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Migraines and what to do

Updated on February 3, 2015
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An experienced integrative healthcare professional & Member of the International Alliance of Holistic Therapists

Migraines are severe throbbing headaches that may or may not be accompanied by nausea, aura or other symptoms. They are actually vascular headaches which involve excessive contraction or dilatation of the brain's blood vessels.

Meningitis and migraines share some similarities in symptoms which can include headache, sensitivity to light and nausea. Meningitis however is due to a bacterial or viral infection

Migraines can occur anywhere from once a week to once or twice yearly. There is an increased incidence of migraines in women partly attributed to the fluctuations of the estrogen hormone. Women usually suffer form migraines around the time of their menstruation when there is low estrogen level.

Migraines commonly affect those between the ages of twenty and thirty five. However, migraines can first show up in childhood not as headaches but as other signs including periodic abdominal pains, colic, dizziness, vomiting ad severe motion sickness.

Triggers

Practically anything can set off a migraine attack in susceptible individuals. Some triggers include stress, constipation, lack of or too much sleep, hormonal changes, emotional changes, sun glare, slashing light, smells, lack of exercise, low blood sugar and dental problems to name a few.

Supplemental Remedies

Having enough calcium and magnesium are useful to help regulate muscular tone and assist with nerve health throughout the brain and body. Coenzyme Q10 increases blood flow to the brain and also improves circulation with the added bonus of promoting cardiac or heart health and increasing energy.

Investing in Vitamin B complex is helpful and necessary in promoting a healthy nervous system as well as for cell respiration and growth. Including essential fatty acids or evening primrose oil is essential for brain health and for fat metabolism as well as act as an anti-inflammatory to prevent blood vessels from constricting.

Take a Vitamin C supplement preferably with rutin as it helps to remove toxic metals from the body which can be the cause of migraines.

Herbal Remedies

  • Ginkgo biloba enhances cerebral circulation but this is contraindicated in those who gave bleeding disorders or are scheduled for dental or other surgeries
  • Cordyceps, a Chinese herb, is able to reduce anxiety and promote sound restful sleep thus helping in alleviating migraine
  • Cayenne pepper also enhances circulation and may be useful
  • Other herbs include rosemary, ginger, peppermint, willowbark and wormwood
  • Feverfew helps to alleviate pain but avoid in pregnancy or breastfeeding and people on blood thinners

Lifestyle approaches

  • Eat a diet that is low in simple carbohydrates and high in protein
  • Drink plenty of water (preferably filtered)
  • Get regular moderate exercise
  • Eliminate or reduce foods that are high in tyramine like aged meats, cheeses, avocados, bananas, eggplant, canned fish, dairy products, potatoes, wine, yeast, tomatoes, chocolate, MSG, nitrites, alcoholic beverages, luncheon meats and hot dogs
  • Massage the back of your neck and head on a daily basis
  • Eat small nutritious meals rather than large meals
  • Do not smoke and try to avoid second-hand smoke
  • Avoid loud noises, strong smells and high altitudes
  • Include fresh organic food in your diet and have more garlic, cherries, fresh pineapple , watercress and parsley in your diet

When to see your doctor

Always see your doctor if you have a headache that is triggered or linked to the following as these may indicate more serious conditions:

  • Head injury
  • vomiting
  • Slurred speech
  • Distorted vision
  • Numbness or tingling in other parts of body
  • Stiff neck and fever
  • Exertion (including sexual), coughing ort bending

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