You know that if you suffer from monster headaches, you’ll try just about anything for an ounce of relief. If your traditional remedies aren’t getting the job done, why not open your mind to Ayurvedic ones?
Practitioners of Ayurveda—a system of medicine, which originated in India more than 3000 years ago—believe that we’re all born with a certain kind of constitution (or “dosha”), either vata, pitta, or kapha. And just as these doshas cause us to have different temperaments and builds, they also make us have different types of headaches.
We asked Sharankhla Holecek, CEO and founder of Uma Oils—who comes from a long line of Ayurvedic doctors—to spell out what type of head pain each dosha is prone to—and how to cure it. Fear not, relief is on the way.
These types tend to be small, with thin faces and skin. They run on nervous energy. They’re probably those lucky people who never put on weight. But they can be anxious and suffer from dehydration, which manifests itself in, you guessed it, headaches.
"They usually start in the back of the head and radiate to the left side,” says Holecek. “They may also appear as tension around the neck and back.”
- Hydration. In particular drinking warm or room-temperature water (since vatas tend to run cold). Try adding a squeeze of lemon, half a teaspoon of sugar and a pinch of salt to a cup of water to help your body retain it.
- Detoxifying Triphala tablets (sold at health food stores and on Amazon). “Take two capsules at night for a few days, and you will feel lighter and better,” says Holecek.
- Massaging the temples with a paste made from ground nutmeg and a bit of water.
- Rubbing the back of the head and neck with sesame oil.
These types tend to be of medium height and build, extremely intelligent, ambitious and prone to anger. “They’re fiery,” says Holecek.
Not surprisingly, pitta headaches strike quickly and furiously and are characterized by throbbing, shooting pain in the temples and behind the eyes.
- “Eating fresh aloe vera two or three times a day is excellent for pittas,” says Holecek, since often, pitta headaches are triggered by indigestion and heartburn. Just try breaking off a leaf and chewing on the paste inside. Holecek only recommends drinking commercially available aloe water if it’s not laden with preservatives, so scan the label for ingredients you can’t pronounce.
- Teas made from cumin or coriander powder (a teaspoon per cup of boiling water).
- Cucumbers over the eyes.
- Brahmi (also known as bacopa monnieri) tablets found at health food stores. Open one and combine it in your palm with a carrier oil, like almond or jojoba, then rub the blend into your feet.
These types are often heavy-set and enjoy sleeping a lot. They are calm by nature and generally have thick, oily skin and lush hair.
Often, their pain is the result of sinus issues or allergies. Their headaches tend to start in the forehead and move down to the sinuses. “Many kapha headache cures are related to keeping the nasal system clean,” says Holecek.
- Adding 5-10 drops of eucalyptus or peppermint oil to a pot of boiling water, then inhaling the steam with a towel over your head and the pot.
- Ginger tea (a teaspoon of fresh ground ginger per cup of boiling water).
- Yoga: particularly boat pose, spinal twist, and headstand.