Natural Treatments for Migraines

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 man with migrainevascular 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.[7]

 

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

  1. Ice packs: during an acute episode of migraine headache, place ice packs at your forehead and the base of your neck for 15 to 20 minutes and soak your feet in a hot bath to help lessen the pain. Repeat several times throughout the day.
  2. Chrysanthemum tea: make a tea by boiling 1 tablespoon each of dried chrysanthemum flowers, peppermint, and green tea in 3 1/2 cups of water for 20 minutes. Strain, and drink 3 to 4 cups daily.
  3. Carrot and celery juice: make fresh juice and drink a 12-ounce glass 3Tonic Oil: containing camphor, eucalyptus and wintergreen times a day.
  4. Coffee: drinking a strong cup of coffee can abort the onset of a migraine.
  5. Eucalyptus: apply Tonic Oil (which includes eucalyptus, wintergreen, and menthol) or lavender oil to the temples and forehead and massage gently in a circular motion.

 

 

 

HOW TO RELIEVE A MIGRAINE WITH ACUPRESSURE

  1. Locate the acupoint Wind Pond (GB-20), in the natural Self-Acupressure point 1 for Migraine: Wind Pond, GB-20 at base of skullindentation at the base of your skull on both sides of your neck. Press and lift up toward the base of your skull with your thumbs and lean your head back. Use the weight of your head against your thumbs for steady pressure on the acupoint. Hold for 5 minutes, breathing deeply and slowly.
  2. Self-Acupressure point 2 for Migraine: Greater Yang at indentation of templesFind the acupoint Greater Yang (Taiyang), in the indentation of the temples. Stimulate the point with the knuckles of your thumbs or the tips of your index fingers. Massage in a circular motion for 5 minutes.
  3. Find the acupoint Valley of Harmony Self-Acupressure point 3 for migraine: Valley of Harmony, LI-4 between thumb and index finger(LI-4) at the web between your right thumb and index finger. Apply steady pressure with your left thumb until you feel soreness. Hold for 2 minutes. Repeat on the left hand.

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

  1. B-Complex, Calcium, Magnesium: Vitamins for MigraineSupplementing with calcium (1,000 milligrams) and magnesium (100 milligrams) can reduce the intensity and frequency of migraine attacks.
  2. Vitamin B complex, especially B6 (50 milligrams) and B12 (100 micrograms) can help reduce the symptoms of a migraine.
  3. Taking niacin (300 milligrams) during an acute attack can dilate and relax the blood vessels in the brain, relieving pain.

 

 

HERBAL THERAPY FOR MIGRAINE

  1. Studies show that butterbur (Petasites hybridus) extract can provide a 50 percent or more reduction in the frequency of migraines.[4]
  2. Kudzu (Pueraria lobata) can help treat menstrual migraine headaches and cluster headaches.[2]
  3. Chinese medicine formula for migraines and vestibular migraines associated with vertigo includes Fo-ti stem, Loranthus twig & leaf, Gambir (vine & stem), Poria sclerotium and Eucommia stem bark.
  4. White willow bark and turmeric can help reduce the intensity of migraine attacks.
  5. Additional Chinese herbs used for migraine headaches include gastrodia, abalone shell, gardenia, skullcap, motherwort, cyathulae, polygoni, and China root.

 

 

DIET FOR MIGRAINE

Eat wholesome, organic foods with no preservatives, additives, or artificial flavors or colors. Artificial colors and some preservatives can cause headaches. Diet for Migraine: fruit, vegetables, fish

  1. Add a good variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans and legumes, fish, and poultry to your diet.
  2. Favor fiber-rich foods including leafy green vegetables, parsley, onions, ginger, brown rice, bran, carrots, celery, asparagus, papaya, pineapple, cherries, grapes, prunes, lentils, split peas, mung beans,
  3. Season with rosemary, oregano, cilantro, dill, sage, mint, and turmeric. [6]
  4. Eat regularly, more frequently, and in smaller quantities. Do not eat while on the run or under stress, and do not eat late at night. Do not eat and lie down immediately afterward.
  5. Avoid spicy foods, heavy starchy foods, and rich and greasy foods.
  6. Avoid alcohol and coffee, as well as chocolate, red wine.
  7. Avoid dairy products, especially cheese.

 

 

 

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.[5]

  1. Sit or lie down comfortably. Clear your mind, relax your body, and breathe deeply and slowly.
  2. Inhale, and visualize a white light or clear mountain spring water entering your body at the top of your head and flowing down to your abdomen.
  3. Exhale, and visualize the white light or water continuing its downward course from your abdomen to the bottom of your feet, where it drains out.

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

  1. Avoid monosodium glutamate (MSG) and aspartame and other artificial sweeteners and preservatives, as they can trigger migraines.
  2. Avoid abrupt alcohol and caffeine withdrawal or missing meals, which can trigger migraines.
  3. Contraceptive pills can also cause migraine headaches in some women.

 

 

References:

  1. Chen, J. K. Chinese Medical Herbology and Pharmacology. Los Angeles: Art of Medicine Press, 2004.
  2. Gao, X., and X. Liu. 1979. Kudzu, Radix puerariae in migraine. Chinese Med. Journal, 92(1):260- 62.
  3. Lipton, R. 2004. News release, Albert Einstein "CoQ10 reduces migraine occurrence"-American Academy of Neurology's annual meeting report. Neurology. 63:2240-44.
  4. Lipton RB, Göbel H, Einhäupl KM, Wilks K, Mausko. Petasites Hybridus root (butterbur) is an effective preventive treatment for migraine. Neurology. 2004 Dec 28;63(12):2240-4.
  5. Ni, M. Self Healing Qi Gong Video. Los Angeles: Seven Star, 1992.
  6. Ni, M., and C. McNease. The Tao of Nutrition. Los Angeles: Seven Star, 1987.
  7. Linde K, Allais G, Brinkhaus B, Manheimer E, Vickers A, White AR. Acupuncture for migraine prophylaxis. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2009 Jan 21;(1):CD001218. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD001218.pub2.
  8. Tuchin, P. J ., H. Pollard, and R. Bonello. 2000. A randomized controlled trial of chiropractic spinal manipulative therapy. J. Manipulative Physiol. Ther. 23(2):91-95.

 

©2015 Dr. Mao Shing Ni

Read Secrets of Self-Healing: Harness Nature's Power to Heal Common Ailments ... By Maoshing Ni

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