Friday, August 6, 2010

Ramadhan Headaches: causes and solutions

Its fair to say that most of us feel a little worse for ware during the first few days of Ramadhan!
We are so desperate to get as much as we can from this blessed month, that we run around, shopping, cleaning, taking care of our families and our personal preparations that we often enter this month of contemplation stressed, shattered and run down! On top of that, we often give little thought to how the new routine will affect our general lifestyle! We somehow expect that we can carry on as normal, and incorporate our Ramadhan commitments in around our work, social lives and other responsibilities. Inevitably, this plays havoc with our physical health, and the most common complaint people describe is …, headaches! The worst headaches in the world! Dealing with these awful headaches every day usually puts us in a bad mood, in bed early and without gaining the spiritual benefits we so desired from our Ramadhan nights!
As I myself suffer from a chronic migraine condition, I’ve done my research, (both online and in person!), and have put together a few hints and tips which I’m confident, will combat the Ramadhan headaches for you and enable you to be at peace and concentrate on higher things during this month.

The most common cause of Ramadhan headaches is water balance. Generally, our bodies regulate water balance through-out the day, whenever you grab that glass of water, cup of tea and so on. The sudden dramatic change the body experiences in Ramadhan puts it in to shock, and alters the water balance causing mild dehydration and severe headache. The body needs time to adjust to this new routine, and learn how/when to conserve water and when new stocks will be replenished. For this reason, you should start adjusting your fluid intake a week or so before Ramadhan begins. Try stocking up on high amounts of fluid in 2 or 3 fixed periods rather than through-out the day, so that your body learns to cope for longer times without fluids, this will make the Ramadhan change less pronounced. Generally, we eat and drink quickly after fasting, and often forget to redress our fluid intake. Even if you do not feel much like eating, be sure to stock up on good clear water when you break your fast. Some doctors also recommend water with sugar or honey to assist with this process. For those fasting for longer periods in hotter climbs, occasionally rehydration salts may be required and you should make sure you have these to hand before Ramadhan begins.

The Sehri meal: many of us prefer a few extra minutes in bed, rather than waking up for the Dawn meal. Even if we do wake up, most of us can’t face eating so much at such an odd time (myself included!). This year however, as many of us will be fasting for 18 to 20 hours per day, going without Sehri is quite simply not an option! Your body has rights over you, and if you are working through-out the day, your body requires sustenance to keep it going! Try to stock up on slow release carbs and energy foods, again, with that all important fluid you need. Avoid fried, fatty and overly salty foods at either ends of the fast: they are tempting, but can dehydrate you and add to headaches in the longer term. Extra spicey foods are to be avoided at all cost for those suffering from Migraine, and if you insist on them, eat only a little at eftar time rather than in the morning. A common cause of headache is hunger, but you can reduce this by making sure you eat a full and healthy breakfast before fasting begins. Some foods that are thought to help combat Ramadhan headaches include:
Sultanas, honey, black seeds (or black seed oil), ZamZam Water, goats milk, pomegranates and cherries. If you know of any other foods thought to aid headaches, do include in the comments section after this post.

Alternative remedies.
There are many different forms of pain relief now available that can prevent you reaching for the Standard pain killers. Acupuncture in Particular has been found to be 80% affective in treating most chronic headache conditions. If you suffer with migraine and are worried about how to cope through the month, now might be the time to try acupuncture. You are bound to be able to source a practitioner in your area, though as always, be sure to check out that the doctor you are using is qualified, and is aware you are fasting. It is helpful to play recordings of qur’an, or duas in the background while treatment is being administered, thus relaxing the body and aiding the process of Shafa. Aroma therapy has similar heeling properties, though is not recommended during fasting periods because of the intensity of the oil and the fact that the oils are absorbed by the skin in huge quantities.
Many doctors are now recommending that those suffering with headaches should take time to have Hijama/cupping administered before Ramadhan, so try to do so in advance, or as early on in the month as you can manage.
You can also administer a simple head massage yourself: add a little warm black seed oil to your palms, and begin massaging from the centre of the forehead outwards in small but firm circular movements, using first the palms, and then the tips of the fingers. Take about 5 minutes to do this. Then run the tips of the fingers over the front of the head for 2 or 3 minutes, making small tapping movements, and finish by administering firm pressure to the temples using the tips of the fingers. If you feel the headaches comes from tension in the neck and shoulders, keep these moving and partake of some massage therapy prior to Ramadhan.

We simply cannot expect to be able to continue with our regular routine during Ramadhan! Minor adjustments have to be made wherever possible in order to keep the body refreshed and energised. If you are working, speak to your employers and see if any adjustments can be made to your schedule. Not all employers will agree, but increasingly, legislation is requiring them to do so where appropriate. Even if you have to work the same hours, they may be able to remove you from heavy physical duties, or those things which are likely to fatigue you. A common cause of headache is exhaustion, so after afternoon prayer, perhaps try to take a power nap and recharge a bit. If you do manage to adjust your schedule, sleep for a couple of hours when you reach home, so that you are alert for eftar and not so exhausted that you need to crash out straight after!
If you have a migraine condition and use regular medication, be sure to consult your doctor. Some types of migraine medication, particularly those associated with blood pressure or cranial pressure regulation may mean that you are not able to fast at all, while some others can be adjusted appropriately to merge with the fasting schedule. Take advice in advance about this and be sure you understand the new medication schedule and are well stocked up on the medicines you require.

Finally, some Islamic tips.
Dua joshin Kabeer is said to be especially helpful in treating headaches. The dua can be found in most ziyerat books or at if you are able to read it, then all the better, if not, print it out and keep it under your pillow at night. You can also dip a paper containing the dua in water and drink this water at either end of the fasting day. It is also helpful to keep a qur’an under the pillow, and some of the pure earth from Karbala.
Finally, the most obvious, but the most important! Ask Allah (SWT) to strengthen you and help you during this month. Ramadhan is certainly not designed to be easy! But if you are genuinely battling health issues and fear you may not be able to make it through, you need only take one step towards your creator, and he (SWT) will come running to you. Remember that with every hardship, there is ease, and your efforts during this month will surely be rewarded Insha Allah!
If you have any tips for combating headaches, please do share them with our readers.


  1. Thanks for the very informative article. I do usually get some headaches in the month Ramadan especially in the beginning and I think it is usually water related.

  2. Other foods to combat headaches:dandelion leaves,cabbage leaves,alfalfa sprouts,apples, carrots, garlic and all citrus fruits with alot of Vitamin C. Migraine headaches more intake of Magnesium and Vitamin E to improve blood circulation also cold pressed flax seed oil.
    Above all water intake!!!