A Unique Approach to Healing Headaches

A Unique Approach to Healing Headaches


A Unique Approach to Healing Headaches

All headaches are not the same. There can be many different root causes of the headache, which are extremely important to identify when treating with whole foods or chiropractic care here at Living Health Integrative Medicine. This is quite a different philosophy than what the major drug company’s influence has had on the general public. Have a headache? Take a pill. One issue with that belief is that a person will continue to get headaches and not fix the imbalance that is happening in the body or understand the reason for the headache or prevent future ones from reoccurring. The second issue, perhaps more important, is the damage that the pills can have on one’s body. Take, Advil, for example, which is ibuprofen. Ibuprofen can cause nausea, dyspepsia, abdominal pain, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, colitis, flatulence, GI ulcers and bleeding. It can also cause dizziness, rash, edema, headache, tinnitus, depression, nervousness, hypertension or hypotension. (Pronsky & Crowe, 2012)

What is the cause of your headache?

It is important to know the root cause of the headache. It can be structural or functional issues causing the pain. Structural headaches often occur after a physical accident or chronic postural imbalances causing spine misalignment. Structural headaches start from the back of the head and often continue with neck and shoulder discomfort. Proper diagnosis, therapy and chiropractic care will help resolve the headache. If the headache is not from a structural imbalance, the focus is then on the functional imbalance which will be the focus of this article.

According to Annemarie Colbin in her book Food and Healing, headaches can be caused by expansion of the blood vessels in the head called vascular headaches or tension in the muscles in the neck, scalp or face called tension headaches. These headaches are then categorized into expansion headaches or contraction headaches. (Colbin, 1986).

What causes Expansion headaches?

Expansion headaches are typically caused by too much alcohol, liquid of any kind, ice cream and highly sugared foods. Contractive foods, such as umeboshi plums (Ume) can possibly heal an expansion headache. (Colbin, 1986) Umeboshi is a pickled plum put through a process of soaking in a salty brine. The umeboshi is a fruit and very sour which is considered very expansive and a yin factor. When the ume is combined with sea salt, it becomes contractive and a yang factor. The combination of these opposites give a very balanced effect. If your system is too acidic, ume will restore pH balance. Ume can help you recover from cold, reduce fatigue, aid in digestion, and eliminate toxins. Ume also contains many electrolytes that can help with dehydration. Ume also contains citric and phosphoric acids which are extremely important as co factors in the Krebs cycle. The conversion of carbohydrates into energy rely on these co factors and umes have the most citric acid of any whole food. (Vann, 2007) How does this then all tie back to healing headaches? It has already been stated that a headache is an imbalance in the body of some sort. With expansive headaches, the alcohol, too many liquids, sugar and/or ice cream can be the cause of the headache and imbalance. Take alcohol, for example. Alcohol causes the blood vessels in the body to expand. The dilation in the brain will cause the headache. Alcohol can also cause dehydration, which in return can cause a headache. The ume being a contractive food will help balance the expansion of the blood vessels in the body. The ume, filled with electrolytes, will help hydrate the body. Many macriobiotics believe that “an ume per day keeps the doctor away”! (Pulver, 2002)

What causes contraction headaches?

Contraction headaches are typically caused by tension, over work, heat, meats, salty foods, lack of food or over doing a physical activity or concentration. Expansive foods that are cool and liquid, sweet or sour, can aid in healing a contraction headache. Applesauce is a great example of an expansive food that helps with headaches. (Colbin, 1986) It is cool, loose (contains water), and a little sweet. This combination will help dilate the constricted blood vessels in the brain, the cause of the headache.

Eating whole foods to treat a headache will take some experimenting and a little patience. It is important to listen to your body and be aware of the activities/situations occurred prior to the headache. This will help you determine what type of headache it is and what foods can help. Keeping a headache journal may help determine if there is a pattern of when the headaches are surfacing and possible triggers (environment/food/stress). Give it a try. What do you have to loose? The answer is a headache!


To learn about natural solutions for headaches read: Chiropractic Care, A Natural Solution for Headaches 

Andi Strohecker, MS, CNS, LDN

Anderson, J. (1995). The Brain. Allergy , 5078-81.

Colbin, A. (1986). Food and Healing. New York: Ballantine Books.

Marlowe, N. (1998). Stressful events, appraisal, coping and recurrent headache. Journal of Clinical Psychology (54(2)), 247-256.

Pronsky, Z., & Crowe, J. (2012). Food Medication Interactions. Birchrunville, Pa: Food-Medications Interactions.

Pulver, F. (2002). Plum Power. Macrobiotics Today (42(2)), 27.

Vann, C. (2007). Power of the Umeboshi Plum. Macrobiotics Today (47 (6)), 24-26.