What Do We Know about Cluster Headaches?
Cluster headaches are intensely painful, almost immobilizing headaches. They start suddenly and within 5 minutes you’re in tremendous pain, with one-sided pressure around your eye or temple. Short attacks can disappear in as little as 15 minutes. Long ones can last up to 3 hours. The pain can occur anytime, but most often begins a few hours after you fall asleep.
If you’re among the 1 in 1,000 Americans who gets them, then you may already know that cluster headaches rank as one of the nation’s most debilitating chronic pain conditions.
Research reveals they are 5 times more common in men than women. Some sufferers say they live with a recurring pattern: frequent attacks for a period of weeks or even months. Then, suddenly, they’re fine for many days or weeks. These people have “episodic” cluster headaches. Other people live with “chronic” attacks, which strike frequently for a year or more without any periods of relief.
Of course, headache pain is the absolute distinctive symptom of cluster headaches. But attacks can also cause red eyes, tearing, a puffy and drooping eyelid, runny nose, and even facial sweating.
Are There Any Modern Medical Cluster Headache Remedies?
Yes, there are. However, because so many attacks last for only minutes, and occur at irregular intervals, doctors don’t like to prescribe drugs that need to be taken daily. So most modern therapies focus less on treating attacks, and more on preventing them. For example:
- Some doctors recommend out-patient procedures that numb the main nerve involved in producing cluster headaches. The result is significant pain relief.
- Other doctors prefer to work with electrodes that actually stimulate that nerve. The goal is the same: pain relief.
- Finally, there’s surgery designed to inactivate that all-important nerve. But new research suggests these interventions may be successful in less than half the people who have them.
6 Natural Cluster Headache Remedies
A growing number of natural cluster headache remedies have started to gain popularity. Some can provide adequate relief on their own. Most are used along with prescription drugs. However, as you review the list below, remember that natural remedies are still medicines. Always use them under the supervision of a qualified health care provider.
Oxygen. Inhaling oxygen through a mask can give relief, usually within 15 minutes. You’ll need a doctor’s advice on how much oxygen to use and how often to use it.
Essential Oil Therapy. Essential oils have been used for centuries to treat headache pain, especially peppermint, lavender, and rose oils. They can be inhaled using a home diffuser, or absorbed through the skin using Headache ReLeaf Roll-On. Safe to use as often needed for fast, all-natural relief.
Capsaicin. Patients in one study experienced a decrease in cluster headache pain after applying capsaicin (chili pepper) cream inside their nostril, on the same side as the headache. Scientists think it works by stimulating pain sensing nerve fibers and destroying the substances they use to convey pain signals to the brain.
Melatonin. Cluster headaches are linked to low melatonin levels, especially during a cluster phase. One study found that melatonin at bedtime, taken for 14 days, significantly reduced headache intensity and frequency.
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin). Vitamin B2 has also been shown to decrease severity and frequency of cluster headaches. But plan to take the supplement for 3 months before feeling the benefit.
Sex. Sound crazy? German researchers found that 37% of cluster headache patients reported sex helped lessen their pain. And 90% of those people said they got moderate to complete relief!