When preventative medication for headaches doesn’t work very well (which it often doesn’t) Botox and nerve decompression surgery may be promoted as alternatives.
They can seem to hold out the promise of an end to pain. When reports in the media have titles like “How cutting out your 'frown muscles' stops migraines - and wrinkles” success seems assured and risks insignificant.
Yet Botox is the trade name for one form of botulinum toxin, a nerve poison produced by bacteria, and the most poisonous substance known. It is over 10,000 times more lethal than the venom of the world’s most poisonous snake – Australia’s own inland taipan.
"A nerve poison produced by bacteria… the most poisonous substance known."
Both cause muscle paralysis by the same mechanism. Death is due to paralysis of the breathing muscles.
Risks with Botox are minimised by only injecting minute amounts into several different places within same muscle, but it can still spread some distance from the injection site. For most people the benefits for headaches are small, and injections must be repeated every 2 – 3 months when nerve terminals regrow.
 D. Hurst (2010). “How cutting out your 'frown muscles' stops migraines – and wrinkles.” MailOnline, 31 August 2010.
This is an excerpt from Stop Headaches Naturally Chapter 9.29 - Botox and Nerve Decompression Surgery - Beware The Hype
It is important to understand that Botox only treats the symptoms and does not address the cause of migraine pain.
Clinical trials that lead to the approval of Botox for migraines requires the use of the PREEMT protocol, where small injections of multiple units are injected over the forehead, sides of the head and back of the head and neck.
"Botox only treats the symptoms"
The cost of this treatment is around $700 and has to be repeated every 3 months. Now that is an expensive way to find temporary pain relief.
If you suffer from migraines and chronic headaches and are considering using Botox, I encourage you to purchase my book called Stop Headaches Naturally. It only costs $27… a drop in ocean compared to the ongoing costs of Botox.
You will learn not only how to find pain relief but more importantly how to treat the cause of your pain and stop your headaches from returning.
Our pre-occupation as a society with the short term quick fix is one of the factors responsible for over-reliance on pain-killers.
When time is money and a “can do” attitude is paramount, we may feel we can’t afford to be ill or to be functioning below our best.
Instead of taking time out to look after our health, when something goes wrong we look to medication to fix the problem.
"We look to medication to fix the problem"
The following quote typifies the “pop a pill and forget it” attitude that is so prevalent:
"It's never a great start to the day when you wake up with a pounding headache. Fortunately, help is often as close as your medicine cabinet. You can pop a couple of aspirin, close your eyes, and, in all likelihood, that throbbing in your head will be soothed within the hour.
You’re in good company in your choice of remedy. Some 80 billion aspirin tablets are taken worldwide, every year, for all types of headaches including the excruciatingly painful form known as a migraine. That's a lot of pharmacological muscle."
If you think this was written by an advertising executive for a pharmaceutical company you would be incorrect.
Disturbingly, it was actually taken from a reputable internet site offering health advice to the general public.
However there is no doubt that pharmaceutical advertising helps foster the idea that medication can provide solutions to all of your health problems.
This is an excerpt from Stop Headaches Naturally Chapter 6.6 - The promise - the lure of the quick fix
Hippocrates was a Greek physician who made such an impression on medical history that today he is called the father of modern medicine - some graduating medical students take the “Hippocratic Oath’ upon receiving their doctoral degree.
Even though Hippocrates did most of his work around 400 years before the birth of Christ, we can still learn a lot from his detailed observations of disease and its effects, and how health is often influenced by diet.
It’s a shame that many doctors prescribe medication without considering the benefits of a healthy diet.
“The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will interest his patients in the care of the human body, in diet, and in the cause and prevention of disease.”
Although there have been many medical advances since Edison’s time, the doctor is unfortunately still “giving medicine”.
The traditional approach in Western medicine has always been to diagnose a particular disease or condition from known symptoms and then to treat it with medication, surgery or various procedures.
This focus on diagnosis and treatment worked well for infectious diseases, but is not very useful for multi-factorial chronic diseases like cancer and cardiovascular disease.
At the population level, the emphasis has shifted in favour of understanding the underlying causes of disease, and prevention through improvements to lifestyle.
However this has not really been translated to the individual patient-doctor consultation.
It is not just the doctor’s fault – patient expectations also contribute to this situation. Patients sometimes complain they have not got value for money if they don’t leave clutching a prescription, but just discuss factors like diet, exercise and sleep with their doctor.
Or if the doctor does recommend various lifestyle changes, patients frequently ignore this advice and keep looking for “the magic bullet”.
And when the patient is in pain, many doctors feel helpless if they can’t provide some form of pain relief.
This is an excerpt from Stop Headaches Naturally Chapter 6.8 - The focus of Western medicine is on treatment rather than prevention
Maybe you think you have sinus headaches when what you really have are migraines... 90% of “sinus headaches” are migraines.
The reason for the confusion and misdiagnosis is that migraines share the same symptoms as a sinus headache - stuffy or running nose, sinus pressure, sinus pain and watering eyes.
Treating yourself with nasal decongestants (when you don’t have a sinus headache) is definitely not a good idea as it can lead to rebound (medication overuse) headaches.
Frequent headaches can really reduce your quality of life but pain-killers are not the answer
Pain of any sort isn't any fun, but headache pain can stop you thinking clearly. Even a relatively mild headache makes it more difficult to do your work properly and just getting through your daily routine starts to become an effort.
But a severe headache can stop you dead in your tracks and render you unable to function normally. And if the pain is accompanied by typical migraine symptoms of nausea and vomiting then probably all you will be able to manage to do is to go home and collapse into bed.
"It is tempting just to reach for a pain-killer to numb the pain"
What makes it harder is that you often don’t get much sympathy or understanding from those around you, unless they are also badly affected by headaches. Because headaches are extremely common they may be seen as “normal” and not a “proper illness”.
Even our language tends to trivialize headache pain as in the expression “a real headache” for some annoying or difficult problem.
"A headache may be seen as an excuse to avoid responsibility or something you don’t feel like doing"
And a headache may be seen as an excuse to avoid responsibility or something you don’t feel like doing, as in the well-worn cliché “Not tonight dear, I have a headache” for avoiding sex in a relationship.
If you suffer lots of headaches, and particularly if they are severe, it is easy to feel helpless not knowing when a headache will strike again or how to stop it from returning. Headaches can appear in the day or the dead of night.
One time, a headache might hit during a stressful crunch to meet deadlines at work, another may occur in the middle of an uneventful day, and yet another during a pleasurable activity.
The cause of your headaches can look like a complete mystery.
"Makes you an easy target for shrewd marketing campaigns by the pharmaceutical industry with their TV commercials promising “a quick fix” for your headache pain"
All of this makes you an easy target for shrewd marketing campaigns by the pharmaceutical industry with their TV commercials promising “a quick fix” for your headache pain.
It is tempting just to reach for a pain-killer to numb the pain.
While this is understandable and OK every now and then, it is most definitely not a good idea on a long term basis for the following reasons:
- You are only masking the symptoms, not treating the underlying factors that are provoking your headache. Only by understanding and correcting these factors can you can ever hope to be free of headache pain.
- You are actually likely to make your headaches much worse. Instead of occurring perhaps several times a month, they now occur much more frequently, often daily, and the pain is more severe and longer-lasting. This is known as rebound headache or medication overuse headache.
- All medications have side effects. Serious side effects of long-term use of headache painkillers include damage to the gastrointestinal tract, liver and kidneys.
- By relying on a pill, you perpetuate your feeling of helplessness. It seems like headaches are controlling your life and there is nothing you can do about it. If you unravel the factors that are provoking your headaches, you will restore your feeling of being in control of your life, and this may go some of the way towards actually alleviating your headaches.
There are genuine natural alternatives to pain-killers
It is easy to find detailed information about headache medications on the internet. However information about natural therapies for headache is normally presented in a scatter gun fashion in the form of a list of things to try.
That is why we wrote the book Stop Headaches Naturally - Treat The Cause Not Symptoms. The main aim of this book is to provide you with comprehensive, reliable information about the different types of natural therapies which are available for headaches. We have also tried for to organise this information in a way which makes it easier for you to access and apply.
Photo credit: wolfgangfoto / Foter.com / CC BY-ND