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The treatment of headache is a headache for physicians. This popular statement does not hold good for the practitioners of Ayurveda. In Ayurveda it is known as shirabshula. It is of several types depending upon the predominance of one or the other of the doshas in the pathogenesis of this disease.

Both physical and psychic factors are considered to be responsible for this disease. Defective eye-sight, inflammation of the sinus, high blood pressure, sleeplessness, tumour in the brain, prolonged over-work, emotional strain, exposure of the head to excessive heat, cold or sun-rays, indigestion, constipation and wind formation in the stomach among others, may produce headache. Headache is a symptom of many other diseases like fever, influenza and bronchitis.

Depending upon the domination of doshas, the signs and symptoms associated with headache vary. For example, in shlaishmika type of headache, there is always heaviness of the head, watering of the eyes, inflammation of the middle ear, running of the nose, inflammation of the mucous membrane of the nose, nasal polyp and many other similar symptoms. This type of headache generally occurs in the early morning, in rainy or winter season, and immediately after food. Children are more affected by this type of headache. Paittika type of headache is always associated with burning sensation in various parts of the head and bleeding from the nose. It generally aggravates during mid-day and summer and autumn seasons. The vatika type of headache is always associated with giddiness, dryness and roughness of the eyes and various type of pain in different organs of the head. In another type called ardhavabhedaka, pain appears in half of the head. At times headache starts in the morning and goes on increasing as the sun goes up in the sky till mid-day and then as sun comes down the pain also slows down. This type of headache is known as suryavarta. An acute type of headache which is very difficult for treatment is known as anantavata. In this type, the pain starts from the back of the head and migrates to the frontal as well as temporal regions. This is associated with redness and swelling in this region and is known as shankhaka.

Ayurvedic Treatment for Headache: Different types of treatment are to be adopted for different types of headache. A medicine which is commonly used in all types of headache is Anu taila. This is a medicated oil prepared by boiling different medicinal plants in gingelly oil. About 20 drops of this medicated oil are to be dropped into each nostril and deeply inhaled. It is not poisonous. Therefore, while inhaling, if a portion of this oil goes to the stomach through the throat, it is not harmful. Deep inhalation of this oil may cause little irritation of the mucous membrane of the nose and this may result in sneezing. Even water may come out of the nose in large quantities. This oil; if properly inhaled, removes the blockage of the path from the sinuses to the nasal cavity. Removal of this blockage immediately relieves heaviness and mental strain. This oil also produces a soothing effect on the nerves. Normally this inhalation should be done only once. But if the headache is a chronic one or the patient is having acute attack of headache then this can be repeated, two to three times a day.

In shlaishmika type of headache Lakshmi vilasa rasa is very useful. This is available in the form of tablets of 0.25 gm. each. Two tablets of this should be taken three times a day mixed with honey. In vatika type of headache, godanti bhasma and Shringa bhasma are very useful. Godanti is calcium sulphate, and it is prepared in the form of a powder by a special pharmaceutical process. Shringa is the horn of deer. This is burnt into ashes by a special pharmaceutical process. These two powders are to be mixed in a dose of 0.25 gm. each, and taken mixed with honey three times daily.

In paittika type of headache, Suvarna sutashekhara is the medicine of choice. Among other components it contains gold in the form of a bhasma. It should be given in the dose of one tablet two times daily, on an empty stomach mixed with half teaspoon of cream and half teaspoon of sugar. If there is any difficulty in getting cream, then this medicine can be taken each time with a cup of milk mixed with sugar. The patient should be given a mild laxative periodically to keep him free from constipation.

Diet to taken by Headache patients: Milk, sweet food and ghee are useful in this condition. Rice and soup prepared by boiling kulattha is also useful. Intake of hot milk especially that of the cow is considered to be exceedingly useful. The patient should avoid as far as possible fried things and spiced food articles.

Other regimens: The patient should avoid exposure to excessive heat, excessive cold or rain. He should not inhibit natural urges. If the headache is of shlaishmika type, the patient is well advised to keep short hair and avoid washing the head with cold water, as far as possible. Since mental strain and stress are important contributing factors for headache, the patient should be kept free from emotional factors like anxiety, anger and worry. He should not keep himself awake at night. Sleep during the day time is harmful.