Tension headaches are among the most common types of headaches. The pain, they cause is usually dull and achy and feels like a tight band around the head. Pain can also affect specific areas, usually the back of the head or the base of the skull. Other symptoms may include fatigue, irritability, trouble sleeping and tenderness of the scalp, neck and shoulders.
The causes of tension headaches may include stress, anxiety, depression, sleep deprivation or irregular sleeping patterns, skipped meals, improper posture and uncomfortable body position for a longer period of time, some medications and physical inactivity. People who clench their teeth or grind them are also prone to these headaches.
Tension headaches may occur during pregnancy, breastfeeding period and menopause, due to hormone levels fluctuations. They are also related to the conditions that affect the muscles and joints of the upper body, especially neck and shoulders.
In some cases these headaches may indicate a more serious underlying cause like a brain tumor or an aneurysm.
Tension headaches can be treated with over the counter pain medication but there are also some natural home remedies that may help and that are suitable for people with liver and kidney problems and with sensitive stomach or for the people who simply wish to avoid synthetic medications.
Peppermint oil is a remedy that has been know for centuries for its relaxing properties. It is applied to the forehead or temples and it should not be ingested. One study shown that peppermint oil has the same ability and effectiveness in relieving tension headaches as some of the over the counter pain killers, like Tylenol.
Tiger balm is a popular topical analgesic, originating from China. It contains a variety of natural essential oils and it is sold over the counter. Many people use it to cure headaches by rubbing it gently onto the forehead. So far only one study has examined the effects of Tiger balm on tension headaches and the results showed it to be just as effective as Tylenol. However, further studies need to be performed in order to draw more specific conclusions.
The root of Valeriana officinalis has been used for centuries, since the times of ancient Greece, to cure a number of conditions including headache, mood problems, pain, anxiety, insomnia, stress, PMS, menstrual cramps, gastrointestinal problems and even epilepsy.
Valerian root acts as a muscle relaxant, a sedative and a depressant, a tranquilizer and a pain reliever.