Nature’s pharmacy for relieving headaches

The vast majority of people experience headaches, and just because they are really common neurological disorders doesn’t mean they don’t have a big impact.   Headaches can be disruptive and are a major cause of missed school and workdays, as well as visits to healthcare providers.  The World Health Organization (WHO) considers headaches as significant issues when it comes to neurological health.

Pounding, stabbing and vice-like headaches interfere with our nervous systems and can affect attention and concentration, as well as other cognitive functions such as memory, processing speeds, visual and verbal acuity.  They can affect motor skills, balance, co-ordination, mobility, strength, and endurance and in the case of migraines or other severe headaches cause nausea.  In the throes of a terrible headache, we may not be able to precisely pinpoint all these debilitating effects, but we know how bad they make us feel.    It is no wonder that headaches are a key reason why we quickly reach for over-the-counter pain relievers or seek out adjunct therapies for more holistic solutions.  In some cases, suffering from frequent headaches may warrant a few lifestyle changes.

Where is that headache coming from?
A wide range of triggers can cause headaches.  They can be symptoms connected to an acute physical condition such as colds, flu and sinusitis, or fever-inducing infections.  Exposure to certain environmental factors such as heat and glare; loud, repetitive sounds; strong smells, fumes and a lack of fresh air can all cause headaches.  In our modern lives, unrelenting stress and anxiety commonly induce frequent tension headaches.  Lifestyle factors cannot be ignored, such as insufficient sleep and relaxation, both over-exercising or a lack of physical activity, dehydration, diet, alcohol, and drug use, too much screen time and poor posture.  Often, we get headaches because of a convergence of a bunch of these factors, and during a busy, demanding day it’s not possible to simply put a stop to the causes of a headache.  Conventional painkillers offer an easy solution that enables us to quickly relieve the pain and go on with our day as best we can.  However, those following healthy lifestyles may want to opt for avoidance strategies and natural remedies such as aromatherapy solutions, especially if we are experiencing headaches on a regular basis.

Essential oils that offer fast-acting headache relief
A range of scientific trials have shown the efficacy of certain essential oils when it comes to relieving headaches.  Lavender has been used to treat a variety of ailments, including headaches for many years, and today’s science backs up its effectiveness as a therapeutic.  For instance, a 2013 study on lavender and the nervous system showed that the inhalation of a precise dose of lavender essential oil over a 15-minute period could relieve migraines.  Similarly, a 2016 study by German researchers found that the efficacy of peppermint oil in the relief of tension headaches is comparable to paracetamol, and it is in fact, the standard recommended treatment in a number of European Union countries.

When it comes to aromatherapy less is more
The founder of Aromatic Apothecary, Doryce Sher says, “Like conventional therapies, dosage is important when it comes to the use of aromatherapy solutions for relieving headaches.  It’s important to use a tried and tested aromatherapy solution that has been expertly formulated as you want to avoid aggravating your senses when your nervous system is already out of balance.  In addition, a blend of carefully selected essential oils is always more than the sum of its parts.  For instance, our unique headache relief formulation, which has been on the market in South Africa for over 30 years, contains lavender, peppermint, and marjoram essential oils.  As a pharmacist, as well as an aromatherapist, I feel confident about using these natural, key ingredients for natural pain relief for headaches.  Today, this formulation is available as the Aromatic Apothecary Headache Mini Roll On and as an inhaler, Aromatic Apothecary Headache Inhaler which are easy to slip into your bag or pocket and apply discreetly anywhere, anytime, preferably as soon as you start to notice head pains. This gives you quick-acting relief even when you are on the go, and children can easily use these products when they are at school. Aromatherapy solutions can also be safely used in conjunction with conventional medications, or as the sole remedy.  I always advise patients to also drink plenty of plain water as dehydration is so often a cause of headaches.”

Strategies to avoid headaches also include healthy eating, regular exercise and stretching, moderating screen time, managing stress as well as getting sufficient sleep, rest and relaxation.  If you experience frequent, persistent, and severe headaches it is important to get advice from your healthcare practitioner.

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