Alexander Mauskop, MD, director of the New York Headache Center, has performed numerous studies on the interplay of nutrients and headaches, and has found that many sufferers are low in key nutrients—primarily magnesium, coenzyme Q10, riboflavin, and vitamin D. "Up to 50 percent of headache sufferers can be magnesium deficient," he says. Magnesium can ease muscle spasms and alter brain chemicals thought to play a role in headaches; what the other nutrients do is less clear. Mauskop uses sophisticated blood tests to measure nutrient levels. (For more on testing mineral levels, see The Truth About Mineral Supplements .) But if a patient doesn't eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, is under a lot of stress, or is a frequent drinker, Mauskop might prescribe supplements without testing. "All these things can reduce nutrient levels," he says.
Acupuncture and homeopathy are worth considering as adjunct therapies once you are sure that the headache is not a sign of a serious disorder. Like Alexander Mauskop, I believe that magnesium can help—it relaxes arteries and muscles in the body, both of which can help with headaches.
Exercise helps, too—and yoga is a great choice since it can also help you unwind. Biofeedback is useful; in headache research, it has proven its worth. As far as medications go, I prefer ibuprofen and aspirin. And although no one mentioned this, lavender or sandalwood aromatherapy can help you relax. Just take a dab of the oil and rub it into your temples.
Read another column by Dr. Oz: 4 treatments for low back pain
Dr. Oz is the host of The Dr. Oz Show (check local listings).
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