Headaches and Detox


Headaches and Detox. 


Although headaches do not plague everyone who participates in detox, a percentage of people experience the discomfort of headaches during the early stages of their detox process- even when completing our holistic and natural SBN Detoxes! 

Although painful and frustrating, headaches are completely normal for many during the early days of a detox, and usually pass quickly as the body adjusts to the detoxification process. So, why do headaches develop, how can SBN Detoxes actually help reduce headache frequency and severity in the long run, and what can we do to manage the acute headaches that may present during the early days of a detox? Read on to discover all this and more!


Causes of Headaches and Migraines in General:

Ongoing migraines and headaches have been ranked as the highest contributor to disability in those under the age of 50 across the world (note, this is different to an acute detox headache). Extensive research has been conducted to better understand the underlying pathological mechanisms of headaches. From this research, a number of significant mechanisms have been indicated, including high levels of inflammation and oxidative states, vascular dysfunction (e.g. this may be due to stiffening of the arteries), cortical spreading depression CSD (a failure of brain ion homeostasis that results in a wave of sustained brain cell inactivation the moves through brain tissue), and activation of the major pain signalling pathway of the brain (the trigeminovascular pathway). These mechanisms all play a role in generating headaches, migraines, and the associated pain. 


How an SBN Detox Helps to Treat Headaches:

Although some may experience initial headaches while their bodies are adjusting to the detox process, there are a number of evidence-backed ways that completing an SBN Detox can ease headaches, both in the short-term (while you are completing your detox) and in the long-term (after you have finished detoxing). 


Short term:

Certain foods are known to trigger headaches, many of which are eliminated during your SBN Detox journey. This includes alcohol (red wine and beer are especially linked to headaches), chocolate, cheese, processed sugar, food preservatives with nitrates and nitrites, monosodium glutamate (MSG), and artificial sweeteners (such as aspartame), which have all been identified as headache.migraine triggers through a range of scientific research. By avoiding these triggers, the rate and intensity of headaches are also shown to diminish. 


Long term:

Long term, losing weight and maintaining a healthy weight has actually been shown to reduce the overall frequency of headaches! According to a range of recent findings, achieving and maintaining a healthy body weight is protective against headaches, as is the adherence to certain styles of eating, including low GI, high fibre, and whole food diets (all of which overlap with our expert-designed Detox eating plan and approved foods list). 


These positive dietary factors have been shown to play a role in protecting brain cells (neuroprotection), boosting energy and cognition (by improving mitochondrial function and energy metabolism), suppressing inflammation, and much more! 


Causes of Detox headaches: 

Although many of the same underlying mechanisms will be present in both chronic and acute headaches, the cause of a detox headache is linked to the associated change in food intake. Headaches may occur during detox as a result of 2 main causes: ‘withdrawals’ and alterations to blood glucose (as a result of reduced food quantity). 



Detox headaches are often a result of withdrawal, or your bodies reaction to missing certain items. Withdrawal symptoms occur when intake of a substance ceases, more specifically substances that are addictive, highly processed, and/or place a large load on the liver. Examples include sugar, caffeine, and alcohol. Although coffee consumption is still suitable while on an SBN detox, many will choose to reduce or completely cease their intake if it has otherwise been excessive. 

Research shows that ceasing consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages is linked to the development of headaches. Alcohol, caffeine, and certain food additives and preservatives have also been shown to produce detox headaches when they are removed from the diet. This may be the result of altered hormonal levels and increased circulating toxins (as the liver works overtime to remove by products),  resulting in an acute temporary pro-inflammatory state (similar to that known to cause headaches and migraines). 

The best way to avoid (or significantly reduce) withdrawal headaches are to begin cutting back intake of these foods in the weeks leading up to your detox. This helps your body adjust over a longer period of time, therefore avoiding the sudden change that tends to trigger headaches. 


Blood Glucose Alterations:

Altering food intake, particularly reducing overall food intake, may disrupt blood glucose balance in some, which can cause headaches when blood glucose is low (hypoglycaemic). These types of headaches end to resolve smoothly as the body adjusts to the detox process. 



Other factors that have been reported to influence detox headaches include a lack of sleep, dehydration and pre-existing hypoglycaemia.



Solutions for Managing Initial Detox Headaches:

For some, however, the dietary changes during the initial phases of detox trump all of the positive mechanisms listed above, resulting in acute headaches. Below we have compiled a list of natural and practical techniques to ease those initial detox headaches: 


Stay Hydrated:

Be sure to keep hydrated throughout your SBN Detox (particularly in the early stages as your body adjusts to the changes). Increase consumption of water, herbal tea (particularly 123 Teatox and Anit-Inflamatory tea), approved broth and approved kombucha in order to aid toxin flushing and to keep your cells hydrated and functioning optimally.



If you are experiencing detox headaches, be sure to select veggies, fruit and snacks that are highest in fibre. This is because fibre helps bind to toxins and supports their elimination from the body, while also positively feeding our gut bacteria which then influences headaches via modulation of pain pathways. Although all fruit and veggies contain some level of fibre, prioritise those highest in fibre such as pear, strawberries, apples, artichoke, beetroot, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, cabbage and ryevita. 


Vitamin B12:

Research shows that those experiencing tension-type headaches, unclassified headaches and migraines, had significantly lower levels of B12. Therefore, due to the likely association between vitamin B12 levels and headaches, B12 supplementation is thought to be a beneficial strategy to reduce the frequency and intensity of headaches. 


SBN Anti-Inflammatory Tea:

Our Anti-Inflammatory Tea is your ultimate ally when trying to ease a headache! This organic herbal blend contains Turmeric, which produces potent anti-inflammatory actions through its key therapeutic constituent known as Curcumin.

Curcumin has been extensively studied for its anti-inflammatory, analgesic (pain reducing) and antioxidative stress effects, which have been particularly linked to the reduction of headaches and migraines.  

Curcumin has been shown to down-regulate brain cell pain pathways, likely through an inhibitory effect on PTX3 gene expression and serum levels. In turn, these actions have been shown to significantly reduce headaches and migraines, which is how our Anti-Inflammatory Tea works to do the same!


New Nourish:

A large body of evidence identifies a relationship between magnesium deficiency ad those who experience headaches and migraines. A lack of magnesium may contribute to headaches and migraines through a number of pathological factors, including the alteration of numerous migraine-related receptors and neurotransmitters (including serotonin receptors, nitric oxide synthesis and release, inflammatory mediators, which are all linked to pain), the hyper-aggregation of platelets, and by promoting cortical spreading depression. Deficiency in magnesium has also been shown to result in the generation and release of substance P,16,  which subsequently produces headache pain by acting on sensory fibres.

Therefore, magnesium supplementation is known to be effective in reducing the frequency of headaches and migraines (which has been further backed up by numerous scientific papers). In fact, oral magnesium is officially recommended for headache relief in several national and international guidelines due to its simple, inexpensive, safe and well-tolerated nature. Due to the highly available magnesium contained in SBN New Nourish, we recommend its use during your detox to help ease headaches, while also supporting recovery, reducing inflammation and enhancing muscle health. 


Relaxation Techniques

Certain calming techniques- such as massage, deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, Thai Chi, guided imagery, and breathing exercises- are able to activate the body’s natural relaxation response. Although direct evidence linking relaxation techniques and headache relief is scarce, many experts consider relaxation techniques to be promising for tension headaches. Two small studies suggests massage therapy is possibly helpful for migraines, and breath work techniques (e.g. breathe in for 5 seconds, hold for 5 seconds, breathe out for 5 seconds, hold for 5 seconds and repeat) are known to support oxygen uptake and blood flow (for enhanced nutrient delivery and toxin removal) and reduce pain signals, both of which work to reduce headaches. One randomised trial has evaluated Thai Chi for (meditation combined with slow, graceful movements, deep breathing, and relaxation) its influence on headaches. Findings indicate that a Thai Chi program produces improvements in headache status and health-related quality of life.

Although rigorous scientific evidence is currently unavailable to prove the use of relaxation techniques in headache relief, we know that activating our relaxation response has a powerful effect on reducing pain, which in turn is likely to reduce headaches. 

Relaxation techniques are safe, highly accessible, and very enjoyable, so why not add them into your routine for headache management, as well as overall stress management and wellbeing optimisation. 


In the lead up to your detox:

You may be reading this once you have already begun your detox, but if you are still preparing to begin and are looking for ways to reduce your chances of experiencing headaches, then this section is for you! 

To help your body better adjust to the dietary changes associated with detox, and to therefore avoid the ‘withdrawal’ or ‘blood glucose’ headaches, we recommend beginning certain dietary changes 1-3 weeks before you begin detox loading. Slowly cut back on sugar sweetened food and drinks, highly processed foods, alcohol, excess caffeine (aim for no more than 2 caffeinated drinks per day), and packaged foods (due to the headache-triggering preservatives and artificial additives). This process may take only a few days or a week if your current eating habits are not too dire. However, if your daily diet includes excess of any of the foods listed above, we recommend spending a few weeks cutting back your intake of those foods to help the body best adjust. 



Completing an SBN Detox actually has many protective benefits for headache sufferers!! However, as the body adjusts the the detoxification process, ‘withdrawal’ or ‘blood glucose’ headaches may present for some. If this is true for you, we are thrilled that you now have the knowledge and confidence to ease this discomfort and see through your detox until you achieve the results you desire and deserve!!