Ask the Pharmacist: 4 excellent options for tension headaches

Suzy Cohen
Tension headaches can actually occur on and off for years, but it’s important to make sure that what you’re dealing with is truly a tension headache.

Tension headaches are the most common type of headache, and I’m willing to bet you’ve experienced more than one yourself.

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Millions of people endure this pain on a regular basis just in the United States alone. In the January 2020 edition of the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, there was a case study about a 32 year old woman who received an injection of hyaluronic acid to her forehead and glabella (right between your eyebrows). 

Hyaluronic acid is a popular wrinkle filler. She promptly developed severe anxiety, depression and tension headaches. These and other symptoms persisted for a year after her injection and they sent her to a psychiatrist! Sad. I bet these doctors put her on all kinds of new medications without realizing the actual problem.

But not all of you are fortunate enough to determine your “migrenade” which is a word I made up that means the trigger for your headache (or migraine). She was lucky to find out her problem, otherwise she would probably have kept up with those shots! 

Tension headaches can actually occur on and off for years, but it’s important to make sure that what you’re dealing with is truly a tension headache. The root cause must be determined. Some headaches are spawned by MRI contrast media agents, others are related to tick-borne illness and still others are related to the side effects of medication.

If you’d like more information on headaches and migraines, I have an excellent book resource for you called Headache Free, which is a book I wrote several years ago.

In the meantime, here’s a little ‘script’ for some herbs, amino acids and vitamins that might help you feel better, until you can figure out your migrenade. Ask your practitioner(s) what is right for you, with your individual sensitivities and medical history and/or current meds. 

Rhodiola rosea

About 100 mg once daily, dosages vary. Not for pregnant or nursing women, or those with bipolar.


Approximately 500 total daily dose. This mineral is essential to the electrical circuitry of your brain. You can take it as a dietary supplement by mouth, or alternatively apply magnesium oil to your skin.

CoQ10 or Ubiquinol

Take approximately 100 to 200 mg for your total daily dose (you can divide it up).


About 500 mg once at bedtime. Glycine is an important amino acid that has  widespread effects in hundreds of metabolic pathways. It is usually very calming.

Medications and analgesics can help, however if you’re on them long-term, there will be side effects and nutrient depletions. I would like to caution you about the long-term use of addictive opiates (don’t start them unless you absolutely have to!) and the combination of serotonergic or SSRI antidepressants which can create a harmful excessive amount of serotonin!

Also, the use of NSAIDs (ie naproxen, ibuprofen) should be limited and those drugs should always be taken with food to protect the fragile lining of your esophagus and stomach.

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Suzy Cohen is a registered pharmacist. The information presented here is not intended to treat, cure or diagnose any condition. Visit