Alternative Approaches: Attack Back: Get Migraine Relief
Attack Back: Get Migraine Relief
by Jennifer LB Leese
According to WebMD, approximately 45 million Americans suffer from chronic headaches, and of them, 28 million suffer from migraines. Statistics show that they tend to run in families and women suffer from them three times more than men.
For those who have never suffered from a migraine, it's a severe, throbbing headache that usually begins on one side of the head (sometimes affecting the whole head). These attacks can last for hours, even days. They are often disabling. "In some cases, these painful headaches are preceded or accompanied by a sensory warning sign (aura), such as flashes of light, blind spots or tingling in your arm or leg. A migraine headache is also sometimes accompanied by other signs and symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, and extreme sensitivity to light and sound." (MayoClinic)
As a migraine sufferer, there is nothing more soothing - during a migraine - than complete darkness, peaceful stillness, and a cool compressant draped across my eyes.
"The precise underlying cause of this type of headache is unknown. The prevailing theory is that they are sparked by spasms in the arteries that supply blood to the brain." (HerbalRemediesInfo.com)
Over the years scientific research pertaining to the management of migraine headache pain has improved immensely. If you are a migraine sufferer and haven't been to the doctor in a while...now is the time!
What are the triggers?
There are many things that can trigger migraines. Now depending on your sensitivity, migraines may occur due to caffeine withdrawal, stress, certain foods, lack of sleep, bright light, changes in the weather, fluctuations in blood sugar levels, liver problems, hormonal swings, or just by skipping a meal.
Keep a diary. Use a diary to keep track of your migraines. When and what time or day they occur, etc. If they most often occur after breakfast lunch, or dinner, keep track of what you are eating and drinking. You may have sensitivity to tyramine, a substance found in red wine, processed meats, cheeses, and alcoholic drinks. Be sure to record your response to any headache medications you take.
Relax your muscles. Simply relaxing can decrease migraine headache pain or prevent it entirely. Muscle relaxation, meditation and yoga don't require equipment. These are techniques you can learn at home using books or tapes or by taking a class. Relaxing doesn't have to mean sitting on the couch doing nothing. Everyone relaxes differently...for some it may mean listenign to music, gardening, reading, writing, or laying in a hot tub or jacuzzi.
Beauty rest. "The average adult needs seven to nine hours of sleep a night." (MayoClinic) Be sure to get plenty of sleep, but then again...don't oversleep either!
Acupuncture. This treatment has grown extremely popular throughout the United States and the world. Acupuncture is used for many types of ailments and illnesses, migraines being one. It's worth a try!
Massage. Through massage we relieve stress, tender and tightmuscles, back, neck, and shoulder pain. Why should headaches be any different? Although its value in treating headaches hasn't been fully determined, massage is a great way to relax.
Below are a few proven treaments from the Uchee Pines Institute, an educational and treatment facility in Georgia.
Ice water. A quart of ice water poured for one minute on the scalp at the nape of the neck and allowed to flow under the hair to the forehead to drip off the bowed head into a pan or bucket is helpful. Follow this by a second quart of ice water poured for one minute over the soles of the feet.
Cold compress. [Applying] a cold compress to the head with small chips of ice still in the cold towel, or an actual ice pack to the forehead can bring great relief.
Aromatherapy. Using essential oils of lavendar, sage, peppermint or catnip can also be curative or greatly relieving for many types of headaches including migraines.
Paper bag. Rebreathing into a paper bag for as many breaths as can be tolerated can stop migraines in many individuals. May be repeated in five minutes as needed.
Dong quai ((Angelica sinensis)
Also known as Chinese Angelica, dong quai has been used for thousands of years in traditional Chinese, Korean, and Japanese medicine. It is said that this herb helps prevent migrane attacks. "Dong quai should not be used with blood-thinning agents, such as warfarin. It may also increase the risk of skin cancers." (About.com: Healthcare Center)
Feverfew (tanecetum parthenium)
Feverfew is the most studied herbal remedy for headaches. Some experts recommend purchasing feverfew in dried leaf form. In David Hoffmann's book "Holistic Herbal: A Safe and Practical Guide to Making and Using Herbal Remedies" he says, "Whilst not quite the wonder remedy the media have led us to believe, the regular use of it, either fresh or as a tablet or a tea, will often clear the migraines after a month or so of treatment.
"This agent should not be taken during pregnancy or in women hoping to become pregnant. People with any blood clotting disorders should not take it." (About.com: Healthcare Center)
Passion flower (Passiflora incarnata)
This herb has been used since the 19th century for nervous conditions. Modern research supports traditional usage and clinical trials have demonstrated the relaxing and anti-anxiety effects of this wonder herb.
"Just at the start of a migraine, put five to ten drops of a cayenne extract in the nostril on the side of the headache. Hold the medicine in the nostril. The headache is usually gone in about 10 minutes." (Uchee Pines Institute, an educational and treatment facility in Georgia)
David Hoffmann suggests taking the following herbs at the first sign of a migraine:
* Black Willow
* Jamaican Dogwood
* Wood Betony
"Because migraines are usually accompanied by nausea and vomiting, headaches and dizziness, herbs like Black Horehound, Chamomile, Gold Seal or Meadowsweet can be helpful." Hoffmann also states that "herbs can be used freely and safely as part of one's lifestyle."
1 teaspoon each tinctures of feverfew leaves, ginkgo leaves, valerian rhizome, ginger rhizome and peppermint leaves
Combine ingredients. Take a dropperful as needed, up to 8 times a day.
Lavender Headache Compress
5 drops lavender essential oil
1 cup cold water
Add essential oil to water and swish a soft cloth in it. Wring out the cloth, lie down and close your eyes. Place the cloth over your forehead and eyes. Use throughout the day, as often as you can.
Victorian Facial Scrub
It is said that this vintage scrub is just as effective today for softening the complexion as it was in the 1890s.
1 cup dried rose petals
1 cup dried lavender
1 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup chopped almonds
6 drops chamomile essential oil
Grind the herbs, oatmeal, and almonds in a blender or food processor until very fine. Stir in essential oil and pack in decorative four-ounce glass jars with tight-fitting lids. Rub a handful of the scrub gently into damp skin using small, circular motions. Allow it to dry on the skin for a minute or so, then rinse well.
Belly Bar or Lotion
1 1/2 ounces beeswax (if making lotion, omit the beeswax)
2 ounces shea butter
2 ounces cocoa butter
2 ounces sweet almond oil
2 ounces grapeseed oil
2 ounces olive oil
1 ounce jojoba oil
1 ounce emu oil
1 teaspoon vitamin E
1 tablespoon ground lavender
1 tablespoon ground chamomile
1 tablespoon ground calendula
Melt the beeswax, shea, and cocoa butter. Add all ground herbs and blend well. Add the oils and vitamin E, stirring until cool. Add roughly 60 drops of lavender EO then let sit for about an hour. It should be solid at this point. Before storing, place in the microwave for a few seconds, then add 2 ounces of grapeseed oil and gently stir.
The articles "Alternative Approaches" published in the Picket News the first week of every month are not intended to be a substitute for therapy or professional advice.
Consumerlab.com is building a database of natural remedy brands that it tests and rates. Not all are yet available.
Additionally, the Food and Drug Administration has a program called MEDWATCH for people to report adverse reactions to untested substances, such as herbal remedies and vitamins (800-332-1088).
A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions.
Source: WebMD, "Holistic Herbal: A Safe and Practical Guide to Making and Using Herbal Remedies" by David Hoffmann, National Headache Foundation, American Headache Society, American Council for Headache Education, Migraine Awareness Group, HerbalRemediesInfo.com, MayoClinic, About.com: Healthcare Center, and Wikipedia.org.