How to Identify What’s Causing your Headaches

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Over 12 million people in the US suffer from chronic headaches, a condition that has many causes and many triggers. While there are several over-the-counter medicines and prescriptions available to provide temporary relief, lasting freedom from headaches requires a little patience and a little experimentation. See, the triggers that cause headaches are different from person to person. Because of this, figuring out the source of your headaches –– and then what to do about it — is going to require a little experimentation.

In no particular order, here are the most common causes of headaches:

  • Excessive caffeine.
  • Excessive alcohol.

  • The wrong kind of alcohol.

  • Excessive sugar.

  • Poor diet

  • Problems sleeping.

  • Stress.

  • Lack of exercise.

As you can see, some of the causes are broad like having a poor diet, while others are more specific, like having too much caffeine. Headache sufferers should start with the specific triggers and work their way out to more dramatic lifestyle changes.

Step 1. Eliminate Caffeine

Caffeine is the first thing you should eliminate from your diet to see if it is the cause of your headaches. There are a few reasons for this. For one, caffeine isn’t everywhere like sugar is, so it’s a little bit easier to take control of your caffeine consumption than that of some of the other things on this list. More importantly, however, caffeine is a very frequent cause of headaches, so it’s a great place to start.

The goal here is to eliminate caffeine completely from your body for 2-3 weeks and then see how you feel.  For most of us, our caffeine addictions are real and intense, so if you’re currently drinking a lot of coffee every day, taper down to decaf before going cold turkey. When you finally do go cold turkey, pay attention to how your head feels.

If your headaches are…

  • GONE. You’re done! You’ve found your trigger. No more caffeine for you.
  • BETTER: You’re on your way. Caffeine is one of your triggers but there are others at play.
  • STILL BAD: Caffeine is not one of your triggers. Keep looking and go to Starbucks.

Step 2. Eliminate Alcohol

Next, eliminate alcohol from your system in the same way you eliminated caffeine. Stop drinking for 2-3 weeks and see how you feel. Again, if your headaches are…

  • GONE. You’re done! You’ve found your triggers. No more caffeine nor alcohol for you.
  • EVEN BETTER BUT NOT PERFECT. Alcohol is another one of your triggers. Keep searching. There may be others.
  • JUST AS BAD: Alcohol isn’t a trigger. Take a shot to celebrate.

PS. If you discovered alcohol is one of your triggers, don’t worry, you might not have to eliminate drinking completely. Alcohol is a big category that contains lots of different drinks with different ingredients. To identify which of these are the problems, choose one type— say red wine or beer — and stick to it exclusively for a week to see how it affects your body. Try the others. Eventually, you may discover that some types of alcohol have no effect on your headaches, while others make them worse.

Step 3. Eliminate Sugar

Eliminating sugar from the American diet isn’t exactly easy. There’s sugar in so many things and in so many forms that you’ve really got to check the labels and be careful. The easiest way to eliminate sugar from your diet is to eliminate bread and to check labels for sugar words that end in “ose” like: glucose, sucrose, fructose, and so forth. Mainly, you should be eating vegetables and healthful proteins.

Again, after 2-3 weeks of no-sugar experimentation, you can slowly reintroduce sugar back into your diet and see how you feel.

Step 4. Exercise

Exercise is such an excellent way to eliminate your headaches that neurologist Carolyn Bernstein told NPR that she prescribes exercise as often as she prescribes medicine. Exercise has a great impact on your circulatory system, which, in turn, has an affect on how often you experience headaches. Exercise also relieves stress and helps with sleep, two factors that also exacerbate headaches. Most doctors recommend 30 minutes a day. Jogging is better than walking. But walking is better than nothing.

Step 5. Take Herbal Supplements

A variety of herbal remedies have been known to promote natural healing of headaches and migraines. But, naturally healing your headaches takes time. Plan to take these supplements for more than 3 months to start seeing results.

Here are some of the best:

  • Magnesium (400-600 mg/day). Magnesium has been known to reduce the symptoms of headaches and migraines, especially if your migraine usually includes an aura.

  • Riboflavin (400mg/day). Also known as Vitamin B2, riboflavin improves energy metabolism, which may be a factor in the frequency and intensity of your headaches.

  • CoQ10 (100 mg/day). Studies indicate CoQ10 reduces headaches in half of all patients.

  • Finally, our Migraine Pack contains a variety of healthful supplements designed to boost your brain, relax your nerves, improve your digestion and energy levels, and imbue your system with magnesium.

2015-11-13T11:21:56+00:00

Related Questions

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    Q: Hey herbalist, so I have been doing a lot of research on caffeine, and the benefits and harms of it. I am looking for some added information about the differences between the caffeine found naturally in coffee or tea, and the kind found in pure caffeine pills. I have heard that the pills are much more harmful, but have not been able to find proof of why. With the exception of "its made in a lab, therefore it must be worse". If you could shed some light on the matter, I would greatly appreciate it! Just one more question. I have read that caffeine blocks the re-uptake of glutamate. This can cause glutamate toxicity (resulting in dead brain cells), but I am skeptical as to how often this occurs. Will that happen if one takes just 200-mg of caffeine? Is it for the chronic caffeine users who drink 6 cups of coffee a day for 10 years? Thanks so much for your time and effort! looking forward to some knowledge!

    A:

    Nature does not make caffeine or any substance in mono-structured form, including caffeine. Caffeine consumed by itself is harmful (a la caffeine pills -- nature does not produce caffeine pills). Caffeine pills are INORGANIC and thus not absorbed by the body (the cells). Bio-caffeiene from plant sources is ORGANIC and thus absorbable. Organic substances can be absorbed through the cells. Inorganic substances cannot. Inorganic caffeine blocks reuptake of glutamate, and that's another reason why synthetic caffeine is harmful. Organic caffeine does not block reuptake of glutamate.

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    Q: I am trying to find a way to get rid of my headaches; I'm also been diagnosed with sleep Apnea and feel this is a cause as well. I'm working on changing my diet all together as I feel this is a trigger for it also, I like to find a vegan diet also, that would allow for me to put on a few health pounds. Thanks so much my brother and praises to our ancestors for your enlightment. Please help.

    A:

    First, detoxify your body (FULL BODY DETOX). Second, perform the DHERBS 10-DAY SUPREME COLON CLEANSE. The rest of the information I feel can be found in the article section on â€HEADACHES†For sleep apnea, an article is coming soon! Work on your respiratory system (perform the RESPIRATORY CLEANSE AND REGIMEN). Stay tuned for the article!

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    Q: My sister suffers from excruciating migraine headaches. She is very conscious of the correct foods to eat and is careful to eat nutritionally complete foods, but I fear she may have a chemical imbalance or toxin build-up in her system, which is causing the migraines. Do you have a recommendation as to what herbs she could take to alleviate the migraine pain? Your help would be appreciated.

    A:

    Have your sister first perform the Full Body Detox. After this kit, have her take Headache & Pain formula, Brain Tuner formula, Bowel Mover, and Headache Tea.

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    Q: I'm a 38-year-old male who has been suffering with Atrial Fibrillation for 3 years. Up until the age of 35 I never had any real illness that had any caused for concern, and then out of the blue I have a heart related issue. My Doctor has never given me a cause of where this came from and all the research I've done on my own turns up the same. The answers the doctor gave (caffeine, alcohol, and so on) I've never really used any of those things excessively. My eating habits up until that time where not that great and I was about 100lbs over weight. I've lost 85lbs since, and also have giving up all meats. Also I had Cath. Ablation surgery for the A-Fib. It's been 3 months since surgery and I'm now off of the Coumadin they had me taking. I'm not sure if the surgery was a total success, I've not had an attack since New Year’s Day 2008. But I'm still not feeling back to my old self. I've been having some very weird feelings of nausea, tension, constipation, and tiredness, headaches, etc. When I do go to the doctor they tell me that everything looks fine and that I may be a bit stressed and suffering from anxiety. I'm writing to you in hopes that you may be able to guide me to the right path to healing and returning to living somewhat normal life again.

    A:

    WITHOUT A QUESTION THE BEST PLACE FOR YOU TO BEGIN YOUR NATURAL HEALING JOURNEY IS WITH THE Full Body Detox. AND BECAUSE YOU TOOK THE DANGEROUS “COUMADINâ€, YOU REALLY NEED TO CLEANSE YOUR BODY OUT. THIS CLEANSE WILL HELP YOUR HEART TO RECOVER AS WELL.

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    Q: Dherbs, I am experiencing some degree of headaches on my forehead on the left side. I have had about four surgeries for this thinking its related to my sinus, but no relief. I recently started to get some headaches on the back of my head, and neck pains. I took an MRI, and I am not sure of the result the doctor said it seem to be some abnormality on the back of my head may be from birth, he refered me to a nurogolist. Give me some advice on what I can do with herbs, I have already taken your Total Male Cleanse, your Weight Release Cleanse, the Full Body Detox, and just about to finish your Respiratory Cleanse, about 8 more days to go after I have your 10 Day Supreme Cleanse to start next week give me some advice on what course to take alternatively.

    A:

    How long have you been experiencing the headaches? You've taken some powerful cleanses thus far. Regardless of what cleanse, start drinking Headache Tea daily. I make it, and add maple syrup, lemon juice, and chill it. This helps for my headaches which are sporadic.

    Product Links:

    Headaches Tea

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    Q: I have lupus of the brain stem and-headaches dizziness etc. What are the day to day herbs I should be sure to have in my diet?

    A:

    We first recommend you perform the Anti-Viral Kit to help rid your body off harmful pathogens that are affecting your body.

    After detoxing, We recommend Electric Greens, Vitamin C, Blood & Lymphatic formula to continue on your path toward healing.

     

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    Q: What would you use for ringworm? My daughter gets these migraine headaches what can I use? PEACE!

    A:

    The best thing to do would be to perform the Full Body Cleanse. The Full Body Cleanse can detoxify, purify, rejuvenate, and strengthen the body and all of its eliminative channels.

    For individual formulas for ringworm, we recommend our Oxy-Oil and Parasites and Worms Formula.

    For individual formulas for headaches, we recommend our Headache and Pain Formula, and our Nerves Formula.

     

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    Q: I suffer from high blood pressure, migraine headaches, indigestion, allergies (throat irritating dry coughs), Menopausal maladies, hair loss and high cholesterol and I am overweight. I am 56 yrs old. I am currently on a Full Body Detox. I need to know what is the next best program after the detox for me?

    A:

    I WOULD SAY PERFORM THE DHERBS 10-DAY SUPREME COLON CLEANSE FOLLOWED BY THE TOTAL WOMAN CLEANSE . YOU CAN PERFORM THESE BACK-TO-BACK.

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    Q: Is there anything I can do to prevent my migraine headaches?

    A:

    1. Read the article â€HEADACHES†on our site! 2. Detox your body: FULL BODY DETOX 3. After cleansing, take daily: HEADACHE AND PAIN FORMULA, MSM SULFUR, MAGNESIUM PHOSPHATE

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    Q: Good Morning, I heard about you on the Power XM radio Al Sharpton show. I'm 32yrs old I weigh 285lbs and my goal is to loose 125lbs (being realistic). My symptoms and habits are; Bowel movement once a week, headaches, lower backaches, acne, dry skin, eczema, achey joints, asthma and tired all the time! Because of my work schedule and being a single parent I do fast food 2 times a day almost everyday. My oldest daughter is 102lbs 8yrs old - bowel movements maybe twice a week and the youngest 5 yr old has headaches. HELP !!!!!!

    A:

    I strongly suggest you perform the FULL BODY DETOX, followed by the WEIGHT RELEASE CLEANSE AND REGIMEN, followed by the 10-DAY SUPREME COLON CLEANSE. Work on your diet! Eat more raw foods! Start your daughter off with the CHILDREN DETOX (liquid extracts) . Spend some time reading through our articles, Sir! Educate yourself!

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    Q: I was most impressed by your website. The information to support your products and your obvious interest in informing the public caught and kept my attention. As I searched further into Black Seed Tea, the reason for my visit, I noticed your product ALCOHOL BUSTER. The comment of "on the metaphysical level, alcohol consumption also impairs the human aura" although very non clinical, is very much my way of thinking, it got my attention. I read as far as the disclaimer, "the formula does not have the power to prevent consumption of alcohol as only will power and a made up mind can do this." Here's where I step out of character and find myself writing this e-mail. It has been my experience while working with people from all walks of life, who are members of any 12 step program, that a reference to will power as a prevention of anything is a two edged sword. While I agree will power is important in abstention, I believe the person is benefited by using their personal will power to seek help, to commit to recovery, to take care of the physical, mental and emotional bodies. I don't believe "human" will power is the power that prevents consumption. The suggestion that "will power and a made up mind can prevent consumption of alcohol" to a person with an addiction could become a deadly idea. This of course is my opinion, do with it what you feel is appropriate.

    A:

    I feel you in where you're coming from, but I truly believe and know human willpower plays a role in prevention and healing of all disease. The strongest thing humans have is a will. Will meshes with desire in many cases. Both are strong in humans. Now, you're dealing with a person with addiction in regards to your last statement and I can totally understand where you are coming from but the sick person is not exempt from any laws of healing. There is no real or true healing absent willpower to do a thing, a beneficial thing. The addicted person must be first dealt with on the physical and psychological levels and then the spiritual and energetic (getting to the root of the addiction: perhaps a 2nd chakra problem or something hanging over from a past life). All addiction points to spiritual void and therefore the only ultimate healing here is mental or spiritual via mental. As you know, it's mind-body-spirit and all must be dealt with for healing. Will is important in abstention but we don't won't people to focus on abstaining which is usually converted into "can't have" by the addicted person. We want people to only focus on the good, the healthy, what they need and require, not what they don't want or can't have because their subconscious mind will create the situations and circumstances by which these people end up consuming the thing that is insalubrious for them. It never fails. I grew up with an alcoholic mother and plenty of other alcoholics. We want people to have and use willpower to GO FOR the best things for them, will in DOING the right and healthy things for themselves. All healing is ultimately within self. As a man thicket so is he! Peace be unto you fellow metaphysician!

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    Q: I commonly get sinuses headaches as a result of congestion. I have a sinus drip which is the root cause of this and as a result I am suppose to take sinus medicines daily. I recently did the 10 day express cleanse during which time I did not have the issue with congestion. Which individual product can be used to resolve my congestion issues?

    A:

    The formula's in the 10 Day Cleanse didn't specifically help with your congestion issue, but more so the adjusted diet did. Eliminating certain foods from your diet and eating foods that provide benefits helped decrease the amount of mucus and inflammation in your body. It would be best for you to do the Respiratory Cleanse and Regimen as this specifically helps recondition the lungs and helping with sinus issues.

    Please read our article entitled Respiratory Health. http://www.dherbs.com/articles/respiratory-health-67.html

    Product Links:

    Respiratory Cleanse and Regimen -http://www.dherbs.com/store/respiratory-cleanse-and-regimen-p-204.html

    Lungs & Respiratory Formula -http://www.dherbs.com/store/lungs-respiratory-formula-p-45.html

    Sinus Formula -http://www.dherbs.com/store/sinus-formula-p-60.html

    Mucus Formula -http://www.dherbs.com/store/mucus-Formula-formula-p-50.html

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    Q: I would like to order the cleanse for women... my husband is doing the full body cleanse now... what do you recommend for me... ? I really need to work on my diet am vegetarian however, I feel like I truly face some of the same issues you faced during your conversion.. perhaps I need to consider going back to strictly vegan vegetables! I use to be very healthy but now I take meds for stomach pains.. etc... but I have implemented flaxseed oil into my diet .. .what is your view on flaxseed..? I found this article to very interesting that you wrote.. I have headaches from time to time also.

    A:

    We would recommend you perform the Full Body Cleanse to help remedy the sypmtoms you are experiencing. A raw foods diet is recommended while on the cleanse, so you are on the right track. Flaxseed Oil is a great product to have in your diet, as it provides healthy fats.

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    Q: Hello, I have recently become more sensitive to my body and I am trying to make better health choices. Thanks to your newsletter I've now stopped drinking coffee and switched to Yerba Matte. I have to say I do enjoy it very much. Only now am I going thru the withdrawals of caffeine. I first wanted to say thank you for that. My question is what herbs can I take that will help my memory both short term and long terms. My inability to recall something that happened, something I said, or even what I ate is becoming very frustrating. Also I am experiencing beginning symptoms of a kidney infection. Is the something I can take to help cleanse my body or help eliminate toxins that cause kidney infections? Please help with your suggestions. Thanks

    A:

    To improve memory I would suggest BRAIN TUNER Formula and BRAIN TUNER TEA consumed daily. For your kidney situation, consider performing the Full Body Detox Cleanse! Glad to hear of your like of herbal tea over coffee. Glad the newsletter is serving beneficial to you.

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    Q: What remedy is good for cervical headaches?

    A:

    Please read our "HEADACHES" article in our "Articles" section on our site! We offer solutions near the end of the article!

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    Q: I am writing you to see if you have any information and remedies for hemorrhoids. I am a Black African male in my 40's. I have changed my diet for the last 3 yrs., no meat, fish, cheese, milk, no dairy, no alcohol, no bread, greatly decreased sugar and salt. I exercise 45 minutes a day, 5 days a week, drink at least 6 glasses of water a day and take lots of vitamin c and a multivitamin but I still have not been able to get rid of the hemorrhoids. Also the hemorrhoids only come out when I have a bowel movement. I have bowel movements twice a day. Also, I have been taking horse chestnut tincture. Is there anything that you know of that might help me to get rid of them. Your help in this matter would be greatly appreciated. Truthfully, thank you very much.

    A:

    Try our 10-Day Supreme Colon Cleanser. After the cleanse, take 3 capsules of Hemorrhoid Buster 2-3 times daily. Drink 1 cup of Aloe Vera juice daily.

    Have your read our article of "Hemorrhoids" on our site?

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    Q: Every month for at least 2 weeks out of the month I'm bothered with bad headaches, their to the point where I can't function. The doctor tells me its menstrual related, can you please recommend something natural for me, I'm tired of taking pills that aren't working anymore. thanks so much

    A:

    First perform the FULL BODY DETOX and after this cleanse, take daily 3 capsules of HEADACHE AND PAIN FORMULA, MOON CYCLE FORMULA, and NERVES FORMULA. Read our free articles too, especially about female health issues (i.e. "MYTH OF MENSTRUATION").

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    Q: I am a beginner Holistic practitioner. My son who just turned 24 is addicted to pain medication. He started with Vicodin when he was 17 now he is taking OxyContn and Methadone. He said he is ready to get off now, because he sees how it is destroying his life. I know getting off of this type of medication is very hard on the person who will be Detoxing. I really don't want to put him in a in-house detox center, nor do we have the finances to do so. So, I want to have him come stay with me for however long it takes to get him detox. But I want to give him what he needs to lessen the healing crises, the headaches, the other pain that is associated with this type of withdraw. I am not quite sure what to do or where to start or if it is something I should do. I feel that I can help him. But I want to be sure of this. I am thinking this is something that might require a medical physician. Please let me know if it something that can be done at home. And if so, what herbs, supplements and whole foods I should have handy to assist him on his detox process. You expertise is greatly appreciated. Thank you.

    A:

    He needs the FULL BODY DETOX and should drink plenty of Licorice Root tea. He can detox at home. Let him bathe in 26-78 ounces of sea salt daily. Let him drink vegetable juice daily as well. Please schedule a health consultation so you can obtain more natural remedies for your son. $100 (for a consultation) is a lot cheaper than a detox center. Please consider!

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    Q: My sister is five months pregnant and she is having server sinus problems so bad that it's causing her to have migraine headaches and she has been the emergency room four times and they just keep prescribing her Percocet for the pain and that's not working at all. Please help me, is there any herb that she can take while pregnant for this sinus problem.

    A:

    She's pretty toxic and a pregnant woman should not be taking harmful drugs because the baby can be born with jaundice or hepatitis. Herbally she can try our SINUS FORMULA, HEADACHE AND PAIN FORMULA, and MUCUS BUSTER FORMULA. She should steam her face so her nostrils can benefit from the steam. She should also look into having ear coning performed. Have her drink vegetable juice! She needs to eat as healthy as possible!

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    Q: I was an addict for 2 years of alcohol I have resently stop drinking cleaned up my diet read a lot of books and completed your 20 day herbal cleanse. My question is the whites of my eyes has turned a yellowish brown color is there a cure for this or will they stay like this for the rest of my life due to my heavy drinking? Thanks in advance hope to hear from you. Corlette

    A:

    Yellow color eyes commonly denotes an issue within the liver. It would be best to specifically detox the liver to help continue it's healing from the years of drinking alcohol. We suggest doing the 10 Day Liver Cleanse to help clear up the eye issue. You can also try using the Detox Stick to further help pull toxins from the liver.

    Product Links:

    10 Day Liver Cleanse - http://www.dherbs.com/store/10-day-supreme-liver-cleanse-p-475.html

    Liver and Gallbladder Formula - http://www.dherbs.com/store/liver-and-gallbladder-formula-p-44.html

    Vitamin C Formula - http://www.dherbs.com/store/vitamin-c-formula-p-67.html

    Detox Stick - http://dherbs.com/store/detox-stick-p-696.html