A migraine headache is when you get an excruciating pain across your forehead, that perhaps wraps around the temples of your head as if it were a vice. It is estimated that about 90 percent of the population experiences a migraine at some point in their lives.
Migraines can be so painful that they cause additional symptoms like:
- Tingling in the arms
- Seeing red flashes
- Sensitivity to light or sound
- Blurred vision
- Stiffness in the neck and shoulders
- Unpleasant smell
- Blind spots
- Confusing thoughts or experiences
What Causes Migraines?
Depending on who you ask, a migraine is caused by an imbalance in the nervous system, which can be triggered by sensory input or stress.
Certain foods seem to cause migraines, too, like alcohol, cheese, chocolate, certain meats, monosodium glutamate (MSG), and caffeine.
From a more holistic perspective, a migraine is your body’s way of telling you that it is on overload. You may have been experiencing stressors (poor food, lack of exercise, family and work demands, stressful relationships, tragedy like divorce or death, etc.) that you just tucked away without consciously dealing with the emotions that accompany such circumstances.
Allergies, and even bright lights can also trigger a migraine headache, but these are also just sensory inputs – another indication that your body isn’t handling “life” too well.
The nervous system registers these psychological stresses whether you consciously do or not. At some point, the nervous system throws its hands up and says, “What gives?”
Here are a few interesting facts about migraines that may shine some light on the problem:
- 70 percent of those who suffer from migraines have a family history of the health problem.
- 91 percent of people who have a migraine can’t complete their work functions while having one.
- 70 percent of people who suffer from migraines are women.
- 53 percent of people who suffer from migraines say it is a serious disability that cause them to miss out on life.
If you’ve ever experienced a migraine, like the 37 million people who have, then you’ll likely want to know how to cure them in the very best – and fastest – way possible.
Allopathic Cures for Migraine
The most common “cure” for migraines offered by allopathic medicine is a form of drugs called triptans. You may recognize some of their names:
- Almotriptan (Axert)
- Eletriptan (Relpax)
- Frovatriptan (Frova)
- Naratriptan (Amerge)
- Rizatriptan (Maxalt, Maxalt-MLT)
- Sumatriptan (Imitrex)
- Sumatriptan and naproxen (Treximet)
- Zolmitriptan (Zomig)
These drugs are meant to stop the acute symptoms of a migraine headache including pain, nausea, and sensitivity to light and sound, but they also come with a bunch of negative side effects, like:
- Headache other than migraine
- Tingling of the skin
- Dry mouth
- Flushing (hot flashes)
- Feeling hot or cold
- Chest pain
- Pain in the joints or bones
- Tightness or pressure in the throat or chest
- Sensation of warmth
- A pounding or irregular heartbeat
- A burning sensation at the back of the throat
- Bitter taste in the mouth
- Extreme fatigue
Natural Cures for Migraine
There are numerous natural cures for migraines that don’t just mask the symptoms and cause deleterious side effects. These range from herbal remedies, to stress-lowering methods, and even lifestyle changes that can all reduce or even eliminate migraines completely.
Lifestyle Changes that Help Migraines
Some of the easiest ways to avoid migraines is to take better care of yourself by:
- Getting at least 7-9 hours of sleep every night (more when you are sick) – sleep loss can trigger a migraine
- Reducing your stress levels
- Avoiding caffeine, processed foods, MSG, and other food triggers
- Eat a plant based diet. This habit is linked to the reduction of migraine headaches.
- Getting regular moderate exercise (30 mins a day is sufficient to reduce migraine frequency)
- Drinking plenty of water – there is an indication that migraines happen more often in people who are dehydrated
Food and Drink that Can Trigger a Migraine
There seem to be some foods which are especially prone to causing migraines. You should avoid these if you can to help prevent them. They include:
- Alcohol, particulalry red wine.
- Beans and other tyramine-containing foods
- Caffeine (often found in foods, beverages, and medicines)
- Cheeses and yogurt
- Chinese food or other soups and foods containing MSG
- Processed meats (containing sulfites-eg, bacon, sausages, salami, ham)
- Vitamins and herbal supplements (some contain caffeine or active ingredients that can make headaches worse)
Herbal Remedies for Migraine
There are many herbal remedies for migraines that have been tested over hundreds, if not thousands of years, for their effectiveness. Just a few you can try are:
Butterbur (petasites hybridus) – Experts aren’t exactly sure how this herbal remedy works so well, but they theorize that it opens the blood vessels leading to the brain, allowing better circulation. This can relieve swelling and pain caused by inflammation which usually gets worse with a poor diet and high stress.
Feverfew (tanacetum parthenium) – Feverfew is used for many health issues ranging from infertility to fever to headaches. It seems to work by reducing inflammation, acting as a cardiotonic (boosts circulation and heart functioning) and helps to reduce pathological bacteria.
Ginger – A teaspoon of powdered ginger may be a life saver if you feel a migraine coming on. It is so effective that it compares to some of the pharmaceutical drugs prescribed for migraines. It helps with heartburn, dizziness, nausea, and reduces inflammation – all conditions which accompany migraine.
Essential Oils for Migraines
There are literally hundreds of essential oils with anti-inflammatory and stress-reducing qualities which could help to reduce migraines, but here are four you can add to your medicine cabinet to help reduce migraine symptoms.
Peppermint – Mint is one of the best remedies for headaches of all kinds – migraine, sinus, or otherwise. It has been used for centuries to help relieve headaches, pain and fatigue.
Lavender – Lavender has stress-relieving properties which can help to calm the nervous system, and reduce migraines.
Thyme and Rosemary – These two essential oils pack a powerful anti-migraine punch. They contain carvacrol, a substance that acts like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen to inhibit COX-II – which causes inflammation and pain.
Eucalyptus – You can apply Eucalyptus oil to help reduce tension from sinus congestion, migraines, or any other head pain.
Biofeedback for Migraines
Biofeedback is a non-invasive, non-prescription, scientifically proven way to reduce stress which causes tension or migraine headaches. This method usually reduces migraines from 45 to 60 percent – which compares to leading pharmaceutical drugs given for the condition.
Different biofeedback machines use different methods, but most commonly you just sit back in a comfortable chair with a pair of biofeedback glasses on that look much like what you would wear in a 3D movie. Different sounds and lights will cue the brain to progressively relax.
Traditional Chinese Medicine for Migraine
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) understands migraine headaches as resulting from the health of all the organs, especially the nervous system and brain. TCM also sees the brain as the holder of all important marrow derived from the kidney essence which is nourished by food and nutrients (and thus why eating poorly can make migraines worse).
The head connects with other organs through its meridians, and thus is affected by anything which disturbs them.
A TCM practitioner may use anything from acupuncture to herbal remedies to moxibustion and cupping to help cure a migraine headache and the underlying pathology which is causing it.
Yoga and Meditation for Migraine
Another effective method for reducing migraine headaches is by utilising yoga and meditation. This protocol works specifically by reducing stress, changing how your body responds to stress, and allowing the nervous system profound rest.
Yoga and meditation change the way our hormones work. The practices increase happy stress-busting hormones like serotonin, oxytocin, and dopamine. They also reduce stress-related hormones like cortisol and adrenaline.
The breathing exercises practiced in yoga also help to purify the blood, increase circulation, and reduce stress.
There are many methods of reducing migraines and the loss of quality of life that accompanies this debilitating health condition. While pharmaceuticals and over-the-counter medications like Ibuprofen may temporarily take the edge off, they don’t usually do anything to correct the underlying imbalance which is likely causing the problem.
Lifestyle changes like getting more sleep, eating better, getting plenty of exercise, drinking enough purified water, and reducing stress can go a long way in mitigating headaches and other symptoms caused by migraines.
If these changes don’t solve the problem, you can try one or several of the natural methods described to avoid the unpleasant side effects that accompany allopathic medicine’s normal “cures” for migraine headaches.