“Often, when I eat at Chinese restaurants, I get a bad headache.” “When I skip a meal, I suffer with a headache.” “I wake up every morning with a headache.” Most of us have suffered from headache at one time or another in our lives. Headaches are our country’s number one pain problem. It is the most common reason patients visit a doctor.
Why do we get headaches? MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia provides an excellent list of headache types and causes.
1. Tension headaches are related to stress and holding your head and neck in abnormal positions.
2. Migraine headaches have an aura or group or warning symptoms that begin before the headache. Migraines can be triggered by foods such as chocolate, certain cheeses, MSG, caffeine withdrawal, lack of sleep, and alcohol.
3. Rebound headaches are headaches that keep coming back (often from overuse of pain medicines (sometimes called Medication Overuse Headaches).
4. A Cluster headache is a very painful headache that occurs several times a day for months.
5. Sinus headaches are due to swelling in the sinus passages.
6. Headaches due to having a cold, flu, fever, missing a meal, too little sleep, or PMS.
7. Headache due to “temporal arteritis:” a swollen inflamed artery that supplies blood to part of the head, temple, and neck.
8. Headache as a symptom of something more serious such as high blood pressure, hemorrhage, brain tumor, hydrocephalus, pseudomotor cerebri, carbon monoxide poisoning, sleep apnea, stroke, brain aneurysm, or arteriovenous malformation.
What does a headache mean? Dr. Joel Fuhrman says in his book, Fasting and Eating for Health, “Headaches are a signal that something is wrong. Typically they result from retained toxins in the body. When these metabolic waste products are eliminated, people can regain their long sought-after-freedom from pain. The major cause of both tension headaches and migraines is the retention of toxins or tissue irritants within the central nervous system. These chemical irritants may cause an oversensitivity of nerve tissues to other stimuli.”
If this is true, can someone remove these toxins from their body and restore health? The general physician treats headache with medication, without trying to remove the causes of the headache. The trouble with any kind of medication is that it is also “toxic.” According to Dr. Fuhrman, all drugs used to treat headaches can cause rebound headaches as they wash out of the system. Our first line of defense should always be detoxification, and not the “drugging merry-go-round” usually provided patients with headache pain.
“Often, in order to recover your health, you may have to temporarily feel bad so your body can cleanse itself of an offensive substance.” --Dr. Joel Fuhrman. Fasting for a period time, almost always relieves headache symptoms.
What foods should I avoid? When headaches are caused by severe allergies, avoidance of certain foods can be enough to get rid of headaches. These foods have been noted to trigger headaches: Salted foods, chocolate, coffee, baked goods, smoked meats, cheese, ice cream, nuts, eggs, banana, herring, fatty foods, citrus, NutraSweet (aspartame which is often found in diet soft drinks, lemonades, and even gum), Energy drinks, MSG (which goes by many names), nitrates (present in processed meats), concentrated sweets. and alcohol.
A high protein diet is the most common reason people suffer from headaches. Protein break down and digestion causes the production of multiple toxins that our small livers cannot handle. Humans were designed by nature to consume a low protein diet. Reduce animal protein to one or two servings per week.
What if this doesn't work? Dr. Fuhrman goes on to explain the kind of diet a migraine sufferer should strictly adhere to until their recovery. To begin with they should withhold all medications, including oral contraceptives. When you're suffering from a migraine, it's incredibly tempting to pop a few pills and drown the pain in drug-like foods and beverages like coffee and soda. These often offer temporary relief, but they bite you back later on when the body has to clear out the toxins they introduce. Stop consuming all herbal preparations, food supplements, tea, soft drinks, coffee and all caffeinated beverages. The rest of the program the sufferer must avoid all salt, MSG, canned and pickled foods and sauces and any processed foods that may contain preservatives and artificial flavorings. Also avoid all sweets, including honey, maple syrup, dried fruit or sweet fruit juice. Eat no animal foods or dairy foods. In the beginning avoid most fruits and all fruit juices. Fruits can be reintroduced once a recovery is achieved. Even avoiding nuts, seeds, legumes, onions, yeast containing products, and olives at first are essential.
Once a definite recovery has been achieved and the patient is free of headaches for one month, some of the prohibited foods may be added back to the diet. Add one food every few days, starting with fresh fruits, then legumes, nuts and seeds. Never return to the former eating habits of highly salted, processed, animal based foods so that the cycle doesn't have to begin again.
Hands down, the quickest and most surefire way to get rid of your headaches for good is to do an extended water fast (Note: fasting should be done with medical supervision). Chronic headaches are usually gone in under a week when all toxic inputs cease and people get as much sleep and emotional, mental, and physical rest that they can. Fasting speeds up the detox process because the body is able to bring more energy to bear on housecleaning when the digestive system goes into stasis and the rest of the body is at rest.