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By Dr. Tanvi Tijoriwala, ND

 

During this self-isolation period, I have been helping many patients suffering from headaches through virtual appointments. In this article I share two important cases that show us how important it is to target internal causes of headaches, instead of relying on painkillers. 

 

Why is it important to treat internal causes of headaches?

 

Treating headaches is important as many painkillers such as Ibuprofen (Advil) and Acetaminophen (Tylenol) when used long term can cause several side effects.  Frequent use of Ibuprofen can cause severe digestive problems such as gastritis and heartburns. Whereas, long-term Tylenol use can be harmful to the liver.  

 

Experiencing constant pain that prevents you from carrying day-to-day activities can be frustrating and depressing. Finding a solution to headaches is important to resume living freely without letting debilitating pain get in the way.

 

Postural correction and physical therapies are a great start to addressing headache problems and can be very helpful when it comes to pain reduction. As a naturopathic doctor, I look into other root causes to manage pain and reduce frequencies of headaches. 

 

Case studies

 

These are two such case studies of patients experiencing headaches due to internal health factors:

 

Internal Inflammation – The mechanism by which a headache happens in the body is still debated. However, researchers agree on one thing – pain is often associated with inflammation. Inflammation in case of headaches can often occur because of eating certain foods that our body reacts negatively to.  So, tracking your diet and how it relates to headaches is important. 

 

However, the issue comes when the inflammation is a delayed response to the food. Which was the case with Patient X (43yo Male with recurrent headaches who had tried everything with no results). Patient X would always get a headache 3-4 days after he had ingested foods that his body was sensitive to. In order to know exactly which foods, we ran a Food Sensitivity Panel which is a blood test that tests 120 – 200 foods and shows exactly which foods are causing inflammation/headaches in the body. Knowing these trigger foods allowed him to eliminate them from his diet which reduced the intensity and frequency with which he would get headaches. 

 

Hormonal causes – This case study will focus on Patient Y (36-year-old Female who experienced headaches right before her menstrual cycle would begin).  

Research shows that women get more headaches than men, mainly because of the involvement of two important hormones – estrogen and progesterone. When these are not balanced, many women can experience headaches 1-2 days before menstruation or during menstruation. 

 

This was the case for patient Y – her headaches were caused by a hormonal imbalance. To treat these menstrual headaches, I prescribed a customized herbal supplement that helps to regulate hormones, particularly estrogen and progesterone. The benefit of this for her was that it helped her other menstrual symptoms as well such as menstrual cramps, heavy bleeding and bloating. 

 

For both these patients we started with an in-depth intake during our initial consultations and they both went home with a personalized headache tracker to pin-point the exact cause of the headaches. 

 

If you are looking to get support with the intensity and frequency of your headaches through an online consultation, please feel free to email me to see if naturopathic care is a good fit for you – tanvitijoriwala.nd@gmail.com. I look forward to helping you be pain-free. 

 

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