Eliminate Headaches with Ayurveda
Updated: Jan 19, 2021
Chronic or acute headaches can wreck havoc on your life. Treating the underlying cause is vital and Ayurveda has many tools to remove and heal that pounding.
EPISODE 91 TRANSCRIPT
This is Heather Johnson and you're listening to the Ayurveda Life School Podcast, episode number 91, Headaches and Ayurveda.
Hello, my friends. Welcome to the first episode of 2021.
I'm excited to start a new year. I'm sure many of you love this time of year, getting to have that feeling of renewal. I like how, when you go into the stores, everybody's selling organizational things and we're all getting our new calendars set up for the year. Much of yesterday, I spent planning quarterly getaways for my husband and I. We have found that is a really good way to help reset our relationship-to calendar in time, spent together away from the kids away from the chaos of life. So we were spending time doing that, figuring out what we wanted to do with the kids during spring break this year, if we wanted to take a family trip this summer. So it was a really fun time just Googling, exploring. And for me, that's very restful to plan activities and plan things and get them booked on the calendar.
COVID at the Johnson’s 1:14
And I think it also gives you something to live into. The last few weeks have been pretty dreary around our house. Some of you may already know, but we all managed to get COVID, which was all exciting! So five of the six of us, my oldest daughter already had COVID so she did not contract it again, which is fantastic. Thank you for strong immune systems, but the other five of us all got COVID and got to quarantine the second half of the holiday break, and it was a little bit of a struggle. We weren't feeling well physically, and then we have the emotional aspects that comes with just being quarantined and not being able to go out. And the kids had such mild symptoms. They were really frustrated that they couldn't go skiing or play with their friends or get out of the house, but we're kind of at the tail end of that.
COVID and Headaches 02:01
The kids get to go back to school in a couple of days. And so I'm grateful that we've come through it so well. And that at least as of this moment, we're not seeing any long-term side effects from having contracted COVID. It’s for sure not something that I recommend, but I am kind of glad that we all did it at once. So we don't have to be quite so worried and quarantining quite as often, like we'd been doing before. But part of getting COVID that I didn't really know would be an aspect of that was really bad headaches. I am not a fan of a headache. Whenever my head does hurt. It's hard to focus hard to do things, and it can be really debilitating.
And it made me think back to when my son was young and he would have chronic migraines and he would have these so often when he was little, we actually took him to some pediatric specialists to get them looked at, just to see if there were any patterns that we could determine with these headaches.And we weren't able to actually ever pinpoint what was wrong. I wish I'd had Ayurveda in my life back then, so they could have treated him from that perspective
Using Ayurveda for Headaches 2:50
As I've been experiencing headaches this last couple of weeks with COVID, I decided to brush up on my knowledge of using Ayurveda fir headaches. It's not something that I experienced real often, but I do have clients who get migraines. I wanted to share with you some information from an Ayurvedic standpoint about how to manage headaches, things that you can do if you get them chronically in order to keep them from reoccurring in such severity and how to identify which dosha is at cause.
Vata Dosha and the Majjavaha Srotas 03:35
The nervous system is typically controlled by the Vata dosha. So Vata is in charge of the Majjavaha srotas, which is the nervous system channel in the body. And the Majja Dhatu is the nervous tissue. So the actual axons and dendrites in the nerves, we call all of that Majja Dhatu and we also get some muscular involvement. Typically, when there's a headache, it can also involve the Mamsa Dhatu- the muscular tissue. So you actually have two different aspects that we're trying to treat. We're treating the nervous system. We also have to calm down any cramping or any spasms that might be happening within the actual muscular tissue. From an Ayurvedic standpoint, we call headaches a Shiro Roga. Shiro means head. Roga is pain. So anytime that you have a headache, you can say ‘I'm having a Shiro Roga”. They won't have any idea what you're talking about, but you'll be telling them you're having a headache in sanskrit.
Migraine Headache Symptoms 04:25
We define headaches from three different aspects. You can have migraine headaches, which are really throbbing. They're typically unilateral headaches. And they last anywhere from about four hours up to 72 hours. If you suffer from migraines, you can usually tell when one is coming on, you might have some headache along with some nausea. You might vomit. You can be really sensitive to light, sounds and smells, and you want to just kind of hide away in the dark space. And sometimes there is no prodrome. There's nothing leading up to it. It can seem to come out of nowhere, but you can also have times where you'll have your vision impaired. People will talk about how the vision starts to narrow, or they can just have this sensation that they're used to that comes right before they get this migraine. That's actually an important time for you to notice what's going on because it can be a time to treat it before it gets really bad.
Cluster Headache Symptoms 05:19
And the next type of headaches that we look at are cluster headaches. So these headaches will usually happen a couple times a day and can go on for a few weeks. They can wake you up from sleeping. So you can have a pretty severe attack of cluster headaches, and they can also be seasonal, which is interesting, right? And on some of these, you'll notice that the pain can begin around the eye area or in the temples. And you can start having tearing in the eyes. Your face can start to sweat. You might feel a stuffy nose or your eyes might start to get red. It's more common in men than women to have these types of cluster headaches. And they're often unilateral pain and can be short, like 15 minutes up to about three hours.
Stress and Tension Headaches 06:05
Now stress or tension headaches is what many of us get more commonly. So if you're not suffering from chronic headaches, you might be having a stress or a tension headache, which is more of the type of headache that I was experiencing as part of COVID that was so fun, but it's typically bilateral. So you'll feel it on both sides of the head, it's not really so much pulsing. It's just more mild to moderate headaches. So these ones aren't as severe and they can last anywhere from about 30 minutes to multiple days up to a week, you could be experiencing these tension headaches and the cause of those are typically from sleep disorders. If you're not sleeping enough, you can get headaches. If you're extremely tired, if you're having a lot of anxiety or stress, if you have a lot of tension in the neck and shoulder, people who sit at a desk tend to get these kind of tension headaches because they're raising the shoulders up oftentimes on the right hand, if they're right handed because they're using the mouse on that hand and they tend to pull that shoulder up. As a massage therapist, this is the type of headache that I tend to treat most often with manual therapy, because people have just elevated that shoulder so much.
Those muscles have all tensed. And that's where we see it is the mamsa dhatu-the muscle tissue as well as the nervous system tissue that is involved. So we actually need to treat both. If you just massage the muscle and you don't treat the nervous system, then they tend to recur. We want to work on both of those things as well.
Vata, PItta and Kapha Type Headaches 7:07
From an Ayurvedic perspective, we look at Vata, Pitta and kapha as different types of headaches, they cause different pain, different types of symptoms. So we talked about kind of from a Western standpoint, the migraine cluster headache or tension headache, or stress headache, but from an Ayurveda standpoint, if you're having a Vata type of headache, it's usually going to be a pretty severe throbbing or prickling type of pain, almost like a pins and needle pain. And it's pretty strong and intense.
Vata Type Headaches 07:54
And there's that perception of pain that is a little bit less of a threshold for Vata. They tend to get more sensitive when things are in pain, they have a lot of dizziness that comes with those headaches and they can have pulsations. It almost feels like the headache kind of pulses in and out. So that's for Vata.
Pitta Type Headaches
Now, if you're having a Pitta type of headache, it's more burning pain, you might feel tender inflammation in that area and might be sensitive to the touch. It can actually cause nosebleeds and redness in the eyes when you're having this Pitta type of headache. So the burning is what you're looking for because Pitta is fire. So if it's a burning type of pain it’s Pitta, and it can still be pretty intense, but it's not usually quite as painful as a Vata type or Kapha type headache.
Kapha Type Headaches 08:44
It's more of a heaviness in the head. It can be accompanied with congestion or runny nose can be happening, sinus type of headaches. So it's moving down into the sinuses. You can have itchiness in the ears, which I know sounds a little bit interesting and then your eyes might feel swollen as well. So you can see there's a difference in how they manifest. Kapha type tends to be more of a constant achy pain, as opposed to a sharp throbbing, intense pain like Vatas and then Pitta has the heat associated with it.
Where are you feeling the headaches? 9:15
So when you start to have your headache, I want you to first look at what type of pain am I experiencing and then look at where is it occurring? So is it in the frontal lobe? That would be like the forehead area of the brain, more in the sinuses that is going to be a Kapha type of headache.
That's where Kaphas tends to have their headaches.
If it's more the temporal lobe around the temples or the parietal lobes of the brain. If you were to wear a headband as a female, that place where a headband would go over the head, that's more that temporal or parietal lobe, and that's kind of your thinking area. And as we like to think, that's the thinking region, that's going to be more of a Pitta type. So Pitta type headaches, you'll feel it more there.
And then in the very back, like at the base of the neck or the back of the head, that's the occipital lobe and that is more of a Vata type of headache. So we can look at the qualities of the headache and then we can look at well, where is it manifesting? Where am I feeling it? Those are really good ways to start honing in on the cause of the dosha imbalance.
Healing and Preventing Vata Type Headaches 10:08
Let's talk first about Vata type of headaches and some things that we can do early and just with lifestyle to help to heal some of this. A Vata type headache is going to be more of that throbbing pulsating pain. It's going to be pretty intense pain. You might feel it more in the back of the head. It's more prickling like pins and needles, kind of feeling very much sensitive to light and noise. Sensitivity migraines tend to be more of a Vata type of headache. You also might feel some of that muscle tension, which can be part of Vata as well. And the majority of headaches do have many components. This is good information for everyone to hear. The first thing we want to do is to reverse what is causing this Vata type headache.
Causes of Vata Headaches 10:56
When we start to look at what increases Vata, it's pretty universal. As far as what increases Vata will increase headaches. It will also increase Vata digestion. So all of the Vata type symptoms can be increased if you're having a very erratic lifestyle, if you have a lot of movement happening physically or mentally. So if you're doing a lot, if you're doing too much, if you have too much sensory stimulus coming in, right, you're on the computer a lot during the day, you're reading a lot during the day, you have so much being absorbed through the eyes, particularly in the senses. And then you're listening to a lot. It starts to aggravate the nervous system. So all of that can be one of the causes of Vata type headaches. Dehydration is a big one as well. This is something we always look at with my son because he still gets these headaches and it tends to come when he is dehydrated.
Treatment of Vata Headaches 11:46
So you always want to look at that. We first want to reverse that, right? We want to bring in foods that are warm, that are moist, that are a little bit heavier, create more systematic routines, get yourself into order. So good time of year for that, creating some of that organization to your schedule and how you're going to move forward. So just pretty much anything that's going to balance Vata is going to be good for the headaches for Vata type. Then we need to restore normal downward movement. Anytime that we have a Vata type headache, we have an excess of Vata in the head, anywhere from the neck up. We want to think of bringing that energy down and it's not going to be done in the way you think. What we actually would go towards are laxatives. We want to create downward flow.
I've talked about that balance of energy and that we have Apana Vayu, which is a subdosha of Vata that moves energy down and out through the colon. And then we have Udana Vayu that moves everything up. So if we have too much energy moving up, it's going to cause things like belching or burping, vomiting and it can cause headaches. And so when we have these headaches, we know there is a blockage of energy moving down. We want to restore that downward movement energy. And we do this with laxatives. So we can do really gentle things- we can add in flax seeds. We can add in psyllium husk, we can use things like triphala, which is an excellent herb to help to move that downward energy through Apana Vayu. And we can also do bastis or enemas. I know that's not a really popular thing to do for some people.
It can be a little bit of an uncomfortable area to go into I'll do an entire episode on basti’s because it is a really important treatment that we use for all types of dosha imbalances, but just keep that in the back of your mind that doing an oil-based enema or a basti would be a really helpful way to get that energy moving down. We can make an herbal paste that you could place on the forehead and on the temples with cinnamon, garlic and ginger. So you just take equal portions of all three, mix those together with a little bit of water until you create a paste and then spread that across the forehead and the temples, then Shirodhara oil therapy. Shirodhara is an oil treatment. You can do a home version of it, but if you were able to go to a practitioner, they would create a medicated oil with Sesame oil base, and they would allow that warmed oil to run onto the forehead.
And just to cover that forehead, you would sit under that anywhere from 15 minutes to 45 minutes or so, and allow that to really calm the nervous system, especially directly there in the mind that can help a lot with headaches at home. You can take a cloth, just a cotton cloth and get it nice and warm with Sesame oil and just place that across the forehead, get into a darkened space and allow yourself to just absorb some of that oil.
Nasya OIl for Vata Headaches 14:30
Nasya is a really good thing. Anytime that you have a headache or pain within the head region, we want to calm it down. Using nasya affects the nervous system really directly. So we would take that nasya oil, and it's typically an oil with a sesame oil based with Brahmi, skullcap Gotu Kola or Valerian added in. These herbs are going to help to calm the nervous system.
And you can buy these pre-made. You don't need to mix these yourself. There's a lot of resources online. I really like Banyan botanicals. You guys know that's kind of my fav, so you can go there and get that. And this is a really good go-to while I was really not feeling great with COVID. I had the Nasya oil next to my bed and I wouldn't even open my eyes. I could just put that nozzle and let my head ride roll back and let that oil just absorb into the sinus cavity. So much relief came from that. It's amazing. You wouldn't think that would make a huge difference, but it does. So if you're chronically suffering from headaches or if you get migraines, nasya on a regular basis, even daily would be excellent.
Ear Treatment for Vata Headaches 15:40
And then eardrops because the nervous system is affected by sound and the way that things come in through the ears, the ears are actually an organ of Vata doing what we call Karna Purna is going to be really great.
And so you could just do this on your own. You can do two different ways, a little more intense way would be to lay your head on the side and then take warm Sesame oil and just place that inside the ear canal. And the oil is not able to go past the tympanic membrane. So you're okay. You don't have to worry about that. There's a seal that keeps things from going all the way in, but what you would do is lie there for about five minutes with warm oil and just kind of massage the outside areas of the ear, pull and tug on the ear lobe and the ear outer ear, so that you can allow that oil to just soak in there and then just turn your head to the side, let the oil run out and do the other side. That would be more of a long-term or a more intense therapy that you could do every couple of days.
If you want to just do something briefly, you could do four to five drops of sesame oil into the ear, and allow that to absorb in before turning the head to the other side, that's actually a super good therapy to do in the winter time daily. If you get ear aches or headaches frequently, or if you live somewhere that's really windy and cold. So that's a kind of a home remedy that families would do for their children in an Indian home.
Herbs for Vata Headaches 17:00
The next thing I wanted to cover are some main herbs that are really great for Vata type headaches. You might be used to reaching for ibuprofen or for Motrin. Something that you know is a little more Western, but we can start to shift that natural tendency to reach for Western medication. And instead start to pull in some herbs. So four main herbs would be ashwagandha, Jatamansi Hawthorn berries, and Feverfew. Those are all ones that are going to be very traditional for treating Vata types. So let's just briefly go into each of those herbs. And what you would do specifically to use those.
Ashwagandha for Vata Headaches 17:28
Now you'll see ashwagandha sometimes in a tincture form, but historically from a traditional Ayurvedic standpoint, we don't see a lot of benefit from that. So I would stay away from the tincture. A tincture is where they have soaked the herbs in an alcohol or a glycerin base. There just doesn't seem to be as many benefits with that in ashwagandha. So instead you'd want to do more of a ground powder for Ashwagandha. It's a really good anti-inflammatory and it's not something that's going to be an acute remedy. So if you are suffering from a really bad headache at this moment, you take Ashwagandha and you're like, “Nothing happened. I didn't see any benefit.” That’s because it's more of an adaptogenic herbs and it's going to help prevent these headaches from reoccurring.
So we would want to add this in to help relax the nervous system and promote stamina and strength over time. As opposed to in the moment we need something that's going to work really fast to take that pain away. So just a good caveat on that one, but Ashwagandha is really good for anxiety, which can lead to headaches, and good for insomnia and stress. It's going to really relax the nervous system specifically. It's used a lot for multiple sclerosis, which is a nervous system disorder as well. So some ways to take this, you can add it to ghee. You can add it into milk, like golden milk. You can add it into your food even. So I'll often add Ashwagandha into my tea or into smoothies. My husband puts it in his smoothies every day. It's very nourishing. It's not really a heavy tonic, but it's going to help you to handle stress better.
And oftentimes these headaches can stem from an emotional cause where you have excess stress that you're not handling. So Ashwagandha is a good thing to add in so that you're able to strengthen the nervous system over time.
Jatamansi for Vata Headaches 19:15
Now, Jatamansi comes from the root of the plant. This is more of an endangered herb right now. So you want to make sure you're buying it from a cultivated source as opposed to a wild source, because we want to really help support the environment. And we don't want to use up all the Jatamansi out there. But, Jatamansi is a beautiful herb that is balancing for all three doses. You'll see that as you look at different sources for herbs, it's going to be good for Vata, Pitta and Kapha, and it acts as a nervine sedative. So it calms down that upset or the spasmodic nature of the nervous system and helps with panic attacks with palpitations.
And it's really good for Pitta type conditions, but it does serve Vata as well. So just know that this is a really good universal one for headaches. You can get it as an essential oil. There's a company called Floracopeia that you can purchase that from and you can actually just put that on the feet and that will really help. So I like to use that one as an essential oil, but you can also buy it as an herb. That would be fine as well to do it that way.
Feverfew for Vata Headaches 20:15
Now feverfew is a very classic pain remedy. It's something that is used often for headaches. This is a great herb for long-term use for migraines. So if you're having migraines often, it's one that we would want to really pull in there. It will build up so that it helps with these chronic headaches.
Analgesics for Vata Headache Pain 20:31
And with all of this you're thinking, I just want something for acute pain. That's where we get into the analgesics and feverfew is a good analgesic, but you could also include Willow bark or Birch. Those are going to be really quick and helpful with acute pain right now. But we do look at feverfew if pain is the main issue. We want to bring it in. If headache pain is really what you're struggling with, then feverfew is going to be your go-to. So kind of reach for that. It works really well as an infusion. An infusion is where we take the herb and we let it sit in the water, or if we're putting it in milk and we just let the properties of that herbs soak into the water or the milk.
Making an Infusion of Herbs for Headache Pain 21:21
So the source or the carrier, what we're putting it in in order to get it into the body, is called the Anupana. So an example of this that you could do with feverfew would be to take one ounce of the dry herbs and then take one quart of hot water and let it steep or sit for at least an hour. So you want to strain out the herbs and then you want to have about three and a half cups when you're done, you'll drink one cup three times a day. So if this is something where you're like, I get migraines every week, this would be a really good remedy for you to do on a regular basis because it will help to prevent these from coming back. So that's a way you could use feverfew.
Pitta Headaches 22:05
Now let's jump to Pitta type headaches. Remember Pitta deals with burning. So if you're having burning pain, you know, you're dealing with Pitta and it will tend to be more along that temporal and the parietal lobes of the brain.
So just from ear to ear across the top of the head, think of that area, if that's where you're feeling, the pain you're dealing with is more of a pitta type pain, and for this, we need to draw the heat downward. We need to eliminate it, and we do it with purgatives. So it's similar to Vata where we use laxatives, but with Pitta, it's a little more forceful. We're really trying to get things out. Something we might use there would be like Senna or cascara Sagrada as a purgative that can make a little bit of spasming happen in the digestive tract. So it would be good to include ginger or fennel with your diet or take it with the Senna or the cascara Sagrada, just so that you're calming down that spasming but you're still eliminating that heat from the body.
Infections with Pitta Type Headaches 22:50
There can often be an infection involved when you get a Pitta kind of headache, like me having headaches with COVID. So then it might be useful to bring in some antimicrobial medications, right? Things like Goldenseal, Echinacea, or Neem. All of those are going to be really good.
But I also knew because I had COVID, which is a virus, I wanted to get antimicrobials into my body. So I was taking Goldenseal, Echinacea, and Neem very frequently- about every hour while I was at the heart of COVID to try and help, to really cleanse out my body from the virus that was in there.
Treatments for Pitta Type Headaches
And while I was dealing with my headache issues from COVID, I was doing nasya oil to help with the Vata dryness in the sinuses. You can also treat a sinus infection with nasya. And so that can be a helpful thing as well.
Shirodhara is still going to be really good. That's where we put the oil on the forehead. You could add in a little bit of cooling to that. If you have just a pitta headache, you could use coconut oil mixed with that Sesame oil, just to calm down the nervous system.
In that way, eye washes are going to be great because Pitta dominates in the eyes. You tend to get a lot of redness when you're having that type of Pitta headache. So we can do an eyewash using Rose water, which is good. You'd use a Rose hydrosol and that's a really good cleanser for the eye. It has a pravab for the eye. It's like a special property that helps with the eyes specifically. So we'd want to get the eyewash going. And at first that's kind of weir. When I first was doing eye washing. I really didn't like it. It made my eyes feel more itchy, and I was kind of nervous about opening my eyes underneath that water.
So if it's something that you're nervous about, just do a little bit of research. You'll be able to find some eyewash cups that are fitted to the eye- usually glass and they're oval shapes. So they fit in the eye socket and you would just fill half of it with a distilled water. And then the other half with that Rose water hydrosol and you want to make sure you get a kind that is good for the eyes. I'll put a link in the show notes of the brand that I use. And I think that will be helpful for you, but that's something that I do on a regular basis now for my eyes, but it's really helpful if you're having a pitta type headache as well.
The key herbs that we want to focus on here with Pitta are going to be Brahmi, Gotu Kola, chrysanthemum, and EyeBright and feverfew.
You can actually add in that chrysanthemum to the eyewash, the way you would do that is to actually make a chrysanthemum as a tea and strain really, really well. And then add that in place of the rosewater. So chrysanthemum is really helpful for the eyes. It has a natural affinity for healing within the eyes.
Brahmi for Pitta Type Headaches 25:30
Now, when we get into Brahmi and Gotu Kola, sometimes you'll see those used interchangeably, but they are actually two different herbs. So if you look at the Latin for them, the Latin for Brahmi is Bacopa Monnieri. And that is specifically Brahmi Okay. And it's a really good alternative. It's very good if you have a Pitta disorder in the mind or the nervous system. Brahmi is as a nervine sedative, it calms down the nervous system, but it's also strengthening it at the same time.
When you have a Pitta type headache, you have too much heat going on. So we’ve got to calm it down. This is a really good pacifying herb for Pitta specifically, but it's also going to be purifying. It takes away that heat in the mind, if you've had a long-term burnout, let's say you've been working at a job for a really long time. It's very intense. You're working a lot of hours. It occupies a lot of your mental space, even when you're not at work. And that could be something that creates this long term burnout, or if you've been under stress for a really long period of time. And for some people, a really long period of time could just be like three or four weeks. It doesn't have to be over years. So paying attention to how you are feeling.
This happens to me real easily, because I love to read and learn. And I can tell when my Sadhaka pitta gets a little out of control and I'm taking in too much information and I can't absorb it all. That's when I calm down a little bit, I'll add Brahmi into a sesame oil base and put it on the bottom of my feet at night. I'll add it into my tea. So I'm just bringing that heat down and calming it down.
So it's a really good tea to use before meditation too, if you're wanting to open up the channels of the mind. Even if you don't have a headache, if you just want to have more mental clarity, more perception, more ability to discern spiritual things, do Brahmi oil as a tea before you meditate. And that will really be helpful.
Gotu Kola for Pitta Headaches 27:25
Then we look at Gotu Kola, and again, always check when you see it listed, you want to look at the name because it's often going to be interchangeably used, but they have different properties between Brahmi and Gotu Kola. Gotu Kola’s Latin name is Centella Asiatica. And you'll often see that used where Brahmi could be used as well, because they do have the similar property of being a nervine sedative and tonic, but Brahmi is more specifically perfect for Pitta. Gotu Kola is also helpful, but it just doesn't have quite the strength that the Brahmi is going to have. And it doesn't do quite the same things, but it is very good for the blood for the liver and the skin, Great for nerve and tissue inflammation. When I was dealing with my back issues recently, I was drinking so much Gotu Kola tea it was ridiculous. I was working on decreasing that inflammation of nervous tissue. And from that experience, I can testify that it really did help. It decreased a lot of that tissue inflammation and nerve inflammation so that I could start to therapy my back and get it back into order.
Again, it works really well with the connective tissue, the actual ground matrix that forms the connective tissue. So Gotu Kola is an excellent herb to use when you're having a headache.
Chrysanthemum for Pitta Headaches 28:30
Chrysanthemum is a good herb you can use within the eyes as an eyewash. And it's because it takes the heat out. It's really great in the spring, which makes sense, because chrysanthemums tend to bloom in the spring. We like things better in this season that they're actually growing. So chrysanthemum is something that you could do as a tea, or you could use it medicinally within the eyes.
You can also make a pack from it so you could cook it and put it into a tea form and then take that liquid soak a natural cotton fiber in it, and then put it across the forehead. Nice and cool. And that will help to take some of that heat out as well. I love that some of these old things we think of like, Oh, let's put a little cold cloth on their forehead. It actually does help. And it's even more beneficial if you add in the medicinal aspects of it.
So those are some Pitta type things you can do and always be thinking if it's a Pitta type headache, I need to decrease heat and intensity. If it's a Vata type headache, I need to create a structured routine and cut off the senses. I need to use less of my senses. That's why you naturally like to withdraw into a dark room when you have a Vata type headache, because you are naturally trying to withdraw the senses.
Kapha Type Headaches 29:50
Now, when we get into Kapha type, of course, we want to reverse the cause. Kapha type headaches are usually congestive in nature. They're heavy in nature. There's something blocking the free movement of pranic energy in the mind and the brain. And so it's important that we try to open those passageways and this can be caused by a long-term, excessive use of really heavy dense foods. Maybe there's not a lot of mental activity going on, maybe there's stagnation in the body. You're not doing a lot of deep breathing.
So a lot of these things can contribute to these Kapha type headaches. And if you remember, the Kapha headaches are more of that heavy, dense aching, and it's kind of just there, but it's not sharp in the brain. It's typically in the frontal part. So you might feel that more in the forehead, if the forehead's achy, you can have that puffiness again in the eyes.
Treatments for Kapha Type Headaches 30:38
So some things we're going to do to help with a Kapha type headache is we’ve got to purify. We want to cleanse and get that congestion out of there. So in the sinuses, in particular, we're going to set our focus. We'll use nasya, right? We're trying to get that excess out. Now, if you are really, really congested, you want to pause on doing the nasya right away, because we need to get some of that movement first. So we might do neti instead, right? We might do a little bit in Neti with some decongestants in there, maybe a little bit of eucalyptus and basal, and then we'll try to open the passageways with things like Calamus, Bayberry, Trikatu. So those are some of the main herbs they're going to help with getting the energy, moving, getting that prana flowing again.
Herbal Pastes for Kapha Type Headaches 31:23
You know, when you have this type of headache, it’s similar to or is a sinus headache.
You just have all that pain and tightness and it feels like there's not any space. We’ve got to create more space with this Kapha type of headache. We can create an herbal paste out of this. You could include clove, garlic and cinnamon, and then make that a paste with water as your base. Use equal amounts of all three of those as a powder until you get a little bit of a paste and then you can place that on the sinuses or on the forehead. That can be really helpful.
Fasting for Kapha Type Headaches 31:45
Fasting is useful. We want to decrease the amount of congestion. And so often you can do this as a full fast, where you're having a complete water and food fast. You could do a water fast where you're just drinking water. You could do a water spice fast, where you have water and you're adding in trikatu spice.
And I wouldn't recommend that you do this for an extended period of time, but if you have natural Kapha dosha or you're aggravated with excess Kapha you could do a 24 hour fast just keeping your hydration up. And you really will see a decrease in this type of headache.
Vomiting Therapy for Kapha Type Headaches
You can consider doing vomiting therapy, or vamana. It's not really popular in the United States. So we're actually trying to induce vomiting. And we do that because Kapha resides in the stomach. When Kapha is in excess, it makes too much mucus, which then is stored in the stomach and then it's stored in the lungs. So it can contribute to that sinus congestion. If we can remove the excess Kapha from the root in the belly, we actually will see a lot of improvement in headaches. But again, this is not often a therapy we use so much in the U S but it is an option you could explore and look into.
Herbs for Kapha Type Headaches 32:56
So when we look at those herbs that we talked about, we want to include things like Calamus. So Calamus is really useful as an expectorant. It helps to stimulate the nervous system. It can increase vomiting. So if you are trying to do vomit therapy, if you have too much of it, it would do that. But it's a very warming drying herb. It's really good for scraping out mental ama (toxicity) and depression, which can sometimes accompany these types of headaches. So it improves the mental clarity. It encourages prana and vyana to be balanced. We think of it as coming from outside to in. So as we breathe in, we're breathing in pranic energy and then vyana vayu is what allows it to circulate.
Calamus and Gotu Kola
So right now, if you're having congestion heaviness with Kapha, you might not be having vyana vayu working. It's not being allowed to circulate, and everything's kind of stuck in one place. So it allows us to get that balance back together. Calamus works really well with Gotu Kola. So you could combine the two together and make an herb formula for that and do a tea with it, which would be really useful.
Now, Bayberry is also one that is very specific to Kapha headaches. So if you don't remember anything else about the herbs for Kapha, Bayberry is going to be a really great one. It's an astringent. So it's going to clear the mucus out and it's a little bit drier. So you want to watch your pitta to make sure it doesn't increase Pitta dosha too much, but often you'll find Bayberry is found in many nasya oils. So when you've cleared out a little bit of that congestion and you need to get the moisture out- that excess mucus- you can add Bayberry into your Nasya oil and do that as a nostril oil treatment . Really, really useful for that.
And this last one you're probably familiar with is called Trikatu. Trikatu is an herb that we use pretty often for digestive issues within Kapha. And because Kapha dosha, like we said, is manufactured or made in the stomach, if we can treat it at that root cause it will help with the headaches. Trikatu is made up of three main herbs, ginger, pippali, and black pepper. It's a really good Kapha tonic. I like to add it into a buttermilk drink called Takra. And that way it can get into the body. It absorbs into the digestive tract. You can add it just to water. It does have a little bit of a kick, a little bit of heat to it, and you can also buy Trikatu in capsule form. So if it's something that if you suffer from sinus congestion or sinus headaches on a regular basis, it would be a great idea to just have some Trikatu, on hand in capsule form.
And you can just take that with your meals. And you'll notice that's going to help to decrease the amount of times that you're getting these types of sinus headaches.
Summary of 3 Types of Headaches by Dosha 35:30
So as a little summary here, we can have all types of headaches caused by different doshas. So we can have a Vata, a Pitta, or a Kapha type headache.
Vatas are the most painful- think of migraines, right?
Pitta headaches tend to have heat involved with them. There might be some element of infection going on or inflammation. So we want to look for that. And it's typically in that central part of the brain, right? Remember we talked about the parietal lobe and the temporal lobe.
And then Kapha type headaches tend to be in the front- in the forehead area. They're usually affecting the sinuses. So a sinus type congestion or headache. It's more of that dull achy pain as opposed to sharp pain
Herbal Summary 36:25
Vata is going to do really well with ashwagandha, Jatamansi and feverfew. Remember that’s an analgesic, right? There's a lot of pain with a Vata headache.
Pitta type we're going to do well with Brahmi, Gotu Kola, and Chrysanthemum. We want to treat the eyes when we're dealing with Pitta. Remember we want to get that heat and inflammation out.
And then for Kapha dosha, we're looking at Calamus, Gotu Kola, Bayberry, and Trikatu.
Creating a plan for your headaches 36:40
We want to look at headaches, not as an acute system or acute problem that we're going to encounter and take care of, but an overall aspect of health. And if we're able to really treat these different doshs, they won't get out of balance in a way that's going to cause these long-term chronic headaches. So if you're suffering from chronic headaches, it's time to create a plan.
Okay, I'm going to create this remedy or this plan. For example: I know now that my chronic migraines that I get real frequently are more Vata type. So I'm going to do everything I can to decrease Vata, whether that's decreasing Vata in my diet and eating things that are more warm, moist, and heavy, or I'm going to be decreasing Vata in my lifestyle, I'm going to stop having such an erratic lifestyle and start creating more structure. I'm going to get more routines going with my sleep and with my behaviors, I'm going to manage my anxiety through meditation. Okay.
So we would do all those things and then take the herbs. All of that's going to work together to help to prevent these Vata type migraine headaches.
Pitta Plan 37:55
Then we look at Pitta. If you're dealing with Pitta, okay, where's the intensity that I can decrease? Can I take the heat out of my food? Can I create a little bit more of a looseness to my routine so that I'm not so intense with it?
I don't have to fill every single moment. I can have some white space in there. I can create some flow into my day and not need to be so rigid. Right? Have some compassion, a little bit of self-love that's going to be important for pittas.
And then when we look at Kapha’s we want to move our bodies. We want to create breathwork practices that allow the sinuses to move. Regular neti pot, regular nasya oil, a lot of affecting the lymph system, right? Doing things like dry brushing is going to be helpful, getting up and exercising, doing a lot of sun salutations.
So you can see that each dosha is going to have different treatments that help to keep that dosha imbalance. And then when we add in these strengthening herbs that we talked about over time, you'll see these headaches start to decrease, and you won't have the frequency or severity that you were having before.
Tridoshic Headaches 38:50
Now you might have headaches that seem to be all three, and then you can treat them by combining strategies. And so, as you start to really experiment with the strategies, the lifestyle, the remedies, the herbs, the different tools that I taught you here, you can start to identify what works best for you.
Because like we've said before, Ayurveda is a very individualized science and what might work for one Vata type headache might not work as well for your Vata headache, but you can start somewhere. Maybe we can start with these strategies. So continue to implement these practices. All of this is so useful, whether you suffer from chronic headaches or not, you just learned a whole lot about the nervous system and how it works within the body, according to doshas. So I hope this was helpful and that you enjoyed it.
Make Changes Slowly with Ease 39:39
Have a beautiful beginning to 2021 let's ease into this year. Radical crazy changes and trying to become a new person overnight just leads to an increase in Vata. So let's ease in and have ease in the change and in the shifts and embrace everything that's coming, because we're going to learn so much about who we are from how 2021 unfolds.
And what's beautiful is that we get to decide our reactions to everything that happens around us. We are never the victims of our circumstances.
Join the 28 Day Ayurveda Immersion
And if you have not joined the 28 day Ayurveda immersion program, I just want to ask you, why not? I lead it at the beginning of each month and it is such an awesome opportunity for us to implement Ayurveda, to get it into our hearts and our souls. And to practice these things that we talk about. It is so important that we apply what we're learning.
And if you haven't participated in the immersion yet it is such a small investment for such a huge return. So I invite you to explore that. The next group will be starting at the beginning of February. I would love to have you in that group. It is so much fun. We learn together, we grow together. We explore these principles and I never know what's going to happen every single month. It's completely different. The way that the program unfolds based upon the needs of the members of that group. So it is a really great way to get a little bit more personalized help as you implement Ayurveda. So what are you waiting for? Go and sign up. It's going to be amazing. I will be so excited to see you there. You can learn more at ayurvedalifeschool.com/ayurvedaimmersion. Have a beautiful week.