Headaches are no fun! The symptoms of a headache can range from dull to sharp, from debilitating to mild, from long-lasting to short lived. With the help of Ayurvedic philosophy, we look to understand the nature of the beast by classifying headaches in 3 broad categories.
Take a look at common symptoms associated with vata, pitta,Â and kapha type headaches along with some helpful remedies to address the underlying issue.
1. The vata-type headacheVata type headaches generally occur in the back of the head. They radiate pain through the neck and shoulders. This type of headache is likely due to a clogged, congested colon associated with stress, insomnia, or an irregular, erratic lifestyle. Focus energy and attention on creating a full and complete bowel movement and it's likely your headache will subside. Helpful remedies:
- Take ½ tsp of haritaki steeped in warm water at the onset of your headache
- Continue to sip warm water throughout the day.
- Massage the belly with a warm sesame oil in circular motions (start on right side and move the hands in clockwise position).
- Dip your pinky finger in a couple of drops of sesame oil and gently swab the inside of the nostril.
- Practice 10 minutes of seated meditation focusing the attention on relaxing the muscles of the neck, shoulder and head.
2. The pitta-type headache.You may associate a pitta-type headache with sensitivity to light, stabbing or throbbing pain in the forehead and temporal lobe and visual disturbances. This type of headache has a quick onset and is associated with irritability and tension. It is sometimes brought on by extreme heat, caffeine, alcohol or dehydration. Helpful remedies:
- Drink 4oz. aloe juice mixed with 8oz coconut water at onset of headache (warning signs sometimes include streaking lights in the visual field.
- Rehydrate and eat foods to increase blood sugar and balance electrolyte levels like dates, licorice, coconut, or a very ripe banana.
- Drink a glass of cool or warm milk with 1 tsp ghee.
- Wear sunglasses, even if indoors.
- Practice breathing deep into the stomach. Sometimes this type of headache is associated with a tightness in the middle rib cage. Sit in a dark room and expand visualize the expansion of the intercostal space.
- Place an icepack on the forehead to constrict the blood vessels in the brain and ease tension associated with excessive heat.
3. The kapha-type headache.The kapha type headache generally occurs with allergies associated with the changing of seasons. Symptoms include a dull pain associated with congestion in the frontal lobe than can creep into the frontal sinus area. Remedies
- Loosen sinus congestion by rubbing eucalyptus oil on the chest and taking a warm shower or a steam.
- Steep ¼ tsp of asafoetida (hing) in 6 oz of warm water for 10 minutes and drink. Asafoetida helps to reduce inflammation of the blood vessels in the head thereby relieving symptoms of the kapha headache.
- Limit food consumption until headache subsides, eat lightly. Avoid all processed sugar, salt and dairy. Sip on ¼ tsp cinnamon and ¼ tsp cardamom tea with a small amount of honey instead of snacking between meals.
- Support lymphatic drainage by moving the body. Unlike the circulatory system, the lymphatic system lacks any kind of pump! It relies on movement and exercise to circulate WBC's throughout the body.Go for a walk, get to a hot yoga class assist with drainage.