In Ayurveda there are 3 types of headaches, categorized according to which dosha (or subtle energy principle) is out of balance in your mind/body: Vata, Pitta, Kapha.
Every headache has a story to tell. Here’s how to listen:
|| Vata Headache ||
If you have that throbbing, pulsating pain and the sensation of a band being tightened around your head, you have a Vata headache. Neck and shoulder tension, mental and emotional stress, an irregular sleeping schedule, possible toxicity in the gut (like constipation) and unresolved fear or anxiety are known culprits of this headache type.
What To Do:
Vata is represented by the dry, cool, fast moving element of air. When dealing with a Vata headache our intention is to relieve dryness within the mind and body. We also want to support and clear the gut.
- Drink lots of warm water and incorporate ghee (clarified butter) into the diet.
- For acute headaches, try a traditional nasya treatment by putting 5 drops of luke-warm sesame oil in each nostril while lying down.
- Receiving a massage is also a great way to relieve tension in the body.
Vata headaches require deep rest and relaxation so it’s ok to take that afternoon nap you’re craving.
|| Pitta Headache ||
A Pitta headache typically starts in the temples and spreads to the central part of your head. They are known for their shooting, burning, piercing pain with a dash of nausea and often made worse by bright light, heat or by eating sour or spicy foods. Migraines are associated with this category. Pitta headaches are often linked to imbalances in the stomach and intestines, such as acid indigestion, hyperacidity or heartburn.
What to Do:
Pitta is associated with the element of fire. Our goal when remedying a Pitta headache is to cool acidity (fire) in the body.
- Avoid spicy, salty, fried foods and add more cooling foods such as cucumbers, watermelon, cilantro or dates to your daily diet.
- Massage warm coconut oil onto the scalp and soles of the feet to soothe acute pitta headaches.
- For migraines it is recommended to put a few drops of ghee into each nostril before bed.
Don’t forget to take a deep breath, get some rest and slow your roll a little bit too fire child!
|| Kapha Headache ||
This headache type is known to strike most ferociously in the Winter and Spring. Usually you wake up or go to bed with a Kapha headache. It is accompanied by a cough or runny nose, probably gets worse when you lie down or bend over and characterized by a heavy, dull feeling in the face and head. Kapha headaches are commonly called a sinus headache because they are the byproduct of excess pressure in the sinus cavity.
What To Do:
To remedy this type of headache we must relieve pressure in the sinuses.
- Use a neti pot daily with salts to help open sinus channels.
- Drinking hot ginger tea and taking in pungent spices like black pepper, cinnamon and cloves to reduce mucus congestion.
- Inhaling Eucalyptus steam is also great way to soothe a Kapha headache.