It would be a challenge to find somebody who never suffers from headaches. It seems that everybody gets them from time to time. What about you? When is the last time you had a headache? Is it a regular occurrence? If it is, hopefully this article will encourage you. With a little sleuthing, you may be able to uncover the cause of your headaches and either eliminate them, or find a safe and effective way to quickly treat them and get on with your life.
Common Causes of Headaches
Following is a list of some common causes of headaches. We’ll discuss each one in more detail below.
- Lack of Sleep
- Caffeine withdrawal
- Food allergies or intolerances
- High histamine foods
- Nutrient deficiency
Dehydration is a common cause of headaches. If you are sweating for a long period of time and are not replacing lost fluids regularly, you may end up with a doozy of a headache. Also, even if you aren’t sweating but just are not taking in adequate water, you could end up with a headache. It’s recommended to drink half your weight in ounces of water each day, more if you’re very active or sweat a lot. If you’d like to read more about how important water is to your body, check out our previous blog on the topic. 
Sleep is so incredibly important. It’s when our bodies heal and repair and rejuvenate. If you’re not getting enough sleep or good quality sleep, it’s bound to show up in the form of a headache or other unpleasant symptoms. One of the best ways to safeguard yourself against sleep-related headaches is to adhere to a regular sleep schedule (yes, even on weekends). Your body thrives on schedule and predictability. This is a simple fix but not always easy. Any effort you can make toward a regular sleep schedule, if you suspect this could be your cause of headache, is sure to make a difference. 
You may have already learned the hard way about caffeine withdrawal and headache. If you are a caffeine drinker and you don’t consume the amount of caffeine that you are used to in a day, you will end up with a pounding headache that can be fixed by, you guessed it, consuming caffeine. If you’re looking to give up caffeine, it’s best not to do it all at once for this reason. You will have a much easier time weaning yourself off this addictive drug. (Yes, it IS a drug!)
Allergies and food allergies or food intolerances can cause of headaches. If you suspect this may be the case for you, it is worth looking into being tested for food allergies or intolerances. Once you know what the culprits are, you can make a plan of attack for dealing with it.
High histamine foods can be a headache trigger for some people. In this case, the body doesn’t process histamine as quickly as it’s coming in and the result is the discomfort of a headache. You’ll know this applies to you if any of the following foods give you a headache: aged cheeses, fermented foods, beer, wine, smoked fish, and cured meats. Histamine is why some people experience headaches from alcohol consumption even if they aren’t overdoing it. 
Some nutritional deficiencies can lead to headaches. When we don’t regularly get all the nutrients needed to carry out the many daily functions that sustain life, the result can be a variety of symptoms which include headaches. A varied diet containing plenty of whole foods should help ensure that you are getting all the nutrients you need regularly. If you’re not sure if you are, it may be a good idea to have some of the following levels checked as these are seven of the most common nutrient deficiencies in the U.S.: vitamins A, D, and B12; iodine; iron; and magnesium.
Supplements for Headache Relief
Magnesium – An important nutrient to consider if you don’t already know what causes your headaches is magnesium. Magnesium is crucially important in many functions of the body and, if you are deficient in it, you may experience a myriad of symptoms including headaches. Additionally, magnesium deficiency is also often associated with sleep challenges. If magnesium deficiency is the cause of your headaches and you’re having sleep troubles, adding proper amounts of magnesium could be life-changing for you—especially if the lack of sleep is also a contributing factor in your headaches.
B-Complex Vitamins — Another nutritional deficiency that can lead to headaches is a deficiency in the b-complex vitamins. In fact, a CDC survey run from 1999-2004 concluded this, “Thiamine [vitamin B1] has been shown to be particularly important in regulating brain levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin; abnormalities in serotonin function have been directly implicated in the pathophysiology of migraine”. [4, 5, 7] B complex vitamins are water-soluble making them very safe to take—any excess will be excreted out of the body in the urine.
Ginger – Ginger is great for soothing the digestive system and easing nausea. But studies have proven that it also is a powerful anti-inflammatory. It has even been compared to NSAIDs, which are commonly used for headache relief. Ginger’s pungent flavor comes from the gingerol which is the component that provides relief. Ginger can be ingested in several different forms including a delicious hot tea that is very soothing. [6, 8]
If headaches are a concern for you, stop in and talk to one of our knowledgeable staff members. Together we can troubleshoot and get you feeling better soon.
- Dehydration and Headache – PMC (nih.gov)
- Migraine – PubMed (nih.gov)
- Histamine and histamine intolerance – PubMed (nih.gov)
- Rapid recovery from major depression using magnesium treatment – PubMed (nih.gov)
- Utilization of B12 for the treatment of chronic migraine – PubMed (nih.gov)
- Ginger Root – StatPearls – NCBI Bookshelf (nih.gov)
- NHANES – National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey Homepage (cdc.gov)
- Analgesic and anti-inflammatory activities of -gingerol – PubMed (nih.gov)
The information provided here is for educational purposes only. None of the research or evidence presented here is intended as a substitute for consulting an appropriate healthcare professional. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The products offered here are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. If you believe that you may have a disease condition, please consult your healthcare practitioner before using this or any other dietary supplement.