Migraine - There are several different types, all of which can be prevented or relieved.
Those 15% of adults who suffer from migraine usually describe it as a severe headache felt as a throbbing pain at the front or on one side of the head in addition there are sometimes other symptoms, such as nausea and extreme sensitivity to light.
There can be more than one type of migraine and these include:
Migraine with aura - This affects about a third of the sufferers and is where there is a warning sign, described as an aura, occurring before the migraine begins. This warning sign may include bright or flashing lights and stiffness in the neck, shoulders or limbs.
Migraine without aura
Silent Migraine - This has all the symptoms of a migraine but without the headache.
The effects of Migraine will be very different from person to person; some can have them several times each week while others can go years between them. The trigger is just as varied ranging from foods, contraceptive pill, stress, lighting, low blood glucose, shock, depression, tension and noise.
While the precise cause of migraines has not been determined it is known that hormonal changes in women about the time of their period can bring about, what are known as menstrual migraine which happen around two to three days after the start of the period. In some cases the migraine starts as the period begins and these are known as pure menstrual migraines.
Conventional treatments for migraine
Painkillers are usually the first things taken, such as aspirin, ibuprofen and paracetamol but don’t take codeine as it can make them worse. From the doctor you may be able to try Triptan medicines or a referral to a migraine clinic.
Natural treatments for migraine
The use of essential oils is better as a preventative than an actual treatment as many patients cannot stand being touched or the smell of the oils when suffering a Migraine attack.
If touch or the fragrance is not a problem then sometimes a full blown Migraine attack can be averted by using the following:
Make up a cold compress using 2 drops each of Lavender and Peppermint essential oil and place across the temples and forehead. Change frequently or as soon as it warms up. If the patient can tolerate it a very light massage using Lavender oil on the temples can be helpful (this does not have to be in a carrier oil as Lavender is one of the few that can come into direct contact with the skin without a problem.) At the same time a warm or mildly hot compress with Marjoram essential oil to the back of the neck will improve the blood flow to the head. (Marjoram is a vasodilator which causes the blood vessels to expand)
Migraine is often associated with stress and if possible regular massage of the neck and shoulders is a good preventative measure. (See my hub re massage oil)
In some people Migraine has been associated with certain food (cheese, chocolate and alcohol) obviously if these triggers are know it would be wise to avoid them. However in the modern world there can be many other triggers (bad office lighting, computer screens, industrial pollution and both high and low frequency noise). It’s not always possible to avoid these and therefore de-stressing should become part of your daily routine.
In addition to essential oils there are a variety of herbs that can offer relief.
Feverfew has been used for centuries to treat headaches but a newly discovered herb Butterbur (peasites hybridus) has been found to have pain killing and anti-inflammatory properties which work much faster than Feverfew. Do not use the entire herb as it must undergo a manufacturing process to remove a toxic alkaloid. It is now licenced in Germany as a pharmaceutical medicine with a dosage of 150mg (active content) for adults and 50mg for children over 6. In clinical trials 170 migraine sufferers were given 100-150mg per day with no adverse side effects other than taste (which is pretty awful – like many products) The trial resulted in 60% reduction in frequency of migraine attacks. The treated butterbur is marketed under the trade name of Petadolex®.
You should also look at your mineral and oils intake. Most migraine sufferers are short of Magnesium which affects the serotonin receptors in the brain (this is what makes you feel well).Take a food grade 250mg supplement daily.
Ensure you take a good quality multivitamin which particularly includes vitamin B2 (riboflavin).
You need omega-6 fatty acid to help reduce inflammation so take Evening Primrose Oil
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) A clinical trial of thirty-two patients diagnosed as having migraine with or without aura were treated with 150mg per day of CoQ10 with no adverse effects. Following the treatment, 61.3% of the patients treated had a greater than 50% reduction in number of days with migraine headache.
California poppy (Eschscholzia californica) This herb acts as a muscle relaxant and has painkilling properties. It has a history of being prescribed for migraine and also reduces anxiety.
Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora) Skullcap has been used as a mild sedative in the treatment of migraine for many decades.
My wife underwent a short course of acupuncture which, with a few exceptions, pretty much stopped her migraines. I have also heard of similar reports using Reiki.
Finally there are some very positive reports of people using a fairly inexpensive TENS machine to relieve or reduce the pain. You will need some experimentation to find the right position for the electrode pads as it will vary from person to person.
© 2012 Peter Geekie