Anyone who has had a migraine headache will remember the painful experience for a long time. Migraines can be treated naturally, however, avoid generalizing the headache and the treatment. I need to explain that last.
Migraines are often (but not always) caused by constriction of the blood vessels in the head, near the brain. Substances that encourage such constriction can (but won’t always) make the pain worse, while items that are vasodilators, meaning that they cause the vessels to dilate can (but won’t always) relieve the headache. Notice the phrases enclosed in parenthesis. If those phrases were removed, this would be generalizing.
The truth is that there can be many causes for migraines, there can be many things that will aggravate the condition, and there are many things that will lessen or get rid of the headache. What is true for or works for one person, doesn’t necessarily hold true for another.
According to the Migraine Research Foundation, of all illnesses in the world, migraines rank as the third most common. In the US, 12% of the people, regardless of gender, ethnicity, or age, suffer from migraines. About a billion people worldwide get migraines.
Although usually associated with headaches, not every person experiences a headache during a migraine. Visual sensitivity and symptoms are experienced by about a quarter of migraine sufferers. Symptoms can also include tingling or numbness in the fingers, toes, hands, feet, and face.
Migraines affect men, women, and children, however, more women get them than men or children. As many as 85% of the sufferers of migraines are women. Links have been found between hormonal levels in women and the occurrence of migraines and for most women, those hormones fluctuate greatly during the 28-day cycle that occurs from puberty to menopause.
Although migraines can be and often are severely debilitating, many people have them without knowing that they are having a migraine attack. Migraines are recognized as a neurological disease, though, and there is presently no permanent cure.
Does this mean that there is no hope? Not at all, and in fact, in most cases, strong medications such as those that are often prescribed are not necessary. In fact, migraine medication can actually cause migraines. But a person must understand that not all treatments will work for them. If one doesn’t, try another. We are all unique individuals.
The first step for treating migraines is to identify the triggers. What did you recently (within the last 2-3 days) consume? What were you doing? Was the temperature hot or cold? What symptoms did you have before the onset of the migraine? Knowing all of these things and altering your lifestyle to avoid them will help control migraines, and possibly resolve them. Keeping a journal is a great idea, particularly if you get frequent migraines. Include those treatments that help, how long they last, and how severe they are.
Triggers for migraines
A common trigger is actually low blood sugar. As strange as it may sound, ingesting chocolate will often help with this. Precursors will often be such things as trembling and a visual ‘aura’.
Other common and recognized triggers include the nitrates used in cured bacon and lunch meat, avocados, caffeine, cheese, birth control pills, hormone pills, red wine, overuse of analgesics, and non-dietary things like hard exercise, activities that cause profuse sweating, intense light, stress, lack of sleep, smoke or smog, and constant loud noise.
Migraines that come up suddenly may be treatable with a tea made of feverfew, which is a medicinal herb that can be found in the wild as well as in herbal stores.
Taking a hot bath in water to which peppermint extract or spearmint extract has been added will often relieve migraines. This is aromatherapy, but mint (specifically, menthol or mint oil) also relaxes the muscles, including those that constrict the arteries and veins.
Migraines can also be triggered by allergies, especially to certain foods or food ingredients; such as wheat, corn, gluten, milk, or bacon. Allergies can come on suddenly and without warning. If you note that you get migraines after eating certain foods, curtailing or eliminating these from the diet may prevent the occurrence of the headache. Preventing migraines is far superior to treating them, and a lot less painful. This is the reason for keeping a migraine journal.
A tea of basil, using a tea ball and taken at the first signs of a migraine, may relieve and lessen the impact of the headache.
White willow bark tea is also a good treatment for a migraine and this treatment has been in use by the native Americans for centuries. If needed, sweeten this with honey, NOT with sugar. Table sugar must be broken down by the body before being absorbed, and this process can cause migraines to get worse.
High temperatures can also trigger migraines. In this case, being in a cool, dark room will often help. If nothing else, try sitting in a lukewarm bath, with doors and windows closed. This is also the treatment for migraines that are caused by bright light, such as when you are out in the snow on a sunny day, or out on a lake, catching the reflections off the rippling water.
The important thing to remember about migraines is that they have many different triggers, they affect different people differently, and they are treated in many ways. The frustration occurs when we try to treat them all the same way and don’t always get the results we want. It is helpful to try different treatments, to keep a journal, and to realize that different people are different.
Research continues into migraines. This is a good thing because though medical science knows what happens during a migraine, we still don’t know the actual cause or why some people get them frequently and others don’t.
Man-made medication is often not the best treatment, and can actually worsen the problem. But you do not have to put up with the pain forever. Just resolve that you will find the cause and the treatments that work for you.