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The Naturopath

When Headaches Attack.....

Therapeudic Massage for Diabetics
When Headaches Attack.....
Basic Herbal Support for Women
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Things you can try the next time your brain is in pain.....


Headaches refuse to fit into any neat little diagnoses. They are as variable as the people who suffer from them. They may result from tension, allergies, sinus troubles, stress, elevated blood pressure, vascular trouble, or as a symptom of other, more serious conditions. Millions of women suffer from them each year.

There are two types of headaches (not counting trauma). The Common Headache, also known as a Stress, or Tension Headache is usually caused by a tightness in the muscles of the neck, and back of the head. This can be brought on by stress, hypertension, allergies, keeping your head in an awkward, or stressed position for too long a period, such as driving, or sitting in some chairs for long periods of time. Common headaches respond well to massage, herbs and homeopathic treatments. If they become chronic, you should see a physician, because it could be indicative of other conditions. The second type is the Migraine Headache. These are more severe, involving throbbing persistant pain, nausea, flashing lights, hallucinations and other symptoms. They are the result of vaso-constriction, and vaso-dilation within the blood vessels of the brain.

The common non-prescription method of treatment is to use one or more of the myriad of over-the-counter pain drugs, acetaminophen (Tylenol), aspirin, ibuprophen (Motrin), and their relatives. While they can provide some limited relief, the downside is that over-using these products may cause rebound headaches, and other health problems over long-term usage. Acetaminophen is known to cause liver damage. Both ibuprophen and aspirin may cause severe gastrointestinal troubles. The facts are that around 76,000 people in the U.S. ( are hospitalized annually as a direct result of the use of over-the-counter pain medications. Around 10% of those will not recover.

There are alternatives. One of the most effective naturopathic remedies for these maladies has been the use of Sweet Basil (not to be confused with Holy Basil, a different plant). It has been a staple in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years.

While many people are familiar with basil as a culinary spice, its healing properties are less well known in this country, even though it is inexpensive and readily available. The essential oil is anti-bacterial. Drops of basil oil may provide relief from ear infections caused by Staphococcus, Enterococcus and Psuedomonas. Basil can help restore immune functions in people with suppressed systems. Combined with other herbs, it enhances the absorption of active ingredients, and allows them to more easily penetrate the skin when used in salves and ointments. As a tea, it may relieve chronic flatulence. Other conditions that respond well to the use of basil are appetite stimulation, colds, flu, sinusitis, headaches, fever reduction, diarrhea and dysentery, depression, and bacterial infections. It can draw out poison from insect bites when used as a poultice, and repels aphids and other insect pests from gardens. As a tea, it helps relieve nausea, morning and motion sickness and may lower blood sugar levels.

The next time you suffer from a tension headache, try this treatment: Make an infusion by heating 2 cups of water to boiling (in the microwave or stovetop. Either way works fine). Remove the water from the heat source and when it stops boiling, add 2 TBSPs of dried basil. Let it steep for at least 10 minutes. Strain the liquid into a bowl and add 1 TBSP of witch-hazel. Stir until it is well mixed. Soak a clean cloth in the infusion and wring it out back into the bowl until the cloth is damp, but not dripping wet. Sit in a comfortable chair, or lie down on the bed on your back, and place the damp cloth on your forehead. Re-soak the rag when necessary. Relax and in 7-10 minutes, your headache should be gone, and will stay gone for a good while. Sometimes it takes longer, but be patient and relax. Repeat the treatment as needed.

For a Migraine Headache, the basil treatment works sometimes, but not always. Massage, and acupressure seem to be the most effective methods of treating them. Sometimes, a change in diet, and/or lifestyle proves beneficial. Be sure the person massaging you is a Licensed Massage Therapist, because massaging near the cervical muscles on the neck can cause damage if proper care is not exercised.

Do not use basil essential oil when pregnant. This information has not been evaluated by the FDA. For information purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, treat or prevent any disease or condition. Always consult a physician before beginning any self-treatment program.


Dr. Joel C. Brothers

Valetudo , quod a gauisus pectus pectoris.

This article contributed by Joel C. Brothers, ND, SHD, LMT.