We’ve all experienced the discomfort and irritation that comes with a splitting headache. Whether you’re a frequent sufferer of migraines, or you just get the occasional headache, once it’s begun it’s impossible to focus on anything but finding relief. This conundrum is also recognized in traditional Ayurvedic practices, and luckily there is no shortage of ways to cure headaches with Ayurveda.
Within Ayurveda, headaches are typically ascribed to an imbalance with the doshas, roughly corresponding to the three main types of headache: migraine, sinus and tension. Keep reading to find out how to address each of these headaches.
A Vata headache is most commonly associated with holding tension in the neck and shoulders. It often manifests as throbbing at the back of the head at moves toward the front. To balance this dosha and address this type of headache, you can try placing 3 – 5 drops of warm ghee or lukewarm sesame oil inside your nostrils. Additionally, make sure you are fully hydrated, and consider applying nutmeg powder to the forehead.
These types of headaches can also be triggered by skipping meals, so make sure you consistently eat three meals a day, favoring sweet, warm foods and avoiding anything too spicy. If the above treatments don’t help, a soothing neck and shoulder massage with calamus root oil should help dissipate the tension and the source of your headache.
A headache that starts in your temples and migrates to the center of your head is typically associated with a Pitta imbalance. These headaches are intense (often synonymous with migraines) as they may come with shooting pain, nausea, dizziness and sensitivity to light.
Because Pitta headaches are associated with the digestive system, you should make use of cooling, pacifying foods such as cucumber, cilantro and aloe vera gel. A slow breathing exercise or reflective meditation session can also help to calm your body and prepare you for a more restful slumber to treat your headache. Drinking cooling coriander tea or massaging your forehead with sandalwood paste can also aid in treating this type of imbalance.
If you find yourself suffering from a headache in the winter or spring, and notice that it gets worse when you bend down or it’s accompanied by a runny nose, then a Kapha imbalance is to blame. These headaches often start at the top of the skull and may sink down into the sinuses. Thankfully, there are also techniques to treat these headaches with Ayurveda.
To start treating this kind of headache, you’ll want to first clear your sinuses. You can achieve this by filling a bowl with hot water and eucalyptus oil. Then, cover your head with a towel and place it over the bowl, inhaling the steam deeply to clear your sinuses. If the headache persists, then you may try putting a ginger paste on the forehead, but start with a small amount, as some people experience a slight burning sensation from the ginger.
If this headache lasts for several days and is accompanied by a fever, blurred vision, vomiting or other serious symptoms, see a doctor as there may be other underlying issues causing your symptoms.
Yoga for Headaches
Beyond eating certain foods or attempting massages at home, you can also cure headaches with Ayurveda by taking advantage of a robust yoga practice. Regular exercise and yoga has been linked to reduced rates of migraine. Be sure to switch your practice to a more restorative approach, rather than emphasizing difficult or heat-building poses. In particular, you should try the following poses if you find yourself suffering from a headache:
Remember that everyone’s body is different, and the techniques that work for others may not be effective for you. The important thing is to try a variety of approaches until you find one that works for you, and spend the rest of your time establishing healthy routines and living a balanced life. As you curate your wellness practice, consider using YouVeda’s My Essential Oils: Digestion — a proprietary blend of dill seed, fennel, ginger, lemon, and clove that provides tridoshic support to balance your digestive energy for a healthier, more balanced life.
Author: Alexandria Baker (YouVeda Wellness Contributor)