THE toughest headache of them all – the migraine – affects up to 25% of adults in the West. Some suffer attacks weekly, and some only three or four times in their lives. But those who’ve suffered even one speak about it as the “headache you can never forget”.
More women than men suffer, because of hormone-related migraines, and those taking the Pill have a higher than average susceptibility.
Some migraines are preceded by visual flashing lights, and bands of white or colored light at the edge of the visual field. Irritability, confusion and high sensitivity to any noise sets in. Once there, the intense aching and pounding is usually only on one side of the head.
What is actually happening is that the arteries in the head are going through an excessive contraction, reducing oxygen supply. This can be set off by any of the following.
Food allergy; blood sugar movements; fluid retention; a history of constipation; lower back problems; sub-clinical nutritional levels; hypothyroidism; under active liver; high stress levels: hormonal changes; neck problems.
The most commonly quoted “trigger” foods are: Processed cheese; chocolate; red wine; coffee; too much salt; port; MSG (monosodium glutamate); processed meats; wheat; gluten; fried foods; processed oils; citrus fruit: bread; refined cereals. Individual sufferers need to test for their own “triggers” as these may differ from this list.
Attention to the following points on your diet can help both halt the onset of a migraine, and prevent the next one occurring (if you are able to predict it): Keep to regular meal times; consume complex carbohydrates, particularly raw vegetables and their fresh juices, between meals to help keep blood sugar levels optimal; drink herbal diuretic teas such as Dandelion, Alfalfa, Rosehip, without sugar or milk.
Other preventive measures to explore are: Tai Chi; yoga; Transcendental Meditation; bouncing (to clean lymph); frequent walking (to increase oxygen supply); body stress management (to clear muscle spasms and knots); acupuncture (to balance liver and gallbladder energy).
Some herbs can be helpful – ask a good herbalist. Feverfew is the favorite herb for migraine, and peppermint tea settles the stomach.
An aromatherapist and reflexologist can also help. You can also rub a couple of drops of lavender oil onto your temples 2-3 times daily.
Since migraine attacks can be mental as well as physiological, look in to using Bach Flowers.
Finally, nutrition supplements worth taking in anticipation of, during, and just after an attack are: Goldenseal (to control tyramine – a “trigger” chemical in the blood); B Complex (with Niacin) (to open up artery blood flow); Chromium Picolinate (to stabilise blood sugar levels); OLA capsules, Dong Quai / Chasteberry (for hormonal balancing); Magnesium Citrate, calcium citrate (for calming nerves); Acidophilus capsules. Bifido capsules (for colon cleansing); Bioflavanoids, calcium ascorbate powder (for controlling inflammation).
Doses will differ from one individual to another so take professional advice before self-medicating.