The next time you feel like your brain has been beaned by Oddjob’s bowler, you might want to dispense with traditional self help techniques. According to a report in the journal Cephalalgia, some home-grown modalities are a waste of time in the effort to heal the hurt.
Researchers at the University of Padua, Italy, analyzed data on 258 patients who used a total of 382 self administered methods of pain relief. The most popular were compression (used by 30 percent) the application of cold (27 percent), massage (25 percent), and the application of heat (8 percent). Those with migraines tended to utilize compression with or without cold, while tension type sufferers preferred massage. Patients with cluster headaches were more likely to use all the methods, along with more curious remedies such as smoking cigarettes, closing one nostril, self-induced vomiting, covering part of the head with a pillow, and belching.
Unfortunately, the techniques proved mostly ineffective. Only 8 percent of the patients reported “good” or “excellent” pain relief; even then, the efficacy ceased as soon as the treatment did.
Numerous pharmaceutical treatments are used for headaches, including aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen non-steroidal anti-inflammatories and prescription-only options.
Drug-free options are also available. The National Institutes of Health has classified acupuncture as “very effective in treating headaches,” and there is anecdotal support for peppermint or eucalyptus (applied to the forehead as a massage oil) as relief for tension headaches, feverfew for migraines and clusters, and ginger or riboflavin for migraines.
Pay attention to your water intake. Staying properly hydrated is one of the best ways to avoid or relieve a headache.