Dealing with headaches without pills

We all get headaches and whether it’s a mild nuisance or so debilitating it stops you in your tracks, we’ve got our own way of dealing with them. For most people, this means popping a pill. The only distinction many of us make is whether it’s mild or severe.

By understanding the characteristics and causes of our headaches, we can limit how severe they are and how often they occur – and without taking pills.

Our body type will play a part in the kind of headache we suffer from. The Red, Blue and Green energies that we’re made up of can each cause our head to hurt (and cause-related ailments). Each energy has its own distinct characteristics.  If we know what these are, we can deal with our headache by using the appropriate foods to alleviate and prevent them.

We live in a pill-popping culture

Pain that stems from the base of the head

This is a response to an imbalance in Blue energy and can occur from overexertion of the mind. It’s more common amoung Blue body types in line with their natural behaviours but we will all get this kind of headache from time to time when we’re stressed about something.

In line with Blue energy characteristics, we may also experience anxiety and constipation. ‘Blue body type foods’ will help resolve the root cause and therefore the headache. Since Blue is a cold, drying energy, increase warming foods and spices to balance the body (like ginger tea) and use warming oils like sesame oil or almond oil in our nostrils and to massage the base of your head and neck.


Pain that stems from the forehead

This is caused by the Green bio-energy and so will be more common amoung Green body types (especially sinus related) although we’ll all suffer from this to a degree as it’s the kind you get with the common cold or flu. Since Green energy gives rise to heavy, sticky substances we’re likely to also have a snotty nose, a chesty cold and feel lethargic – the usual cold symptoms!

Not surprisingly then, applying products with menthol on the forehead and chest will help alleviate the problem and, since Green is a cold, damp energy warming spices like ginger, cloves or black pepper will help as will lemon and raw honey. Any ‘Green body type foods’ will help.

Pain that stems from behind the eyes

Anyone who has these kinds of headaches knows they’re not for the faint-hearted. They can cause a lot of pain and they’re caused by an imbalance of Red energy. Red body types are more likely to suffer from migraines.

They’re a reaction to tension and so you have a lot of deadlines looming for example, that might set them off. Like the Red energy characteristics, you may feel hot, more aggressive, short-tempered, and have an increased sensitivity to light.

Since Red is a hot, warming energy, using cooling foods will help limit the severity of these headaches. As you start getting the initial signs of a migraine attack, cool your body down as quickly as you can – coconut water, pomegranate juice or a ‘quick lassi’ (pour 1cm of milk in a tall glass and fill the rest up with cold water) should help.

Given the seat of the headache is behind the eyes, a quick way to address it is via the nose. Sandalwood is very soothing when you’re overheating so inhaling a sandalwood essential oil or applying a sandalwood-based nasal oil can help calm things down quickly.

Life sometimes isn’t as simple as we’d like it to be and we may have a headache that has elements of all three types! Whatever the type of headache, to address it (i.e. balance the energy in question) download the ebook (below) and look at the body type table for full details of the kinds of foods and activities that you need to prioritise. Search the database for a list of the appropriate foods to help. More than that though, knowing the cause of your headaches gives you the means to stop them from happening in the first place!

For further information – or if you’re suffering from habitual headaches of any kind (which could indicate something quite serious such as a space-occupying lesion or an aneurysm) – consult a specialist Ayurvedic practitioner.

This self-care health hack is from Superfied Ayurvedic expert Angela Hope-Murray

To find out more, read our ‘Know your body type’ guide

Can eating be treating?

If you buy into the idea that food is a foundation for good health, then it’s probably not a stretch to think of food as medicine – your first line of defence against ‘disease’.

So, do all foods have medicinal benefits or just the ‘superfoods’? Well, every food is a superfood. Every tree, every leaf, every flower has a medicinal benefit. It’s a case of knowing what that benefit is and matching it to your needs. That’s a science that the ancients mastered and we’ve lost touch with a lot of it – but not all of it.

We can eat our way back to better health

The ground-up root that is turmeric, for example, is a staple of Asian cooking and has been used for thousands of years in the East as both a medicine and ingredient, verified by modern medicine. It’s not just turmeric; the same is true for foods like garlic, onions, beetroot, honey…the list goes on; foods we all know and have been eaten for thousands, if not tens of thousands, of years and are embedded in cultures across the world. Today they’ve become ingredients in familiar tasting meals but to our ancestors, they were more likely to be medicines in a bowl.


The medical benefits of most staple foods are known and accessible so there’s no reason why we can’t start eating our way to perfect health. “Well I eat lots of healthy food and I’m not in perfect health so what’s that’s about?” Well, not all foods are good for all folk. That’s because we’re all different so we need the right foods, not just any foods – eating whole foods is great but doesn’t mean you’ll be perfectly balanced because of that.

Food medicine

Getting balanced depends on your specific biological makeup and needs. One person’s (food) medicine is another person’s poison. That’s why eating a salad doesn’t work for everyone or, for example, why some people love raw onions and others can’t stand them. It’s also why some people have allergic reactions to certain foods; your body doesn’t want a particular food because it doesn’t need it or can’t cope with it and it tells you pretty quickly.

As time goes by, your body’s needs change and so should your diet. That’s not only true month-to-month throughout the year but year-on-year through your life. Get it right, and your body will continue to pass its MOT, otherwise, you’ll be spending more time in the garage!

To find out more, read our ‘Rethink your wellbeing’ guide

Fast-forward into a balanced body

A golden rule for balancing is that ‘like imbalances like’ and ‘opposites drive balance’. To find balance, we must eat the foods that have the energies (i.e. elements) we are deficient in to restore them in our body. So, if you eat foods that are high in the energies you already have a lot of, they will push you further out of balance.

For example, a chilli pepper contains a high level of the fire element and if you’re already hot (a symptom of the Red body type), that’s going to make you hotter. If however, you’ve got poor circulation and generally feel cold (a symptom of the Blue and Green body types) and you eat that chili you going to feel a bit better. Temperature and tastes are two easy ways of finding the appropriate opposite foods.

Eating with know-how is a faster way to a better you

Hot and cold

food either has a warming or cooling energy. A key attribute of food that’s often overlooked these days is its thermal effect. While we know chilies are warming, we may not be so clear on other foods – watermelon, for example, is one of the most cooling foods around, so it’s not surprising that it’s usually eaten in summer. Depending on your current bio-balance, you may need a warming or cooling energy to balance your body so prioritising those foods can help you get into balance quicker.


Well, think about this. It costs over $1.5 billion and takes up to 12 years4 for big pharma to bring a new drug to market – and it’s almost impossible to know every side effect of a new drug since there are millions of permutations (which is why it takes so long and cost so much). The body is a complex beast when you’re trying to orchestrate things at a cellular level. The famous blue pill that’s given many men a new lease of life was actually a side effect in the treatment of hypertension! So, do the maths – unless you’re a charity, you’d want to make that money back, right? A win-win??

The art of balance through taste

Even when you have a list of foods to drive you into balance, referring to it every time you want to plan a meal or reach for a snack isn’t the most practical thing. There’s a handy shortcut which is much easier – tastes. Each body type has three tastes which will drive it towards balance (and similarly tastes that drive it the other way). These reflect the elements and subsequent energies that drive balance for your body type. Remembering them will make it easier to navigate a food list, especially when you’re out and about.

Blue Body Types – Sweet, Sour, Salty,
Red Body Types – Sweet, Bitter, Astringent
Green Body Types – Pungent, Bitter, Astringent

Blinged up taste buds

Tastes are an easy indicator but watch out – most of us have blinged up taste buds! We’ve eaten in such abundance and to a level of imbalance that our tongues have got normalised to excessive tastes. The hits of sugar mean we can’t taste the sweetness in things like milk or butter any more so we need to take guidance until that point when we can properly taste again.

To find out more, read our ‘Rethink your wellbeing’ guide

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