Headaches can manifest in a dizzying array of forms. Left-sided, right-sided, frontal, occipital, temporal, throbbing, constant, coming and going with the sun, appearing only on weekends, only when accompanying menses, at the onset of rain, and on and on they go. In some cases of course, headaches may be the only obvious symptom of a serious intracranial or extracranial disorder and so they should never be taken lightly. But, in the main, they’re a relatively benign but nonetheless painful problem.
A study referred to in an article on headaches by Abdul Abbas in The Practitioner, (August 8, 1989, Vol 233, 1081-1084) found that 90% of males and 95% of females had experienced at least one headache in the preceding twelve months. Clearly, this is a common problem and unfortunately, the first thing the headache sufferer normally reaches for, is a pharmaceutical analgesic. I use the word unfortunately, because the risk to benefit ratio of such a strategy is rarely considered. If it were, the first choice would be something that is virtually risk free and has proved its usefulness again and again around the world for over 200 years.
When used according to traditional homeopathic principals, properly indicated homeopathic medicines can relieve the pain of headache quickly and permanently. Where this doesn’t happen within a reasonable period of time, priority should be given to the cause of the problem, which should being identified and appropriate management strategies developed.
Constitutional treatment aimed at prescribing on the totality of the symptoms is always preferable, but a number of authors 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 have found consistently useful outcomes provided by the following homeopathic medicines.
|Aconite||Aconite headaches, often frontal, are frequently described as burning or bursting in character, with a feeling as if the brain is boiling and may protrude through the forehead. Symptoms are worse from cold, dry wind or weather, at night, during motion and after sunstroke, and are better for open air and rest.|
|Arsenicum album||Typically used for hemicrania associated with weakness, restlessness and an icy feeling in the scalp, the pain of an Arsenicum headache is often burning in character. Symptoms are worse from other people talking, and better for cold.|
|Belladonna||The sufferer may have a nervous headache, facial flushing and drooping eyelids. The headache is frequently frontal or temporal with a preference for the right side, is frequently throbbing in nature and may be associated with exposure to the sun. Symptoms are worse from cold, light, noise, motion, lying down and around 5pm and better from pressure and sitting in a semi-erect posture.|
|Bryonia||Often associated with constipation, the headache here is usually frontal, temporal, occipital or left supraorbital and is bursting or splitting in character. It may arise in the early morning and continue through the day. Worse for stooping or coughing, and better for rest or cold.|
|China||This is often of use in temporal headaches of a bursting or throbbing character. It may be associated with vertigo and a sensitive scalp. Symptoms are worse from the sun, open air, touching or combing the hair, and better for hard pressure, rubbing, or moving the head up or down.|
|Cimicifuga||Commonly indicated in headaches of the vertex, sufferers may notice a sensation as if the brain were opening and shutting or the vertex feels as if it would fly off. The pain may be shooting or throbbing in character, or be described as a pressing outwards. It may arise from mental overexertion. Worse from open air, better for going upstairs.|
|Cocculus||Commonly used for sick headaches, vertigo and nausea, Cocculus has great use in occipital headaches associated with menstruation, nausea or vomiting. Worse from motion, sleeping, drinking and eating and better for sitting or bending backwards.|
|Gelsemium||Tremors, debility, drowsiness, vertigo, nausea, neck pain, visual disturbances and ptosis of the upper eyelids may be seen here. The headache is normally occipital or temporal, the pain dull in character, the head feels heavy and symptoms may be associated with exposure to the sun. Worse for damp, humid weather or the heat of the sun, better for pressure.|
|Glonoine||Useful in congestive, throbbing headaches, particularly when associated with menstrual disorders or exposure to the sun. Worse from laying the head on a pillow, motion, jarring or shaking; better for cold or open air.|
|Ignatia||The Ignatia headache may feel as if a nail were being driven out through the side of the head. It’s often associated with vomiting, vertigo or visual disturbances and may follow the use of coffee or exposure to tobacco smoke. Worse for emotions, grief or anxiety, better for pressure or lying on affected part.|
|Iris versicolor||A favourite remedy for sick headaches or migraine, where the condition is preceded by a blurring of the vision and sour, watery vomiting. The pain is felt predominantly in the right temporal region. The pain itself may be described as shooting in character. Worse for cold air, rest, violent motion or coughing and better for gentle motion.|
|Lachesis||Headaches related to sun exposure or coryza, and where there are visual disturbances, the vision is dim, the face is pale, often respond well to Lachesis. Worse from heat, motion, and better for cold drinks or discharges.|
|Nat carb||Orbital headaches and vertigo from mental exertion or exposure to the sun may be alleviated by this remedy. Symptoms are often worse for heat, light, sun, mental exertion, better for movement.|
|Nat mur||The Nat mur headache is often congestive, blinding and bursting in nature, and the sufferer may have a great thirst, The pain is usually supraorbital or felt in the vertex. Worse from sunrise to sunset, the heat of the sun, mental exertion or reading, better for open air or rest.|
|Nux vomica||One of the most commonly indicated headache remedies, it’s often associated with hangovers and overindulgence generally. The headache is usually confined to the frontal, temporal or supraorbital regions. Worse from sunshine or cold, open air, light, noise and better for rest or strong pressure|
|Petroleum||In this case there’s frequently an association with vertigo. The pain is usually felt in the occiput, the pain is aching in character and the head feels numb. Symptoms are worse from shaking the head or while coughing and better for pressure on the temples.|
|Picric acid||This remedy may be helpful in occipital headaches that arise from mental exertion, grief or depression. They often occur during the day. Worse for mental exertion or sexual excitement, better for sleep and a tight bandage around the head.|
|Pulsatilla||The condition here may arise from over-indulgence and is commonly felt in the frontal area and the pain may be described as bursting and throbbing in character. Worse from stooping, in a closed room, during the evening and from mental exertion. Symptoms are better from an erect posture and cool, fresh, open air.|
|Sanguinaria||This is frequently of use in right supraorbital headaches, and may be associated with distension of the temporal veins, vomiting and vertigo. The pain comes and goes with the sun. Symptoms are worse from looking up and rapid motion of the head, and better for sleep or vomiting.|
|Silica||Silica is often useful in sick headaches where the pain is felt in the vertex or right supraorbital area and the nature of the pain may be described as sticking or tearing, which passes during sleep. The headache is often worse from motion, light or noise and better for wrapping the head.|
|Spigelia||This is often of use where the headache feels as if there’s a band around the head, the head feels too large, the pain is throbbing in nature and settles in the left supraorbital or left temporal region. There may be associated vertigo. Worse from stooping, looking down, standing, taking a false step or opening the mouth, better for rest or warmth.|
|Thuja||Thuja is often used for a left sided parietal headache associated with vertigo, with the pain felt as if a nail were being driven into the head. Worse from tea or sexual excess, better for bending the head backwards.|
1. Das RBB, Select Your Remedy, 14th Edition, May 1992, B Jain, New Delhi, India.
2. Clarke JH, A Clinical Repertory to the Dictionary of the Materia Medica, Health Sciences Press, England, 1979. ISBN 0 85032 061 5.
3. Dewey WA, Practical Homoeopathic Therapeutics, 2nd Edition, B Jain, New Delhi, 1991.
4. Bouko Levy MM, Homeopathic and Drainage Repertory, Editions Similia, France, 1992, ISBN-2-904928-70-7.
5. Raue CG, 4th Edition, Special Pathology and Diagnostics with Therapeutic Hints, 1896, B Jain, New Delhi.
6. Knerr KB, Repertory of Hering’s Guiding Symptoms of our Materia Medica, 1997, B Jain, New Delhi.
7. Samuel Lilienthal, Homoeopathic Therapeutics, 3rd edition, 1890, Indian Books and Periodicals.