Everyone experiences a headache at least once in life.
For some people, they are infrequent and not horribly painful. For others, they can be so excruciating that nothing works.
Those that suffer from regular migraines, or very painful headaches, have had to turn to prescription painkillers or invasive surgeries when everything else they have tried has failed.
They lose a quality of life just as much from the side effects of those pills and treatments as they do from the headaches themselves.
In today’s world the acupressure and/or reflexology therapeutic methods that most eastern cultures have practiced for centuries to treat ailments of the body and spirit, including headaches, has become more accepted in western culture over the past few decades.
As it has become more available, and more information about acupressure and reflexology is readily accessed on the internet, many headache sufferers have been able to find relief without the medications.
So it is always better to consult your doctor before you try anything in the home.
Causes & Types of Headaches
There are many causes for headaches, from emotional distress, stress, anxiety, physical ailments to illness and diseases.
Headaches are defined as pain in any region of the head. The pain can be a throbbing ache or shooting and acute pain, and range anywhere in between.
Depending on what activated the pain, they can last from a few hours to days and even weeks.
[thrive_custom_box title=’Types of headache’ style=’dark’ type=’color’ color=’#e0efd7′ border=’#1d6b06′]Doctors and scientist have classified headaches into two categories: Primary and Secondary.
Primary headaches are less serious than secondary and never caused by any underlying disease. While some underlying disease is known to cause a secondary headache.[/thrive_custom_box]
Most headaches, about 90%, are considered primary headaches, which are usually caused when pain-sensitive areas of the head are over-stimulated.
These areas are the nerves, blood vessels and muscles of the neck as well as the head.
Some adverse chemical activity that takes place in the brain can also cause pain. This includes migraines, cluster, and tension headaches. 
Headaches that are caused by changes in temperature or pressure, physical exercise, and most miscellaneous pains are also included in this group.
The most common type of headaches that people suffer from is tension headaches. These can be caused by emotional distress, anxiety, stress and some types of physical pain. 
The second type of headaches, secondary headaches are caused by the same pain centers being overactive. However, this category of headaches is generally caused by some sort of physical issue.
These causes can be anything from hangovers to tumors in the brain.
The list also includes pain felt in the head from ingesting something cold, most commonly called an “ice cream headache” or “brain freeze”. 
Physical ailments like blood clots, dehydration, glaucoma, flu, and strokes, etc. can also contribute to secondary headaches. Carbon monoxide poisoning and concussions are also included, as well as panic attacks.
The headaches in this category that have been increasing lately are caused by overuse of medicine, namely opiates, and are called rebound headaches.
While many people are able to successfully treat their headaches with over-the-counter medicines like aspirin or ibuprofen, more painful and longer-lasting headaches may be caused by more severe conditions.
Anyone who is suffering from prolonged and/or severe headaches should definitely seek medical advice.
However, even doctors have begun to see the benefits of acupressure instead of prescription medications to treat certain types of headaches.
Thus, more and more people have been able to find an alternative, natural, homeopathic remedies and acupressure techniques to relieve their pain.
What is acupressure/Reflexology?
How does it relieve pain?
Both acupressure and reflexology are natural therapies that involve using the more than 300 pressure points found on the body to alter or relieve certain physical conditions.
However, there are significant differences between the two.
[thrive_text_block color=”light”] Reflexology usually involves the pressure points in the feet, hands and sometimes the ears, yet did not actually begin until the 20th century.
It was developed in the early 1900s by two Western doctors, Dr. William Fitzgerald, and Dr. Edwin Bowers. [/thrive_text_block]
These doctors found that certain points on the hand, feet and even ears can affect certain body parts, glands, and organs.
These zones or pressure points are different from the ones used in acupressure methods, yet the results are similar.
When those specific points are manipulated or massaged with differing amounts of pressure, a person’s ailment can be lessened or even completely remedied. 
[thrive_text_block color=”light”]Acupressure, however, is an ancient technique that has been practiced by eastern cultures for centuries. It dates back over 5,000 years and has mainly been practiced in the eastern areas of the world.
While this technique also involves pressure points, the points are found all over the body, not just specific areas. And, the practitioners as well as their clients, believe that these areas will induce the positive flow of chi (a person’s life force). [/thrive_text_block]
Chi is thought to flow through the body via channels called meridians (there are 14 meridians thought to be in the body, with 12 regularly used), and when these channels get blocked or unbalanced, the result is some form of illness, physical ailment or spiritual distress.
When the appropriate acupoints in the body are correctly pressed/massages it will counteract imbalances in a person’s chi, thereby easing adverse health or spiritual conditions and helping one to feel better. 
Sometimes herbs and other treatments are suggested in conjunction with these non-invasive techniques to assist in the healing process.
Most practitioners of both therapies believe that if one has either or both performed regularly, it will help to prevent illness, alleviate pain and ease or remedy other ailments.
Western medical science has not yet found any evidence that the field considers verifiable to prove the healing powers of these alternative methods. However, there have been several current studies that investigated claims of temporary relief from headaches and other illnesses.
It has been determined by these studies that endorphins are released by pressure applied to specific acupoints, and those endorphins act as the bodies natural painkillers. 
Today there are many doctors that are turning to alternative methods like acupressure and reflexology to help ease patient complaints before using more chemical or invasive curative.
Pressure points for headaches
There are various acupoints found in different regions of the body that will relieve the pain from headaches.
For most of these points, the pressure is applied for several seconds to a couple of minutes. The amount of pressure can vary from moderate to penetrating and can be performed on a person once or periodically.
The pressure is applied in a rubbing/massaging manner or with direct force.
If a person is trying acupressure at home, the first research and verifies the information after discussing it with your doctor. It would be best to start with a reputable practitioner of whichever therapy is desired, as there are some adverse effects that can occur when the method is used incorrectly on inapplicable pressure points.
Once a person has talked to a medical professional and utilized a respected therapist, then try some of the techniques at home.
Try to alternate pressure and motions on the applicable acupoints, charting the amount of pressure and finding the points that work best for your needs.
Some of the more important or useful acupoints for headache relief and can be located in the following six regions: Forehead, Temple, Face, Neck/Shoulder, Hands, and Feet.
There are two points located in the forehead region, Third Eye Point and Bright Light.
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Third Eye Point is where the top of the nose meets the brow, just between the eyebrows.
Apply direct pressure for about 1 minute to relieve not only headaches but the pain from ulcers and eyestrain. This point can also be used to improve one’s concentration.
One clinical study found that acupressure at third eye point and Shenmen (HE7) point can help in reducing anxiety in patients undergoing coronary angiography. 
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Bright Light – The second point is found just below the eyebrows on the inner corner of the eyes or outer side of the bridge of the nose even with the eyes.
This point is useful for sinus headaches, allergies and can help to improve a person’s vision. The time of pressure is also 1 minute on both sides simultaneously.
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Temple Region Points – The next region is the temple area. There are five acupoints located here and they curl around the ear, but are about 1 finger width away.
All five need to be pressed together to relieve migraines and headaches on the side of the head.
Begin at the tip of the ear with the Hairline Curve point, follow with the Valley Lead, Celestial Hub, Floating White and end just behind the widest part of the ear with the Head Portal Yin acupoint.
Apply direct, moderate pressure on all points until the pain eases.
In the face region, there is one acupoint that works best for headaches. Welcome Fragrance is the name for the points located on both sides of the nose, right by the nostrils.
This works on tension headaches and clogged sinuses. Again, the pressure that works may vary so start with a moderate then increase until relief is felt.
Use more direct than the massaging pressure on this point.
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Neck Region Points – The three acupoints found in the neck/shoulder region are Wind Pool, Heaven’s Pillar and Shoulder Well.
Wind Pool is found at the back of your head, and the halfway point between the ear and spine. It falls in between the two muscles in the back of your head/neck that come together.
Pressure on this point will not only alleviate migraines but also nasal congestion, as well as pain in the eyes, ear, and throat.
When Heaven’s Pillar is pressed it relieves pain in the back of the head and/or neck, eye strain, insomnia, stress and even pain from stiff neck muscles.
This acupoint is located on the back of the neck also, below Wind Pool, about 2 fingers from the skull base on the side muscles of the spine.
The last point of this region, Shoulder Well, is at the midpoint between the shoulder point and the end of the neck, at the edge of the shoulder.
Use this point to help shoulder, neck stiffness and neck pain. Pressure on Shoulder Well can also reduce asthma symptoms and muscle spasms.
It is best to use direct penetrating pressure here for about 2 to 5 minutes or until the symptoms are alleviated.
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Hand & Foot Points – There is just one major pressure point for headaches in both the hand and feet region.
In the hand region, Union Valley, is in the web of the hand, between the thumb and forefinger. Penetrating, massaging pressure works well here for the time necessary to ease the pain.
It relieves frontal headaches, tooth or back pain and can also release tension from the neck and head.
For the foot, that point is found in the area between the big and second toes. The pressure applied to Moving Between can reduce eye strain and pain from foot cramps or arthritis. Of course, it also works on headaches as well.
This point works better when the same amount and type of pressure are used as on the Union Valley pressure point located in the hand region.
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Face Region Points – There are more acupoints in the body that will reduce pain, especially from headaches. One that is widely known is in the temple region, the flat area on the side of the face before the hairline and parallel to the outer edge of the eye.
Gently massage this point with light to moderate pressure until the pain is lessened.
More points can be found running in parallel lines from the front of the top of the head to the back of the head. The direct pressure applied will vary until the tension is released.
It is important to reiterate that it is better to go to a reputable practitioner of these therapies before trying them at home.
While there are many benefits to acupressure and reflexology, using the wrong amount of pressure in the wrong areas can have significant adverse effects. And, always, always talk to your medical provider regarding any alternative medicines or treatments.
Homeopathic and/or natural remedies are becoming more universally accepted by doctors in western cultures. The medical community has seen the benefits that patients receive from these methods and are beginning to suggest them before turning to the more traditionally practiced western medicines and procedures.
Therefore, do not hesitate to ask your doctor if any of these techniques can work for you. He/she will probably not give any guarantees, but they will usually recommend starting with the more non-invasive therapies.
The relief that many people have received from acupressure and/or reflexology cannot be dismissed or disregarded and you can also feel a lessening of ailments after experiencing these methods.
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 Allan Purdy, MD. Professor and Head Department of Medicine Dalhousie University Halifax, Nova Scotia Canada. Primary or Secondary Headache? – American Headache Society. Available from: https://americanheadachesociety.org
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