When you have a serious headache it can feel like the world is caving in - that severe pain that makes you want to vomit; maybe extreme sensitivity to light; a throbbing and pulsing at the nape of your neck; or pressure that feels like it’s going to explode across the cheeks, bridge of the nose and along the forehead.
We all have had headaches from time to time and they are one of the most common reasons people reach for panadol (or something stronger), but before taking medication, which only treats the symptoms, it’s worth looking a bit deeper. The type of headache you are suffering from, will also offer the clues to treating your headache, naturally - and for the long term.
The first question I ask when someone comes to me because they have headaches, is ‘where is the location of the pain’? Some headaches move around the head, others are located right behind the eyes or at the base of the neck. The location of the pain is a key indicator to the type of headache you have and the best course of treatment.
Here are the three most common types of headaches, as well as what brings them on and most importantly, what we can do about them.
We are seeing a lot more vata headaches, which tend to be caused by an overuse of technology. The Scientific American recently ran a story showing that adults spend on average nine hours and 22 minutes a day in front of their various screens. This amount of time spent on technology isn’t good for our nervous system causing headaches as well as other tension.
The pain from vata headaches typically tend to move around a lot – popping up in different parts of the head. One minute it will be at the base of the skull where the joints are, the next it’s in the neck and shoulders or back. They also tend to be cold and damp and throbbing and pulsating in nature.
These types of headaches are mostly linked to the colon, the seat of vata – in many cases this is where the toxicity is stuck. Using a special enema will relieve the constipation and take the headache away. It’s also important to get to the bottom of the stress, fear or anxiety that brings this imbalance on in the first place.
Vata headache can be also caused by traveling too much and excess movement, stress, anxiety, lack of sleep or eating vata aggravating foods such as too much raw foods or juices.
Treatment for a vata headache is getting out into nature – once there, take your shoes off and get your feet on the ground. Establishing a solid routine can also help - so that means making sure you eat maybe three meals or 6 small meals a day depending on your body type and making sure you’re in bed nice and early, ideally by 10pm.
Other remedies include triphala tablets (which help clear the colon) and nasya treatment.
Pitta headaches are more of a vascular pain, they are also hot and tend to start at the temples, spreading to the central part of your head.
Normally we can trace these headaches back to the stomach or intestines, where there is excess fire or digestive heat; this comes with acid reflux, acidity and heartburn.
When suffering a pitta headache you can feel nauseous, have sore, burning eyes and genuinely feel hot in the head.
Pitta headaches also tend to linger on from unresolved anger, irritability or eating the wrong foods; pitta body types who overindulge in sour, processed and spicy or oily foods will get more problems.
To combat a pitta headache try to heat pitta pacifying food such as cucumber, dates, cilantro and zucchini. Or drink our CCF tea; Nasya treatment with ghee will also help.
These headaches are worst when the temperature changes – that might be during the change of season or transition from day to evening. It tends to come with respiratory issues such as a cough, runny nose or congestion in the head. A kapha headache is linked with your respiratory system or a digestive system that is sluggish, which can cause nausea, and is dull and deep-seated.
Pain normally starts in the upper frontal region of the skull, it then travels down the forehead and creeps into the sinuses. It can also be combined with sinus, allergies, colds and flues. Taking antihistamine will clear up the heaviness and dry up the mucus but it doesn’t solve the problem.
In the clinic we like to start with clearing up the sinuses through treatments like eucalyptus in hot steamy water and Pindasweat treatment on the head which dries up the congestion. It’s also important to avoid cheese, yogurt, banana, dairy and cold drinks. Instead those suffering a kapha headache, will do well on a soup fast with lots of bone broth and vegetables.
If you have persistent headaches that you want help treating, call the clinic on 07) 3255 0671 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Disclaimer: Most headaches can be cleared up by Ayurvedic remedies, but if it does persist more than a few days, or if you have a stiff neck or other neurological symptoms, it may be a sign that other things are involved and you may need a consultation with a physician or Ayurvedic consultant.