Don't Let the Winter Blues Get You Down
Seniors: Stress Less for Better Blood Pressure
Useful Herbs & Supplements
Vitamins & Minerals
What Are Some Natural Ways to Prevent Dry Skin in the Winter?
Tips for Keeping Your Head Together this Season
Say Good-Bye to Holiday Headaches
That dull ache in the back of your head may be a
nagging sign of too much stress. How can you tame the tension and find
relief? According to research or other evidence, the following
self-care steps may be helpful:
- Apply soothing oils: Rub peppermint oil or an ointment containing aromatic oils on your forehead.
- Kick back and relax: Try relaxation techniques such as meditation to control the effects of stress and reduce headache frequency and severity.
- Try magnesium: Supplementing with 365 mg may decrease tension headaches.
- Have your spine "inspected":
Find a stress-reduction program that includes group counseling,
instruction in coping skills, relaxation training, and other helpful
About tension headache
A tension-type headache is common and typically experienced as a dull,
non-throbbing pain in the back of the neck or in a “headband”
distribution. It may be associated with tender nodules in the neck
called trigger-points, or with tenderness in the muscles around the
What are the symptoms?
People with a headache may have symptoms including uncomfortable
sensations described as pain, throbbing, aching, dullness, heaviness,
and tightness in the head. People with a headache may also experience
discomfort that is often worsened by movement or pressure and may be
associated with irritability, problems sleeping, and fatigue.
Lifestyle changes that may be helpful
headaches often occur more frequently and may become more severe during
or following times of mental or emotional stress. Several controlled
studies have found tension-type headache sufferers to report higher
levels of stress, and to have significantly higher levels of depression
or anxiety, significantly greater levels of suppressed anger, or
significantly greater muscle tension than those without headaches.
Minimizing stress and getting enough sleep and regular exercise are
often recommended to people with tension-type headaches. However, no
research has investigated the effectiveness of these lifestyle changes.
One controlled study that included patients with muscle-contraction
headache as well as other types of headache, revealed that smokers had
significantly more severe headache episodes than nonsmokers. Although
other studies have not found an association between smoking and
headaches, stopping smoking is always a good idea for many health
Vitamins that may be helpful
Magnesium levels tend to be low in people with tension headaches. In a
preliminary trial, supplementation with 365 mg of magnesium per day for
three months decreased the number of headache days by 70% in children
with chronic tension-type headaches.
Herbs that may be helpful
A preliminary report suggested that peppermint oil has relaxing and
pain relieving effects, and may be useful as a topical remedy for
tension-type headache. In a double-blind study, spreading a 10%
peppermint oil solution across the temples three times over a 30-minute
period was significantly better than placebo and as effective as
acetaminophen in reducing headache pain. Similar use of an ointment
combining menthol and other oils related to peppermint oil was also as
effective as pain relieving medication and superior to placebo in
another double-blind study.
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