A Cluster Headache is characterized by severe unilateral pain in the eye or temple, affects primarily men and tends to recur in a series of attacks and is also called Histamine Cephalalgia. It is also known as suicidal headache. It is less common than migraine and tension headaches. In this headache, pain is often excruciating and is deep nonfluctuating and explosive.

A cluster headache is also called as ‘Alarm Clock’ as it has an ability to wake a person from sleep. Cluster headache may come and go continuously for weeks together. The pain starts suddenly and gets severe within seconds. It may remain for 15 minutes and up to 2 hours. These painful attacks of headache sometimes occur for a week or more.

It starts just after a person goes to sleep or sometimes later in the nigh. Often the eye of the affected side will tear. Symptoms like one sided nasal stiffness or runny nose occur. It is of two types i.e. episodic and chronic. Many researchers believed that cluster headaches begin in the nerve which carries sensation from head to brain (Trigeminal nerve) and ends with blood vessels which are present surrounding the brain. Some researchers believed that Trigeminal system does not get involved .The pain arise in vascular channel.

There are no any fore warming symptoms in this headache. Cluster headaches which extend over a year are considered chronic and are difficult to treat.

Symptoms: Excessive tearing, eye becomes red acquires redness and pallor. During this attack patient may experience nausea and sensitivity to light. Researchers described this headache in various terminologies like hammering or stabbing and in 1/3 of cases throbbing. Some even called it boring. It may be related to sinus, nervous system and serotonin. Cluster headache could be triggered by alcohol and cigarettes hence during attacks they should be avoided.

Exact causes of Cluster Headaches are unknown. This is not life threatening but if they are not treated timely, they can give rise to permanent muscular fatigue in head or face and reduce sensation in the area of head and face. Other possible causes are intake of excessive amount of coffee and Chocolates or sudden change in temperature.

In my practice I have observed that mostly Pitta constitution people get affected by cluster headache, when there is a disturbance in the function of digestive system.

When the Problems like constipation, gases, acidity occur, these result in the accumulation of toxic material which vitiates the Pitta Dosha and this vitiated Pitta gets are cluster headaches causes.

The first complete description of cluster headache was given by a London neurologist. Wilfred Harris in 1926. He named the disease as Migrainous neuralgia. Ref. Harris W: Neuritis and Neuralgia oxford: Oxford Univ. Press 1926. Bickerstaff ER (May 1959). The periodic Migrainous neuralgia of Wilfred Harris. Lancet (7082): 1069-71 doi: 101016/so140-6736 ( 59) 90651 – 8 PMID 13655672.

There is no exact treatment mentioned for cluster headaches, but there are a number of treatments by which one can reduce the frequency and duration of headaches.

Following are the cluster headache treatments from Traditional medicine-

Oxygen inhalation, Triptan drugs like Sumatriptan and Zolmitripta may be given to reduce the pain. Preventive treatment includes the use of calcium channel blockers like Verapamil, Steroids like Prednisolone, Propranolol, and Cyprohepatadine

Home Remedies : Sourced from relieve-migraine-headache.com includes to put ones hands in hot water, which seems to pull the pressure out of your head. With or without Peppermint : Have someone knead Eucalyptus or Lavender Oil across your shoulders and the back of the neck and have them massage the side of your skull.

To avoid cluster headache, Yoga Pranayam is helpful. Eat less salt and have a good night’s sleep.

Melatonin is a vertebrate hormone C13H16N2O2 that is derived from serotonin, is secreted by the pineal gland esp. in response to darkness, and has been linked to the regulation of circadian rhythms. Low levels of melatonin in humans have been associated with depression, insomnia some seizure disorders and other conditions. It is stated that to prevent cluster headache, melatonin is effective. Ref. : nutrasanus.com / melatonin.html

Now let us discuss about the herb products that are useful for cluster headache treatments-

Ginkgo Balboa – The main active ingredients of this herb are Terpenoids and Flavonoids. Flavonoids act as antioxidants. Terpenoids helps to improve blood circulation, specifically to brain. French scientists have done many studies on Ginkgo. Several of these showed that treatment is effective if we use Ginkgo Balboa for reducing vascular headache (migraine cluster Headache) People participated in this study said that they had tried just about everything they could think of to get rid of their headaches, but nothing worked until they discovered Ginkgo balboa. One should not use Ginkgo Balboa along with the traditional medicines used for headache like Aspirin and Lithium.

Morinda Citrifolia is also known as Nori. It has healing properties. It contains an enzyme with therapeutic property. Consuming dried Nori can help in treating cluster headaches.

Kuduz: Research done for Kuduz suggests that Kuduz is useful in managing cluster headache. This hypothesis should be tested with a randomized clinical trial. Ref : Headache 2009 Jan, 49(1) : 98-105 Sewell RA – VA Connecticut Healthcare. Yale University School of Medicine, Psychiatry, West Haven, C T 06516, USA. Vitamin A and D are also present in kuduz.

Milk Thistle : Sluggishness of liver could be the one of the causes of headache. As per Ayurveda if the liver is not working properly, it creates vitiated Pitta which may be one of the cluster headache causes. Milk thistle is effective in relieving sluggishness of liver.

Cayenne (Capsaicin) : Cluster headaches have caught the eye of the medical world in the recent years. In one study, people with cluster headaches rubbed a capsaicin preparation inside and outside their noses on the same side of the head. Within five days 75% reported less pain. They also reported burning nostrils and runny noses, but these side effects subsided within a week. Ref. Fitness articles. Disease management herbs for managing headache.

In 1955 Valentina and Gordon Wasson became the first westerners to actively participate in an indigenous mushroom ceremony. Wasson did much to publicize their discovery and even publishing an article on their experiences in life in 1957. In 1956 Heim identified the hallucinogenic mushroom that Wassons had brought back from Mexico and in 1958 Albert Hofmann first indentified Psilocin and Psilocybin as the active components in these Mushroom. There have been calls for medical investigation for the use of synthetic Mushroom derived Psilocybin for the development of improved treatment of various mental cluster headaches. Ref. Clusterbusters. “Psilocybin Mushrooms” Retrieved 2006 -12-01. Research Area for Ayurveda:

I thought that as Cluster headaches occur mainly in Pitta Prakurti Person, Pittashamak dravyas should be given along with the herbs which are known to tone up digestive system and are useful to relieve constipation. But this is an area for Research for Ayurvedic doctors. If any Charitable Institution is ready to do this type of work. I would be glad to render my help to them.

Dr. Veena Deo, B.A.M.S. (M.D.)

Dr. Veena Deo is an Ayurvedic Doctor in India. All the information provided above and opinions expressed above are her own and should not be construed as medical advice. This information is provided for educational purposes only. For questions or to consult Dr. Veena Deo, please send an email to dr.veenadeo@gmail.com.

Author's Bio: 

Education: B.A.M.S., M.D.(Ayurveda); 1984 Nagpur University, India.


New product development consultant, Herbal Destination, New York.
Worked as a Medical Officer in “Matru-Sewa-Sangh” Nagpur 1987-88.
Worked as a Research officer in Datta Meghe’s Medical College, Wardha 1989-92.
Food & Drugs Cosmetic-Act-1940, Approved chemist from 1996.


Presented paper in International conference “Update Ayurveda” at K.E.M. Hospital Mumbai on “Efficacy of herbomineral formulation on Diabetes”.
Presented paper in International conference “Role of Indian Medicinal Plants” at Banaras Hindu University on “Management of Diabetes”.
Presented paper on “Pain Management” in National Conference at Nagpur.
Presented paper in National Symposium on Research Methodology in Ayurveda Field Pune.
Regular contributor of articles on Ayurvedic Topics to various magazines.
Talk shows on Radio & T.V. on Ayurvedic Topics mostly relating to women's Health Problems.