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Alternative & Home Treatment

The excruciating pain from cluster headaches is debilitating and both mentally and physically exhausting. Identifying and avoiding triggers (such as alcohol or smoking) can reduce the severity and duration of headache cycles. You can manage your headaches at home by:

Learning to effectively manage headaches at home may help reduce the severity and duration of the headache cycles.

If your headaches become more severe and medicines are not working, let your health professional know. You may need to try a different medicine or a combination of medicines. You may also need to be referred to a hospital or headache clinic for more intensive treatment. Chronic cluster headaches can lead to stress and depression, which in turn can continue the headache cycle. Finding ways to cope with stress (such as with regular exercise) and improve depression may reduce the severity or frequency of your cluster headaches.


Hot/Cold Therapies

Using ice packs (frozen peas in a tea towel can be just as effective) or hot packs applied to the temple and face give some relief to most people. Some find that alternating one with another can help more. Showers of varying temperatures, especially if there is a power shower fitment, can help, whether applied to the face or neck. Some have found relief from putting feet or wrists/hands under cold running water.

It may be that these methods simply divert the brains pain receptors to another cause - but do be careful if you are alternating temps very rapidly as it can affect your heart!

Air conditioning, or even breathing cold air, can help a lot. Many dash for the car if they have AC there - especially as it can offer some privacy. If you work in a shop or have access to a large refrigerator all the better.

Bio-feedback from Charlie Strand (USA Sufferer)

I'm writing because when I was diagnosed in 1972, my neurologist taught me a biofeedback technique that lessened the pain and shortened the attacks. As they are vascular in nature, I was told to "think" of forcing blood-flow from behind my eye, down my neck and into my arms and hands. As my hands warmed, the throbbing behind my eye would decrease in varying degrees.

Sometimes, when awake and caught in time, I could entirely abort the attack. Almost always, I got some relief from this technique. It takes intense concentration and can be exhausting but when these things hit, what else have we to do? Try to "feel" your hand warm with blood drawn down your neck from your skull and you should have some success.

This far from a cure but it afforded me some much needed sleep and allowed me to get on with my life. Dr. Wright's little trick changed my attitude toward his profession. I hope you have some success with it. It isn't perfect but it is an old idea that works well for me. Later, I had luck with inderal. All the best to you.

Charlie Strand


(contributed by Lewis Freeman)
Courtesy of

Just a quick note on alternatives, I have had clusters for quite a while in fact probably about 8 years but it was only diagnosed this year, I was always under the impression it was a sinus problem. I have tried a number of the western treatments with limited success - oxygen treatment is very good but unfortunately I can not take it out and about! I have always been adverse to pumping myself full of drugs (well nothing that's not natural) and I was getting very depressed with the lack of preventative treatment around, so I am giving acupuncture a go.

The acupuncturist I went to see spent 1 hour 30 taking my medical history before sticking any needles in me, he concluded that my problem was with my liver and the headaches were a manifestation of the problem. So he is treating my "liver" points and it seems to be having a positive effect. I have had four consultations and the headaches have reduced from every day to twice a week and they are far more mild. With most I can more or less converse with people, amazing! Also I have not been woken up in the night since I started getting treatment.

I still cannot drink alcohol, I gave it a try last week and suffered the worst headache I have had since I started the treatment - then I should have known better, especially as I choose a glass of malt whisky. It could be just a coincidence, I may be coming to the end of a very long episode or there maybe something in it, all I know is I am not dismissing it while my headaches are reducing in number, I will keep you posted as to how things move on.


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