Plants and headaches, a good therapeutic approach

Nervous system disorders and headache

The headaches are pain in the cranial region. They are one of the most frequent reasons for consultation. Also called “headaches” or “cephalalgia”, they have very varied and more or less serious causes (head trauma, hypertensive outbreak, stroke, taking certain medications, etc.)

They are mainly due to the activation of receptors sensitive to pain.

“Headache” is the generic name for all headaches. Headache is found in conditions as diverse as meningitis, typhoid fever, brain tumors, high blood pressure etc. Some headaches have received special names because of their very distinct characteristics, such as migraine .

There are two main types of headache :

Primary or primary headaches

  • Tension headaches

The pain is throbbing, of moderate intensity, not throbbing; it is episodic or permanent with a feeling of a tight head in a vice. It is the common “headache”, frequent at the end of the day, following stress, an effort of visual concentration, for example. However, there is no underlying lesion, the pain gives way to mild analgesics.

  • Cluster pain of the face

These are fairly rare headaches that affect more men than women. They are characterized by brief but severe, one-sided attacks located around a reddened and watery eye and a runny or blocked nose. They last from 30 to 180 minutes. The treatment of the crisis is based on taking triptans or oxygen therapy.

  • Migraines

These are chronic, frequent, disabling headaches that begin between the ages of 10 and 40. The disease is most often familial, of neurovascular origin, with painful inflammation of the cranial vessels. The vast majority of migraine sufferers are mainly women, migraine sets in at puberty and manifests itself during menstruation (catamenial migraine).

The word migraine actually designates a syndrome characterized by violent headache, usually unilateral, which can be accompanied by deep discomfort, nausea and sometimes vomiting. The migraine attack can be preceded or accompanied by neurological signs (or aura), such as scotomas for example. The primary cause is a dysfunction in the vasomotricity of the branches of the external carotid artery which dilate.

In the event that the crisis is accompanied by neurological symptoms, we speak of accompanied migraine. It is qualified as common if the migraine is “simple”, without added neurological signs.

Many people suffer from ophthalmic migraines, that is to say accompanied by abnormal visual signs, the most frequently described being scotomas scintillating. Certain more serious cases can result in a real paralysis of all the muscles which depend on the common oculomotor nerves (fortunately transient): it is ophthalmoplegic migraine.

It is therefore important for a person suffering from migraines to determine the triggering agent (s). The process is therefore now well known: the triggering factors stimulate the hypothalamus which, in response, stimulates the trigeminal nerve, responsible for the innervation of a large part of the face. The trigeminal endings release neuropeptides responsible for vasodilation and inflammation which translate into painful messages.

The 2 types of migraines :

  1. Migraine without aura
  2. Migraine with aura


Secondary headaches

They constitute the symptoms of a pathology, in particular:

  • ENT pathology (sinusitis, otitis)
  • Eye disorder (glaucoma)
  • Stomatological disease (decay, dental infection)
  • Inflammation of the supratemporal arteries (Horton’s disease)
  • Rheumatologic disease (cervical osteoarthritis)
  • Arterial hypertension
  • Cerebral hemorrhage

Treatment of the pathology quickly eliminates the headache.


Naturopathic advice to limit headache attacks :

  • Avoid alcoholic drinks, tobacco, chocolate, cold meats, fermented cheeses, as well as skipping a meal
  • Avoid strong odors, intense light and climatic variations
  • Channel their anxieties, apprehensions, anger and conflicts


What plants for headaches ?

In the event of migraines, the pure local application on the forehead, the earlobes, the temples and the neck repeated every 5 minutes for 20 minutes results in a total improvement in 95% of cases.

Field maple is active in headaches and dizziness resulting from anxiety neurosis.

These plants are indicated in migraines by an analgesic effect.

Black radish is generally indicated for hepatic migraines.

The homeopathic indication of this plant is particularly oriented towards congestive arterial hypertension with throbbing headaches.

The homeopathic indication of this plant is directed towards headaches or cervical neuralgia improved by pressure, accompanied by intense cold; the patient being unable to warm up as long as the migraine lasts.

The efficacy of feverfew on catamenial migraines seems to have been known since antiquity, but it was not until the 1980s that Murphy’s work confirmed it in a double-blind study.

In 1997, Murch and his team evaluated the levels of melatonin in the green leaves of feverfew, and found them to be high, confirming previous work on the beneficial role of rebalancing melatonin levels in migraine without aura.

Feverfew is anti-migraine because it inhibits platelet aggregation and the release of serotonin induced by ADP or adrenaline, which would explain the activity. There is an action of parthenolide on the trigeminal vascular system. Blockade of lipopolysaccharide-mediated TNF-α release, and suppression of CCL2 (monocyte chemo-attracting protein I or MCP-I). It is the likely cellular target for the anti-migraine effects of feverfew.




Clementine. M.
Naturopath – Aromatherapist / Herbalist – Phytotherapist
Consultant in Clinical Phyto-aromatherapy and Ethnomedicine

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