Lifestyle is the Key to Achieve Head Comfort

posted by on April 29th, 2022

Blinking your eyes hurts, the wind hurts, brushing your hair hurts, even sound hurts.  Those that suffer severe, chronic, or persistent head tension find it hard to convey the nature of their misery.  And for decades, patients and physicians alike have searched to find both the root cause and the immediate remedy for unrelenting head tension.

About 80% of the adult population has occasional head and neck tension resulting in head discomfort, while roughly 30% would say this is a persistent complaint.  Worse still, 12% have no escape from what they describe as, well, indescribable head distress.  According to the Migraine Research Foundation, 1 in 4 American households have someone who is seeking a solution for chronic and persistent headache.

It is important to understand that both the variety of triggers as well as the mechanisms behind the not-so-average headache.  Severe head discomfort can be linked to many triggers including diet, gender, level of neurotransmitters, individual stress response and even the health of our digestive and detoxification pathways.

Women are twice as likely as men to suffer.  The hormone estrogen influences risk, though the link is not well understood and is paradoxical.  Detoxification and being overweight can also contribute to both male and female risk as excess weight increases a hormonal and inflammatory milieu.

Severe head discomfort starts with a trigger, which may be internal or external.  This initiates a domino effect in the head in which blood chemicals and try to alleviate the perceived distress, only to have your blood vessels try to ramp up their activity – and so the cycle goes on.

This epic battle is why the onset is severe and is often paired with sensory presentations such as an extreme sensitivity to light, smells, and sound.  In less than two hours for most sufferers, the head discomfort reaches a level where, as it is sometimes described, “everything feels like it is turned on.”

Medications are a cautionary tale as they can be linked to rebound headaches, cardiovascular concerns.

Many health practitioners are therefore recommending steps not just for immediate relief but for prevention.  These include being more mindful, getting a good night’s sleep, having more sex and maximizing your intake of nutrients such as magnesium and the B vitamin riboflavin.  Botanicals like feverfew and butterbur go the extra mile in eliminating the onset or duration of complaints.

For many, particularly women with head discomfort related to their menstrual cycle, prevention is the key.  Watch out for common triggers such as perfume and red wine and keep track of foods and environmental factors that may be specific triggers for you.

Taking steps to disable the cascade or susceptibility before it ever gets going is the focus of a meaningful strategy.

Riboflavin (B2):  Riboflavin is a critical component to the enzyme DAO.  Having enough DAO is beneficial in maintaining head comfort as well as contributing to healthy levels of serotonin, which are additionally implicated in complaint reduction.

Magnesium:  Studies show the benefit from magnesium for both prevention and intervention, yet if taken alone many people require regular use for several months, making it necessary to pair with effective botanicals.

Butterbur:  This herb can also help support head comfort and can inhibit chemicals that may affect reaction to internal and environmental triggers.  Studies show just 75 mg of butterbur may limit frequency and severity of head tension or related complaints by more than 50%.2

Feverfew:  Provides a broad spectrum of beneficial phytochemicals such as a component of the plant called a parthenolide.  This constituent balances prostaglandins, which regulate inflammatory response and blood flow.  Feverfew works to promote normal serotonin levels which promotes head comfort.

If you are like many who seek professional support for head distress, effective preventive strategies are an excellent start.

1-Ahmed F. Headache disorders: differentiating and managing the common subtypes. Br J Pain. 2012;6(3):124-132. doi:10.1177/2049463712459691

2- Lipton RB, Göbel H, Einhäupl KM, Wilks K, Mauskop A. Petasites hybridus root (butterbur) is an effective preventive treatment for migraine. Neurology. 2004 Dec 28;63(12):2240-4. doi: 10.1212/01.wnl.0000147290.68260.11. PMID: 15623680.