With stress levels at an all-time high, it is no wonder that increasingly more people are complaining about stress and tension headaches. We understand that they are linked to stress, but what actually happens when these hit in?
Tension headaches are the most common type of headache and may appear once or twice a month, daily or anywhere in between. For the majority, these headaches are mild and short-lived, but for some, the pain can carry on for several days. The pain tends to be throbbing, affecting the front, top and sides of the head. Most people experience pain around the back of the neck and in the muscles between the shoulder blades. Although some people experience light sensitivity, tension headaches generally do not affect vision and balance.
Stress is clearly the causal factor for these types of headaches and it is thought that the stress hormone, cortisol, causes the tightening of the muscles and nerves around the neck and head, resulting in reduced blood flow to the brain. There are of course other factors that may play a role in tension headaches and these include hormonal imbalances, magnesium deficiencies, poor diet and sleep disturbances.
Most people with tension headaches respond very favourably to magnesium supplementation; it is estimated that large numbers of the adult population are deficient in this very important mineral, which plays a vital role in over 300 biochemical reactions within our bodies. Magnesium plays a key role in energy production, stress response and hormone manufacture. Magnesium is also the key mineral for relaxation as it helps to relax muscles and nerves.
There are hundreds of magnesium supplements on the market, however the problem with magnesium supplementation is that magnesium is ill-absorbed by the body. The supplement that I tend to recommend is Neuro-Mag by Life Extension. This supplement contains a patented form of magnesium which has been shown to be taken up by the spinal cord and hence into the nerves in the brain where magnesium is required to relax the nerves.