Dr. Diane Brain Health | Headache and Migraine Treatments | Dr. Diane Brain Health

Headache and Migraine Treatments

Headache and Migraine Treatments




Dr. Diane® Brain Health utilizes state of the art and cutting edge technology, and has the Solutions and Resources℠ to get you feeling your best. The Dr. Diane® integrative team of brain health experts is trained in conventional, complementary, and alternative specialties. This team, using her 5 Prong Approach, provides customized Headache and Migraine Treatments, because Dr. Diane® sees each person as a unique individual and knows that one method does not fit everyone.

Types of Headaches

Headaches come in many types and affect everyone differently. Even the dullest head pain can be incapacitating under certain circumstances.

Tension Headache

If you suffer from tension headaches, you may be quite familiar with the two-sided sensation of squeezing or pressure around your head. The tightness continues for the duration of the headache, and may be accompanied by facial or back pain. Tension headaches can be caused by worry, stress, poor posture, overwork, or inadequate ventilation. They often start late in the day, and the pain may fluctuate from mild to moderate in intensity. Episodic Tension Headaches occur fewer than fifteen times per month, whereas Chronic Tension Headaches can persist anywhere from fifteen days to six months at a time.

Migraine Headaches

Migraine headaches last from four to seventy-two hours and are experienced as an aching, pulsating, throbbing sensation at the forehead or temple. The physical effects can include nausea and vomiting, muscle weakness, numbness, phonophobia (abnormal sensitivity to noise), photophobia (abnormal sensitivity to light), and osmophobia (abnormal sensitivity to smell). Sometimes, migraines are accompanied by an aura, which includes symptoms of perceiving sudden brightness, jagged flashing lights, and/or blurred vision, as well as problems with numbness, movement, speech, thinking and reasoning, disorientation, dizziness, and gastrointestinal symptoms.


If head pain is the only symptom of a migraine, it is called a common migraine or migraine without aura. If the head pain includes sensory symptoms, it is called a classic migraine or migraine with aura. Migraine equivalent, or painless migraine, is characterized by an aura without a headache. Another type is the atypical migraine or complicated migraine, with includes other neurological symptoms. Basilar Artery Migraine (BAM) involves an intense aura and physical symptoms.


Common migraine triggers include coughing, bending over, emotional stress, physical activity, the menstrual cycle, odors, sounds, and irregular eating or sleeping habits. Certain foods can also lead to migraines see below Foods That Can Trigger or Worsen Headaches.

Post Traumatic Headaches (PTH)

This type of headache is associated with head trauma, and can arise months or years after the original injury. In 2004, the International Headache Society placed PTH into four categories: 1) Acute Post Traumatic Headache, 2) Chronic Post Traumatic Headache, 3) Acute Post-Whiplash Headache, and 4) Chronic Post-Whiplash Headache. Most PTH headaches stem from sudden injury to the vertebrae, muscles, ligaments, and tendons in the neck; or from an altered bite caused by damage to the teeth or injury to the temporomandibular (jaw) joint. The initial injury causes muscle spasms and inflamed, injured tissues, which cause pain.

Cluster Headaches

A typical cluster headache appears suddenly and without warning, generally at a specific time of day. The pain is an intense, steady, burning, penetrating sensation centered around or behind the eye and affecting only one side of the face. The involved eye may droop, tear, or become bloodshot; the cheek may be flushed, and the nostril on the affected side may be stuffy or runny. Cluster headache pain generally lasts from fifteen minutes to three hours. After that, discomfort may return in “clusters” of one to three headaches per day.

Analgesic-Rebound Headaches

This type of headache is a reaction to withdrawal from prolonged or excessive use of drugs prescribed for pain relief. The pain may be severe and generalized across the head. The head pain may be accompanied by restlessness, irritability, nausea, difficulty concentrating, and feelings of depression. Analgesic-rebound headaches can occur daily for as long as the problem medication is used, and can continue for several weeks beyond that until the drug is completely out of your system.

Foods That Can Trigger or Worsen Headaches

Some of the most common headache-triggering foods and food ingredients include the following:


  • Alcohol
  • Avocados
  • Bananas
  • Beans (except green or wax)
  • Cheeses (ripened types, such as Cheddar or Brie)
  • Chicken liver
  • Chocolate
  • Cured meats (such as bacon, bologna, or ham)
  • Fermented, pickled, or marinated foods
  • Figs (canned)
  • Monosodium glutamate (MSG)
  • Nuts
  • Onions
  • Peanut butter
  • Peas
  • Pizza
  • Sour cream
  • Vinegar (except white)
  • Yeast-raised breads and cakes
  • Yogurt


If you are troubled by frequent headaches, you should eliminate suspect foods from your diet and see if your headaches improve. Then, add back one food at a time to see which, if any, trigger headaches.

Sample of Treatments for Headache and Migraine

Conventional Treatment for Headache and Migraine

Well-known over-the-counter painkillers, including Acetaminophen (Tylenol, Datril, and others), Aspirin (Bayer, Bufferin, Ecotrin, and others); Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, Nuprin, and others); Ketoprofen (Actron and Orudis); and Naproxen Sodium (Aleve), are the ideal starting place for treatment.


Since your body may develop a tolerance, you can increase the effectiveness of over-the-counter drugs by varying the types you take. It is important to be cautious about doses, since analgesic-rebound headaches are a possibility.


Severe or persistent head pain may call for prescription medications. Certain drugs used for cardiovascular problems reduce headache pain because they keep the blood vessels in the head from becoming constricted. Other types of drugs, including some antihistamines, anticonvulsants (anti-seizure medications), ergot derivatives, antidepressants, and steroids can also reduce inflammation, relax muscles, or disrupt nerve activity. See below, Drugs Used for Headaches.


Your choice of headache medication will depend on several factors: the nature of your headache; the type and intensity of pain; your medical history and the other medications you take; and the results you have experienced with other remedies.


Arnold Sadwin, MD, a Psychiatrist, pioneered two office treatments that bring quick relief to headaches. The first, which stops an ongoing migraine within twenty minutes, is a scalp injection of Marcaine 0.5%, 1 cc in an insulin syringe with a short needle. Another treatment is the administration of oxygen at eight liters for twenty minutes using a simple face mask.

Drugs Used for Headaches

The following table lists the types of drugs most commonly used for headaches, plus examples of each type.

Type of Drug



General pain relief and headache prevention


Aspirin (Bayer, Bufferin Ecotrin, and others)

Acetaminophen (Tylenol, Datril, and others)

Combinations (Anacin, Excedrin, Fiorinal Medigesic, and others)

Type of Drug



Headache prevention; also used to control seizure activity


Phenytoin (Dilantin)

Valproic acid (Depakene)

Topiramate (Topamax)

Carbamazepine (Tegretol)

Gabapentin (Neurontin)

Type of Drug



Pain relief and headache prevention; also used for treatment of depression


Amitriptyline (Elavil, Endep)

Doxepin (Adapin, Sinequan)

Fluoxetine (Prozac)

Nortriptyline (Aventyl, Pamelor)

Phenelzine (Nardil)

Type of Drug



Headache prevention; also used for treatment of high blood pressure and heart problems


Atenolol (Tenormin)

Nadolol (Corgard)

Propranolol (Inderal)

Timolol (Blocadren)

Type of Drug

Calcium-channel blockers


Headache prevention; also used for treatment of high blood pressure


Diltiazem (Cardizem)

Nifedipine (Adalat, Procardia)

Nimodipine (Nimotop)

Verapamil (Calan, Isoptin)

Type of Drug

Ergot derivatives


Pain relief and headache prevention, especially for migraine and cluster headaches


Dihydroergotamine (D.H.E. 45)

Ergotamine (Ergostat)

Ergotamine combinations (Bellergal-S [also contains phenobarbital, belladonna alkaloids], Cafergot [also contains caffeine])

Methylergonovine (Methergine)

Methysergide (Sansert)

Type of Drug



Treatment of intense, persistent pain


Meperidine (Demerol)

Oxycodone combinations (Percocet, Roxicet, Tylox [also contain acetaminophen], Percodan [also contains aspirin])

Type of Drug

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs)


General pain relief and headache prevention


Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, Nuprin, and others)

Indomethacin (Indocin)

Ketoprofen (Actron, Orudis)

Naproxen (Naprosyn)

Type of Drug



Treatment of intense, persistent pain


Dexamethasone (Decadron, Hexadrol, and others)

Prednisone (Deltasone, Sterapred, and others)

Type of Drug



Treatment of intense, persistent pain


Chlorpromazine (Thorazine)

Haloperidol (Haldol)

Thiothixene (Navane)

It may be necessary for your doctor to try several different prescriptions before finding the one that works best for you.


Headache drugs have numerous potential side effects. Some drugs can worsen preexisting health problems or have serious, even deadly, side effects if taken in improper doses. If you are taking medication for headaches, follow your doctor’s usage instructions carefully.


Another approach that may be helpful for headaches is Psychotherapy. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) involves exploring the connection between cognition (thoughts), beliefs, feelings, behavior, and pain. Dr. Diane is a licensed Psychologist who is board certified in Behavioral and Health Psychology.


Physical therapy can be effective against headaches associated with muscle spasms and pain in the face and neck. Water therapy and ultrasound techniques are similarly helpful. Other methods include aerobic exercise and maintaining consistent sleep patterns. If you smoke, quitting may help.

Complementary Treatment for Headache or Migraine

Acupuncture helps control headache pain by stimulating the release of endorphins. An Acupuncturist inserts hair-like needles into specific points on your body. A related type of treatment, Acupressure, involves pressing and then rotating the fingertips firmly against certain points on the body. William Mogan is an Acupuncturist on our Brain Health Team.


Behavioral Medicine (Health Psychology) has been very effective in treatment of Headaches and Migraines. Extensive research has shown that Biofeedback can be very effective against chronic headache pain. Hypnosis is similar to Biofeedback in that it can help you learn to control bodily sensations. Hypnosis teaches you to monitor your body through intense focusing. Dr. Diane is a board certified Health Psychologist and is published in the field of Hypnosis.


Developing a relaxation response is a good way to reduce stress, release tensed muscles, and combat hormonal changes that can result in headaches. Proficiency at yoga, meditation, visualization, and other relaxation techniques can also help with pain.


Chiropractic treatment has been effective in treating post traumatic, tension-type, and some migraine headaches. Chiropractic manipulation by a licensed Chiropractor reduces abnormal motion and irritation to the neck muscles, nerves, and other tissues. Dr. Paul Schoonman is the Chiropractor on the Brain Health Team.

Alternative Approaches

Nondrug treatments may reduce the frequency and intensity of your headaches. It is advisable to consider and experiment with nondrug approaches to headache pain under your doctor’s supervision.


You may also want to consider using homeopathic remedies and herbal preparations for headaches. Recommended are herbs such as arnica, feverfew, peppermint, skullcap, and white willow bark, or homeopathic remedies such as Bryonia, Ferrum phosphoricum, Gelsemium, and Natrum muriaticum. Dr. David Sollars is the Homeopath on our Brain Health Team, and Dr. Diane is a Bach Flower practitioner.


Reiki, Polarity, QiGong, Kyusho, and meditation are all effective methods for treating the various forms of PTH. Reiki, Polarity, QiGong and Kyusho are passive approaches in which another party is doing something to you to relieve your symptoms, whereas meditation is an active method that depends on your ability to concentrate.
Clara Diebold is the Reiki Master on the Brain Health Team.

Get Help Today

Dr. Diane® Brain Health utilizes state of the art and cutting edge technology, and has the Solutions and Resources℠ to get you feeling your best. The Dr. Diane® integrative team of brain health experts is trained in conventional, complementary and alternative specialties. This team, using her 5 Prong Approach, provides customized Headache and Migraine Treatments, because Dr. Diane® sees each person as a unique individual and knows that one method does not fit everyone.


To schedule an appointment please call us at (800)500-9971 or submit a contact form.