Headache is known as Shiro Roga in Ayurveda. Literally it means ‘disease of the head’. Headache is not a single type of disorder; but it is a name given to several problems of the head. There are 11 types of headache in Ayurveda. They can be caused due to a various number of causes. Some of them are:-
– Inflammation of the meninges
– Cerebral abscess
– Cerebral hemorrhage
– Vasodilator drugs
– Alcohol hangover
Apart from these there are several other factors such as fevers, metabolic disorders and diseases of the eye, ear and nose which can cause headaches.
Though pain is predominantly vitiation of the vata dosha, vitiation of the pitta and kapha doshas can also cause headaches. The chief symptoms of the three different doshic types of headaches are:-
1. Vata type of Headache – The pain is intermittent, i.e. of a hammering type. There is constipation, insomnia and depression. These pains are compounded by mental tensions.
2. Pitta type of Headache – The pain is usually felt on half of the head. It is accompanied by a burning sensation and wateriness in the eyes. The person is generally scared of light.
(1) Useful Herbs in the Treatment of Headache
1. Betel (Piper betle)
The leaves of the betel have analgesic and cooling properties. When a paste of them is applied to the center of the headache, then immediate relief is obtained.
2. Bishop’s Weed (Trachyspermum ammi)
Bishop’s weed can keep severe headaches away. It is most effective in headaches that occur due to migraine. The fumes of the lighted bishop’s weed seeds are used for the treatment. These fumes are smoked or the seeds are sniffed directly.
3. Clove (Syzygium aromaticum)
The aroma of the clove has a headache-allaying effect. It can soothe the nerves and bring it back to a pacified state.
4. Garlic (Allium sativum)
Garlic has almost miraculous properties in relieving headaches, of whatever type they are. Their juice slowly permeates the head region and acts as a painkiller.
5. Ginger (Zingiber officinale)
Ginger has painkilling properties. Due to this property, it is used as an external application on the affected head region. This gives relief from the headache.
6. Henna (Lawsonia inermis)
Henna flowers have the capacity to reduce headaches if they are caused by excessive heat. The henna flowers are applied externally on the head with vinegar to get the desired results.
(2) Dietary Treatments for Headache
Sweet and mild tastes are better in relieving headaches than other tastes. When there is a headache, consuming a sweet preparation or even a spoonful of sugar helps.
Milk and ghee are also beneficial in headaches. Preferably, the milk of a cow should be warmed and had when there is a headache.
Rice is the preferred carbohydrate to be taken in times of headache. The water left after cooking the rice should be had when it is warm, with a dash of ghee added in it.
Spicy and fried foods must be avoided when there is a headache.
(3) Ayurvedic Treatment for Headache
Since there are many different types of headaches, there are different treatments for them in Ayurveda. Ayurveda does not treat all headaches with uniformity. The following are the different treatments prescribed:-
1. If the headache is of vata type, then Triphala choorna is first prescribed to clear the digestive system. Then Shirashooladivajra rasa must be taken, or Mahavata Vidhwansana rasa must be taken twice a day in dosages of 125 milligrams in warm water.
2. If the headache is of pitta type, then amalaki is prescribed, or Triphala which contains amalaki can also be given. Half a gram of Shatavari is to be taken twice a day for a month.
3. If the headache is of kapha type, then anu taila is applied first to clear the nostrils. Then medicines such as Shoola Gajakesari rasa are given in dosages of 125 milligrams thrice or four times a day.
(4) Home Medications
a. A paste of clove and salt crystals is prepared in milk. The main curative ingredient in this is salt, which, being hygroscopic, absorbs the fluids in the head and decreases the tension.
b. Early morning after waking up dab an apple with salt and eat it. After that, drink some warm water or milk. Continuing this for ten days will reduce the problem of continuous headaches.
c. Peel a piece of garlic. Put it in the mouth and chew it slightly. Let its juices spread around the mouth region and upwards into the head. Keep on chewing the garlic mildly and allow the juices to spread. Within some minutes the headache would disappear. This treatment works even for the most persistent of headaches.
d. For headaches that are caused due to common colds, drinking a decoction of coriander and sugar helps tremendously. One more method to clear common cold related headaches is to place both feet in warm water for about half an hour.
e. For headaches that are caused due to excessive gas in the stomach, drinking a glass of warm water with a fresh lemon squeezed in it brings the headache as well as the gas problem down.
f. Grind some cinnamon and make it into a paste with water. Apply this on the head. This reduces headaches.
g. Soak some almonds in water overnight. In the morning, grind them into a paste and warm them slightly in ghee. Mix this in water and drink. This helps in treating headaches that have been going on since a long time.
h. Drinking a glass of water in which jaggery has been mixed helps in reducing headaches.