I listened to a great class last week by Annemarie Colbin, Ph.D. founder of The Natural Gourmet Institute for Health and Culinary Arts. It was 3 hours of lecture on many things from Chinese five phases of food to her thoughts on Osteoporosis, but something I found very interesting was her theory on headaches. She basically broke them up into 5 different types of headaches. She bases some of her remedies on the Chinese five phases and the theories of Yin and Yang and Macrobiotics. When you look at Yin think expansive and Yang as contractive. You may wonder what food has to do with headaches? A lot! Most of our headaches are caused by food or food triggers and knowing what type of headache you have will help. In fact many people with migraines find relief with changes in diet, they can be more from allergies and food sensitivities which is a whole other topic. This is for those run of the mill, maybe even a little over indulging or structural headaches.
Types of Headaches
Expansive: too much fruit, sweets, sugar, ice cream, alcohol. The remedy is something that is contractive, like salty food, olives, umeboshi plum, salted nuts, anchovies, even potato chips. Why do you think they have salted nuts or salt foods in bars, to have you drink more.
Contractive: too much protein, not enough food, not enough water, too much salt or salty foods, too much heat, tension, work. To remedy this try, 2 glasses of juice apple, water, water or seltzer with lemon, apple sauce, even an italian ice, if it doesn’t have food coloring, can help. Food coloring has been known to cause migraines in food sensitive people.
Liver: Comes from eating oily food on an empty stomach. Those chips (70% oil in potato chips) or a run through a drive through for greasy fry’s could be the worst thing for you when you are hungry. The food goes into the stomach undiluted by the time it hits the gallbladder 3 to 4 hours later the headache starts. It can be associated as that migraine headache, may make you feel sick, your eyes may hurt, eyes are related to liver in Chinese Medicine. Dr. Colbin’s solution for this is a lot of lemons. To make a lemon water tea. Use 1/2 of an organic lemon, 1 cup water, squeeze the juice into a cup. Take the remaining peel and pulp, cut it into pieces and boil for 10 minutes in 1/4 cup water. Strain that mixture into the rest of the water and lemon juice. Keep drinking tea until the headache goes away.
Caffeine: This is the one you get when stop caffeine. The easiest way to get off the caffeine fix, is to slowly ween your way off. Don’t go cold turkey if you drink several cups of coffee or black tea a day, decrease a little at time, so you don’t get the headache and drink lots and lots of water. You can even get a headache if you normally drink one cup of coffee a day and then one day have two and the next day you will get a headache at the time you had the second the day before. Caffeine is in green tea, black tea, coffee, even decaf has some in it, chocolate and some over the counter drugs, including those for headaches! This process could take a couple of weeks but once you cleared it from you system you will feel a whole lot better.
Structural: These are the ones if you have tried everything above you still have them, there could be a structural problem. You may have hit your head recently, or in the past. You may have neck or back issues causing the pain. Whatever the structural cause, go see a good Chiropractor, Cranial Sacral specialist, Acupuncturist or Massage Therapy person. A few sessions, sometimes even the first will help amazingly well. I had headaches for year in my 20’s. I had a massage and the therapist said my C3 and C4 vertebra in my neck were out. I went to Chiropractor and felt relief for a day or even a few days. But with my active and stressful lifestyle the vertebra were not staying in place. I knew I could find relief, so I knew it was structural. I then went to an acupuncturist and within one treatment I went for weeks without a headache. So, if one modality doesn’t work and try others, you will find the right one for you.
Allergies: Are the final reason for headaches. They are different for different people and that is where you really need awareness in your eating, your body and many times help from someone who can help guide you through the process of an elimination diet. If you think you have food allergies stay away from the common culprits, wheat, dairy, gluten, eggs, corn.
As Dr. Colbin said “if you understand the model you can heal any headache you get in minutes.”