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Ever had a headache?

Remarkably, 95% of people have experienced some type of headache in their life. In the early 1800's it was thought that evil spirits were trapped in the skull and the only way to rid the patient of these entities was to drill a hole through the bone to let them escape! Sounds pretty far fetched, but if you've ever suffered through a migraine, being possessed by evil isn't that far off and you would do just about anything to get rid of it permanently, even surgery!

With the advancements of medicine there are a whole host of pharmaceuticals available for the headache sufferer with new medicines being tested every day. Unfortunately, taking medication often only eliminates the symptoms and not the root cause of the problem. The analogy is this, if you have weeds and you mow the lawn are your weeds gone? No, they're not gone! They're just out of sight for the moment.

Marie Savard, MD of the Mayo Clinic stated the following in regard to medication use on Good Morning America in October of this year. "We are too quick to get the prescription (drug) and too quick to go to the pharmacy. Try the natural first and see if it works for you." In this instance she was talking specifically about nutritional supplementation for common ailments. It's easy to see how this philosophy makes sense for every aspect of our health.

Many people would benefit by taking Dr. Savard's advice to correct the cause of their headaches. Too often, people begin a headache medication and they feel like they have to take it for the rest of their lives. Let's discuss the three main types of headaches and the alternative treatments available. The three most common types of headaches are tension headaches, cervicogenic headaches and migraine headaches.

Tension headaches are the most common type of headache. So common in fact the other name for this type of headache is "chronic daily headache". Most people with tension type headaches take pain killers for symptomatic relief. The research for over-the-counter medication clearly states that long term use will increase your risk of gastrointestinal consequence, something to avoid if possible.

These drugs may mask the symptoms, but what's the real cause of the pain? Let's face it, we're stressed. We work hard and play hard and sometimes we don't play enough. This results in increased tension, muscle tightness and neck stiffness. What can you do to heal/fix the problem? Find a way back to balance. Try the following for long term relief of tension headaches: Tai Chi, yoga, massage therapy, chiropractic adjustments and nutritional supplementation such as MyoCalm, a formula that contains a specific ratio of calcium to magnesium for muscle tension and valerian root for a calming effect.

Cervicogenic headaches are a distant cousin of the Tension headache. As common as this type of headache is they are often overlooked. People who have this type of headache often complain of daily episodes with no other neurological symptoms. The pain that occurs with a Cervicogenic headache is referred pain from the soft tissues (muscles and ligaments) and the joints of the cervical spine.

Researchers also believe that this referred pain travels through the trigemino-cervical nucleus, a bundle of nerves that connect the head to the neck. This explains how dysfunction in the neck can cause the sensation of pain in the head. The primary treatment approach for a Cervicogenic headache is manipulation of the cervical spine. This is a safe and effective procedure primarily performed by Doctors of Chiropractic, but also performed by Doctors of Osteopathy and Naturopathic Physicians.

Migraine headaches receive a great deal of attention, which is likely due to the extreme nature of the pain felt during an episode. This type of headache may present with changes in vision and/or auditory perception. During a migraine headache many patients report extreme sensitivity to light and sound. The most common description of the type of pain felt is of a pulsing or throbbing pain on one side of the head.

Once believed to be vascular, the most recent evidence suggests that migraines are caused by neurologic interference. There appears to be a wide variety of triggers for migraines including variation in sleeping or eating habits, environmental pollutants, certain medications and certain foods. Commonly treated with medication, alternatives are promising for people who suffer from regular migraine headaches. These treatment options include Chiropractic Manipulation, identifying triggers and nutritional supplementation such as 5-HTP, Omega 3 fatty acids, feverfew, calcium and vitamin D.