EarthTalk: Are there natural headache remedies
that can get me off of Tylenol, Advil and other medicines
whose side effects can be as bad as or worse than the pain
that led me to use them?
-- Jan Levinson, Portland, ME
and techniques such as acupressure (acupuncture without
the needles) can go a long way to relieve tension
headaches without the need for chemical painkillers.
As to relieving migraine headaches, a number of nutritional
supplements and herbs have good track records, but
they should not be used without the guidance of a
trusted doctor or naturopath.
© Getty Images
of us may be too dependent on over-the-counter painkillers
to treat the occasional headache, especially given the side
effects of such drugs. Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) can increase
the risk of heart and circulation problems—including
heart attack and stroke—and is also tough on the digestive
tract. Too much acetaminophen (Tylenol) has been linked
to nausea, diarrhea, and kidney and liver problems. Many
natural health care practitioners disparage drugs for merely
masking the symptoms of larger problems.
headaches are not the same and gobbling down pain pills
will not address the causes, whatever they may be. Some
headaches are caused by tension; others stem from sinus
congestion, caffeine withdrawal, constipation, food allergies,
spinal misalignment or lack of sleep. And then there are
migraines, which researchers think are neurological in nature:
The brain fails to constrict the nerve pathways that open
the arteries to the brain, resulting in a pounding headache
as blood flows in unchecked. Assessing what kind of headache
you may have can help lead the way to a solution beyond
deadening the pain with a pill.
make tension headaches go away, the Farmers’ Almanac
recommends applying an ice pack to the neck and upper back,
or, even better, getting someone to massage those areas.
Also, soaking the feet in hot water can divert blood from
your head to your feet, easing any kind of headache pain
in the process.
all-natural headache cure is acupressure (like acupuncture,
but without the needles), which promotes healing throughout
the body by stimulating channels of energy known as meridians.
Victoria Abreo, alternative medicine editor for the website
BellaOnline, says that anyone suffering from a tension headache
can employ a simple acupressure technique to help relieve
the pain: “With one hand, press the shallow indention
in the back of the head at the base of the skull. Simultaneously,
with the thumb and forefinger of the other hand, press firmly
into the upper hollows of the eye sockets, right where they
straddle the bridge of the nose and meet the ‘t’
of the eyebrow bridge.” She says to press softy at
first, and then more firmly, holding for three to five minutes.
for migraines, avoiding certain trigger foods might be key
to staving them off. Abreo says migraine sufferers should
try steering clear of dairy products, processed meat, red
wine, caffeine and chocolate. New research has shown that
some people with specific dietary deficiencies are more
prone to migraines.
to Dr. Linda White, who writes about natural health for
Mother Earth News, some recent clinical trials have shown
three nutritional supplements—magnesium, riboflavin
and coenzyme Q10—to be particularly effective at reducing
the frequency and severity of migraines. Also, a number
of herbs—including feverfew, butterbur, lavender,
gingko biloba, rosemary and chamomile—have proven
track records in preventing or stopping migraines. Since
herbs can be potent and are not regulated or tested, headache
sufferers should consult a trusted doctor or naturopath
before using alternative remedies.
EarthTalk: Are there any electric bicycles
or scooters that make for a nice cheap, green-friendly commute?
-- Sean Foley, Nashua, NH
Today's electric bikes and scooters are big improvements
over the finicky mopeds of the 70s and 80s. Consumers
can start greening up their commutes on such vehicles
for as little as a $1,500 investment and about 25
cents a day in electricity costs. Pictured: the Veloteq
has long been a symbol of greener living, and it is great
exercise, too. But most people are probably not up to commutes
much beyond five or 10 miles one-way in the interest of
time and in not arriving at work too pooped (or sweaty)
Now a number
of battery-powered two-wheelers are coming on the market
that won’t get you your exercise but will get you
from point A to B and back with minimal environmental impact.
Consumers can start greening up their commutes on such vehicles
for as little as $1,500 plus about 25 cents a day in electricity
costs—not bad at all when you consider that a new
car costs thousands of dollars more up front and chugs mass
quantities off expensive and polluting gasoline.
Many of us conjuring
up images of electric bikes and scooters may envision the
finicky mopeds of the 70s and 80s, but today’s offerings
are much improved and quite diverse.
Those who want
to go fast but stay green should check out some of the electric
scooters made by Miami-based EVTAMERICA. Each of the company’s
three models tops out at a maximum speed of 45 miles per
hour—respectable even on the highway. “People
want to go at least 40 mph,” says the company’s
co-owner, Fernando Pruna. “Everything built before
could only do 25 or 30.”
of Somerville, Massachusetts makes electric bikes that can
speed along at 25 miles per hour in “go fast”
mode, but also have a “go far” mode, which trades
off speed for distance (some 24 miles on a single charge).
While eGO’s bikes may look diminutive, they are known
for their strength. “Our bikes are powerful enough
to tow a car,” says Kevin Kazlauskas, the company’s
operations manager. “These are not toys, and customers
aren’t treating them like toys.”
might be an electric scooter made by Houston-based Veloteq.
These scooters only go 20 miles per hour at top speed, but
they can cover up to 50 miles on a single charge, which
is more than enough distance to get most commuters back
and forth to work, as long as they can avoid fast-moving
highways along the way. A side benefit of the speed limitation
on Veloteq’s vehicles is that they are typically exempt
from licensing, registration and insurance regulations in
most jurisdictions—yet another way to save money over
those car drivers still mired in their 20th century car
Opting for one
of these new scooters or bikes over a car commute will take
a big bite out of your carbon footprint, but the future
promises even greener versions. The lead-acid batteries
that most models use today will soon be replaced with greener
and more efficient varieties, lithium ion and nickel zinc
being two of the more promising formats. These new fangled
batteries will make the vehicles cost more, at least initially,
but they will also trim bike weight significantly and provide
a lot more distance per charge. And eGo is working on a
model with a small solar array behind the seat to extend
the bike’s range once its electric charge starts to
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