08 July, 2011
Herbal Tea for a Headache
Teas made of soothing herbs such as lavender, lemon balm and chamomile are time-tested natural alternatives that can relax muscles, soothe frayed nerves and relieve headaches. You may need to try different teas to find one that works best for you. It can be difficult to pinpoint the cause of a headache. If yours are persistent or severe, consult a qualified healthcare practitioner.
Tension headaches plague millions of people, who usually turn to over-the-counter pharmaceuticals for relief. Stress is most often the culprit and pain arises when the muscles in the scalp, shoulder and neck become constricted. You may feel pressure around the neck and the sides of the head; these areas can be tender to the touch. Drinking teas such as chamomile, linden flower, valerian and scullcap are simple and time-honored ways to relieve tension headaches. These calming herbal teas can help unwind your muscles and take the edge off the pain. Use herbs under the supervision of a qualified healthcare professional.
Migraine headaches are caused when arteries in and surrounding the brain constrict. When the arteries narrow, symptoms like visual disturbances, nausea and sweating can develop. The arteries eventually dilate, resulting in severe pain that is usually confined initially to one side of the head. Migraines may occur if you are sensitive to foods such as chocolate, red wine, and aged cheeses, or if you have light sensitivity. Feverfew assists arteries to function properly and thus is particularly effective for relieving migraine, according to Dr. Gary Null in his book, “The Complete Encyclopedia of Natural Healing.” Ginger root may help relieve migraine pain as well. Speak with a physician before using herbs, as they may interact with prescription or over-the-counter medicines.
Sinuses are air-filled passages around the nose, eyes and cheeks, explains Linda B. White, M.D. in “The Herbal Drugstore.” When your sinuses become inflamed or congested due to an upper respiratory infection or seasonal allergies, a throbbing headache that can last for several days may result. Licorice tea calms sinus inflammation due to allergies and colds, which in turn can relieve headache pain. Eyebright, eucalyptus, ginger root and wild indigo teas are also used for sinus headaches. Chrysanthemum flower tea and elder tea both help clear sinus congestion and lessen sinus pain. Do not use herbs without consulting your doctor first.
Many preventive measures can be undertaken to prevent or lessen the occurrence of stress-induced headaches, including biofeedback, exercise, yoga and meditation. If you are prone to migraines, work with your doctor to determine if trigger foods might be initiating your headaches. Taking tonic and immune-strengthening herbs like ashwagandha, astragalus, and shatavari may protect you from colds and flus, which are often the underlying causes of sinus headaches.
Everyone experiences headaches at some point, but you need to consult a physician if your headaches become chronic. Occasionally, headaches are signs of serious conditions, such as aneurysm or meningitis. If your headache is severe or is accompanied by symptoms such as loss of consciousness or vision, a stiff neck or intense nausea, you should consult a physician immediately.
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Headache Overview
- “The Herbal Drugstore”; Linda B. White, M.D., et al.; 2003
- “The Complete Encyclopedia of Natural Healing”; Gary Null, Ph.D.; 2005
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Sinus Headache
- lemon balm flowers image by Lytse from Fotolia.com