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Natural ways to treat migraine headaches

Updated on May 3, 2016
Make it go dark please . . . my head hurts.
Make it go dark please . . . my head hurts.

Migraine Headaches

Symptoms of an ocular migraine
Symptoms of an ocular migraine

Migraine headaches affect millions of people around the world. Women are more likely to suffer from migraine headaches than men but men do get migraine headaches as well.
Men can experience migraine headaches differently from women as in women the headaches can be hormonally linked.

Lots of money is being spent on treating migraine headaches and pain killers meant to treat the condition are often over prescribed making the headaches worst and they can return more often.

There are different types of migraines headaches and they include retinal migraines which are quite rare. Hemiplegic migraines can mimick a stroke and cause temporary paralysis. Vertobrobasilar migraines can include fainting, dizziness and double vision.

Migraine headaches - what are they?

Migraine headaches are caused when the blood vessels in the brain become enlarged which cause a release of chemicals from the brain's nerve fibers. These nerves fibers normally wrap themselves around the larger arteries of the brain, but as the nerves are forced to stretch they start to release chemicals. The chemicals which are subsequently released are responsible for the intense pain of a migraine, inflammation and may even cause the artery to enlarge even more.

A migraine attack will activate the body's nervous system which causes the associated migraine symptoms such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

Your first migraine headache can be a very frightening experience and many people will rush to the emergency room believing they are very seriously ill.

A migraine attack will last normally from four up to 72 hours. Some people may become sufferers and experience frequent attacks. Other people may only experience a singular attack.

Symptoms of migraine headaches

Migraine headaches can be very difficult to deal with and cause a whole range of symptoms.
Some of these symptoms are unusual and if you have not experienced a migraine headache before you will become very concerned.

It is very important to recognize early symptoms so that you can limit the migraine headache and perhaps stop it in its tract.

Migraine headaches signs to look out for:

Light sensitivity - this is often an early symptom which goes ignored. You find that your eyes seem to become more sensitive to bright light such as sun light or a computer screen. You want to look away as the light seems to hurt "behind the eyes".

Cold feet and hands - can also be early warning signs.

Craving for salty or sugary food - this is your brain sending you warning signals saying that it is experiencing some type of distress. This can start up to a day before the actual attack.

Feeling sleepy - feeling unexpectedly sleepy or tired can be a symptom of developing migraine headache.

Loss of balance - you may feel you are losing your balance and need to hang on to something for support

Flashing - you might experience flashing bright colored lights appearing in a zig zag pattern.

A black hole - early onset of a migraine can give you a blind spot in your visual field. It is called a Scotoma but a friend of mine refers to it as a black hole, so I have "borrowed" the phrase from her. It actually describes the symptom very well.

Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea - both can be symptoms and are likely to stay with your for the duration of the attack and are caused by the nervous system

Noise - all noises will irritate you and seem to cause intense pain.

Depression - during an attack you are likely to feel depressed and weepy.

Migraine attacks are almost always accompanied by extreme fatigue, excess yawning and extreme irritability.

What triggers migraine headaches.

The varies a great deal from person to person but there are some common denominators.
It can be just one thing that triggers a migraine headache or many factors can also play a role.

Hormones - seem to play a big part for women and there are many women who suffer pre-menstrual migraine headaches.

Stress - long term stress or sudden stress can also be trigger

Diet - some sufferers complain they get migraine headaches after eating certain types of food. Chocolates, sweet snacks, cheese and other dairy products seem to be the most common culprits but coffee is also known to be a trigger. Many of these foods are high in sulphites, tyramine and nitrates which are all known to be associated with migraines.

Smoking - smoking is a major trigger and if you do smoke you should consider stopping. All migraine sufferers that I know who have given up smoking do not have migraine headaches anymore.

Diagnosis of migraine headaches

Doctors normally diagnose migraines by listening to the patients symptoms, and noticing clear visual symptoms such as vomiting or dizziness.

Migraine can start in childhood or early adulthood but can also occur later in life. Sometimes a family history is indicated which helps towards the diagnosis. Sometimes in extreme cases, and to exclude other problems, doctors will refer patients for a CT or MRI scan.

Managing migraine headaches naturally

After the initial migraine attack you may want to manage your migraine naturally. There is a lot of good solid evidence available which seem to suggest that treating migraines headaches using natural cures may be better. Pain killers actually interfere with the nervous system and can may the headache worse or increase the frequency of attacks.

These are the treatments or actions which I think work best:

Acupuncture - at the first sign of symptoms visit an acupuncturist. There are many people who suffer with frequent attacks and they all recommend acupuncture treatments on a regular basis.

St Johns Wort - can help to ease the pain of Migraine attacks

Chamomile tea - chamomile tea is great when you are suffering a migraine headache. It eases the pain of the headache and it also helps to settle the stomach.

Willow bark - a supplement based on white willow bark is a good alternative to conventional pain killers as they help to reduce pain and inflammation

Lavender - there are now some excellent lavender quick fixes available. You can buy lavender migraine sticks which consists of a roll on filled with lavender essential oil.
Apply to the temples at first sign or if you are experiencing a full blown migraine keep it by your bedside.

Ginkgo Biloba - great for better micro circulation which is important when dealing with migraine headaches

Sleep - sleep is one of the best remedies for migraine headaches. I always recommend to get some rest and try to go to sleep. Sleeping away your migraine, or headache for that matter, reduces stress on the brain and relaxes the nervous system.

The best way forward is to find out why you are experiencing migraine headaches. Keeping a food diary for a month is a good idea, checking up on side effects of medication is also important and remember that changes in lifestyle can trigger health problems.

More people experience migraines headaches during the summer than in winter so there is a heat connection.

Trick To Get Rid of Ocular Migraines

I suffer from ocular migraines and a doctor taught me how to get rid of them. Stand in front of a mirror and stare straight into it for a few minutes. Blink a couple of times and you may found your migraine has gone. I did not believe it at first, but it does really work.

Gingko Biloba Is Effective When it Comes to Treating Migraines

Focus on sulphites, tyramine and nitrates

Sulphites - sulphites are preservatives used in food production and work by releasing a gas called sulphur dioxide. This gas can be an irritant and also
reduce the amount of oxygen the lungs can "take up". Less oxygen in the blood does naturally affect our brains. This is a very common food additive, and if you are sensitive to sulphur dioxide cause other problems such as digestive distress.
Names and number you will find this popular additive under:
E220 Sulphur dioxide
E221 Sodium sulphite
E222 Sodium hydrogen sulphite
E223 Sodium metabisulphite
E224 Potassium metabisulphite
E226 Calcium sulphite
E227 Calcium hydrogen sulphite
E228 Potassium hydrogen sulphite
E150b Caustic sulphite caramel
E150d Sulphite ammonia caramel

I give this list to all migraine sufferers who talk to me about migraine headaches, and I recommend they keep it in their wallets so they can check it when going food shopping.

Tyramine - this is a monoamine compound found in cheese, especially aged cheeses or flavoured. Once again it is a preservative which can play havoc with blood pressure and heart rate. Vegetables and fruit contain tyramine if they are not fresh, and so does Soya and Teriyaki sauces. I even think that some migraine should be called Tyramine migraines as this is the cause of lot migraines and headaches. Ginseng incidentally contains tyramine, and a migraine sufferer should never use

Nitrates - sodium nitrate is a natural salt found in meats, and bottled water. Hot dogs contain a lot of sodium nitrate. It can cause migraine headaches, and as it is contained in mineral water, especially sparkling water, migraine headaches from nitrates are becoming more common. I know we should drink more water but please unjunk your bottled water.


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    • profile image

      friend1 14 months ago

      boiling (with lid to cover) eucalyptus leaves in water and then inhaling the steam

      can help in relieving migraine headache.

    • profile image

      Frequentlyshe 2 years ago

      Thanks! I've been hunting to find whether carbonated water is the culprit for some unpleasant morning headaches. I take plain or lightly flavoured (no sugar) when having a BBQ with friends & drink that instead of soft drink or alcohol. Once again this morning, I feel dehydrated with a headache, even though I drank lots of (carbonated) water at yesterday's BBQ. So I guess that one sausage & lots of carbonated water have given me too many nitrates. Thank you so much for solving this for me!

    • Healthyannie profile image

      Healthyannie 5 years ago from Spain

      Has your mom tried acupuncture? Also you might have access to Chinese Rheumatism plasters, and Dragon´s blood resin. Put the resin on the plasters and stick the plasters to the temples. This is a great treatment but hard to find in Europe. Chrystanthemum tea works as well as Chamomile tea just in case you can´t find chamomile tea in Singapore. It has the same active ingredient as chamomile. Take care of your mum. Annie

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 5 years ago from Singapore

      My mum has these symptoms. Terrible migraine for many years. WIll share this with her! Thanks for this great hub. I think she would really enjoy the Camomile Tea!! WIll get her started on that! Sharing!

    • Healthyannie profile image

      Healthyannie 5 years ago from Spain

      Thank you for reading my hub. If you need advise please get in touch.

      I would be more than happy to help. Best of health Annie

    • girishpuri profile image

      Girish puri 5 years ago from NCR , INDIA

      very much helpful, my wife has started these symptoms, i m afraid, any how, a great help, thanks.

    • Healthyannie profile image

      Healthyannie 5 years ago from Spain

      I am glad you find the hub useful. Migraines are very common and many people do not recognize the symptoms.

      A bit of advise; start by checking one additive at the time. For instance one month look out for tyramine.

      Also be careful with artificial sweeteners as they can also cause problems. Replacing diet drinks with natural fruit juices is a good idea. Take care of your body and your body will take care of you. Annie

    • Healthyannie profile image

      Healthyannie 5 years ago from Spain

      Hi. The reason you may find your painkillers don't work anymore is quite simply because your local GP may have over prescribed them to you. Start by keeping a food diary and take a daily supplement of Gingko Biloba 6000 mg.

      It is safe to take two per day, and see a chiropractor and ask him/her to check your neck. I find that a lot of people who develop migraine in their teens have neck problems which can be caused by small skeletal problems when we grow. You might just need to be "realigned" as I call it. Let me know how you get on. Take

      care. Annie

    • Healthyannie profile image

      Healthyannie 5 years ago from Spain

      Thank you for stopping by. Migraines are very common. Take care Annie

    • Healthyannie profile image

      Healthyannie 5 years ago from Spain

      Good luck with finding out what triggers your migraines. I notice it says San Francisco and Mumbai next to your

      user name. Do you travel a lot? Airplanes and small changes in pressure can cause migraines. If so take Willow bark supplement when you travel, don't drink alcohol in flight and check your blood pressure. Good health. Annie

    • Healthyannie profile image

      Healthyannie 5 years ago from Spain

      Thank you for your vote and for dropping by. Best of health. Annie

    • StephanieBCrosby profile image

      Stephanie Bradberry 5 years ago from New Jersey

      I love all the information you provide. The list at the end of triggers and things to watch out for is most useful. It provides some clues as to what might be setting off my attacks.

    • livingsta profile image

      livingsta 5 years ago from United Kingdom

      Gosh, such a useful hub, this is for me. I suffer from migraines a lot, and it has been since my teens. This hub really helps. Thank you for all the information shared here. I was looking for natural remedies, because painkillers don't help anymore.

      Thank you so much. Voted up, useful and sharing!!!!!!

    • dwachira profile image

      [ Danson Wachira ] 5 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

      Thanks for this information, i should check on these signs to be aware of an attack, i hope many can read this and be aware of. Voted up and useful.

    • Anishpat profile image

      Anish Patel 5 years ago from San Francisco + Mumbai

      Hi Healthyannie,

      This is very informative and one of the best hubs I have read on this topic. I suffer from two to three (sometimes more) migraines per month with auras and intense pain and have tried everything but nothing seems to work. In the past I have also kept a food diary but still can't seem to nail all the triggers down. While I have researched a lot about migraines and triggers I did not know about the role of sulphites, tyramine and nitrates. I will try to exclude them from my diet from now on.

      Thanks for such an informative hub. Vote up and useful.

    • learner365 profile image

      Saadia A 5 years ago

      Thank you for sharing the information. I can very well imagine how bad a migraine can get as i have experienced the symptoms . Sudden stress triggers it for me and tea or sleep have been mostly helpful in my case. I will try the other natural remedies that you have mentioned in your Hub.

      Thank you again for sharing.Voted up and useful!!!!

    • profile image

      ignugent17 5 years ago

      Very informative. I will take note on the symptoms. I do hope I will not have a severe one.

      Voted up and more!