Around 400,000 people in Ireland (10% of the population) are thought to suffer from migraines, and they are more common in women than men (ref: irishhealth.com)

Symptoms of a migraine can include an intense throbbing headache, usually occurring on one side of the head, nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light and even difficulty speaking. They can last for hours or even days. For some, migraines become so intense they actually have to miss work and put their lives on hold. 

Migraines tend to be more debilitating than regular headaches and can literally ruin someone’s life. Unfortunately, science still can’t explain what causes migraines, it makes it virtually impossible to find a cure. But this is where natural medicine and nutrition excel in the treatment of migraines. There are many natural approaches to treating migraines. We’ll examine five ways to naturally approach and treat migraines. 

1. Acupuncture

Acupuncture is a part of the Traditional Chinese Medical system that has been around for nearly 3,000 years. Acupuncture uses pressure points on the body to help decrease pain and inflammation, while balancing the energy within the body. When somebody is suffering from a migraine, all the energy rushes to their head. By stimulating pressure points on the feet, this energy can then be drawn down and reduced, thus decreasing the intensity of the migraine. Acupuncture can also help with the treatment of the other symptoms frequently associated with migraines.

2. Diet

Your diet plays such an important role in your life. For many migraine sufferers, gluten sensitivities can be the main cause of pain. Gluten is a component found in wheat and it is known to increase inflammation in the body. Magnesium and B vitamins are also very important for migraine sufferers. Studies show many migraine sufferers actually have low levels of both magnesium and B vitamins. Magnesium blocks pain-transmitting chemicals in the brain, while B vitamins help decrease oxidative stress in the body that may lead to chronic pain and inflammation.        

3. Biofeedback  

Another suggested natural cure for migraines, biofeedback provides information about muscle tension, skin temperature, brain waves and other body signals that helps reduce stress levels. Small sensors are placed on the skin to measure the aforementioned items. Using that information allows the migraine sufferer to change the blood flow to the brain, which helps manage the pain.        

4. Exercise 

Everybody knows exercise is good for the body. But for people with chronic pain, it is even more important. Just by sitting at a desk, working on a computer all day, we are adding an additional 20-30 pounds of pressure to our necks! This can create stress and tension on the muscles and tendons in the neck and shoulder area, which can contribute to migraine pain and frequency. Studies show by merely adding in 20 minutes of stretching daily, migraines and other chronic pain levels can be significantly reduced. Plus exercise gets the blood pumping and increases oxygenation to the tissues. Both are important for relieving pain and inflammation.       

5. Chiropractic Care 

Chiropractic care is another treatment that has proven beneficial for migraine sufferers. Chiropractic manipulation helps reduce oxidative stress at the cellular level. Oxidative stress damages tissues and can ultimately lead to disease. Studies show chiropractic adjustments can help decrease tension and relieve pain almost instantaneously.

If you are one of the millions of people who suffer from migraines, you are not alone. But the silver lining is that there are natural cures out there that can help you get your life back.

Hopefully one or more of these remedies will help you too.

 

 

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There are four main types of headache: tension, cluster, sinus and migraine. And, there are varying triggers for these headaches, such as food, stress, hormones, dehydration and weather. Fortunately, eliminating the triggers and finding natural ways to prevent and help an ongoing headache are possible.

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Tension: Tension headaches are the most common and are the result of impinged blood flow due to muscle tightness and contraction. Tension headaches are mild to moderate and are most commonly found behind the neck, on the forehead, behind the eyes and the top of the shoulders. Causes of tension headaches are stress, fatigue, cold, poor posture, skipping meals, and dehydration.

Cluster: Cluster headaches are the most severe and commonly affect men under the age of 30. Cluster headaches are usually one-sided and are accompanied by watery eyes, a red face and affect the face where the trigeminal nerve travels. Cluster headaches last days, weeks, even months and happen the same time every day, multiple times a day. Research shows the hypothalamus is involved in these types of piercing headaches. Causes include alcohol and smoking.

Sinus: Sinus headaches are from a sinus infection and feel like painful pressure around the eyes, cheeks, forehead, teeth and may have other symptoms such as post-nasal drip, congestion with green mucus or fever. The mucus is trapped in the sinuses causing inflammation, which creates the painful pressure.

Migraine: Migraines are another severe type of headache. What differentiates a migraine from a tension headache is the accompanying symptoms such as visual disturbances and auras prior to onset, increased sensitivity to light, nausea and vomiting and one-sided throbbing pain. Triggers may include hormonal changes, food sensitivity, weather, iron deficiency or thyroid issues.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the goal is to get to the root of the headache, not just treat the symptoms. There is a diagnosis and treatment plan based on a history, as well as a pulse and tongue diagnosis. Typical triggers for all types of headaches are wind, cold, heat and damp conditions either internally or externally. A wind type headache would be moving, a damp type would feel heavy, and a cold type would feel piercing and worse with cold conditions. Blood deficiency, which is a type of anemia, might also cause headaches, as the blood is not nourishing the head. Blood stagnation, which would be a severe headache, can also be a factor. After diagnosing the correct cause of the headache, a Chinese medical practitioner would apply acupuncture and offer herbs or other type of treatment to facilitate blood flow and alleviate pain. There would also be dietary advice and maybe some acupressure self-care.

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Some foods and supplements have been shown to help headaches. These include B3,  magnesium, potassium, calcium, spicy foods, ginger and watery foods. A common herb for migraines is the magnolia flower. Others include lavender, peppermint, feverfew and basil. 

Acupressure around the eyes, temples and in the web between the thumb and forefinger are helpful. Pressing the hollows of the neck with the thumbs can relieve the pressure, as well as visualizing hot energy flowing downward from the head and out the feet while making a “whooooooo” sound (breathlessly, as if blowing on a candle).

Reducing stress is a key factor; do some deep breathing exercises and take a walk in nature. It is best to see a health care practitioner and not to self-diagnose or take herbs without consultation. A headache could indicate something serious.