The Curable Migraine
What actually works to end migraines once and for all? Or at least make life with them bearable? I’ve never had one, but the suffering I’ve seen in friends prompts me to write this. Approximately 12 million people in the US have migraines every year. They tend to run in families and women are three times more likely to have them than men.
Unfortunately, suffering isn’t the entire story. Recent research from clinical studies on rats at the Rochester Medical Center indicates migraines actually induce a form of brain damage. During an attack swelling in some parts of the brain deprive it of oxygen. Persistent attacks cause brain cell death since these cells are extremely sensitive to inadequate oxygen.
Also, migraine sufferers are more prone to strokes.
Could these headaches be inflicting their torture as a sign that something is seriously wrong and MUST be treated? It doesn’t help that migraines have an air of mystery about them. There are different theories about what causes them. Researchers at the Mayo Clinic think they’re caused by a nervous system disorder affecting the trigeminal pathway (stretching from the brain stem to the head). Some think its related to low levels of serotonin.
They can be triggered by such things as stress, medications,lack of sleep, excessive exercise, skipping meals, msg, glaring lights, female hormones, caffeine, odors, alcohol. The first step is to figure out what’s triggering the attacks, a journal helps.
While herbal lore has plenty of recommendations, I decided to go to the migraine sufferers themselves and find out what worked for them. My big surprise was finding so many effective self-treatments. It’s not just feverfew, folks! Here’s a sampling of what I found (kept anonymous) :
- Apply cold packs to the neck while soaking the feet in a very hot bath. Drink lots of feverfew tea and water (some migraines are caused by lack of water), and take copious amounts of Dr. Christopher’s Herbal calcium. Try to enjoy the bath.
- Dong Quai tincture helps prevent them. (Makes sense if they’re triggered by hormonal changes since this herb regulates female hormones)
- Cayenne sprinkled on food or in juice (try tomato juice) to relieve pain
- Passionflower for its relaxing effect
- Tilden flower for migraines associated with high blood pressure
- At the first sign, dip a toothpick in cayenne and sniff it in each nostril
- Increased intake of folic acid and other B vitamins can reduce frequency and severity. (This was confirmed by a study at the Genomics Research Center at Australia’s Griffith University).
- A lot of success is reported by using a special extract of Butterbur (Petasites hybridus), marketed as Petadolex. It should be used several months and after a period of “being free” of migraine, one tapers off of it. Not all Butterbur products are safe, stick with the Petadolex, 50-100 mcg. twice daily with meals.
- Someone else found using a magnetic therapy pillow case helpful.
- Someone wrote: “Marjoram tea relieved my migraine. I’ve suffered from migraines for over 20 years and have tried most medications OTC & prescriptions. I know most of my triggers but sometimes one sneaks up on me anyway. I found a remedy online and now its all I use. I steep 1 1/2 – 2 tsp of marjoram in a small 2 cup teapot and drink it. After one cup I find relief from the pain and foggy head feeling.”
- Another, “I run menthol-camphor ointment all over my temples and forehead and put a small amount just under my nose and it begins to relieve the tension in my head and put me to sleep.”
- This one was different, “Get yourself a really thick milkshake and suck it through a straw as fast as you can. Don’t eat it slowly. The speed plus the cold and stop the pain in minutes.” I wonder what flavor?
- “Magnesium. Up to 50% of patients experiencing an acute migraine attack have low levels of magnesium. One study showed that migraine attacks were reduced by 41.6% in those who participated in regular magnesium supplementation.
- Take 5-HTP in the morning. It’s the precursor to serotonin. Migraines are caused in part by low serotonin, when serotonin levels are low, blood vessels dilate. Therefore, increasing serotonin may be helpful in preventing migraines. Supplement with CoQ10. In one key trial, 61.3% of migraineurs who supplemented with CoQ10 during a four-month trial reduced occurrence of migraine attacks by at least 50%
- Add coconut and flaxseed oil to your diet
- Eat plenty of unrefined low-glycemic carbohydrates (brown rice, sprouted grains, winter squash)
- Limit fruits that have a high glycemic index such as apricots, raisins, banana, papaya, mango
- Eat plenty of vegetables and vegetable juices
- Drink clean water throughout the day
- Stay away from coffee (substitute with Ganocafe)
- Tian ma mi huanjun pian is cheap and effective. Available from chinese medical shops.
- Inhaling lavender,eucalyptus, or peppermint oil. Dab some diluted peppermint oil to your temple. An eye pillow stuffed with lavender helps.
- Rub half a lime on your forehead.
- Rub the area right above your eyebrows slowly in a circular motion.
- A study at Michigan State University suggests that apples act as a tranquilizer. The study reveals that eating 2 apples a day reduces tensions, headaches, and emotional upsets.
- Apply a cold compress of witch hazel over the forehead.
- Spicy soups will cure a migraine. Its the hot peppers that do it.
- One woman gets relief if one has just started by juicing 4 grapefruits, or eating a lettuce, and doing EFT.
- Research was done with niacin. At the first sign of aura, 300-500mg of niacin were ingested orally, slightly chewing the pills. Best on an empty stomach. Migraines were resolved when the flushing occurred. See this study here.
- Others have had success with oil pulling. One Tbs of oil every morning. For instructions on oil pulling go here and here.
Yikes, I’m only about half-way through my list of remedies! I’d be interested in finding out what success readers have with the above. If still more are needed, I’ll whip out another blog post. Please do let us know what works for you…