According to the National Headache and Migraine Association, migraine is the 7th leading cause of disability worldwide. The list of drugs prescribed by conventional physicians to treat these debilitating attacks is long and menacing, with Botox as a recent addition for chronic sufferers. But you have much better choices to minimize and eliminate migraines and make life enjoyable again.
You may already know about important lifestyle changes that can help you sidestep migraine triggers, such as regulating sleep and incorporating stress-reducing exercise into your weekly routine. Along with those, here are other ways to prevent migraines in the first place:
- Make sure you're getting at least 500mg of magnesium daily. Research has shown that individuals who experience frequent migraine attacks are likely to have low levels of magnesium in the brain. Ensure adequate levels by supplementing your diet with 500 mg of magnesium daily.
- Check for food allergies. Several food sensitivities can cause migraines. Common culprits include milk, wheat, food additives, aspartame (Nutrasweet, Equal), tomatoes, and fish. Chocolate, cheese, beer and wine may also bring on migraines because of compounds called vasoactive amines, which causes the blood vessels to expand.
- Give feverfew a shot. Feverfew (Chrysanthemum parthenium) has been used for hundreds of years as a remedy for headaches, pain relief, fever and arthritis. This herb lowers the production of prostaglandins, inflammatory agents that contribute to the onset of migraine headaches. It also appears to improve the tone of the blood vessels and slow their dilation. For preventing migraines, take 150 mg of feverfew daily for four to six months.
- Drink plenty of water. Water can flush out toxins in your body that contribute to headaches. In addition, dehydration may be linked to chronic headaches. Make sure you’re drinking at least eight glasses of water a day.
If, despite your best prevention efforts, you still come down with a migraine, many of my former patients found that adding some or all of the following natural therapies assisted in the fight against migraines:
- Acupuncture. An ancient Chinese medicine therapy, acupuncture is backed by a large body of scientific research. It restores the normal flow of Qi (pronounced “chee”), the energy or life force that flows through the body. The World Health Organization (WHO) lists migraines as one of more than 40 conditions for which acupuncture may be useful. And according to studies, acupuncture isconsistently more effective in reducing symptoms compared to drugs or placebo treatments.
- Massage. No longer considered a luxury, massage is now recognized as a powerful therapeutic tool. As researchers continue to study the effectiveness of massage therapy for migraines, it’s well known that massage therapy aids in releasing pain and decreasing anxiety, tension, and stress—which can help tame the severity and frequency of migraines.
- Neurofeedback. A therapy focused on the brain, neurofeedback trains the functions of your central nervous system, which is where migraines occur. Neurofeedback therapy starts with a “mapping” of the electrical activity in your brain and identifies patterns, assessed by an expert technician who prescribes a personalized treatment protocol. Decades of clinical studies have shown this therapy to be an effective treatment for numerous cognitive, emotional, and neurological conditions. And because patients are learning on a subconscious level, improvements endure long after the treatment course is completed.
- Bioidentical hormones for women. During menstruation, hormone levels fluctuate substantially and the rapid decrease of estrogen and progesterone levels can trigger migraines. Commonly prescribed for women going through menopause, bioidentical hormone therapy uses the same hormones that are produced in the human body to restore your hormone levels.
While the physiological effects of a migraine are painful for all who experience them, migraine triggers and effective treatments vary for each patient. That’s why I recommend keeping a journal of what works for you.