The easiest solution is not necessarily the best solution, particularly when it comes to health.
Take headaches, for example. Too often we reach for Tylenol. It might offer relief, especially for the occasional pounding head, but a more natural solution is probably better for your bod.
First, if your head hurts regularly or you get migraines, look for a cause. You might need a doctor to figure things out, and sometimes medical conditions are to blame. Migraines usually have specific triggers, and people who get them feel other symptoms, such as nausea and sensitivity light, sounds or smells.
To be sure, there are many kinds of headaches. That said, obvious things often bring them on, stress chief among them. Think: tension headache. Lots of pollen in the air? Could be allergies. Thirsty? That could give you a headache. So can being tired. Wild weather patterns are another possibility.
“Changes in barometric and atmospheric pressure change the pressure in our head and ears, which can lead to headaches,” says Andrea Brown, a registered nurse with Colonial Life.
One way to help a headache is to turn to an ancient holistic remedy.
Studies have shown acupuncture can relieve pain. In fact, the World Health Organization’s official position on this arm of traditional Chinese medicine notes that studies have proven that acupuncture is an effective treatment for headaches.
It’s not a treatment that’s way out on the fringe either. Some medical insurance covers acupuncture, and you often can pay for it through a health savings account.
Acupuncture can seem scary if you’ve never tried it, but many people find it relaxing. This can be especially true if it’s hard for you to find down time.
So how does it work? An acupuncturist inserts very thin needles into the skin to control the body’s flow of energy. Insertion often feels like a mild prick. Typically the needles stay in place for about 30 minutes. Once they are in, you just lie there in a kind of forced relaxation (which can help a headache on its own).
Traditional Chinese medicine’s underpinning’s say vital energy, or “qi,” flows through all living things but sometimes gets out of balance. Acupuncture helps rebalance it. And when you’re back in balance, odds your head won’t be the only thing feeling better.
Journalist Mitra Malek has taught yoga regularly since 2006. She was a senior editor for Yoga Journal and still does research for the magazine on wellness, fitness and nutrition. Learn more at www.mitramalek.com.