Headaches can be caused by many factors, including genetics and dietary triggers. In women, fluctuating hormone levels are a major contributing factor in chronic headaches and menstrual migraines. Hormone levels change during the menstrual cycle, pregnancy and menopause, and they are also affected by oral contraceptives and hormone replacement therapies.
Causes of hormonal headaches
Headaches, especially migraine headaches, have been linked to the female hormone estrogen. Estrogen controls chemicals in the brain that affect the sensation of pain. A drop in estrogen levels can trigger a headache. Hormone levels change for a variety of reasons, especially during a menstrual cycle, pregnancy, perimenopause and menopause.
Hormonal headaches and migraines also occur when taking oral contraceptives or when undergoing hormone replacement therapy.
Symptoms of hormonal headaches
The main characteristic of a hormonal headache is, of course, a headache or migraine, but many women experience other symptoms that can help doctors diagnose them with a hormonal headache.
Menstrual or hormonal migraines are similar to a regular migraine and may or may not be preceded by an aura. Migraines start with a throbbing pain on one side of the head, and it may also involve sensitivity to light and nausea or vomiting.
Natural remedies for hormonal headaches and migraines
While there are a variety of medications and other treatments used to relieve headaches, these can come with unwanted side effects. Instead of opting for medications, try these natural remedies instead to treat your hormonal headaches and migraines:
Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)
Many people see a reduction in the number of migraines they have when intaking a dose of 400mg of vitamin B2, or riboflavin. Riboflavin is more of a preventative therapy and has to be taken consistently for at least one month for one to see any effects, with three months being the ideal minimum amount of time to evaluate the therapy.
We know it seems obvious, but really: if you’re dehydrated and prone to headaches, then odds are a headache is brewing. Dehydration is a common cause of headaches. Aim to drink about three liters of water, herbal tea, bone broth and mineral water daily. Humble H2O is one of the best home remedies for headaches.
This beautiful golden root works on some of the major inflammatory pathways in the body to bring down pain and inflammation. It is excellent as a beverage and can be taken in capsule form at a dose of 1,000—2,500 mg daily.
Turmeric contains curcumin, a powerful compound that has many potential health benefits. One benefit is its potent anti-inflammatory properties. In fact, studies have shown that turmeric may be as effective as NSAIDs for reducing pain.
Fish oil is rich in omega-3 fatty acids that help lower inflammation and can help bring hormones back into balance. Aim to eat two or three servings of fatty fish or supplement 1,000—2,000 mg daily.
Stretching, movement and exercise can go a long way in keeping pain at bay. Consider working with an exercise physiologist, functional trainer, physical therapist or another movement expert as part of your pain prevention regimen.
This little root can be a good alternative to NSAIDs, as it’s been shown to be as effective as NSAIDs at reducing pain. In general, a dose of 1,000 mg twice daily works well for most people looking for natural headache relief. Ginger is also lovely as a tea and can be combined with turmeric for double the herbal anti-inflammatory power.
Body work can not be underestimated for ladies who suffer from hormonal headaches! As one of the most natural ways to get rid of a headache, a massage will not only soothe your stress, but it will also allow your nervous system to take some much-needed R&R while your muscles get a good release.
Eat liver-loving foods
The liver has a big role to play during your pregnancy, which includes supporting hormone breakdown and metabolism. A diet rich in high-quality proteins, leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables and root vegetables like burdock, carrots, and beets supports a healthy functioning liver.
Apply a cold compress
Applying a cold compress to the back of your neck or over the areas you’re experiencing the headache can help reduce inflammation, constrict blood vessels and slow your nerves from firing pain signals.
Cold compresses are excellent for many types of headaches, including migraines, and can provide instant migraine relief at home.
You can put together a homemade cold compress by making an ice pack, soaking a washcloth in ice water or throwing a bag of frozen vegetables over the affected area. Be sure to use a towel between your skin and the cold pack and avoid applying for more than 20 minutes at a time.
This mineral has been shown to prevent headaches. Among the best remedies for headaches, it acts as a muscle relaxant and is also anti-inflammatory. Most women often need more magnesium than their diet can provide, but diet is still the best starting place.
According to Dr. Jolene Brighten, a functional medicine naturopathic physician and founder and CEO of Rubus Health, “Typical dose of magnesium is 300 mg daily and in my women’s health practice, we increase to 600 mg a day during the times that my patients are most prone to headaches.”
This may seem counterintuitive if you’re struggling with hormone imbalance symptoms, but if consumed in moderate amounts, drinking coffee or caffeinated tea can help in providing hormonal migraine relief. Caffeine can constrict blood vessels and increase your mood. It also can enhance the effect of Ibuprofen and acetaminophen if you do need it.
Got a question, or anything I can help with? My name is Steve Stretton, and I’m the owner and manager at Gelpacks.com. You can drop me a line here. Good luck!