New Hope for Headache Sufferers
There are many causes of headaches, including microbial infections, food allergies, brain tumors, medication side effects, carbon monoxide poisoning, caffeine withdrawal, and injuries to the head or spine.
There is, however, another largely unrecognized cause, one I never would have suspected had I not observed and studied it firsthand in myself. It may well be one of the most common causes of this particular malady. Happily, it is a cause that often can be counteracted without expensive professional intervention or even aspirin.
The cause to which I am referring is adverse conditions in the gastrointestinal tract. I first became aware of this source of headaches when I noticed that I tended to develop headaches within as little as an hour to as much as a day or more after prolonged periods of sitting, lying on my stomach, or overeating. What do these three factors have in common? They all put a burden on the normal functioning of the digestive system. When sitting, I noticed that my waistband cut deeply into my abdomen, much more so than when standing. When lying on my stomach, direct pressure was exerted on my abdominal organs. And in the case of overeating, an overload situation was created that adversely affected my alimentary canal.
The nature of these adverse conditions is a subject for further investigation and research. One possibility is that there is a pressure buildup at one or more points along the course of the digestive tract, causing headache-inducing toxins, which would normally be elimitated, to be absorbed into the bloodstream. If this is indeed the case, then the colon may be where most of these agents are absorbed, as it normally contains a relatively high concentration of toxic material and is susceptible to outside influences, such as the pressure of a tight belt or girdle.
Fortunately, the gastrointestinal headache can be prevented in large part by practicing health habits that promote normal digestive activity. To that end, the following measures are recommended:
Never wear articles of clothing that constrict or apply pressure to your abdomen.If a headache develops which you suspect is gastrointestinal in origin, here are some measures to help alleviate it:
Never sleep or lie on your stomach or allow anyone else to sit or lie on your stomach.
Never eat to the point of stuffing yourself.
Never eat when you are tired or emotionally upset.
Drink six to eight glasses of water per day (preferably distilled).
Eat a normal, well-balanced diet high in fiber and low in saturated fats and refined carbohydrates. Such a diet would include plenty of fruits, vegetables, salads, fish, poultry, and whole grain products. Avoid pies, pastries, pasta, red meat, fried, starchy, processed, and junk foods.
Loosen or remove all items if clothing that put pressure on your abdomen.In treating the gastrointestinal headache, it is well to remember that it may get worse before it gets better. Pressure within the alimentary canal may first increase before it decreases as digestive activity is normalized and food matter is mobilized and sent on its way.
Drink a quart of water or easily tolereated fruit or vegetable juice to aid in flushing out any potential gastrointestinal pressure pockets.
Take a long walk to facilitate intestinal activity.
Take some vitamin C to help counteract any toxins circulating in your bloodstream.
Experiment with different postures or positions. There may be one or more that will reduce headache tension (e.g., standing or lying on one side or the other).
Take a potassium supplement. It may stimulate contraction of the musculature lining the walls of the alimentary canal. Potassium deficiency can cause digestive activity to become sluggish, directly subjecting you to gastrointestinal headaches.
Gently massage the abdomen for a few minutes in a clockwise direction.
Apply moist heat to the abdomen.
Repeated headaches of this nature may be helped by obtaining a series of colonic irrigations, the purpose of which is to cleanse accumulations in the large intestine that may be chronically inhibiting the normal passage of digestive wastes.
Remember, headaches can be a sign of serious illness, so it is wise to seek professional help when they occur with unusual frequency or severity. Otherwise, eat, drink, and be merry--but do so in moderation, and with your belt loosened!
This article first appeared in the Winter, 1986/87, issue of Health World.