Paavo Airola - Let's Live - May 1976Index


I recently attended a medical symposium where a speaker said, "We have 18 million arthritics, 20 million mentally ill, 40 million suffering from atherosclerosis, and 180 million afflicted with tooth decay - but I am going to speak to you about an ailment which affects all 220 million - virtually every single American! The ailment is headache. The rest of the talk consisted of advising doctors which pain-relieving drugs were most effective against headaches.

The billion dollar business in aspirin and other pain-relieving drugs substantiates the doctor's claim of the universality of headaches and also the failure of orthodox medicine to cope with this most common of all afflictions. This is also a terrible indictment of our health-destroying lifestyle, for primitive people who lead healthy lives are only seldom afflicted with headaches. Headache is a syndrome of our denatured, over-stressed, tension-filled, competition-oriented life. Headache is not a disease in itself, but a sign that there is something more seriously wrong with the body. It is a symptom of derangement and disharmony in the body's normal functions.

Causes of Headaches

The problems which manifest themselves partially with headaches are numerous because a headache is basically a symptom of mental and physical stress.

Among the causes are:

Locating the Cause

The first thing to do at the onset of a headache is to determine the cause. Often this is obvious and doesn't require any major diagnostic effort or professional consultation. For instance, if one has recently eaten a meal that didn't digest well, the cause of the headache is probably indigestion. Constipation or bowel irregularity are other self-evident causes of headaches.

Eyestrain, as well as psychological, emotional, and other stresses and tensions, both physical and mental, should be considered, and the appropriate adjustments in one's lifestyle made.

Nutritional deficiencies, low blood sugar, allergies, and pollution are rather subtle and difficult to pinpoint. These four areas can also be related: for example, vitamin and mineral deficiencies can cause or aggravate hypoglycemia, and environmental toxins can cause allergies.

If the headache sufferer lives in a smog-ridden city, toxic amounts of lead or carbon monoxide may be responsible. One way to eliminate some of the environmental suspects is to make one's environment as pure as possible.

Low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia, may manifest itself with dozens of symptoms. These can include not only headaches but severe moodiness, irritability, depression, confusion, extreme hunger between meals, craving for sweets and alcohol, abnormal fatigue and weakness, poor digestion, etc. If one's diet is lop-sided towards refined food, or such supposedly health-oriented regimes as high protein and fruitarian diets, it is possible that low blood sugar is at the bottom of one's headache trouble. A six hour glucose tolerance test should determine this.

If allergy is involved, you should know that the most common allergens, in order of frequency, are: wheat, milk, white potatoes, eggs, and oranges. Dr. Coca's pulse test 1 or a monodiet with gradual addition of each suspected allergen can help locate one's specific food problem.

If the headache persists or returns frequently a biologically oriented doctor should be consulted immediately (for a list of such doctors, send a self-addressed, stamped business size envelope to me, c/o Let's LIVE).

Pain Relief

Since the headache is only a warning signal that something is wrong - a symptom of some derangement in the normal functions of the body - the lasting correction of the condition can be achieved only by removing the underlying causes of the headache.

There are times, however, when the correction of the real cause of the headache is a lengthy process, and the immediate relief of pain is desirable. Relief might be obtained from a number of natural sources. Here are some that have been used successfully by biologically oriented doctors.

Vitamin E, niacin (B3), and garlic act as blood vessel dilators or stimulate the circulation. This can help eliminate the vascular constriction leading to tension headaches.

Calcium, magnesium, and vitamin B6 are other well-known pain-relievers.

Certain herbs have been found to be helpful in relieving headaches temporarily: blue violet, chamomile, ginger, sage, thyme, vervain, wood betony, rosemary, and peppermint. 2 Note that while one herb may work for one person, another herb is more specific for another. Try several to find out which is best for you.

Mag. Phos. is a cell salt recommended by some homeopathic physicians for help in combating many kinds of pain. Dr. Alfred Vogel, M.D., of Switzerland, recommends the homeopathic medicine Sanguinaria, especially for migraine headaches. 3

Dr. Vogel also has found two other biological therapies useful in relieving headache pain: one is a warm water shower directed at the stomach, neck, or spine, depending on the source of the trouble; the other consists of placing onion, horseradish, or cabbage leaf poultices on the back of the neck. Another biological measure to draw blood away from the head (especially in high blood pressure) is to immerse the legs up to the calves in hot water for 15-20 minutes. 4

Acupuncture has been well tested and found to be effective for many kinds of pain relief, including headaches, especially migraine. 5

Correcting the Causes

Regardless of the cause of headache, a general health-building lifestyle and diet, as outlined in my books Are You Confused? and How to Get Well, are imperative. Since all headache-causing disorders are the result of the lowered resistance of the entire body, with special weakness in the area manifesting the problem, unless the entire organism is built up with proper exercise and relaxation, optimum diet, clean environment, and positive outlook on life, the specific therapies will do little good. Relaxation and freedom from tension are especially important for the headache sufferer.

Assuming one's diagnosis of the cause of headache is correct, and the above general health rules are observed, we can treat the specific cause of headache with effective natural therapies. Most of these programs are outlined in detail in the appropriate chapters of How to Get Well. The sections below are highlights for some of the specific types of headaches.

Spinal Nerve Headaches

A disc may be dislocated in a number of ways, causing pressure on spinal nerves. A good chiropractor can eliminate this cause of backache and headache with a simple adjustment. To help keep the back in place, even after adjustment, follow the chiropractor's instructions and supplement your diet with vitamin E and manganese.

Sinus Headaches

Niacin and massive doses of pantothenic acid (1,000 mg., four to six times a day for a few days only) and vitamin C (1,000 mg. hourly) help to control sinus headaches. 7 Homeopathic remedies Hepar Sulp. 4x and Cinnabaris 3x, as well as an onion compress on the neck overnight, are often used in Europe. 3

Some researchers report that chlorophyll drops in the nose bring relief. 8

I have found garlic to be the supreme sinus remedy. Herbs which are very helpful are saw palmetto, mullein, golden seal, red clover, and rosehips - all used as herb teas. 9

Vitamins B6 and A are specific for sinusitis. The latter is involved in the health of the mucous membranes and has been used in doses as high as 100,000 units per day - but only in a natural form, such as cod liver oil - for short periods, under a doctor's supervision.

Anemia Headaches

Iron-deficiency is best corrected by a diet high in iron-rich foods such as dark green leafy vegetables, dark grapes, apples, apricots, plums, raisins, strawberries, bananas (also a source of anemia-correcting folic acid and B12), sunflower and sesame seeds, peas, egg yolks, honey, and blackstrap molasses. A chelated form of iron is often necessary for those with poor iron assimilation. Chelated minerals are now available at health food stores. Caffeine retards iron absorption but hydrochloric acid and vitamin C help in iron assimilation.

High Blood Pressure Headaches

The diet should be low in sodium and high in potassium. All animal proteins, except goat's milk, as well as coffee, alcohol, salt, black and white pepper, ginger, nutmeg, and mustard, must be avoided. Garlic and buckwheat are used by doctors in Russia to treat high blood pressure. 10 A watermelon diet is also excellent. Juice fasting for seven to ten days is one of the best therapies - as outlined in my book How to Keep Slim, Healthy, and Young With Juice Fasting. If repeated frequently, this will also correct overweight - a major cause of high blood pressure.

Lots of exercise is extremely important, especially walking which is so effective that it alone has eliminated high blood pressure in many cases. Actually, I don't know of any headache remedy which is more effective than an hour or two of relaxed but brisk walking in fresh, clean air.

The best herbs for hypertension (high blood pressure) are hawthorne berry, mistletoe, valerian root, and wild cherry bark.

The specific supplements are rutin and other bioflavonoids (100-300 mg), vitamin C (1,0003,000 mg.), lecithin, potassium, magnesium (500 mg), and B complex, with B12.

Indigestion Headaches

When food is not completely and properly digested, it putrefies and gives off toxins into the blood, causing headache. The main reasons for indigestion and gas are overeating, eating wrong food combinations, eating too fast, and neglecting proper mastication and salivation of food. In older persons, the most common cause of indigestion and flatulence is poorly digested and putrefying food in the intestines due to a deficiency of gastric juices. Taking one or two tablets of hydrochloric acid and a few dolomite tablets with each meal usually remedies this condition.

The ideal way of eating is to eat only one kind of food at a meal. Avoid too many combinations; especially, never combine raw fruits and raw vegetables in the same meal. If a salad is eaten with a protein meal, it should be eaten with or after the protein food, not before. This is because protein needs hydrochloric acid for digestion and if a carbohydrate food is eaten first, the stomach will not secrete enough of the acid to digest the protein. The practice of eating a vegetable salad before a protein meal is common only in the United States. It partially explains why so many people suffer from digestive problems.

One should also supplement the diet with lactic acid foods every day: yogurt and other cultured milks, sauerkraut, pickles, sour bread, etc. These are all helpful in digestion. Using papaya, lime, and chili (cayenne and paprika) also aids digestion. 10 Garlic is an excellent remedy since it neutralizes putrefactive toxins and kills undesirable bacteria.

In persistent and chronic digestive problems, repeated short juice fasts can help by giving the digestive organs time and opportunity to rest and regenerate.

Constipation Headaches

Chronic constipation is one of the most frequent causes of headaches. It may result from a variety of physiological and psychological disturbances, such as lack of sufficient exercise; hypothyroidism; not enough liquids in the diet; liver dysfunction; specific food allergies; habitual use of laxatives; failure to relieve the bowels with regularity; constant worries, nervousness, or grief: over-refined foods; vitamin and mineral deficiencies, particularly of B-complex, inositol, and potassium; and too much animal protein. These underlying causes must be diagnosed and eliminated before constipation can be permanently corrected.

The diet should be a high-residue diet with emphasis on raw fruits, whole cooked and sprouted grains, raw seeds and nuts, and raw and cooked vegetables. Sauerkraut, sesame seeds (and tahini), flax seeds, bran, soaked prunes, dried figs, yogurt, kefir and other soured milk, and honey are specific for this condition. Take 2 tbsp. of cold-pressed vegetable oil (preferably olive or sesame) every day. Brewer's yeast is an excellent food supplement. Take 3-4 tbsp. per day, preferably between meals, along with some sour fruit juice. Whey, in powder or tablet form, is one of the best anti-constipation foods.

Vegetable broth is excellent especially "Excelsior", which is a broth combined with wheat bran and flax seed (see recipe in How to Get Well).

Lack of exercise is one of the main causes of constipation. Walking (with deep breathing) for two or more hours a day is one of the easiest and best ways to remedy this.

Hypoglycemia Headaches

Follow the high-natural-carbohydrate, low-animal-protein diet for hypoglycemia as outlined in my articles on "Hypoglycemia" in the February and March, 1976, Let's LIVE. This diet consists basically of six to eight small meals a day, with the emphasis on cooked or sprouted grains, raw or sprouted seeds, and raw nuts. Soured milks, brewer's yeast, avocado, olive oil, and garlic are specific.

Vitamins C (2,000-3,000 mg.) and E (up to 1,600 LU.) are important. Vitamins B6 (50 mg.), B12 (25-50 mcg.), and pantothenic acid (100 mg.) should be taken with a high-potency, natural B-complex. Sea water, one to two tablespoons a day, provides natural sodium and trace minerals. Magnesium (chloride or citrate 500 mg.) and potassium (500 mg.) are the most important minerals. A comprehensive digestive supplement is usually indicated. 13

The best herbs for hypoglycemia are licorice root, Mexican wild yam, golden seal, and Juniper berry (Juniperus Sabina Pinaceae). 9 11

Pollution-Caused Headaches

Carbon monoxide and lead in smog, nitrates in water and meat, cleaning compounds, herbicides and pesticides, fluorescent lights, radiation, food additives such as monosodium glutamate, and other environmental pollutants, are known to cause headaches.

Carbon monoxide is combatted with vitamins A, E, and B15. Vitamins A, B1, C, and D, lecithin, calcium, potassium iodide, algin, and pectin, along with a mineral and legume-rich diet, will offset or prevent lead poisoning.

Allergy Headaches

Elimination of all known allergens from the diet is imperative. Start with one or two foods you are positive are well tolerated and add one new food each week. If it causes no problems, add another food the following week. Short juice fasts will help to build food tolerance.

Vitamins C (up to 5,000 mg. a day) and E (up to 800 I.U.) act as natural antihistamines. B-complex (especially B12 and pantothenic acid - the latter up to 200 mg.) has been found to be helpful. Vitamin A is recommended in doses of 10,000 to 25,000 units per day. Manganese (5 mg. twice a week for 10 weeks) and calcium (up to 1,000 mg.) are the important minerals. A comprehensive digestive supplement taken after meals is usually indicated.

The best herbs to combat allergies are comfrey, rosehips and garlic.

Lemon, pineapple, papaya, garlic, comfrey, and wheat grass juices are beneficial.

Acid-forming foods, such as seeds, nuts, and grains, as well as the regular use of apple cider vinegar (in water with honey), will keep the body from being too alkaline, which may also cause allergies.

Migraine Headaches

Migraine is presently considered "incurable" by orthodoxy. However, progressive nutritionists and doctors have found a number of aids for both immediate and permanent relief.

Follow my diet, with emphasis on alkaline raw fruits, vegetables, and sprouted seeds. The famous cancer specialist, Dr. Max Gerson, overcame his severe migraine attacks and those of many of his patients with a diet consisting basically of apples. 12 Avoid salt and acid-forming foods such as meat, and too much cereal and bread. Eat small, frequent meals along the lines of the diet for hypoglycemia.

All fresh fruit juices are beneficial.

Rosemary, peppermint, and blue violet are the specific herbs, to be used as herb teas two to three times a day.

In addition to a multi-vitamin-mineral formula, the following supplements are of importance in migraine:

Brewer's yeast - 2 tbsp.
B complex - natural, high-potency with B12
B6 - 50 mg.
Pantothenic acid - 100 mg.
B15 - 100 mg.
B3 - 300 mg. (100 mg. three times a day). In acute condition, 200 mg. three times a day - but a doctor must determine the proper dosage.
Rutin - 200 mg.
C - up to 1,000 mg.
E - up to 1,2001.U.

The following homeopathic supplements have been found to be helpful for migraine headaches: Pulsatilla 10M, Iris 6x, and Sanguinaria. 3 4

Learn to relax - but don't work intensely and then suddenly relax completely, as this will often bring on a migraine attack. Get plenty of rest during the night and possibly a nap every afternoon. Sleep with windows open.

Plenty of exercise, walking, and deep breathing exercises in fresh air are especially important.

Acupuncture has been known to offer permanent relief from migraine headaches after a few treatments.


Healthy people don't get headaches. The fact that headache is undoubtedly the most common ailment in America shows that we are not very healthy. Headache is a sign of some body disorder. If your body functions friction-free and is unaffected by pathological conditions or undue stresses, it will not react with headaches. I can never forget when one of my daughters, 16 at the time, over hearing me talking to someone about headaches, asked me, "Dad, what is a headache?" She had never had a headache in her life, and could not comprehend what we were talking about. Many grown-ups in some of the "primitive" countries in which I have traveled told me they never have headaches.

If you suffer from headaches, some of the natural pain-relievers recommended in this article may be of help to you. But the sensible approach would be to get to the basic causes of your headaches and do everything you can to eliminate them. When the underlying causes are removed, the headache will disappear of its own accord - not because we cured it, but because there would be no more reason for its existence. Health has been restored. And if you then follow a health building diet and a health-conducive lifestyle, there will never be a need to experience another headache! Only the aspirin industry will consider this bad news!


  1. Coca, Arthur F., The Pulse Test, Lyle Stuart, New York, 1959.
  2. Malstrom, Stan, Herbal Remedies II, Family Press, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1975.
  3. Vogel, Alfred, M.D., The Nature Doctor, Bioforce-Verlag, Teufen, Switzerland, 1952.
  4. Clark, Linda, "Headaches, Part I", Let's LIVE, Oct., 1974.
  5. Clark, Michael, "Acupuncture for Migraine", Prevention, April, 1975.
  6. Mikels, J. Ronald, "Vitamin E and Manganese Helps Backs Stay Adjusted", Prevention, May, 1973.
  7. Nittler, Alan, M.D., "Sinus Headaches", Let's LlVE, March, 1974.
  8. Clark, Linda, "Headaches, Part II", Let's LIVE, Nov., 1974.
  9. Airola, Paavo, How to Get Well, Health Plus Publishers, P.O. Box 22001, Phoenix, AZ. 85028, 1974.
  10. Airola, Paavo, Rejuvenation Secrets from Around the World - That Work, Health Plus Publishers, Phoenix, AZ, 1974.
  11. Griffin, LaDean, Is Any Sick Among You?, Bi-World Publishers, Provo, Utah, 1974.
  12. Straus, Charlotte Gerson, "The Gerson Therapy", Cancer Control Journal, 3:1&2.