I have suffered from horrible headaches for years. Some are from issues with my cervical spine, some from stress and some from other things. I have multiple chemical sensitivity syndrome. It isn’t severe. I can survive in the world without too much of a problem, though perfumes, colognes, scented deodorants (Axe half kills me) and certain body washes are horrible. Many of them contain chemicals that trigger an instantly negative response, most of the time in the form of severe headaches and nausea.
A basic and layman’s idea of what happens, as told to me by a chiropractor I used to work for, is that the muscles that surround the upper cervical spine and the lower part of the skull (vertebrae C1-C7) get very tight and lose the blood flow that keeps them flexible. The upper vertebrae surround the brain stem. When all of this gets tight, it puts pressure on that area and that in turn causes a headache because the nerves get all pinched. Sometimes ice helps relax that area for me, but often I need to get those muscles flushed with blood, which will loosen them up, and relax the pinching on the nerves, which in turn helps relieve the headache. Sounds complicated, right? Nope. There is hope for those of us who have these issues! And bonus! It’s inexpensive, simple and can be done in your own home.
This is a remedy given to me by a dear friend and certified herbalist years ago. The first time she prepared it for me I managed to cuss her out soundly with words I wasn’t even aware that I knew. It was uncomfortable at the moment, but honestly, the relief that I got from this remedy was worth a few minutes of discomfort. Since that first time back in about 1998, I have used this Cayenne Pack remedy for countless headaches, and it’s gotten to the point I don’t even feel the discomfort any more, and have actually fallen asleep during the process. The cayenne pepper and ginger in this recipe act as irritants to the skin, which causes the body to naturally flood the area with blood in defense. This fills those constricted muscles with the fluids they are needing so badly and the lack of which is causing the impingement and headache.
After you read the instructions and see the pictures, please read the end for warnings about usage, ok? It could be the difference between it working for you, or making you miserable.
Step 1 – Gather the supplies you need. Fortunately they are inexpensive and may be already in your cupboard. You need: 1 tea towel you don’t mind staining; cayenne pepper – 35,000 hu is mild, 60,000 hu is better, and if you are truly tough – go for the 90,000 hu. I usually use 60,000 hu. It does the trick without making me cry; ginger powder; 1 large bath towel.
Step 2 – Get the towel completely wet, and wring it out thoroughly. Lay it out on your counter.
Step 3 – Sprinkle the towel with the cayenne pepper. Get it evenly distributed. This picture doesn’t show the best way to do this. I should have transferred the pepper to a spice jar so it was easier to sprinkle. The one I have was full of 120,000 hu pepper and too strong to use for hubby’s headache so I did it this way. As you can see there are clumps of pepper all together. It gives you an idea though of what you should be going for. Make sure you are generous with the pepper.
Step 4 – Sprinkle ginger powder over the cayenne. They work together to stimulate the rush of blood to the muscles.
Step 5 – This is what it looks like when both the cayenne and the ginger are spread over the towel. Get as much coverage as you can – the more area you cover of the neck and shoulders, the more relief there will be in the tightness of the muscles.
Step 6 – Fold the towel in quarters and heat in the microwave for about 25 seconds.
Step 7 – Open up the towel, carefully to avoid losing much of the pepper and ginger, and lay it over the bare shoulders, upper back and back of the neck. IMPORTANT NOTE: Do NOT put the towel or any of the cayenne beyond the middle of the sides of the neck. Use the ear line as your stop point. The tissues on the front of the throat area are very thin and if you get the pepper on them it will feel like you are unable to breathe. Be VERY careful to follow this instruction exactly! Also, as the cayenne dries, it will start to fall and be messy. Have the person getting the pack sit on a large towel or blanket that can be washed.
Step 8 – Cover the wet cayenne towel with a large dry bath towel to hold in the moisture.
Let this sit on your skin until you feel like you are going to spontaneously combust. You won’t, I promise. But it may feel like it. The first time you do it especially. Trust me, you are fine. When it gets to the point that either you can’t take it any more, or you stop feeling any heat, take a cool shower. I stress COOL because you can try warm or hot, but it isn’t possible unless you have a very high tolerance for pain. Get it all off. When drying, pat the area that had the cayenne carefully – don’t rub it, because it will be uncomfortable for a bit.
The muscles are now flooded with blood. When you look in the mirror your back and neck will be very red – that will fade in a little while.
Within a short amount of time you should start to feel relief in the tightness of your muscles and the pain in your head, provided that this was what was causing your headache in the first place.
*NOTE – after preparing the pepper pack wash your hands COMPLETELY! Anything you touch will start to burn within a short amount of time if you haven’t washed it all off. Your eyes, or anything else that is sensitive really don’t want to have pepper in them or on them.
I hope that you get as much help from this remedy as I have. It has saved me from taking WAY too much over the counter painkilling medication over the years. My kidneys and liver thank me and my herbalist friend for introducing this method of relieving headaches to me so long ago. Thank you Petra for sharing your knowledge. Thank you also Hubby. Without you as a model (even though I’m sorry you had a headache in the first place) this would have been a lot more difficult.
The statements made here have not been approved by the Food & Drug Administration. These statements are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease. This notice is required by the Federal Food, Drug & Cosmetic Act.