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A headache, one of the body's most powerful alarm signals, is often a sign of physical or psychological overload. There are several types of headaches, and they differ according to how and where the pain occurs. These include tension, cluster, simple and combination headaches and migraines, an especially intense form that is often accompanied by nausea and impaired vision. The pain can be triggered by many things. A common cause of headache is tense muscles in the head or neck. Headaches may also be a symptom of stress, caffeine withdrawl, allergies, certain infectious diseases or the result of too much alcohol. Constricted or expanded blood vessels, as well as altered pressure in the head (which may occur when the weather changes), can also produce headaches. Natural methods, including relaxation exercises, massage and homeopathic remedies, can often be as effective as standard medications in preventing or relieving the pain caused by the different forms of headache.

A helpful headache remedy
Run yourself this warm bath to alleviate tension and relax blood vessels. Combine the following essential oils with an emulsifier (cream or honey); 3 drops of chamomile, 3 drops of lavender and 3 drops of rosemary. Add the mixture to the bathwater.

What you can do
Headaches can be alleviated by cold compresses, baths, acupressure and relaxation techniques. You should minimize your exposure to external stimuli, exercise in fresh air and abstain from smoking and alcohol.

Relaxation and avoidance of stimuli
Create a soothing environment, free of such external stimuli as light and noise. Ventilate the room, a fan will help circulate the air (but don't let it blow directly on you). Close the windows and draw the blinds. Turn off the radio and tv and unplug the phone. If the area is still noisy, put cotton balls or ear plugs in your ears. Consciously try to relax, preferably with the aid of a relaxation technique, such as yoga.

Help from acupressure
Use your thumb and index finger to press against the bridge of your nose at the corners of your eyes. Or , rub the center of the fleshy webbing between your index and thumb.

A soothing footbath
A footbath diverts the blood supply from your head to your feet. Bathe your feet in a basin of 95 deg F water. Add hot water at 5 min intervals, until 115 deg F is reached. After soaking your feet for 5 mins, pour in cold water until the temperature is lukewarm. Put on wool socks and lie down for about 20 mins.

Herbal remedies
Speak with a nutritionist or doctor about taking herbal supplements to prevent headaches. It is thought that kava kava can relieve tension headaches, and feverfew and gingobiloba are often recommended to prevent migraines.

Extra tip : His time tested home remedy can provide quick headache relief. Put a few drops of fresh lemon juice into a cup of black coffee and drink it in small sips.

Warning : this is not for people with sensitive stomachs.

Types of headaches

Simple headache

Hammering, buzzing, pulsing in the head.
Causes : stress, sensitivity to weather or changes in atmospheric pressure, high blood pressure, fever or lack of oxygen.

Tension headache

Dull, oppressive pain occurring in the temples. Begins at the back of the head and neck or in the forehead and spreads throughout the head.
Causes : muscular tension or bad posture

Cluster headache

Piercing, burning pain, which occurs on one side of the head and always in the same place
Causes : unknown


Pain is usually on one side of the head only. Often accompanied by nausea, vomiting and vision problems.
Causes : hereditary factors or circulatory disturbances in the brain

Combination headache

Dull oppressive pain that usually begins in the morning and reoccurs between migraine attacks.
Causes : unknown

Poultices for pain

Cold compress
Moisten a cloth with cold water, put 2 drops of peppermint oil on it and apply it to the painful area for about 15 mins.

Potato poultice
Cut 2 large, unpeeled potatoes into quarters and boil until tender. Mash them and press out the excess moisture. Wrap the warm mixture in a cloth; place it on the back of the neck for about 15 min.

Horseradish poultice
Add a small amount of water to finely grated horseradish. Wrap it in a cloth; apply it to the neck for not more than 5 min. this will stimulate the skin, which helps extinguish headache pain. If your skin is sensitive, spread cream over your neck before applying the poultice.