What and Why?
Headache is probably the commonest symptom of all, suffered by almost everyone at some time or another. Seldom can your doctor find anything dreadful to account for it like high blood pressure, meningitis, or brain tumour. A new or very severe headache certainly merits your doctor’s attention, especially if you cannot bend your neck or bear the light; but once these and other treatable causes, sinusitis, migraine have been ruled out or dealt with, most headaches are still unexplained.
There is usually no hard and fast structural fault causing them at all. Your body is not built wrongly, but working wrongly. Two comparatively new items of knowledge that have not yet been generally accepted by doctors and dentists can nevertheless relieve some headaches most impressively.
One is the uncomfortable set of one jaw on the other that can result from extensive dental treatment or poor facial development. The muscles that suspend the lower jaw get tense and tender, a pain just like migraine. A bite raising appliance is the answer, followed if successful by regrinding of your teeth to give a permanent result.
The other problem arises after head or spinal injury if the normal movements of your skull bones are jammed as a result. In health the shape of your head varies very slightly, from long and thin to short and fat, six times every minute. This sets up a ripple all down your spine that seems to be important for coordinating your movements into a graceful whole.
Cranial osteopaths are able to detect jamming of this mechanism and can often correct it, using only very gentle manipulations. Stubborn headaches located behind the eyes are often helped this way.
The commonest problem has to do with the way nervous energy spreads around your body. It starts from your head, flows down your back, then spreads forwards into the rest of your body through a series of elaborate nerve junction-boxes or plexuses. If anything resists this flow energy dams up at your head end, crashing and echoing about like the Atlantic swell in a Cornish cove. A sickening, bursting headache that gets worse as you try to do things or bend over, combined with chilliness or weakness lower down your body, indicates this kind of problem.
Muscle tension around your neck is not the cause of this but part of the result. A conscientious or anxious nature makes you more prone to this, of course.
What can I do?
Advice to maintain and maximise your health
1. Find the problem: Look for the cause of your headaches and attend to that — do not rely on switching them off with tablets. They will sometimes be necessary for short-term reasons, but always look further when you have the time.
2. Sinus headache needs decongestant medicine urgently, then proper prevention of catarrh. Migraine usually calls for radical dietary adjustment, perhaps avoiding some items totally.
3. Massage of your neck, face and scalp is a powerful remedy if you’ve the opportunity — deep massage with thumbs on your neck muscles, and a quick wriggling motion with finger-tips on your scalp and brow, give the best results.
4. Relieve tension: If you are caught in a tense situation or at work, stretch luxuriously or take a brisk walk. A few really deep breaths, sighed out, will help you relax and change tempo.
5. Relieve tension: At home have a hot soak in a deep bath with lavender milk or a few crushed sprigs of the fresh herb; but splash your limbs quickly with cold water to tone them up again. Better still, bind yourself tightly with a Priessnitz Pack — a cold damp sheet spun as dry as possible, pinned round your belly and covered with a thick woollen pullover. That draws frustrated energy down your body where it can do some good, away from your head where it causes the pain.
6. A simple foot bath often achieves as much with less fuss. Notice whether your feet are hot or cold during your headaches and immerse them in water of the opposite temperature for several minutes to get relief.
7. Tea made with mint, rosemary or feverfew often helps, whereas coffee and strong Indian tea often cause headache.
8. Homoeopathy offers a wide variety of remedies according to the precise nature of your headaches; you will probably need professional help to sort out your requirements. But anthroposophic Bidor or Fragador are safe and easy to try.
9. Practitioners: An osteopath or chiropractor can often locate and put right minor dislocations in your spine which frustrate the normal free flow of energy down your spine, giving you repeated headaches under pressure. Cranial osteopathy can tackle the effects of old injuries.
10. Manage tension: Tense people can learn to manage their tension.