By Dr. Mao Shing Ni
Migraine headaches are devastating and debilitating, and they’re often confused with other kinds of headaches. Recent studies suggest that, in addition to the common vascular system irregularities, migraines can also be caused by neurological and inflammatory conditions that affect the nerve roots in the neck. Before the onset of a migraine - sometimes up to twenty-four hours before - a large area of neurological activity in the brain is depressed; this causes inflammation, which irritates the cranial nerves.
Migraines, unlike ordinary headaches, include symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, auras (light spots), sensitivity to light and sound, numbness, speech difficulty, and pain on one side of the head or in one eye. All of these symptoms are connected to the irritation of the cranial nerves. Migraines can be caused by or accompanied by sinus problems, muscle tension (tension headaches), eyestrain, blood sugar imbalances, or hormonal imbalances, such as premenstrual syndrome. Another form is the hemiplegic migraine where one side of the body feels temporarily weak or paralyzed. Migraines tend to recur over days or weeks. Researchers believe that there might be a genetic predisposition to migraines. Migraines respond well to acupuncture, and many clinical studies have confirmed acupuncture’s clinical efficacy for pain management.
I had a patient who suffered from intractable migraines for more than fifteen years. He took all the available medication for migraines- including Botox injections- without much relief. I worked with his neurologist to formulate a comprehensive pain management plan consisting of acupuncture and herbal therapies, a hypoallergenic diet, and stress-reduction meditation and stretching exercises. After about four months of treatment, he went from two migraines a week to one or two a month. At this point his neurologist took him off of all medication and the patient continued with the remaining therapies for another two months. That was seven years ago. He now averages one or two migraines a year, and he continues to be off of all medication.
Dietary allergies play a significant role in many people who suffer from migraine headaches. It is important to identify, with the help of an allergist or nutritionist, the foods that may act as triggers for your condition. Here are some of my favorite home remedies, but always work with your physician to rule out more serious neurological problems.
HOME REMEDIES FOR MIGRAINE
HOW TO RELIEVE A MIGRAINE WITH ACUPRESSURE
Make sure that there are no structural imbalances in your spine, neck, or jaw, as these conditions can exacerbate headaches. Structural adjustments may be helpful - consult a chiropractor or osteopath.
DAILY SUPPLEMENTS FOR MIGRAINE
HERBAL THERAPY FOR MIGRAINE
DIET FOR MIGRAINE
Eat wholesome, organic foods with no preservatives, additives, or artificial flavors or colors. Artificial colors and some preservatives can cause headaches.
EXERCISE FOR MIGRAINE
If you feel a migraine coming on, avoid rigorous exercise, as it may speed up the onset. A gentle 10-minute walk in the fresh air may help relieve stress and reduce the severity of your migraine. Otherwise, a regular regimen of moderate cardiovascular and stretching exercises can help maintain good health and proper circulation.
Stress Reduction Meditation for Migraine
Daily meditation and tai chi exercises can also help relieve migraines, in particular stress headaches. Here is a simple visualization meditation called White Light Meditation that I’ve taught to my patients.
Repeat this visualization for 10 minutes. Do this meditation as often as necessary. Usually you will experience a quick reduction in symptoms right after completing the exercise.
MIGRAINE: WHAT TO AVOID
©2015 Dr. Mao Shing Ni
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