Headaches are … well, a pain in the head. And sometimes the base of the neck. And the tops of the shoulders. Depending on the severity, headaches can rob you of energy, inhibit your ability to think clearly, affect your job performance and render you useless as a mom or caretaker. Headaches don’t discriminate and come in all levels of severity. What’s frustrating for many is that the causes are difficult to pinpoint and medical treatments are often ineffective and take a toll on your body.
You’re not alone.
The Cleveland Clinic reports an approximate 45 million Americans to suffer from chronic headaches. Headaches are the top reason for missed days at work and school. About 70% of headache sufferers are women and 20% are children and adolescents. In fact, our own founder, Emilie Davidson Hoyt, endured debilitating migraines since childhood, leading her to a lifelong commitment to advocating awareness and education on holistic, long-term solutions for headache sufferers.
So what do you do right now to deal with your headaches? With June being National Migraine & Headache Awareness Month, we tapped our founder for simple lifestyle changes to reduce the frequency and intensity of headaches. Starting with these three tweaks, you can get a leg up on future headache onsets.
1. Eliminate synthetic fragrances.
Synthetic fragrances and toxic chemicals are lurking in everything from your body wash and shampoo to your child’s bubble bath and household cleaning products. Begin by methodically replacing them with fragrance-free or pure essential oil fragrance alternatives void of toxic ingredients. For your skin and body, LATHER products are an obvious great start. Every candle, soap, facial treatment, and body product contains the mildest of plant-based ingredients and only the purest essential oils.
You can find natural home cleaning products in your local Whole Foods or natural market and even most grocers and drugstores carry synthetic fragrance-free brands like Seventh Generation and ECOS. If you’re a do-it-yourselfer, you can make your own household cleaners, like these from The Prairie Homestead.
Watch out too for car fresheners and interior cleaner sprays used at car washes. You can make your own interior wipe by spritzing a clean cloth with essential oils or a make a car freshener from dried herbs tied in a muslin bag.
2. Arm yourself.
When a headache does strike, many of us grab the ibuprofen or aspirin. Unfortunately, these drugs are linked to everything from nausea to ulcers and “leaky gut” with long-term use, according to medical experts. Consider a natural remedy first. A light at the end of a long, dark tunnel came to Emilie in the form of lavender soap, a gift from her father. The calming, therapeutic effect lavender had on her headaches led her down the path to LATHER.
While aromatherapy might not eliminate your headache, the use of essential oils can help. A dab of peppermint oil on the forehead and temples gently inhibits muscle contractions while stimulating blood circulation. Inhaling the scent of lavender oil has a sedative effect and relaxes muscle tension. Keep a bottle of both in easy reach or look for candles with pure lavender oil or use a diffuser. One of our best-sellers with headache sufferers, our Clear Head Balancing Balm, contains both along with a blend of other botanicals and essential oils that ease headache pain.
3. Get moving.
It’s no surprise that the onset of a tension headache directly correlates with the level of stress you’re experiencing at any one time. Rising stress adds fire to a headache that may be simmering under the surface. You can lull the flames by simply taking time out of your day to take a walk, a yoga class or a trip to the gym. According to the American Migraine Foundation, exercise can reduce headache frequency and intensity. Exercise, even in its mildest forms, encourages the body to release endorphins, a natural painkiller. The active movement also helps you get a better night’s sleep.
LATHER is strongly committed to supporting your health and wellness through our holistic approach to skin, body and spirit care. Our hope is that you’ll find relief by taking these steps. If you continue to experience headaches, we encourage you to seek out solutions at the National Headache Foundation or find a qualified naturopathic professional in your area.
Have your own tips or tricks to help alleviate headaches? We’d love to hear them in the comments below.