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Article: Headache | Headache Supplements | Migraine Treatment

Headache: A Review & Management in Ayurveda

Author:
Dr. Gangaprasad A Waghmare, M.S. (Scholar)
Prof. Dr. Mohan B Yeole, Guide: M.S (Shalakya)
Shalakya Department, Shree Ayurved College, Nagpur

Introduction:

Headaches are common and usually benign but can sometimes indicate serious intracranial or systemic disorders. Ayurvedic treatments, including snehpan (internal oleation), upnah (poultice), pitchu (medicated swab), vaman (emesis), and virechan (purgation), provide effective relief for various types of headaches, known as shirorogas.

Ayurvedic Review

Ayurvedic texts describe different types of shirorogas (headaches). The major types mentioned in classical texts are as follows:

Charaka Samhita - 5 Types:

  1. Vataj (caused by Vata dosha)
  2. Pittaj (caused by Pitta dosha)
  3. Kaphaj (caused by Kapha dosha)
  4. Sannipataj (caused by the simultaneous aggravation of all three doshas)
  5. Krimija (caused by parasites)

Sushruta Samhita - 11 Types:

  1. Vataj
  2. Pittaj
  3. Kaphaj
  4. Sannipataj
  5. Krimija
  6. Raktaj (caused by blood disorders)
  7. Kshayaj (caused by tissue depletion)
  8. Suryavarta (sun-related headaches)
  9. Anantavat (migraine)
  10. Ardhavabhedak (unilateral headaches)
  11. Shankhak (temporal headaches)

Vagbhata - 10 Types:

  1. Vataj
  2. Pittaj
  3. Kaphaj
  4. Sannipataj
  5. Krimija
  6. Raktaj
  7. Suryavarta
  8. Shirakamp (tremors in the head)
  9. Ardhavabhedak
  10. Shankhak

Modern Review

Headaches can arise from various underlying disorders, including:

  1. Migraine Headache: An intense, paroxysmal, hemicranial headache often due to vasomotor disturbances in the meningeal arteries. The duration, severity, and frequency of attacks vary.
  2. Anterior Ethmoidal Neuralgia: Caused by compression of the anterior ethmoidal nerve at its emergence in the nasal roof.
  3. Facial Migraine: Also known as cluster headache, histamine headache, or sphenopalatine headache. Attacks can last up to two hours and typically occur at night.
  4. Trigeminal Neuralgia: Characterized by intense, spasmodic pain affecting any or all branches of the 5th cranial nerve, which may radiate widely.

Management

  1. Snehapan (Internal Oleation):
  • For Pittaj and Raktaj Shiroroga: Jeevaniya ghrita and other sheetaveerya (cooling) sneha.
  • For Ardhavabhedak and Kaphaj Shiroroga: Chatusneha and purna ghritapan (complete administration of ghrita).
  • For Anantavat: Varunadi ghrita.
  1. Abhyanga (Oil Massage) & Swedan (Fomentation):
  • Application of medicated oils over the scalp (abhyanga) followed by fomentation (swedan) helps liquefy and eliminate vitiated doshas.
  • For Shirorogas and Shirashoolas: Ksheer swedan (fomentation with milk boiled with vatahar dravyas).
  1. Vaman & Virechan (Emesis & Purgation):
  • Vaman: Induced medicated emesis to expel vitiated kapha and pitta doshas, recommended for kaphaj shiroroga.
  • Virechan: Purgation, often combined with basti (enema), to balance vata dosha.
  • For Ardhavbhedak, Anantavata, and Suryavarti: Kaya virek karma (whole-body purgation).
  1. Nasya Karma (Nasal Medication):
  • Administered for urdhva jatrugat vyadhi (diseases above the clavicle).

For Vataj Shiroroga:

  • Swakuthar rasa nasya
  • Rasnadi taila nasya
  • Baladi taila nasya

For Pittaj Shiroroga:

  • Gow ghrita nasya
  • Jeevniya ghrita nasya
  • Fresh navneet (butter) and sarkara (sugar) Avpeedak nasya

For Kaphaj Shiroroga:

  • Vidang taila nasya
  • Trikatu taila nasya
  • Pradhman nasya with sirovirechak dravya

For Tridoshaj Shirashoola:

  • Avpidak nasya with sunthi ksheer paak
  • Trikatu + shigru + karanj beej pradhman nasya
  1. Shirolepa (Medicated Paste Application):
  • For Pittaj Shiroroga: Chandanadi pradeha.
  • For Vataj and Kaphaj Shiroroga: Ushna veerya dravya lepa.
  • For Suryavarta: Lepa of sunflower seed mixed in its own swaras.
  1. Shirodhara:
  • Beneficial for anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, etc.
  • Pittaj Disease: Ushira, chandan, coconut water.
  • Kaphaj Disease: Madhuyashti, nagar mustak.
  • For Vataj Disease: Bala taila and dashmool taila.
  1. Shirobasti:
  • Application of taila (oil) in four types: Abhyanga, Parisheka, Pichu, and Shirobasti.
  1. Dhoompan (Medicated Smoking):
  • For Vataj Shiroroga: Snehik dhoompan.
  • For Kaphaj Shiroroga: Dhoompan with dhoomvarti made from bark of meshshringi and erandadi dhoomvarti.