Tale of an Aching Head: An Entry from my Personal Journal
Yesterday I woke up with one my headaches. We had a houseguest, so it was most inconvenient. I managed to function to the level of making meals, settling quarrels (the houseguest was 4 years old) and getting dressed, but that was about it.
Before breakfast I took 1,000 milligrams of acetaminophen, and another 1,000 right before lunch. About an hour after each dose, I felt the slightest nudge toward numbness, which quickly disappeared, however, and left me just as miserable as before. I spent a good deal of the day in bed.
Around 4pm I got fed up with the whole situation and decided to research herbal remedies for headaches. I found that for each type of headache, there is a different family of herbs. Since I’d woken up quite hot, I thought that my headache might have been due to inflammation. However, despite the continuing flush in my head, the rest of my body was cold and shivering. I decided to leave aside the heat-giving herbs and cold-giving herbs, and try something for a tension headache. I couldn’t tell whether I was tense or not but in the past, deep-tissue massage for long periods of time has been able to reduce headaches by about 50%.
The only herb I had in my cupboard to treat a tension headache was Chamomile. Thankfully, I had something better than the usual commercial teabags. I’d picked up a largish bag of loose-leaf German chamomile at the local health-food store a couple of months ago, after hearing that it could tame hayfever and pollen allergies.
I prepared a very strong preparation – about 3 tablespoons looseleaf in 6 oz of boiling water – and let it steep for 10 minutes.
About 30 seconds after my first sip, I felt a band of tension I hadn’t even been able to detect go numb at the base of my neck. I continued to sip, waiting about 30 seconds between each sip. The numbness rapidly moved up from the base of my neck to the top of my head.
After the last sip – the whole 6 oz took about 4 minutes to ingest – no pain was left in my head except for a dull tight spot in the back of my head, on the left side.
I lay down, supporting my neck with my son’s soft pajama pants (clean, I promise) and letting my head hang down a bit. I tried to watch some Poirot, for one of the worst byproducts of a headache is boredom. However, within 5 minutes I fell asleep.
I woke up around 6, with only minor traces of sleepiness remaining. I was able to drive, and because I’d gotten nothing done all day I took the kids out for dinner.
*** End of journal entry ***
If I were to recommend this remedy for someone who has to work during the day or who must drive, I would suggest sipping much more slowly and through the day. Chamomile, I am told, calms the nerves. Another possibility is to drink a strong preparation right before bed after one has been busy, stressed out, or grieving during the day, in order to allow the relaxation that will prevent the morning headache.
Obviously it’s a very powerful remedy. The wonderful thing about it, however, is that after the sleepiness wears off, the pain does not come back. The nerves have been calmed and the muscles relaxed.
For those whose headaches are not tension headaches, there are an abundance of other herbal remedies. While some of them do interact with medications, they generally do not have side effects of their own. Many drugs affect the gut biome, but as far as I know herbs do not have this problem.
A good herbalist will be able to quickly sort through which kind of headache you have and which herb will treat it. Unlike modern medical researchers, herbalists do not usually have to find the exact chemical or biophysical cause of an illness in order to treat it. They use classifications like hot, cold, wet, and dry, to describe a physical condition and use herbs that bring these characteristics back into balance. By God’s grace and the reasonableness of Nature, this kind of treatment is generally an effective method unless some very complicated disease is involved.