Growing up, nearly everyday my mother would say,
“Ugh I have a migraine.”
Then proceed to pop a bunch of pills and sleep for hours on end. Which both annoyed me (because even as a kid I felt that there was something inherently not right about popping a bunch of pills for a headache) and also made me happy so that I could have time to myself without getting yelled at for making noise.
The thing is, I grew up in a family of pill poppers.
Got a cold? Pop a pill.
Backache? Pop a pill.
Can’t sleep? Pop a pill.
Feeling bummed? Pop a pill.
Tripped on the sidewalk? Pop a pill.
By and large, we’ve become a nation that pops a pill at the first sign of anything wrong with our bodies. But there’s a huge issue with that. All of the symptoms we feel is the body’s way of either healing itself or telling you that something is not right. Headaches, and migraines especially, are not normal. Most are caused by poor diet, sugar consumption and/or dehydration. The only time I ever get a headache is when I’ve had too much wine.
And yet, people still take pills for headache and migraine management despite the very real side effects. Liver damage is not an uncommon occurrence among those who take acetaminophen. Other common symptoms from majority of headache and migraine prescriptions include sleep issues, mood disorders, dizziness, fainting, seizures, depression and even trouble breathing. The good news is that there are natural remedies to get rid of migraines and headaches without popping pills!
A friend of mine has severe migraines that affect her neurological system. She has trouble thinking and forming sentences. This friend also lives on bread, sugar, vegetable oil and inorganic chicken and beef. At some point – we need to address what’s causing the migraines and headaches before we pop pills for them.
The basis to preventing migraines and headaches (and everything else) will be a healthy diet. Fermented foods, healthy fats (coconut oil, avocado, pastured butter, fish oil, etc), veggies and healthy proteins should make up the bulk of the diet. Keep sugar to a minimum, and eat healthy sugars like raw honey. It’s important to keep your blood glucose levels in check. Avoid or minimize caffeine, it can be a trigger.
And instead of reaching for pills that are full of toxins, reach for the essential oils. Majority of medications are just synthetic versions of plant based medicines like essential oils. The issue is that when you synthesize these things, they come with dangerous side effects. Whereas essential oils do not.
Peppermint is my absolute favorite essential oil for headaches. Occasionally I’ll get fairly severe headaches from dehydration, stress and lack of sleep (oh the joys of working for yourself!). This causes the left side of my head to throb and feel like my left eyeball is being poked from the inside. Lovely, right? When this happens, I apply my Tension Tamer blend, sit back and let it cool. The cooling sensation is so incredibly soothing and works within five minutes. Of course, I have to reapply every so often, but it feels so damn good (and smells so damn good) that I don’t even mind.
Even scientific studies have shown the effectiveness of peppermint for headaches. One such study was performed in which participants either received acetaminophen, peppermint or a placebo for their headaches.
“There was no significant difference between the efficacy of 1,000 mg of acetaminophen and 10% peppermint oil in ethanol solution…This controlled study showed for the first time that a 10% peppermint oil in ethanol solution efficiently alleviates tension-type headache.” Source
How amazing is that? Legitimate studies are now acknowledging that power and efficacy of essential oils. I use my own blend of peppermint diluted in fractionated coconut oil, Tension Tamer – but be careful, this has a VERY strong dilution!
I’ll be honest, migraines are trickier. They’re much more severe than just headaches. I’ve never personally had a migraine so my heart goes out to those of you who have! Peppermint can definitely help with the pain and I’ve spoken to migraine sufferers who do use peppermint, but it’s a good idea to also use frankincense essential oil. Frankincense is great for neurological issues – among other things.
This study found that frankincense reduces the frequency and intensity of cluster headaches, which are a severe and very painful form of migraines.
This study found that inhalation of lavender essential oil was beneficial to migraine sufferers.
Because oils have no side effects (unless applied improperly – don’t do this, always use oils under professional supervision) it’s definitely worth giving them a try. They’re safer than prescription drugs and there’s solid evidence to back up the effectiveness of the oils. It’s worth applying peppermint and frankincense directly to the pain while inhaling lavender essential oil.