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Supplements help reduce headaches

Several dietary supplements have been studied for headaches, particularly for migraine prevention. In 2012, the American Academy of Neurology and the American Headache Society issued evidence-based guidelines that classified certain dietary supplements as “effective,” “probably effective,” or “possibly effective” in preventing migraines.

The guidelines concluded that butterbur is effective and should be offered to patients with migraine to reduce the frequency and severity of migraine attacks. The most common side effects of butterbur are belching and other mild digestive tract symptoms. Raw butterbur extracts contain pyrrolizidine alkaloids, which can cause liver damage and cancer. Extracts of butterbur that are almost completely free from these alkaloids are available. It is uncertain whether butterbur products, including reduced-alkaloid products, are safe for prolonged use.

Coenzyme Q10
Coenzyme Q10 is an antioxidant that cells need to function properly. It’s available as a dietary supplement and has been studied for a variety of purposes. The guidelines say that coenzyme Q10 is possibly effective and may be considered for migraine prevention. No serious side effects of coenzyme Q10 have been reported. It may interact with some medications, including the anticoagulant (blood-thinning) medication warfarin (Coumadin).

The guidelines say that a specific feverfew extract called MIG-99 is probably effective and should be considered for migraine prevention.Side effects of feverfew may include joint aches, digestive disturbances, and mouth ulcers. It may interact with anticoagulants (blood thinners) and some other medications. Feverfew is not safe for use during pregnancy. Its long-term safety has not been established.

Magnesium deficiency is related to factors that promote headaches. The guidelines say that magnesium is probably effective and should be considered for migraine prevention. Magnesium supplements can cause diarrhea and may interact with some medications. Because the amounts of magnesium people take for migraines are greater than the Tolerable Upper Intake Level for this mineral (the largest amount that’s likely to be safe for almost everyone), magnesium supplements for migraine should be used only under the supervision of a health care provider.

The American Academy of Neurology and American Headache Society’s guidelines say that riboflavin is probably effective and should be considered for migraine prevention. Riboflavin has minimal side effects, but it can cause an intense yellow discoloration of the urine.

Yoga as a complimentary health approach

Current research suggests that a carefully adapted set of yoga poses may reduce low-back pain and improve function. Other studies also suggest that practicing yoga (as well as other forms of regular exercise) might improve quality of life; reduce stress; lower heart rate and blood pressure; help relieve anxiety, depression, and insomnia; and improve overall physical fitness, strength, and flexibility.

In a 2011 study, also funded by NCCIH, researchers compared yoga with conventional stretching exercises or a self-care book in 228 adults with chronic low-back pain. The results showed that both yoga and stretching were more effective than a self-care book for improving function and reducing symptoms due to chronic low-back pain.
Conclusions from another 2011 study of 313 adults with chronic or recurring low-back pain suggested that 12 weekly yoga classes resulted in better function than usual medical care.

If You Are Considering Practicing Yoga
Do not use yoga to replace conventional medical care or to postpone seeing a health care provider about pain or any other medical condition.
If you have a medical condition, talk to your health care provider before starting yoga.

Everyone’s body is different, and yoga postures should be modified based on individual abilities. Carefully selecting an instructor who is experienced with and attentive to your needs is an important step toward helping you practice yoga safely.
Carefully think about the type of yoga you are interested in. For example, hot yoga (such as Bikram yoga) may involve standing and moving in humid environments with temperatures as high as 105°F. Because such settings may be physically stressful, people who practice hot yoga should take certain precautions. These include drinking water before, during, and after a hot yoga practice and wearing suitable clothing. People with conditions that may be affected by excessive heat, such as heart disease, lung disease, and a prior history of heatstroke may want to avoid this form of yoga. Women who are pregnant may want to check with their health care providers before starting hot yoga.

Plantar Fasciitis

One of the most common causes of foot pain is plantar fasciitis.
The plantar fascia is a strong band of connective tissue that stretches from the heel to the ball of the foot, supporting the arch of the foot. The plantar fascia is designed to absorb the body’s weight when standing, walking and running. But, sometimes, too much pressure damages or tears the tissues. The body’s natural response to injury is inflammation, which results in the heel pain and stiffness of plantar fasciitis.
Plantar fasciitis occurs when this fascia becomes irritated and inflamed due to overuse. This leads to pain on the bottom of the foot near the heel.

People may experience pain with the first few steps after getting out of bed or after sitting for prolonged periods. The pain usually subsides after a few minutes of walking. The pain tends to be greater after activity, not during activity.

Most cases plantar fasciitis arise without an identifiable cuse. There are, however, risk factors that can make someone more likely to develop plantar fasciitis. These include:

Tight calf muscles that make it difficult to bring your toes up toward your shin
Being overweight or obese
High arches
Sports or activities that lead to repeated impact to the foot, such as running.

Treatment Options for Plantar Fasciitis
Your doctor will recommend a treatment plan based on the severity of symptoms, responses to past treatments, your medical history and personal preferences.

It is important to note that the majority of people with plantar fasciitis will improve with simple non-surgical approaches.

Rest. Decrease or stop the activities that make the pain. You may need to stop athletic activities where your feet pound on hard surfaces, such as running
Ice. Rolling your foot over a cold water bottle or ice for 20 minutes, 3-4 times per day is effective.
NSAIDs (Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication, such as ibuprofen or naproxen, can reduce pain and swelling. Using the medication for more than 1 month should be reviewed with your doctor.
Exercise. Plantar fasciitis is aggravated by tight muscles in your feet and calves. Stretch your calves and plantar fascia to relieve the pain that comes with this condition.
Corticosteroid injections. Corticosteroid (cortisone) is a powerful anti-inflammatory medication that be injected into the plantar fascia to reduce inflammation and pain. There is a limit to the number of times corticosteroids injections can be administered. Multiple steroid injections increase the risk of the plantar fascia becoming weak and even rupturing.
Supportive shoes and orthotics. Wear shoes with thick soles and extra cushioning to reduce pain when standing or walking. Soft silicone heel pads are inexpensive and work by elevating and cushioning your heel. Pre-made or custom orthotics (shoe inserts) can also be helpful.
Night splints. Most people sleep with their feet pointed down. This relaxes the plantar fascia and is one of the reasons for morning heel pain. A night splint stretches the plantar fascia while you sleep. Although it can be difficult to sleep with, a night splint is very effective and does not have to be used once the pain is gone.
Physical therapy. Your doctor may suggest that you work with a physical therapist on an exercise program that focuses on stretching your calf muscles and plantar fascia.