Migraine headaches are characterized by pounding, throbbing, often one-sided head pain that may last from a few hours to 3 days. If you have them, you don’t need them explained to you! Migraines can be so debilitating, leading to missed work, school and play days. Is there a way to prevent them or stop them in their tracks?
First it’s important to think about what causes your migraine? People have noted triggers such as stress, hunger, fatigue, hormonal changes, eyestrain, red wine, and various food allergies. If you don’t know already, think about the last migraine you experienced. Were you overly tired? Were you about to start your menstrual period? Did you skip lunch that day or were you overly stressed? Did you go to the gym and forget to drink any water? That last scenario can be a double trigger by increasing muscle tension and becoming dehydrated.
Doing some investigative work and managing your triggers may reduce the number of migraines you get, but what if they still come? The following natural remedies may provide some relief.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Omega 3 fatty acids found in wild fatty fish, nuts and seeds are anti-inflammatory and have been found in studies to lessen frequency, duration and severity of migraines.
Vitamin B Complex
Riboflavin, a B vitamin, has been shown to reduce the frequency of migraines, possibly by improving the function of mitochondria, our cell’s energy powerhouse. The family of B vitamins are all interconnected, so taking a B complex rather than just riboflavin by itself, will give the best results.
The World Health Organization stated in 2009 that 75% of Americans consume less than adequate magnesium. Low magnesium concentrations have been found in people with migraines, and it appears that these are the people who will benefit the most. You can get a blood test to determine if that’s you, or try supplementing for a month or so and observe your results. Magnesium is important for over 300 different enzymatic reactions in our bodies, and so if you aren’t consuming enough from your diet, it makes sense to supplement or increase your intake of magnesium-rich foods such as dark leafy greens, nuts and seeds.
5-HTP can help regulate serotonin, which is typically low in people that suffer from migraines. 5-HTP has been shown to have very similar results to drug therapy, without any side effects, except for positive ones such as improved mood and relief of depression.
Feverfew, Tanacetum parthenium, is the most popular herbal remedy for prevention of migraine. It has been shown to be anti-inflammatory and reduce overactive immune responses and platelet aggregation. All beneficial effects for migraine sufferers, but create a plan and measure your INF frequently if you are taking anticoagulants already, as you may need to reduce your medication or avoid the herb.
Many migraines are due to restricted blood flow in the brain. To alleviate this, try alternating hot and cold compresses on the back of the neck. Add a soothing essential oil to the compress such as lavender, or sweet marjoram to increase blood flow.
Written by Kathryn C., Bastyr University student intern
Pizzorno, Joseph E, and Michael T Murray. Textbook Of Natural Medicine. 3rd ed. St. Louis, Mo.: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier, 2006.
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