How to Manage Headaches | Reader's Digest

How to Manage Headaches

4 expert ways to manage headache pain.

By Michael F. Roizen | M.D. and Mehmet C. Oz from Reader's Digest | September 2006

29 million Americans suffer from migraines. Here are four expert ways to manage headache pain.

The nutritionist. We look at food first — it’s easiest to manipulate. Food triggers are different for everyone: For some, red wine or cheese may be to blame. Figure out your danger foods; then avoid them. Caffeine withdrawal is a common culprit, so if you’re trying to cut back, do so gradually. Instead of coffee, drink plenty of water. The pain will eventually go away.
Annemarie Colbin, PhD, author, Food and Healing

The aromatherapist. Mix two drops of peppermint oil (Mentha piperita) in a teaspoon of olive oil. Rub on your forehead and temples for instant cooling to ease pain. Or try putting two drops of lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), mandarin (Citrus reticulata) or clary sage (Salvia sclarea) essential oils on a cotton ball. Inhale for two to three minutes.
Jane Buckle, PhD, Author, Clinical Aromatherapy: Essential Oils in Practice

The acupuncturist. Treatment is based on your other symptoms (fatigue, dizziness, irritability) and type of pain (one- or two-sided, dull throbbing, stabbing). Some find acupressure helpful: For pain in the front of the head, apply pressure for a minute or so in the webbing between the thumb and forefinger. For pain on the sides of the head, press on the top of the foot, between the big toe and second toe.
Anjali Hasija LAC, Satori Holistic Center and Spa, New York, New York

The neurologist. Most people who see a doctor for headaches actually have migraines. Motrin or Advil help, but if you need any drug two or three times a week or more, see your doctor. Ask about triptans or drugs to stop headaches before they start. Magnesium, CoQ10 and riboflavin may also prevent them. If you have new, severe headaches, it may be a sign of a serious problem.
Jay Lombard, DO, Pomona, New York

Bottom Line
A headache is your body’s cry for help. If severe, we must ensure it’s not something more serious. Prevent recurring headaches by treating triggers, such as stress, environmental toxins or inadequate sleep. With treatment, less is better, since the drugs can cause side effects. Try acupressure on the brow between your eyes or just above your temples.