Tired of painkillers? How Homeopathy Helps Headaches and Migraines
“I don’t have to go to the chiropractor all the time now” was the answer from a patient when I asked about her headaches. Exceptionally safe and with minimal side effects, many headache sufferers turn to homeopathy to help manage the pain and frequency of headaches. A study published in the Journal for Alternative and Complementary Medicines in April, 2010, on the Homeopathic Treatment of Migraine followed more than 200 adults over a 2 year period with the results that “migraine severity showed marked improvement” and “use of conventional treatment and health services decreased markedly.”
What about kids? Another study on children suffering from migraines (February, 2013) concluded that “a significant decrease in the frequency, severity, and duration of migraine attacks was observed.” Many students who suffer from headaches due to stress and overwork find that homeopathy not only helps with the headache but reduces the level of exhaustion and mental fatigue that comes with it. I personally like benefit that homeopathic medicines are safe enough for children and students, yet powerful enough to manage pain just by stimulating the body’s healing mechanisms.
What is homeopathy?
Homeopathy is a unique system of medicine that works by triggering the body’s own natural ability to heal itself. It can be used in two ways, acutely in an attack, to help manage the pain in the moment, and chronically, to help reduce the number, frequency and severity of headaches. The clincher is that there is no one pain remedy because homeopathy does not treat illnesses, but rather treats the person. Choosing a chronic medicine requires the advice of a homeopath since the whole person is taken into account, including stressors, mental and emotional factors and what does and doesn’t affect a person. In homeopathy, every person is unique and homeopathic medicines must be tailored to suit the symptoms a person experiences.
Most common homeopathic medicines for headaches
For acute symptoms, it is possible to treat yourself at home, as long as the symptoms fit. In fact, homeopathic remedies can work fast in simple, acute situations like headaches and it’s not expensive to give it a try–a vial typically costs less than $10.00 and lasts for many treatments. Don’t expect it to work like a painkiller—it helps your body cope, so you feel better sooner, but again, the symptoms must fit in order to see best results. Here are a few of my favourites:
Belladonna 30ch: Dr. Margery Blackie, who was the Queen’s physician and homeopath back in 1968, calls Belladonna “a wonderful acute remedy for a headache following either exposure to heat or cold,” which means that if your headache develops after going outside on an icy, cold day and after getting your hair wet—or if you’ve been out in the sun too long—Belladonna is likely your remedy, especially if there is a lot of congestion and heat in the head. You’ll find it useful for those kinds of maddeningly throbbing, pulsing, congested headaches that come on fast. Bending over, moving worsen the headache, while applying hard pressure, cold, and sitting up may help. Choose Belladonna if your headache is intense and throbbing, and feels full and congested.
Bryonia 30ch is one of my personal favourites because the symptoms are so intense that we often see results quite quickly. The characteristic symptom which leads you to choose this remedy is if the person wants to lie very still with the headache, even just moving the eyes hurt. The type of pain is typically bursting. Similar to Belladonna, Bryonia works when pressure and cold applications feel good, but unlike Belladonna, typically the pain comes on slowly and builds over time to a dull, heavy or sharp ache. If you’re not sure, another difference is that Belladonna often works better for right sided—Bryonia for left sided—pain. But pay attention to the overall symptoms first when making a choice (hot, red, congested headache that came on suddenly is more likely to be helped by Belladonna). The person needing Bryonia may feel irritable, intensely thirsty and just want to be left alone. Again, the leading symptom that makes Bryonia the correct choice is worse from the least movement.
Nux vomica 30ch—is another one of my acute headache favourites because it’s an excellent remedy in times of stress, when overwork and lack of sleep have caused a headache—and the person may find themselves exceedingly irritable and sensitive to everything: noise, light—and conversation. The pain may begin in the morning on waking. It is the main remedy for a hangover, and if you can imagine how you feel after a hangover–overall miserable, a little nauseas, sensitive–then you have a pretty good idea of what type of headaches will be helped by Nux vomica. But don’t just keep this remedy for hangovers, it’s even good when too little sleep, too much work and overindulging in food is the cause.
Rest more. A headache is your body telling you you’re out of balance. Pay attention.
Drink water: drink one or more glasses of water. Many times, water alone will help relieve the headache, so why not try it? If you’re not used to gulping down a tall glass of water, try heating it up—drinking a glass of hot water works better for some people.
Water therapy in the form of foot baths can relieve congestion and heat in the head by bringing energy down to the feet. Simply soak your feet in comfortably hot water for 5 minutes, then after a deep breath place one leg in cold water for 20-30 seconds, then switch to the other. Repeat the procedure by soaking again in warm water for 5 minutes and ending with the 20 second cold rinse. Dry the feet well and put on warm socks. For headaches due to tense shoulders and neck, apply a hot compress to the neck area for a few minutes, covering with a towel to keep the area warm.
Sleep: if you can, just lie down and rest. At the very least, plan for an extra hour or two of sleep tonight so you can fully recover. Pain is exhausting!
A word of caution:
If headaches are unusually severe or persist for days despite self treatment measures, do have a medical professional check out more serious causes—just in case.
For chronic headache pain:
For recurring headaches, the care and experience of a homeopath is recommended since constitutional care is complex and involves all body systems. The whole point of homeopathy is to improve a person’s quality of life and raise a person’s level of health by reducing severity of pain and number of attacks. Know that if this is a problem that has been plaguing a patient for years, expect it to take a little time, as homeopathic medicines work on the entire body, not just for its parts. The benefits however are that headaches are often related to other problems, such as hormonal imbalances , fatigue or menopause, for instance, and homeopathy always treats the entire symptom complex at once. For instance, in a study on homeopathy for menopausal symptoms published in the journal of the British Menopause Society: “Patients reported significant benefit from the service. The greatest response was seen in those reporting headaches, vasomotor symptoms, emotional/psychological symptoms and tiredness/fatigue as their primary symptoms.”