If you suffer migraines or chronic headaches, you are not alone. In fact, you're in good company. A migraine is only one type of headache. In the United States alone, 24 million people suffer with migraines with 75% of them being women.
Another, powerful statistic: 1 out of 13 people over the age of 15 wake up with a morning headache. Women are twice as likely to experience depression and/or anxiety disorders as men. If you experience depression or anxiety, you are twice as likely to wake up with a headache.
Depression and chronic pain go hand in hand. All of these statements point to the fact that millions of men and even more women in the United States endure headaches, chronic pain, depression, anxiety and sleep disorders. It is simply distressing to read these facts. We are suffering both physically and emotionally with pain and moods that take away the joy of daily living.
As a woman with fibromyalgia, I have made it a personal project to learn about herbal therapies to help myself manage my own headaches and chronic pain. As a nurse, I feel compelled to share alternative therapies that can ease the pain of migraine and help us manage the stress of daily living that triggers migraine headaches, muscle aches and depression.
What choices do we have other than prescriptions and over the counter medication to treat migraine headaches and chronic pain?
Essential oils and aromatherapy offer a great deal of comfort for migraine sufferers.
The most familiar herbal fragrances of all, lavender, naturally soothes the mind and body.
If you wake up with headaches or suffer with migraines, the sweet aroma of lavender is a safe, natural way to relax muscle tension and ease migraine pain. Because depression is often associated with chronic pain and headaches, lavender's natural ability to lift mild depression makes this essential oil valuable to your mental as well as physical health.
Lavender as an alternative herbal remedy
Lavender can be used for headaches, migraines and sore muscle relief. Lavender eases joint stiffness and helps us cope with chronic pain. Interestingly enough, lavender has antiseptic qualities and even repels insects naturally.
Lavender is one of the only 2 essential oils that can be used directly on skin with no dilution!
Simply apply a few drops of essential lavender oil to your temples when you start to feel tension around your head, neck or shoulders. Migraine suffers may experience an aura that signals a migraine. Essential oil of lavender may not prevent the actual onset of the migraine but it can help you relax your muscles and emotional tension that could trigger the migraine pain.
Lavender and easing migraine pain
A lavender eye pillow is recommended for the relaxing, soothing aromatherapy qualities of the lavender. Lavender promotes relaxation and more restorative sleep. Studies in hospitals and nursing homes found that patients exposed to the scent of lavender fell asleep faster, deeper and longer.
Flax seed mixed with the lavender help the eye pillow to rest across the brow, eyes, cheekbones and temples with gentle weight that blocks out light while applying pressure to ease the headache pain. Flax seed reducing inflammation and helps reduce puffiness around the eyes.
A lavender eye pillow with flax seed can be warmed for tension headaches or chilled for migraine headache. Rather than fall asleep in the throes of a migraine, start to relax by laying in cool quiet darkness with a few drops of essential oil of lavender on your pillow case and an eye pillow in place. The cool pressure of the eye pillow mixed with relaxing properties of lavender could help bring on both migraine relief and restorative sleep.
Lavender and workplace stress
The use of lavender in the workplace may help you handle workplace stress, relax under pressure and focus better.
Lavender is one of the essential oils tested in studies which showed that the participants relaxed with lavender aromatherapy and were more focused to solve problems and although slower with math computations, fewer errors were noted.
A sprig of lavender, bowl of potpourri or essential oil drops of lavender applied near warmth will help you relax, focus and be more productive in the workplace. If you work in a hectic environment that doesn't give you an office then a lavender body mist or small vial of lavender's essential oil that you can keep in your pocket may just do the trick!
Lavender and depression
Lavender is not a cure or treatment for depression BUT we have discovered that pain, poor sleep, anxiety and chronic pain are associated with depression.
Lavender brings a natural relaxed state that helps us cope better with life's aggravations. Studies have shown that in healthy non-depressed individuals, the aroma of lavender does have the ability to gently elevate our moods.
Whether you are currently suffering with depression or simply feeling down, remember that your physician is the best person to discuss treatment medical for depression.
Taking herbal tea baths and burning lavender candles are a part of taking care of ourselves that does not require a prescription or cost a great deal of money. Lavender infused bath and body products provide a natural stress reducer that can lift mild depression and clear our minds so we can work through problems more effectively.
Lavender and insomnia
Restorative sleep is a must for everyone. Struggling with insomnia or frequent waking during the night does nothing but aggravate us the next day!
The scent of lavender promotes relaxation and helps you sleep better overall. Studies in hospitals and nursing homes found that patients exposed to the scent of lavender fell asleep faster, deeper and longer.
Poor sleep is one known cause of morning headaches and can trigger migraine headaches. Grinding your teeth, muscle tension especially around the face and neck are common causes of morning headaches. Keeping a small bowl of lavender in your bedroom and light misting of bed linens will help you relax before you fall asleep.
Lavender and anxiety
Generalized anxiety disorder is an increasing problem for millions of Americans. Anxiety and depression plagues us as we struggle to cope with life's challenges. It's commonly known that anxiety expresses itself with racing thoughts and a pounding heartbeat but one of the first signs of anxiety is the inability to think clearly. Mental stress that leads to anxiety will make our minds cloudy and solving life's problems becomes a mountain of anxiety.
Possible causes, triggers of headaches and chronic pain
inadequate hydration and nutrition
poor coping skills
At first glance of possible triggers for headaches, it's no wonder millions suffer with migraines, headaches, depression and chronic pain.
drink 8-10 glasses of water each day
explore natural ways to alleviate hormone imbalances
monitor your blood pressure to make sure your headaches aren't a symptom of high blood pressure
talk to your doctor about feelings of depression and anxiety
each day, find time to do something special for yourself
go for a fifteen minute walk
light a candle
write in a journal
spend time with friends
surround yourself with such relaxing scents as lavender to ward off headaches and chronic pain
The scent of lavender has tendency to slow down our minds and bodies. We relax. Our brain responds positively to lavender. We are soothed.
Simply surrounding our senses with lavender can help us cope with life's nagging problems.
Lavender helps us sleep better at night and relax under pressure in the work place. Relaxing before you fall asleep can prevent you from waking up with a morning headache. Essential oil of lavender and lying in a dark cool room with a chilled eye pillow can ease migraine pain.
Your boss getting you frazzled? Overwhelmed by the daily grind? Fighting chronic depression? Sense a migraine coming on? Got an ache in your shoulders and a stiff neck from sitting at a computer all day?
Stop thinking that suffering with migraines and headaches is simply a part of life.
Start taking care of yourself every day in ways that make you feel calm and prepared to ENJOY life! Fill your life with lavender and other essential oils that can create a sense of well-being not found in traditional medicine. Learn how to manage your migraines and chronic headaches before they start to control you.
Infuse lavender in your life to ease migraine headaches, depression, insomnia, anxiety and chronic pain naturally!
Tammy Ames, RN BSN is the owner of Home Spas by Tam offering handmade spa products for your own home spa with natural skin care products, body scrubs and essential oils for aromatherapy and organic comforts to ease the aches and pains of daily living.
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