Throughout my recovery I’ve lived in different seasons of pain. Even when I don’t have a full migraine, I have some sort of ache or fogginess in my mind. I’ve learned how to live through that.
Most of the blog posts on Brain Advocates are based on science and full of references to research. This post, however, is more of an opinion piece that is just based on my own experience.
My old neurologists just pushed pain med pills…
You’ll hear this a lot from me…but I’ve met with many types of doctors. Before finding recovery and healing, all my neurologists would do is prescribe pain killers. I believe they were necessary for me immediately after my injury because even though they didn’t treat the problem or help me heal, they dulled my pain and allowed me to function. Those neurologists did not give me resources or suggestions on any natural pain management and, after years of being on pain medication (and hating the side effects of the meds) I decided I was done. It took me 8 months to get off of the medication because I kept having withdrawals, but finally, I was med free!
One of the biggest helps for me is knowing what kind of headache I’m having. Is it hormonal? Is it triggered because of muscle tension? Is it because of neurological overstimulation?
Here are 8 natural ways that work for me to combat headaches:
1. Diet for headaches
Eating healthily is what allowed me to transition out of using the daily pain meds. Science has proven that sugar creates mental fog, so we cut back on sweets and stuffed me full of vegetables, supplements and power nutrients. I’m still working on finding the right combination of foods for my body, and I still have a piece of cake here and there, but cutting out about 95% of my sugar and empty carbs has been a huge factor in managing my headaches.
Shifting to Purium for my nutritional foundation has made a huge difference.
2. Essential Oils for headaches
Peppermint oil has been a lifesaver for me. It helps calm my nausea, ground me and, used topically, can also help with physical pain. In the past I’ve carried things with me that I can douse with peppermint (a crochet keychain or lava rock bracelet). My favorite essential oil company is Plant Therapy because their prices are great.
3. Daith piercing for headaches
I plan to try this within the month. The idea is that piercing through the acupuncture point in your ear may reduce symptoms of migraines. Some people swear by it, some people say it made no difference. Some people say it works for a few months. I have decided that it’s worth a shot…now I have to get up the guts to go face that needle!
4. Lack of stimulation/sensory Deprivation for headaches
This comes down to keeping your mind still. Frequently, injured brains have a difficult time processing all of the incoming information. In an effort to give an example, think of how difficult it is for someone with autism to have a conversation with you in a very chaotic room. The “filters” that tell their brain to prioritize the words you are saying over the other conversations, the people walking around, the colorful clothing and the sound of the refrigerator in the other room, are broken. In a normal brain, those filters allow someone to focus and move from task to task. Frequently, injured brains are doing their best to focus, but are bombarded with all of the visual, auditory and kinetic stimulation all at the same time. Exhausting, right?
That’s why it is so important for brain injured people to take a “brain break” and intentionally seek out stillness. Often, when I have a headache, much of it is due to the chaos in my mind. I need to find a dark, quiet place with no visual or auditory stimulation. However, if you’ve ever laid awake in bed for hours, you know that simply separating yourself from stimulation won’t still your mind. In this dark, quiet place I purposefully still my thoughts and practice meditation so that my brain knows it’s time to rest.
A few tips:
I use a sleeping mask and sound proof headphones to block out stimulation.
I frequently visit a float spa for sensory deprivation float therapy
5. Brain Waves Binaural Beats
I mentioned “brain breaks” above, but feel like this headache and stimulation relief method needs to be specifically addressed. When I’m feeling a headache coming on, I’ll pull out my noise canceling headphones and play binaural beats on my brain waves app. You can download the app here for apple and google devices. I feel very rested after a 20 minute nap with brain waves.
6. Infrared Sauna for headaches
Sitting in a sauna clears my mind very quickly. This helps me so much with mental fogginess and helps me feel mentally awake. It’s very hot, though, and the heat might make pain worse for some people. We bought the Clearlight Sanctuary 2 for our home and we LOVE it.
7. Drink water for your headaches
On a very basic physiological standpoint, more water helps move oxygen to your brain. Water is magic. It helps everything. You should be drinking about half a gallon of water every day. Dehydration can cause headaches, so why add that to the list of headache issues? Drink plenty of water so your body has what it needs to heal. Consider adding in some electrolytes to your water.
8. Blood flow for headaches
Go for a walk, do some yoga, get blood moving in your body. Motion relaxes your circulatory system so more blood and oxygen can get to your brain.
9. Cannabis for headaches
Marijuana has been used for pain management for hundreds of years. Unlike medication, there are zero side effects. If you need to treat the pain, consider using THC and CBD. The combination of the two will counteract any psychoactive tendencies that THC has, and you will not feel “high”. Follow your state guidelines.