Excerpt from Natural Baby and Childcare
See your practitioner for an evaluation if your child suffers from a severe headache, unexplained headache, or recurrent episodes. Standard doctors treat tension headaches with medications such as ibuprofen and acetoaminophen, though practitioners are also more frequently recommending non-medicinal relaxation techniques such as biofeedback. Stronger migraine medications (ergotamine and sumatriptin) are sometimes used in older children. However, parents often hesitate at these measures because of the side effects, which include flushing, dizziness, nausea, and hot flashes. Sumatriptin is not approved for children under age twelve. Anti-vomiting medication is given for nausea and vomiting.
Headache medications are used to provide relief once the headache has started, but can also be used preventively. Personally, I suffered with headaches in medical school, and I never liked taking pharmaceuticals for them. I'm sensitive to medications, and the side effects are sometimes worse than the headache. Over the years, I sought out natural ways to treat my headaches, namely through yoga, osteopathy, chiropractic, herbs, and homeopathy. Today, I rarely get one and when I do, I rely on homeopathic medicine.
General Headache Treatment
- Encourage your child to lie down.
- Avoid bright light and loud noises—quiet, dark, and calm environments are preferable
- Avoid known triggers to headaches: fatigue, stress, hunger, heat stroke, motion sickness, lack of exercise, and offending foods.
- Ginger tea and peppermint tea are helpful for headaches, especially those associated with nausea. Use ginger in children two years and older.
- Massage the back of the neck
- Employ cold compresses
The list below is a sampler of remedies I recommend for headaches. For chronic headaches, I recommend constitutional homeopathic treatment, in which a remedy is chosen by a trained homeopath after a lengthy interview. This method can be very effective for the long-term resolution of chronic conditions, such as migraines and tension headaches.
Bryonia headaches are described as bursting or splitting. Because movement worsens them, the person just wants to stay still. The mouth and lips are dry. The child is irritable and thirsty for cold drinks. Pain tends to be concentrated on the left side of the head.
Calcarea phosphorica is often chosen as the remedy for headaches in school-aged children. These children are sensitive and easily overwhelmed by the homework and stress of going to school. They may also complain of stomachaches coming on in the afternoon after school.
Iris is the remedy for the classic migraine symptoms—visual aura, pain on one side of the head, and nausea and vomiting. The pain is usually on the right side, or alternates sides. A history of being overly tired often precedes the headache.
Natrium muriaticum is used for headaches brought on by loss, grief, or disappointment. Similar to Calcarea phosphoricum, Nat mur is helpful for school pressure headaches due to the mental effort of concentrating and working hard in school. The headache feels like little hammers knocking on the brain. The pain may be located over the eyes, tends to worsen around 10 a.m. until the late afternoon, and is especially exacerbated by sunlight. A cold cloth on the head, lying down in a dark, quiet room, and fresh air also bring relief.
Sanguinaria migraines differ from Iris headaches in that the pain begins at the back of the head and then settles in the right side or behind the right eye. The pain is described as sharp, knifelike, or splitting. This patient feels better after vomiting.
Spigelia is more commonly used for left-sided headaches that feel like a hot needle, poker, or wire in or above the left eye; the pain is piercing and sharp. This headache is accompanied by a stiff neck and shoulders, and is aggravated by the sunlight, motion, and touch. Relief comes with steady pressure.
Lemon Bark is indicated for migraine and tension headaches.
Briar Rose, a common children’s remedy, is also helpful for migraines.