If you or someone you know experiences migraines, you are very aware of how truly devastating these can be. Loss of work, family time and sometimes days on end of severe pain really decrease the quality of life of a migraine sufferer.
Here are some facts about migraines:
- Migraines affect 10% of the population – 17% of women and 5% of men.
- The group who more commonly get migraines are women aged 25 through to 44.
- There is a strong genetic element in the likelihood of someone experiencing migraines. If your immediate family members have migraines, you have a greater chance of getting them.
- A typical migraine attack lasts anywhere from one to 72 hours and occurs approximately once per month. In women, this often corresponds to their menstrual cycle.
- Migraines are often one-sided, although not always. The affected side may always be the same or may alternate.
- Although different people have different triggers for migraines, some of the more common food triggers include: coffee, chocolate, cheese, aspartame (NutraSweetÃ‚Â®), MSG, bacon, and even onions.
- Also, stress, allergies, depression, low thyroid and fatigue may play a role for some people.
What are the symptoms of a migraine?
These can be different from one person to another, and they may even change from one time to another for the same person. Commonly, a migraine is marked by severe, throbbing head pain, noticeably worse on one side or the other. There may be sensitivity to noise and light. There may also be nausea and vomiting.
Some people who get migraines report a pre-headache warning sign called an ‘aura’. This can include strange smells, arm or leg numbness, and flashing lights or blind spots in their vision.
Since there is no laboratory test to reliably identify a migraine, the diagnosis is usually done by a thorough description of the symptoms.
Even though there are new prescription drugs available to help reduce them, no drug has yet been found that can eliminate them. It is usually much more effective to look for and correct underlying imbalances in the body to alleviate the problem.
Alternative Treatment Options
For people wanting to take a natural approach to migraine relief, there are several good options worth exploring. Here are some of the best alternative choices to consider:
- Acupuncture – acupuncture is frequently helpful in reducing or eliminating migraines. The key is to knowing the exact area where the pain typically occurs, along with how often they occur, and how long they last. Using this information, a skilled acupuncturist can zero in on the right points for relieving the pain, often permanently.
- Mediator Release Testing – uncovering and eliminating hidden food sensitivities can sometimes stop the cycle of migraines in as little as 3 days. These food sensitivities are not simple allergies, but rather non-allergic, immune-mediated reactions to specific foods. And unlike true allergies there can be reactions to multiple foods. By identifying these and following a specific approach to eliminating their effects, migraine symptoms often go completely away.
- Neurotransmitter Re-balancing – any time there is extended, intense pain, the chemicals in the brain that are there to reduce pain can be depleted. This can create a substantial imbalance in the chemicals that help your brain function effectively. Neurotransmitter testing and re-balancing identifies the specific chemical imbalances and corrects them using natural supplements.
- Metabolic TypingÃ‚Â® – since food-related issues are commonly part of the migraine pattern, it can be very helpful to know which foods are pushing the body further out of balance. Metabolic TypingÃ‚Â® is an excellent way to determine this. Once the correct foods become part of someone’s diet, their body returns to a better state of balance and symptoms disappear.
- Stress Reduction – this is especially useful for situations where the frequency, intensity or duration of the migraine is worse when there is more stress. Techniques include exercise, meditation, progressive relaxation, hypnosis, and herbal medicines that allow the body to de-stress naturally.
Because each person is unique, their patterns of migraine and response to treatment will be different. If you or someone you care about suffers from migraines, it will help to consult with someone knowledgeable about these and other options to more quickly figure out which ones are right for your unique situation. I am happy to consult with you about this.
Hyperhealth Pro Database, In-Tele-Health, Hansville, WA, 2008
Diener, H. C., et al. Efficacy of acupuncture for the prophylaxis of migraine: a multicentre randomized controlled clinical trial. Lancet Neurol. 5(4):310-316, 2006.