Most modern detox programs require that you stick to a strict regimen, avoiding many of your usual habits. A detox involves passing on fast and processed foods, cutting out alcohol and smoking, and abstaining from drinking coffee and eating sweets. Unfortunately, such a sudden change in your daily routine doesn’t always go off without a hitch. When you can’t get your daily fix of caffeine, nicotine, or the cookie jar, your body may protest with withdrawal symptoms. Among the most common side effects of a detox can be headaches.
Detox headaches are dull and often prolonged headaches that usually occur in the late-afternoon or evening hours. They are your body’s way of letting you know that it misses all the forbidden things like caffeine or sugar. Here are some of the most common reasons behind those pesky detox headaches.
Almost all detox programs involve dramatically limiting your calorie intake. Rather than indulging in your favourite foods like usual, you will normally drink plenty of water instead. The sudden drop in your daily caloric intake will then lead to decreased blood sugar levels, which is one of the reasons you might experience these headaches.
Not being able to get your caffeine fix with a nice cup of joe is another major trigger for detox headaches. Studies have shown that headaches are a common occurrence among coffee drinkers who, for one reason or another, cannot get their daily fix. What's more, the withdrawal from caffeine doesn’t just contribute to nasty headaches, it can also lead to more painful and sustained migraines, as well as irritability and, of course, fatigue.
Drinking water is good for you, no question, but drinking excessive amounts can lead to problems, sometimes even life-threatening ones. Drinking very large quantities of water in a short time dilutes the blood and floods the cells of the body. When this happens, we speak of water intoxication or hyponatremia. With the cells in the brain swelling, there is increased pressure in the skull, which will result in headaches. Extreme cases of water hyponatremia can be much more serious, leading to seizures and breathing problems, and in rare cases, permanent brain damage.
When you start to experience a detox headache, the best way to go about it is to act as soon as possible. It’s usually easier and more effective to quell the irritation before it gets worse than it is to reduce a headache that has been going on for hours. Here are some things you can do to ease or eliminate your detox headache.
By gently massaging your temples and forehead, you can help to ease tension and improve blood flow. In many cases, this can lessen the symptoms of headache pain, if not get rid of them altogether. For a soothing head massage, use your fingers and apply just slight pressure, gently massaging in circular motions. As you massage your head, you should feel the tension and the discomfort slowly diminish.
Ice can be an effective remedy for detox headaches. The coldness of the ice helps reduce swelling and pressure. To apply ice to your head, you can put some ice cubes in a bag to avoid a watery mess, or opt for one of the many ice-pack products available on the market. Gently apply the cold bag to your head to dull the pain and soothe inflammation.
Lack of sleep is a contributing factor for many ailments. Furthermore, it is one of the best treatments for detox headaches. Just take a nap or relax in a dark and quiet room. If you can’t take a nap, such as when you’re at work, take a few moments during your break to isolate yourself in a quiet place with low lighting. Take some slow, deep breaths.
No doubt, detox headaches can be annoying and a real pain, no pun intended. But when you experience them, try to take it easy and don’t stress too much. Relax, and see them as a sign that your detox is actually working. You shouldn’t take any pills (remember, you want to detox your body!), but if the headaches are bothering you too much, try to scale back the severity of your detox instead. Also, keep in mind that your detox won’t last forever, and neither will your headache!