– Keeping arms straight, lift palms off ground.
– Pinch shoulder blades together and down (“put them in back pockets”)

Hold this position for 30 seconds.

(Can do 3 x 10 sec, then work up to 2 x 15 and eventually 30 sec straight. When 30 sec. becomes too easy, work up to 45 and 60 sec.)
http://drparenteauimagebank.files.wordpress.com/2012/02/facedowns.jpg

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D. Scalene muscles: exact same as “scalene muscle” exercise B, except on opposite side.

***NOTE: these are to be every other day, not daily.

For the first 2 weeks, expect nausea and even headache symptoms during and after the exercise.

Unless the pain is severe or lasts more than 30 minutes beyond the exercises, persist for at least 2 weeks (7 sessions) before quitting.

Typically, tension headache sufferers have very poor neck core muscles and feel worse for the first few workouts.
If the above neck roll helps, you will want to graduate to a more advanced neck exercise program within a couple of months of starting the program. Come in to see us and we will evaluate you and prescribe a more advanced regimen (including upper body exercises).

 

 

POSTURE:
If you are sitting at a desk most of the day, stress plus bad posture is most likely the key trigger of your tension headaches.

By properly orienting your spine while seated, the stress will be removed from the neck area and greatly alleviate the frequency and intensity of your flare ups.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DIET:

Besides eating a generally healthy diet, avoid the following:
  • caffeine
  • alcohol
  • sodas
  • white flour products (white rice, flour pastas, white bread, etc)
  • sugars (candy, chocolate bars, etc)
  • cheese

Then, make sure have a daily intake of the following:

 

A. Omega 3 (fish oils) is type of EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid)

WHY?:natural anti-inflammatory

WHERE?: capsules (50 g)
AND/OR natural foods:

  • salmon
  • mackerel
  • trout
  • herring

___________________________________________________

B. Calcium

WHY?: decrease vasospasm, increase serotonin

WHERE?: capsules
AND/OR

  • milk
  • yogurt
  • cheeses
  • broccoli
  • almonds
  • salmon
  • apricots
  • orange
  • tofu

___________________________________________________

C. Magnesium (citrate)

**take separate time than Calcium or else Calcium used up to help body absorb magnesium.

WHY?: helps sleep, decrease vasospasm, good for menstrual HAs

WHERE?: Capsules
AND/OR

  • tofu
  • whole grain cereals
  • broccoli
  • spinach
  • black beans

___________________________________________________

D. Vitamin D

 WHY?: helps absorb calcium,  natural anti-inflammatory

WHERE?: capsules
AND/OR

  • 20 minutes sun exposure daily
  • butter
  • milk
  • sardines
  • eggs

 

 

SLEEP & STRESS MANAGEMENT:

Sleeping on your back or side with a contour pillow is the best case scenario for tension type headache sufferers.

We recommend using the therapeutica line of products.

Their website is therapeutica.com and before you order their product, the site will walk you through the proper measuring procedures to make sure you get a custom fit pillow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Regarding stress management, there are a myriad of ways to accomplish this. And it would be too great a task for one newsletter to attempt to tackle such a fundamental issue that is very customized to individual lives.

However, I recommend the book “Boundaries” by Dr. Cloud and Dr. Townsend.  

It focuses on the art of saying “no.” In my experience, the inability to say “no” to families, friends, co-workers and even employers is one of the greatest barriers to clearing time for your health and re-enforcing self esteem.

I know of no other single strategy that can do so much for stress reduction and lifestyle modification.

“Help! I’ve followed all of the above but I still have headaches”

No worries.

Home care is great, but if it fails, you simply need a short course of manual therapy.

Visit my headache section (click below) to see how we approach headache patients who need extra help in fighting their tension headaches. And in my experience, even people who suffer true migraines get relief from their headaches through lifestyle modification and manual therapy.

http://drparenteauimagebank.files.wordpress.com/2012/01/testimonial-mclennan.jpg

Best of luck!!

Sincerely,

Dr. Parenteau

Stress can cause inflammation

No one likes stress.

Now you have one more reason to work at reducing your stress. Stress = inflammation. And inflammation levels trigger your pain-sensing nerves.

So: STRESS = PAIN.

“How Can This Be?”

Studies have shown that stress alone can cause an increase in the production of proinflammatory cytokines. These cytokines — types of proteins — in turn attract immune cells to injuries and turn on their healing response. When your stress is chronically elevated, the body can produce an over abundance of proinflammatory cytokines even in the absence of injury.

Further, stress also suppresses the immune system, allowing more foreign organisms to enter and stay in your body. Which in turns increases your release of proinflammatory cytokines and keeps the inflammatory cycle in full swing.

“Okay, but how do I turn my stress down, I don’t know how!?”

I hear you!

It is not always easy, but it CAN BE DONE!

There are many ways to reduce stress. The bottom line is, you have to learn them. The basics can be implemented immediately:

  • clean up your diet: eat plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains and don’t forget to hydrate (as well as cut out caffeine and alcohol for a time)
  • exercise regularly: start small because heavy exercise actually stressed the nervous system. Light jogging, easy cycling/swimming, light weights, etc. Just get moving at least 4 times per week.
  • improve sleep: get to bed at 9 and read until 10. Then, lights out. No electronics or food after 8:30. If you wake, stay in bed. In time, your body will learn to stay put and sleep.
  • increase fun: stop working non-stop and schedule time with family and friends. Even if at first you’re too stressed to enjoy it. Train yourself to have fun. You’ll learn!

Check out our New Year’s Resolution video for a presentation of the above health tips.

Relax! Too much stress is unnatural for the body and will decrease your quality of life.

What Foods Help Headaches?

If you are suffering from headaches you need to ensure that you are:

1. performing mild to moderate cardiovascular exercise and weight training (3-4 x per week at 30 minutes each session)

2. getting proper sleep with good mattress.

3. that your workplace ergonomics are appropriate, safe and healthy

4. that you are consistently well hydrated

5. that you are seeing your chiropractor for maintenance care

6. and last but not least, that you are making sure your diet gives you the following vitamins and nutrients. The following diet tips will help lower your frequency and intensity of headaches:


A. Omega 3 (fish oils) is type of EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid)

WHY?: natural anti-inflammatory

WHERE?: capsules (50 g)
AND/OR natural foods:

  • salmon
  • mackerel
  • trout
  • herring

 

___________________________________________________

B. Calcium

WHY?: decrease vasospasm, increase serotonin    

WHERE?: capsules
AND/OR

  • milk
  • yogurt
  • cheeses
  • broccoli
  • almonds
  • salmon
  • apricots
  • orange
  • tofu         

 

___________________________________________________

C. Magnesium (citrate) **take separate time than Calcium or else Calcium used up to help body absorb magnesium.

WHY?: helps sleep, decrease vasospasm, good for menstrual HAs          

WHERE?: Capsules
AND/OR

  • tofu
  • whole grain cereals
  • broccoli
  • spinach
  • black beans

 

___________________________________________________

D. Vitamin D

WHY?: helps absorb calcium,  natural anti-inflammatory

WHERE?: capsules
AND/OR

  • 20 minutes sun exposure daily
  • butter
  • milk
  • sardines
  • eggs

If you’ve incorporated all of the above nutrients as well as the health tips 1 through 5 (at beginning of article) and you are still not experiencing relief from your headaches, please see your doctor to discuss other interventions.

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