Natural Treatments for Cluster Headaches

Dietary Changes, Water, Massage
Posted by Rachel (Bloomington, In) on 10/24/2016
4 out of 5 stars

I have never written suggestions on a website online before, but I feel excited to share what I have learned in the hope that it might help others. All I can give is my own anecdotal experience. I recognize that some of these remedies may not have the same effect on you that they have had on me, but it's worth a try! Here are my favorite remedies for cluster headaches beginning with the most effective on down.

1. Avoid gluten, sugar, and dairy. I've taken an allergy test and I'm not allergic to these things. However, I have noticed that if I eliminate these foods when I feel the first hint of a cluster headache come along in October or May (the times of year I am prone to beginning a headache cycle), the headaches never materialize. I can feel them softly knocking in the background but they never come on strong unless I falter in my diet. If after several days of a good diet, I have a bagel with cream cheese or something similar, a headache will likely hit soon after. After the cycle passes completely, I eat things with gluten, sugar, and dairy again.

2. Drink as much water as possible. I read a suggestion online to drink a cup of water every half hour when you have cluster headaches. It's inconvenient, but it can hold the headaches at bay for me for days.

3. Massage your head and cranium. I recently met with a craniosacral therapist who brought to my attention that I have serious tension in my face and head. I think much of this comes from grinding my teeth at night, and this tension seems to trigger my cluster headaches. Every day, especially when a cycle begins, I take as much down time as I can (while I'm watching a movie, waiting at a stoplight, etc.) to massage my face and skull. I've found many knots I had no idea were possible, like just above my ears, in the joint of my jaw, my temples, above my temples, etc. Look especially for pressure points, but it works just to carefully explore the head for places of tension and pain and rub them in a motion perpendicular to the knot.

4. Take 1/2 tsp cayenne at the onset of a headache, and once every hour if the headache starts coming back. Often works for me.

5. Music/meditation. If I'm home as soon as I feel a headache coming on, I can stop what I'm doing immediately, turn on Jeffrey Thompson's Delta sleep music on YouTube (he has music especially formulated to relax the brain), rub my head a little, and then lie down relaxed without moving. I listen to the music and consciously relax each muscle in my head as much as possible, gently dismissing any thoughts that come to my mind. Then I enter into a state of meditation, that if I do it long enough even feels like a mildly hypnotic state. I know that melatonin is effective for the headaches and that this practice has a similar effect, almost like putting the brain to sleep while you are awake. If I fall asleep in this way at night, I am less likely to be woken up later by a headache because I was so relaxed when I went to sleep. If I do wake up in the night, I take a little melatonin and turn the music back on to relax my brain again.