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Relieve headaches naturally

About 45 million Americans suffer from tension headaches.

To ease tension headache pain, Dr. Larson, in collaboration with Mark McKenzie, dean of Northwestern's Minnesota College of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, and Dale Healey, DC, dean of Northwestern's School of Massage Therapy, offers these tips:

? Use self-massage to ease muscle tension. Using your fingertips, gently massage the area around your temples, forehead and ears. Press your thumbs lightly into the area at the base of your skull;

? Apply an ice pack to the back of your skull and a hot pad to your shoulders. The ice pack will reduce pain while the hot pad will reduce muscle tension;

? Use acupressure by pressing your thumb into the fleshy part of your hand between your thumb and your forefinger. Hold the pressure for 20 seconds. Repeat five times as needed;

? Take 40-80 milligrams of white willow bark or one or two capsules of valerian. White willow bark has a pain-reducing effect and valerian is a natural muscle relaxant;

? Make a compress of warm water and five drops of essential oils -- lavender or peppermint work well to reduce tension. Place the compress across your forehead or the back of your neck;

? Use meditation to relax and focus; and

? Consider seeking treatment from a doctor of chiropractic, a licensed acupuncturist, or a licensed massage therapist.

"Chiropractic treatments have historically been beneficial in relieving tension headaches," says Dr. Larson.