Your lifestyle may be causing that headache

In the 21st century, leading to an unhealthy and sedentary lifestyle is the most problematic concern for everyone. Our increased work pressure and inactive lifestyle have led to severe health complications. As per a WHO report, physical inactivity and unhealthy diet contribute to approximately two million deaths every year and is the leading cause of life-threatening diseases and disabilities worldwide.

While stress, fear, worry, sadness, exhaustion and numbness are normal and expected, emotional responses to a health crisis such as the Covid-19 pandemic cannot go ignored. As per The Indian Psychiatric Society, during the initial stages of the pandemic, there was a 20 per cent increase in cases of depression and anxiety stemming from fear. Anxiety not only causes headaches but other significant ailments, including hypertension, insomnia, postural back pain, sciatica, respiratory problems caused by smoking and increased levels of alcohol. A clinical trial showed that 58 per cent of people with stress and anxiety benefited from homeopathic treatment. I always believe in an integrated medical approach and homeopathy works in preventive routines and lifestyle management. It factors in not just the present symptoms but also the psycho-social aspects of the patient. We, therefore, believe not just in giving patients medicine for their symptoms and ailments but also ensuring that their health-related quality of life improves.

Anxiety neurosis

The symptoms of anxiety neurosis are familiar: sudden, uncontrollable attacks of panic and anxiety during stressful times such as an interview or an important meeting. Accompanying them are weakness, sweating, palpitation, nausea and vomiting. So great is the emotional distress that the patients often think they are suffering from a serious physical disease, and an anxiety attack may be misread as a thyroid metabolism imbalance or heart disease. This would be wrong. Anxiety neurosis is a purely psychosomatic disorder, generally affecting immature personalities with many suppressed conflicts and instabilities.

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The correct homeopathic cure will depend on the organ or site where the neurosis manifests itself. Aethusa 200 will help relieve confusion during interviews and is good for “exam funk”; Argentum Nit is useful in anxious, restless and impatient people. The Argentum personality is always in a hurry. Such people will pace around while awaiting their turn outside the clinic. Elsemium is useful in cases of anxiety with giddiness, drowsiness and trembling of the limbs. Kali Phos 6x is a good soother of nerves, and even if it is taken over a long period, by an individual suffering from nervous disorders, no side-effects result. Pulsatilla helps tense, anxious, and moody types suffering from anxiety neurosis. Taken 10-12 drops thrice a day, Scutellaria calms the nerves. General use of sedatives over a long period brings on a general depressive state with tremors.


First, a headache is not a disease, but only a symptom. The brain itself is incapable of any sensation; but the covering of the brain carries nerve fibers that are sensitive to pressure. The causes can range from a brain tumor to meningitis, trauma or head injury, and high or low blood pressure. We are concerned with headaches that affect a person under a lot of stress at work who we presume does not have any of the diseases listed above. It is the lifestyle itself that causes these headaches. Overeating and gastric derangement give rise to what are known as bilious headaches. Such headaches, which are associated with nausea and stomach upsets, respond well to Iris Versicolor. Constipation is frequently blamed for causing headaches. It is believed that blockage by impacted stools causes toxins to be absorbed into the bloodstream, giving rise to headaches. There may not be any substance in this theory, because those who almost also suffer from headaches. Besides, the headache “disappears” too soon after passing stools to be anything but psychosomatic. However, the so-called hunger headache caused by an empty stomach usually responds well to Sulfur.

Headaches may also be caused by lack of sleep, which is especially the problem of executives in communications industries, such as films, advertising and journalism. Such people find that even long hours of sleep do not refresh them, and they wake all knotted up and with a throbbing headache. Nux Vomica is the doctor’s prescription here.

Long working hours in ill-ventilated offices cause headaches, as do certain types of occupations. The latter is mainly found when a fixed posture must be maintained throughout the work day, for example by data entry personnel. A muscle in the neck twists or grows stiff – and the headache follows as blood circulation is impaired.

Migraines, the perfectionist’s malaise, are severe headaches of a chronic nature and affect about 10 per cent of our population. Nausea, vomiting and visual disturbances lasting from a few hours to several days are the usual accompanying symptoms. Studies carried out at the Mayo Clinic showed that migraine occurred five times more frequently in patients who had hypertension. The specific cause again seems to be disruption in the flow of blood. Among the many medicines used for migraine, I have found Lac Defloratum to be the most useful. Other drugs are Menispermum (migraine associated with restlessness and dreams); Niccolum (prepared from the metal nickel, periodical migraines in weak, nervous and intelligent patients); Onosmodium (left-side headaches associated with eye-strain and weakness). Interestingly, a study of migraine patients indicated that the typical personality of this disease is intensely ambitious and success-oriented and capable of achieving a great deal in a short span, by driving themselves to almost superhuman efforts.

But suggest to a patient that he may be suffering from a tension headache and the likely response is to laugh it off and say, “What? Me, tense?” Tension has become so closely woven into the fabric of our daily lives that we do not seem to be able to recognize it. People accept tension at work and at home, and even children bring it home from school.

I once had a patient who complained of a headache all over his scalp. He had endured it for more than a year, and found it unresponsive to drug therapy and dietary changes. His background? His father was a social worker who, however, did not practice what he preached. At home, he was a taciturn tyrant, who rarely spoke to his wife, and paid little heed to the sensitivities of his family. Questioning revealed that my patient was an extraordinarily sensitive individual and emotionally insecure to boot. I concluded that his headache had origins in his subconscious. Sure enough, a few months later, he married a sweet-natured, loving girl and moved out of his oppressive home. The headaches vanished.

Homeopathy recognizes both conscious and subconscious tension as factors causing headaches: Acid Phos, (due to mental exertion); Coffee, (for those originating from mental excitement); Ignatia, (due to grief ); Nux Vomica, (due to anger).

Most working people accept headaches as part of daily office tension and combat them with painkillers. But all headaches cannot be taken lightly and treated at home. A more sinister class of headaches stem from organic diseases. Of these, the brain tumor as a cause of headaches has been overplayed by writers of fiction and cinema. In fact, only one per cent of all headaches are due to this cause. A good way to tell if a tumor is at work is by looking for the following symptoms: fits of vomiting, failing vision, weakness of the limbs and mental confusion. If these exist, consult a doctor at once for an intensive check-up.

High or low blood pressure, often an executive specialty, also leads to a throbbing headache in the temples (in cases of high blood pressure) and a dull, overall headache, with a lethargic, run-down feeling and mental depression (in cases of low blood pressure). When the ache is a result of a head injury, Arnica is indicated (lack of concentration, sleeplessness and irritability). If the injury is old but the headache has persisted, Natrum Sulph is the choice. However, to be safe, first check out the teeth and ears, in case your headache is the result of a focal infection here. If eye strain – either because of poor vision or too much reading – is the culprit, Ruta G. offers relief.

Sinusitis is inflammation in the protective spaces in the skull. It is very common and the associated headaches occur and recur periodically, usually accompanied by local tenderness over the sinus areas.

Arsenic Alb helps when there is a thin, watery discharge, with excessive sneezing that offers no relief. If the case is chronic, constitutional remedies must be sought. Sinus headaches, which are worse in the sun and are associated with a profuse discharge need Natrum Mur. When the discharges are offensive and the sinuses start to become septic, Pyrogenium is useful. When the headache is left-sided, think of Spigelia. For right-sided sinuses, sanguinaria is commonly indicated.

When the headache radiates from the back of the neck to the head, shoulders and arms, is associated with giddiness and perhaps fainting spells, have an X-ray taken. If it shows that the gap between two of the spinal vertebrae has diminished, then your headache is a result of cervical spondylosis. It is caused by a sudden jerk, carrying heavy weights and by bone diseases like osteoporosis. A few simple remedies and the severest pain disappears.

Yet people resort to traction, diathermy and wear dog’s collars around their necks in an effort to get temporary respite. Rhus Tox, which acts on muscle tissues, and Calcarea Flour 6x and Mag Phos 6x, which relieve muscle spasm, help reduce the ache. Other drugs used are Cocculus (cervical spondylosis associated with giddiness); Hypericum (associated with neuralgias); laburnum (stiffness of the neck, tearing pain from the nape to occiput associated with vertigo and nausea); and Lachnanthes (extreme stiffness of the neck).

Together with medicines, a few simple exercises done at home for a few minutes can be of great help.

1. Slowly turn your neck from side to side.

2. Rotate your neck clockwise and anticlockwise.

3. Lie on the abdomen folding your hands behind your back and raise your head.

4. Fold your hands and raise your shoulders up and down gradually.

5. In case of severe pain, rotate the shoulder of the affected side clockwise and anticlockwise.

6. In case of moderate pain, rotate both shoulders together.

(Dr Batra has a chain of homeopathy clinics and has just launched a book, Homeopathy: Simple Remedies for All)


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