Headache by Dr. Thite

Headache is one of the symptoms included in Shiro Roga chapter in Ayurveda. Shiro-roga means ‘disease of the head’. Headache is not a single disorder; but it is a symptom that may appear in several conditions of the head. There are 11 types of headache according to Ayurveda. Headache can be caused due to a multiple different causes. Some of them are:- Migraine, rhinitis, sinusitis, hypertension, alcohol hangover and even some serious causes such as trauma, Inflammation of the meninges (outer covering of brain and spinal cord) , Encephalitis, Cerebral abscess, Cerebral hemorrhage, Vasodilator drugs, etc.

Apart from these there are several other causes such as fevers, metabolic disorders and diseases of the eye, ear and nose which can cause headaches.

Though pain is predominantly vitiation of the vata dosha, vitiation of the pitta and kapha doshas can also be cause of headaches. The chief symptoms of the three different doshic types of headaches are:-

1. Headache due to vata – The pain is intermittent, i.e. of a hammering type. Could be associated with constipation, insomnia and/or depression. These pains are increased with mental tensions.
2. Headache due to pitta – The pain is usually felt in temporal region  sides) of the head. It is accompanied by a burning sensation. There could be photophobia, i.e., the patient is scared of light.
3. Headache due to kapha -- This occurs due to accumulation of kapha in head, usually sinuses, dull aching pain in the region of temple, nose and surrounding area.

There may be combination of symptoms of vata+ pitta, vata+kapha, or pitta+kapha, or all three.

Some Herbs for Headache relief:

1. Dry ginger application with warm water is good for kapha headache (usually sinusitis) Ginger has painkilling properties. Due to this property, it is used as an external application on the affected head region. This gives relief from the headache.
2. Sarpagandha is best for vata headache.
3. Dhamasa is used for pitta type of headache.

Diet for Headache
For vata and pitta, sweet and mild tastes are better in relieving headaches than other tastes. When there is a headache, consuming a sweet preparation or even a spoonful of sugar helps. Milk and ghee are also beneficial in headaches, except for kapha headache. Preferably, the milk of a cow, it should be warm. The water left after cooking the rice should be had when it is warm, with a dash of ghee added in it.

Spicy and fried foods must be avoided when there is a headache.

Ayurvedic Treatment
Treatment is done according to dosha and other factors. For vata headache, haritaki churna can be taken. Sarpagandha is herb of choice. For pitta, Shirashooladivajra rasa is used. Shirobasti is useful for both vata and pitta. For kapha headache, vacha taila put 1 drop in each nostril.

Dr. Chandrashekhar Thite, MD