A migraine is a severe headache usually felt as a throbbing pain at the front or on one side of the head.
Some people also have other symptoms, such as nausea and sensitivity to light. Migraines affect more women than men, and hormones may be the reason why this is the case. For example, some women find that migraine attacks are more frequent around the time of their period. However, this association has not been proven.
Migraines usually begin in young adults. About 9 in 10 have their first migraine before they are 40 years old. However, it is possible for migraines to begin later in life. Everyone will experience migraines differently. Some people have attacks frequently, up to several times a week. Other people only have a migraine occasionally. It is possible for years to pass between migraine attacks.
Some people find that migraine attacks are associated with certain triggers, which can include stress and certain foods. Migraines can severely affect your quality of life. During and after a migraine, some people need to stay in bed for days at a time.
However, there are effective treatments, and methods that can help to prevent migraines. Most people find ways of managing their migraines so that there is little disruption to their lives. One of the best ways of preventing migraines is recognising the things that trigger an attack.
Keeping a migraine diary is helpful. You may find you tend to have a migraine after eating certain foods or when you are stressed. By avoiding this trigger, you can prevent a migraine.
Recognising the signs: Some people who experience migraines begin to feel unwell up to a day or so before a migraine attack. The strange sensations that are sometimes felt before a migraine are known as the prodrome. They can include a change in mood, tiredness, hyperactivity or food cravings.
There are five distinct stages to a migraine, although not everyone goes through all the stages:
- ’Prodromal’ (pre-headache) stage. Some people experience changes in mood, energy levels, behaviour and appetite, and sometimes aches and pains several hours or days before an attack.
- Aura. Some people experience a sensation, or aura, just before their migraine starts. Symptoms of aura include flashes of light or blind spots, difficulty focusing, and seeing things as if you are looking through a broken mirror. This stage normally lasts around 15 minutes to an hour.
- Headache stage. This is usually a pulsating or throbbing pain on one side of the head. You usually have nausea or vomiting, and extreme sensitivity to bright light and loud sounds, with a strong desire to lie down in a darkened room. This stage lasts for four to 72 hours.
- Resolution stage. Most attacks gradually fade away. Some people find the headache stops suddenly after they have been sick. Sleep often relieves the symptoms.
- ‘Postdromal’ or recovery phase. There may be a stage of exhaustion and weakness afterwards.
Other symptoms commonly associated with a migraine are:
- nausea – you may feel queasy and sick; this may be followed by vomiting
- increased sensitivity – you may have photophobia (sensitivity to light), phonophobia (sensitivity to sound) and/or osmophobia (sensitivity to smells), which is why many people with a migraine want to rest in a quiet, dark room
Other symptoms can also occur during a migraine. These include:
- poor concentration
- feeling very hot or very cold
- abdominal pain (which can sometimes cause diarrhoea)
- a frequent need to urinate
Not everyone experiences these symptoms when they have a migraine, and they do not usually all occur at once.
The symptoms accompanying migraine can last anywhere between four hours and three days. They will usually disappear when the headache goes.
You may feel very tired for up to seven days after a migraine attack.
About one third of people with migraines have warning symptoms, known as aura, before the migraine. These include:
- visual problems – you may see flashing lights, zigzag patterns or blind spots
- stiffness or a tingling sensation like pins and needles in your neck, shoulders or limbs
- problems with co-ordination – you may feel disoriented or off balance
- difficulty speaking
- loss of consciousness – this only happens in very rare cases
Aura symptoms typically start between 15 minutes and one hour before the headache begins. Some people may experience aura with only a mild headache.
Food allergies can play a role in over 90 per cent of certain types of headaches, such as migraine, so it is important that you be screened for food allergies and sensitivities, and avoid eating all foods that you are allergic or sensitive to.
If you do the Jeff McCombs Candida Protocol you will already be avoiding all of the foods that trigger Migraines. However here are the foods to avoid at all costs.
- Do not consume any artificial sweeteners, such as Splenda, NutraSweet or Aspartame
- Do not consume high fructose corn syrup or mono-sodium glutamate.
- Do not drink any carbonated beverages.
- Avoid all fast food restaurants.
- Avoid all canned food.
- Remove or reduced caffine
- Eliminate wheat and gluten.
- Eliminate conventional dairy products. The best dairy products are raw, unpasteurised and homogenised dairy from grass fed cows. If this is unavailable, then buy organic dairy.
- Avoid conventional beef. The best beef is organic grass fed beef.
The second best is organic meat; this includes beef, veal, lamb, chicken and turkey.
Instead, eat a diet of fresh, organic foods with an emphasis on vegetables, especially dark leafy green vegetables, salads, free-range organic poultry, wild-caught, cold-water fish, and non-gluten, complex carbohydrate foods, such as red potatoes, squash and yams.
- Vitamin D has been shown to be a key factor in preventing and alleviating migraine and headaches. Take Vitamin D3 50,000-100,000 International Units a day nc.vitaminstrength.com for a period of up to 4 weeks.
- Wholefood supplements are the best way of ensuring your nutritional needs are met.
- Omega 3s.
To help prevent and reverse migraines and headaches, supplement with B-complex vitamins, vitamin B3, vitamin C, vitamin E, calcium, magnesium, and potassium, along with eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), evening primrose oil, and the amino acid DL-phenylalanine.
Visit a licensed practitioner: who may wish to discuss the following:
- Ginger is used when nausea is experiences due to migraine
- According to TCM, the disharmony of the liver system is the most common cause of migraine and headache. A remedy to redress this would be Qi Ju Di Huang Wan, a remedy comprising 6 herbs including Ju Hua (chrysanthemum), Shan Yao (Chinese yam) and Shu di Huang (prepared Chinese foxglove.)
Visit a licensed practitioner to discuss the following:
- Lavender – – calming, soothing, antiseptic and emotional balancing, antibacterial
- Peppermint – analgesic, good for headaches
- Bay – mild, sedative,
- Melissa – antispasmodic, helps with nausea associated with migraine
- Jasmine – pain-relieving properties
- Eucalyptus – good for nerve pain
- Rosemary – excellent for aches and pains
Certain herbs can also help prevent and reduce migraine and headache symptoms. These include:
- Feverfew – chiefly used for migraine because it limits inflammation if blood vessels in the head.
- Bay leaves – mild sedative
- Cayenne pepper – antispasmodic, analgesic
- Chamomile – analgesic, sedative, anti-neuralgic
- Ginkgo biloba – analgesic
- Ginger – alleviates nausea and vomiting associated with migraine
- Skullcap – antispasmodic, relaxing
- Valerian root – sedative, good for nervous tension
- Wild yam – good for nausea and vomiting associated with migraine
- Willow bark – anti-neuralgic, good for pain relief
Reflexology has been found to be beneficial for treating migraine. Reflexology is a technique that applies pressure to specific points on the feet, hands or ears. Reflexology is most commonly used on the feet because our feet are full of tender nerve endings that are quite sensitive and responsive to stimulation. Reflexologists believe that the foot functions as a microcosm of the entire body, and that reference points or reflex areas in the foot correspond to all the major organs, glands and parts of the body. This popular healing art is used to promote relaxation and to improve health. Reflexology feels incredible and is highly recommended for people of all ages. In a study carried out by the National Board Health Council of Denmark, involving 220 patients experiencing migraine, 78 reflexologists administered treatment over a 3 month period. The result was that 81 per cent reported that their migraines had either been cured or substantially alleviated. Visit a licensed practitioner to discuss a course of treatment.
Research shows that spinal manipulation – the primary form of care provided by doctors of chiropractic – may be an effective treatment option for tension headaches and headaches that originate in the neck.
A report released in 2001 by researchers at the Duke University Evidence-Based Practice Centre in Durham, NC, found that spinal manipulation resulted in almost immediate improvement for those headaches that originate in the neck, and had significantly fewer side effects and longer-lasting relief of tension-type headache than a commonly prescribed medication.
Also, a 1995 study in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics found that spinal manipulative therapy is an effective treatment for tension headaches and that those who ceased chiropractic treatment after four weeks experienced a sustained therapeutic benefit in contrast with those patients who received a commonly prescribed medication.
Visit a licensed practitioner who may suggest the following:
- Perform spinal manipulation or chiropractic adjustments to improve spinal function and alleviate the stress on your system.
- Provide nutritional advice, recommending a change in diet and perhaps the addition of B complex vitamins.
- Offer advice on posture, ergonomics (work postures), exercises and relaxation techniques. This advice should help to relieve the recurring joint irritation and tension in the muscles of the neck and upper back.
Potassium Broth: A helpful dietary remedy for headaches is “potassium broth,” which can be made by combining washed but unpeeled carrots and potatoes with a variety of potassium-rich green vegetables into a pot of water. Bring the water to a boil, and then simmer for ten to 15 minutes, then strain out the broth and sip it throughout the day.
Bodywork: Since headaches are often due to chronic muscle tension and/or muscle spasm, bodywork can be extremely helpful in minimizing the risk of headaches, especially Alexander Technique, Feldenkrais, massage therapy, Polarity therapy, Structural Integration and Rolfing.
Bowen Therapy: Bowen Therapy was developed in the 1950s by Thomas Bowen, a lay healer from Australia who possessed a keen knowledge of human structure and nerve function and their relationship to health. Unlike other forms of structural bodywork, Bowen therapy is extremely gentle and non-invasive. The treatment involves a series of moves consisting of pulling the skin away from an underlying muscle or tendon, applying pressure against its side and the holding and releasing it while allowing the underlying structure to spring back to its normal position. It has proven particularly beneficial for conditions like migraine.
Hot baths, saunas, and steam baths can help ease headache pain by increasing blood circulation and easing muscle tension.
Learning how to cope with daily stress by practising relaxation exercises can also significantly reduce the incidence of headaches. One of the simplest methods of relaxation is simply to close your eyes as you sit comfortably in a chair, breathing gently and deeply through your belly. Do this for five minutes at a time and repeat throughout the day.
Rolfing (structural integration re-educating the body through movement and touch) ( can aid migraines: www.rolf.org
Prolotherapy: Prolotherapy, an injection technique, can alleviate 80 to 90 per cent of headaches and migraines. Because of the relationship between headaches and muscle contraction, the field of bodywork has much to offer headache and migraine sufferers.
Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) – visit a licensed practitioner. EFT has proven to be especially beneficial.
Naturopathy- Naturopathy is a non-drug strategy for treating ailments. In naturopathy, treatment is focused on restoring the body to a natural state where the body heals from within. Nature is the greatest healer and the naturopathy practitioner provides an atmosphere that permits recovery. Naturopaths feel that dangerous, toxic material is the cause of illness, and through removing it, we can return the body to a healthy state. The objective of treating migraine headaches through naturopathy is to trigger symptomatic relief and therefore blocking symptoms altogether.
During the course of the migraine headache, it is advised to avoid dehydration by drinking water, avoid upset stomach by sipping ice water, place the feet in hot water for 20 minutes to alleviate the headache, and place a cold compress on the forehead.
Meditation – During meditation, melatonin is produced in the body. It is a hormone that helps regulate sleep and waking cycles and may be an important hormone in maintaining a healthy reproductive system. Many studies advise employing meditation routinely to enhance melatonin production in the body.
In summary, there are some simple natural cures for migraine headaches. Some may work, some may need to be modified to fit your needs. But the only way to know is to try.