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Headaches: causes and solutions

There’s nothing worse than a headache – except not knowing what’s causing it! The reasons for your headache can range from lifestyle factors to medical conditions that manifest in the form of headaches. As with any ailment, understanding why it’s happening can help you manage it better.

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Look to your lifestyle

Don’t worry every time you are struck by a headache; some of the causes are simply lifestyle factors that you can change with a few tweaks to your habits. The following are a few factors that could be causing that ache:

  • Drinking too much and too often
  • A radical change in your sleep cycle

  • Skipping meals

  • Excessive amounts of stress

  • Environmental stimuli such as exposure to tobacco smoke or pollution

  • A strained back, caused by poor posture

  • Eye strain because of reading for prolonged periods without a break

  • Nutritional deficiencies and dehydration

Conditions that cause a headache

Apart from these lifestyle factors, medical conditions also play an important role. Inflammation-based conditions, especially sinusitis (which is an inflammation of your sinuses), is a common reason for headaches. Other medical problems that lead to headaches include the flu and common cold.

Solve it!

There are several ways to avoid getting a headache. There are various natural remedies that you can use to cure them instead of resorting to medication. Avoid drinking alcohol excessively, follow a set sleep schedule and ensure that your diet is balanced. What you eat is as important as when you eat. Ensure that you get enough of magnesium, folate and vitamin B-9 to avoid suffering from diet related headaches. Reduce stress by practising yoga and meditation and try to avoid pollution as much as you can. Remember that poor posture and reading for long periods will cause headaches.

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If your headache has been caused by an inflammatory disease, herbal remedies can help. Tulsi (drink a mixture of tulsi leaves and ginger pieces in hot water) has anti-inflammatory properties and also helps reduce stress. Guduchi is another great herb that helps treat headaches caused by sinusitis. Piper longum (Indian long pepper) on the other hand, can help with headaches that are caused because of stress and travelling.

If you’re looking for a natural remedy for your headaches, turn to turmeric. Its anti-inflammatory properties and vitamin content help to deal with headaches caused because of viral infections such as the flu or a cold. Another remedy you can follow is drinking chamomile tea, as that makes you more likely to sleep, helping to restore equilibrium in your system.


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Healthy mornings with a cup of perfect green tea!

Sundays are usually when I give myself a break and wake up late. This Sunday, I woke up at the crack of dawn. Just one of those days when one doesn’t know why one wakes up refreshed and can’t go back to sleep. There is nothing quite as relaxing as having a cup of hot chai early in the morning and gazing outside from my little haven.

Adrak chai, ginger-lemon tea, black tea, Earl Grey,green tea, lemon tea, mint tea or the good old masala cutting – tea in any of its forms gives a warm fuzzy feeling of total comfort. Sitting at the French window and watching the streets stir to life with my green tea brewed to perfection (mixed with a teaspoon of Himalayan flora honey from Under the Mango Tree – Thank you Emily for helping me procure a natural dark honey) was a great start to my idyllic Sunday. Opting for a healthy Sunday, I chose to drink green tea this week.

I’ve had some pretty disastrous attempts at brewing green tea. It’s something that needs to be worked at a few times before one call yell “Eureka!” It’s tough to get it just right enough for ones taste buds. Here’s why –

Water temperature needs to be perfect. If it’s too hot, the flavonoids (the healthy stuff in the tea) make it bitter. Too cold, the tea stays insipid since the flavours are not released.

  • The flavour and sweetness comes from the amino-acids and natural sugars in the leaves while the bitterness comes from tannins or polyphenols. The former bunch dissolves at 60 degrees Celsius while the tannins dissolve at 80 degrees Celsius. So finding the right temperature is crucial.
  • (I don’t use a thermometer. It’s too cumbersome. I turn off the gas the moment the water comes to a boil and then let it sit for a minute or so to cool it down to a 70-75. That’s an approximation. And no, I don’t guarantee that it’s even remotely around the prescribed temperature. But my tea does turn out perfect if I follow that process. Try it and let me know if it worked for you too. And yes, sceptics, do check with a kitchen thermometer and inform me whether I am making a right assumption of the temperature. I would really appreciate any more tips to make my tea better.)

Duration of the brewing: Ideally between 1-3 minutes.

  • The reason this is important is because the bitterness from the tannins will seep into your tea if you leave it for longer than a couple of minutes.

Usage of tea bag and tea leaves makes a difference.

  • I used to use tea bags. But they have to be dipped continually so as to aid in the release of fragrances and not just dipped once and left in. But with tea leaves, you can just pour the water over them and then strain after steeping.

So, here’s my recommendation for brewing a perfect cuppa:

  1. Bring the water to the boil. Turn off the gas. If you use a microwave, I’d say about a minute on high micro-power should do it.
  2. Wait for a minute. Day-dream. Look out the kitchen window. Place the tea bag or the leaves in a cup.
  3. Pour the warm water over the bag or leaves. Leave it for a minute or two.
  4. Strain it. (Don’t throw the leaves or bag away! They’re a good fertilizer for your garden plants and also a good home-based remedy to dark circles.)
  5. Mix one flat teaspoon of natural or organic honey into your tea. (This sweetens the tea a bit and also adds to the health quotient of it.)
  6. Sit back, relax, and enjoy your cuppa.

Steeping time should be balanced with water temperature: the lower the temperature, the longer the tea can be steeped. But remember, it has to be steeped at a minimum of 60 degrees Celsius for proper release of the amino-acids and sugars.

Enjoy your cuppa as you contemplate how you helped improve yourself today by taking a step towards living a healthier lifestyle.

You can check out a wide range of healthy natural teas at http://www.naturalmantra.com/categories/Organic-Natural-Health-Remedies/cid-CU00029130.aspx

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