Tension Headaches vs. Migraine Headaches

Hey, Dr. Axe here. Doctor of natural medicine
and founder of draxe.com. Today, I’ll be talking about tension versus migraine headaches and
other headaches. Also, how to get rid of these common headaches. If you’re a person or know
somebody who struggles with tension headaches and migraine headaches, I’ll be going over
the natural treatments, remedies, essential oils, and supplements to get rid of those
today. So let’s start off and talk about the differences here in terms of where you’ll
feel the headache.  Now, if you have a tension headache, you’ll
tend to feel it in two areas. One, the front part of your head as well as the base of your
neck where your neck meets your skull. Sort of that lower neck area, shoulder area, as
well as the front of your head. That’s a tension headache. A cluster headache is when you start
to feel like sort of right over one region of your eye. A sinus headache is when you
get a lot of pressure right in the sinus region. It sort of starts going up into your forehead. 
Then we have migraine headaches. Now, migraine headaches will often affect one side of the
body, an entire side, and those are the most debilitating by far of all headaches. And
then mixed headaches can also often times be a combination of both migraine and tension
headaches together and that tension headache can often then trigger that migraine headache.
So, let’s first talk about tension headaches. Now, tension headaches tend to be a dull aching
pain around the forehead. Sometimes they almost wrap like a band around your head. Now, it’s
pressure and tightness across the forehead, muscle aches and pains at sort of the base
of your neck and head. And sometimes if they’ll get bad enough, really, you just get sensitive
to loud noises. You just get really annoyed very easy with things because you’re experiencing
so much pain in tension. And also, there can be tenderness when you’re touching those areas
right around your scalp line. And here are some ways to naturally manage a tension headache. 
Number one, you got to manage stress properly. You know, emotional stress will trigger muscle
tension and it all goes back to this fight-or-flight response. Now, imagine a lion or bear were
chasing you, your muscles are going into activity mode. Energy leaves your core, your digestive
tract, your liver, your organs, and goes to your extremities, your blood-flow. But what
happens if that happens over time over and over again, there’s this tension that builds
up in your neck and shoulder region increasing your risk of a tension headache. 
Number two, improve your diet. This is key to get rid of tension headaches. Really you
want to follow a diet that’s anti-inflammatory. Something that really causes relaxation. You
want to make sure you’re getting plenty of foods that are high in magnesium. Now, magnesium
foods can include things like a spinach, okay? So, spinach and green leafy vegetables are
very high in magnesium. Certain types of nuts and seeds like flax seeds and almonds. Specifically,
almonds can be higher in magnesium as well. Grass-fed beef. But you want to be doing a
lot of foods that are anti-inflammatory and a diet that’s really rich in magnesium. Another
favorite magnesium rich food of mine is avocados. But get more magnesium.
Number three. You know, probably the most common and effective natural treatment for
tension headaches is chiropractic care. You know, chiropractors, especially chiropractors
that focus on the upper cervical spine in the neck region, can do specific types of
adjustments to remove tension and pressure off of the head and neck. In fact, many people
have claimed that after going to see a chiropractor, their headache was gone immediately and there
are actual medical studies showing that chiropractic adjustments are more effective than taking
medications at getting rid of headaches without the side effects. Now, chiropractic adjustments
work in several ways.  One, they increase motion and relieve tension.
Number two, they can increase your parasympathetic nerve system especially when you’re adjusted
at the Atlas bone at the very top of your neck. There’s a nerve called your vagus nerve
that runs from that C1 area, out to your organs, increases your parasympathetic nerve system,
decreases that sympathetic nerve system, that fight-or-flight response, balancing cortisol,
reducing stress on the body. So, chiropractic care actually has a multiplication effect
or multiple ways it can reduce tension headaches.  Also, chiropractors also recommend rehab exercises
to improve posture which can also, in fact, reduce tension and migraine headaches. You
know, if you’re sitting at a desk all day and you’re like this, your head forward, your
arms out. Poor posture can cause tension headaches. You want to get that head back over your body.
So, you really want to be conscious of good posture to relieve tension headaches as well.
Another thing chiropractic care can help with. Number four here is exercise. Again, exercise
increases blood flow, blood flow tends to reduce muscle tension. And some exercises
are better than others. Swimming is great. Going out for a light jog or run but just
doing anything to really increase that blood flow is great. Hot yoga, Pilates, barre, all
great forms of exercise for reducing tension headaches. 
Number five is acupuncture. You know, acupuncture and using needles can actually release and
relieve muscle tension and also increase circulation in an area especially relieving stress around
that neck and head region. And last but not least, massage therapy. You’ve got tense muscles?
Massage therapy can help really relax those muscles especially at the base of the neck
and head there as well. And there’s another treatment I’ll mention too that often times
chiropractors will do, sometimes osteopath or therapists. It’s called craniosacral therapy.
That’s another thing that can be actually effective for treating tension headaches.
Now let’s talk about migraine headaches. Of all headaches, migraine headaches are the
most debilitating of all of them. In fact, when somebody has a migraine headache, it
can often cause them to really put them to a point where they can almost do nothing.
The pain is so severe. So severe pounding on the head especially one side of the head.
It can actually cause nausea and vomiting from getting a migraine headache. Sensitivity
to sound and light, irritability, blurred vision, shakiness, numbness on one side, increased
thirst. And really inability to concentrate or even speak or hold a conversation can happen
with severe migraine headaches.  And migraine headaches are a warning sign
that something is going on deeper in the body. That’s your body saying, “Hey, something is
not right here.” Here is some natural ways to combat a migraine headache. 
Now, number one I’m saying by far is changing your diet. There are specific foods that will
absolutely trigger a migraine headache. Gluten is a big one. You know, if you are consuming
gluten, sometimes migraine headaches can be connected to a condition called leaky gut
syndrome. Now, your intestines act like a net and if you get a lot of inflammation in
your gut, you can get holes in your gut . . . we all have holes in our lining but you can have
these doors open up or these . . . imagine a net gets a tear in it. So certain things
start getting through the net getting into your bloodstream. They can recirculate and
then affect the brain. Gluten, sugar, processed food additives, toxins can actually cause
these brain issues triggering a migraine headache. So, eliminate gluten. Conventional dairy products,
sugar, and any type of inflammatory food from your diet.
And you may also consider getting an IgG food test, antibody test to see if there’s a food
you’re intolerant to or sensitive to. But a diet high in vegetables, fruits, and wild
meats and even something like a sprouted rice, those are the safest foods to eat on a regular
basis to combat or completely prevent migraine headaches completely. 
Number two, you need to get enough sleep. You know, sleep is so important for reducing
inflammation, for healing of the brain in the body. You want to make sure you’re getting
eight plus hours of quality sleep a night. Number three, managing stress. We know stress
can trigger all sorts of things. And listen, all of these things can also trigger that
leaky gut syndrome I was talking about. They could be at the root cause of migraine headaches
including diet, not enough sleep, managing stress. All of these can increase cortisol
which, in fact, increases that leaky gut syndrome.  Number four here, keep a migraine journal.
This is one of the biggest things you can do. When you get a migraine headache, go back
and look at what you did the day before, everything you ate, how much stress you were under, and
what were you doing. Figure out what that . . . because for many people, there are a
couple triggers that will cause that headache. Again, whether it’s gluten or sugar or whatever
it is that will trigger that migraine headache. Number five, limit screen time or light exposure.
Now, if you’re at your computer all the time, those blue lights. Remember, it’s all about
your sympathetic nerve system. We have this balance in our body. Your sympathetic nerve
system is lifting weights, it’s running, it’s, “Hey, a bear is chasing you,” you’re fighting
or flying. A lot of us live in that state. Your parasympathetic nerve system, your blood
flow is external to internal, your energy to where your body is digesting food. 
So, think about this, when you’re out running a 5K or a triathlon, you can’t digest a burger,
right? It kind of, like, you just can’t digest it properly because all your energy is on
the outside. When you are in a parasympathetic state, your body is then breaking down. It’s
digesting, it’s secreting certain hormones, certain digestive enzymes. Blue light exposure
from your cell phone, your computer, and a TV screen, it puts you in a sympathetic state.
To get in a parasympathetic state, you need to go on walks in nature. You know, getting
outside more, doing. . .reading a good novel. Those things put you in a state that’s in
a state of relaxation. You need to get in that parasympathetic state. 
One great way to dampen the effects of blue light is to get blue blockers sunglasses that
have red or orange lenses or yellow lenses. And you can actually find those blue block
light sunglasses. That’s something I wear every night starting at 8:00 p.m. I actually
wear those blue blocker sunglasses if I’m on my phone, computer, or watching TV to dampen
the effects of . . . because it actually also affects your melatonin levels, your sleep
hormone. There’s well that kind of fluctuates with cortisol. I know I’m getting off in the
weeds here but here’s the point, too much blue light can trigger a migraine headache.
Number six, use essential oils. You know, essential oils such as lavender, roman chamomile,
Ylang-ylang, even peppermint. These oils relax the body. Peppermint has more of a numbing
effect because of the compound found in it called menthol whereas lavender and chamomile
and Ylang-ylang are more relaxing, but using essential oils you can diffuse them, you can
rub them on your body.  One of the biggest things I recommend for
people to get migraine headaches or tension headaches is make a bath, take one cup of
Epsom salts, 20 drops of an essential oil like lavender, and soak in the tub for 20
minutes every evening. And that has great benefits for completely relaxing the body,
preparing you for sleep, and can be great for fighting any type of headache. So essential
oils and Epsom salts have magnesium known as the relaxation mineral that can go in the
bath there as well.  So here’s what you need to know about getting
rid of tension headaches. You got to manage your stress properly. Take that healing bath
I just mentioned with Epsom salts and lavender, go for a walk outside, schedule things in
your week [inaudible 00:11:45]. You know, here’s the thing, you can’t just say, “I’m
going to manage stress.” Okay? You’ve got to plug it into your schedule. Take time right
now, write down all the things that are causing you stress then write down all the things
that relieve stress or just that you love to do. Get rid of those things that cause
you stress, start adding in those things that you love to do. That’ll make a big difference. 
Improve your diet. Remember, gluten free anti-inflammatory foods, get chiropractic
care. The benefits of chiropractic for headaches specifically is tremendous. Exercise, acupuncture,
massage therapy. And when it comes to migraine headaches as I mentioned earlier, the other
things can help. In fact, chiropractic care can be great for migraines but changing your
diet, again, gluten, sugar, hydrogenated oils, conventional dairy products, these can all
trigger that leaky gut syndrome which is the root cause of migraine headaches. Improve
your diet, get quality sleep, manage stress, keep a migraine journal. This is big. 
Figure out what that trigger is. Limit light exposure or get those blue blocking sunglasses,
use essential oils. And sometimes I say in terms of diet you can do an IgG, what’s called
a food sensitivity or a food intolerance test to see maybe you got your own form of Kryptonite
that’s actually causing you allergies. You know, some people are allergic to eggs and
they don’t realize it. Some people are allergic to certain nuts and seeds. You may not know
the food but that’s why you got to keep a journal. And if you can’t figure out with
a journal, then get some of that testing done to see what that sensitivity is.
And, hey, if you’ve enjoyed this live training video, make sure to subscribe here to the
page. I’ve got a lot more content and videos coming out on essential oils, herbal remedies,
and natural treatments. And, hey, if you want to learn more of my in-depth treatments for
migraines and tension headaches, just look up online. Just Google search “Dr. Axe migraine
headaches.” I’ve actually got a lot more supplements and essential oils recommended on that page
there as well if you do a Google search for “Dr. Axe migraines” or “Dr. Axe headaches”
there online. I want to say thanks for watching. I know this information is going to help you
overcome your headaches. Hi, Dr. Axe here. I want to say thanks so
much for checking out this YouTube video and also don’t forget to subscribe if you want
to get more great content on things like herbs, essential oils, natural remedies, and how
to use food as medicine. Also, check out more of our content on my YouTube channel. Thanks
for watching.


  1. Reflexology💕 non synthetic magnesium, no gluten and all organic has helped so much. Had to give up chocolate 😂😂

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