Limit fat, which is difficult to digest and can lead to a stomachache and headache. Avoid greasy and fried foods.
Chocolate, monosodium glutamate (MSG), and the preservatives in hot dogs and other processed meats have been found to cause headaches, especially migraines. If your child typically gets a headache after eating one of these foods, banish the offender from the menu. Be aware of hidden MSG in processed food products. For example, if the label lists an additive called hydrolyzed protein, the product contains MSG. Other additives that contain MSG include autolyzed yeast, sodium caseinate, and calcium caseinate. Read labels carefully.
A food allergy or sensitivity can provoke headaches. Use an elimination diet or a diet diary to uncover hidden food allergies (see For age-appropriate dosages of nutritional supplements, see Elimination Diet.
Calcium and magnesium help to calm muscles and relax blood vessels. A transitory deficit of magnesium especially has been associated with the onset of migraine. Give your child one dose of a liquid combination supplement containing 250 milligrams of calcium and 125 milligrams of magnesium, twice a day, until the headache is better.
If your child's headache (whether tension or migraine) is centered in the front of the head-especially if you suspect it may be related to something he ate-try giving him an acidophilus supplement. Give one dose, as directed on the product label, every four hours, until the headache is gone.
For persistent migraines, a supplement called EPA, derived from fish oils, can help to thin the blood and block the cycle that leads to recurrent headaches. Give an older child one capsule, three times daily, for one to two months.
For age-appropriate dosages of nutritional supplements, see Dosage Guidelines for Herbs and Nutritional Supplements.
Chamomile relaxes the nervous system and can bring relief for a tension headache. Give your child one dose of chamomile tea as needed. You can also prepare a chamomile bath and encourage a long, relaxing soak. The herb's beneficial effects will be absorbed through the skin.
If your child suffers from migraines, try feverfew. This herb has an anti-inflammatory effect and may be taken at the onset of a migraine. Or you can give your child one dose, twice a day, over a period of several months as a preventive.
Ginger tea is helpful for either a tension or a migraine headache that is located in the front of the head. Give your child one dose as needed.
Peppermint tea is helpful for a congested and full headache. It can also help relieve a headache caused by overeating. Give your child one dose as needed.
Skullcap is excellent for headaches due to nervous tension. Give your child one dose as needed.
Note: This herb should not be given to a child less than six years old.