If you’ve ever had a migraine, you already know how debilitating they can be. They are also extremely common. But for the uninitiated, here’s an explanation of the symptoms, causes and what to do to get rid of them. Most headaches occur as a result of increased muscle tension to the neck, which restricts the flow of blood to the head. Pain usually passes in a short amount of time. However, with a migraine headache, the head’s blood vessels dilate excessively, creating an intense sharp or throbbing pain which can last for hours. There are usually some symptoms preceding the headache, such as seeing auras or having visual disturbances, fatigue, anxiety or tingling down the body. But sometimes there are no warnings, leaving the sufferer incapacitated and unable to continue their daily activities. At their worst, migraines can occur twice every week. Over time, this can lead to feelings of frustration and depression. Those taking medications often resign themselves to the fact that they must put up with this condition for the rest of their lives. Traditional health philosophy regards a migraine as the nervous system’s way of picking up on disordered digestive processes. From a naturopathic perspective, compromised liver function is considered to contribute to this progression, particularly if nausea or vomiting accompanies the migraine. Aggravating foods, additives and chemicals create liver congestion as it attempts to detoxify these often unfamiliar chemicals.
What triggers a migraine headache?
There are many triggers including
- Stress and intense emotions such as anger
- Alcohol, particularly red wine
- Chemical additives in food including artificial colours, MSG; nitrates in cured meats such as bacon and salami.
- Chemicals in household cleaning products
- Foods high in amines: including cheese, bananas, avocados, mushrooms, certain meats and fish, chocolate and beer
- A common amine is histamine: found in foods such as dried fruit, eggplant, red wine, strawberries, sauerkraut, yoghurt and dairy products.
- Hormonal changes; during ovulation, menopause, taking the oral contraceptive pill.
Which triggers are affecting me?
It can be incredibly difficult to determine which triggers are affecting a migraine’s onset, but current opinion proposes an accumulative effect of multiple factors. Once a threshold or tipping point is reached, the onset of a migraine usually follows. This explains why you can eat certain foods that you suspect are triggers today, and not on another day. A combination of foods and other triggers are likely to be part of this process.
How can I relieve the pain?
Besides triggers, nutrient deficiency can play its part in migraine occurrence. Vitamin C, B6 and magnesium all may assist to prevent and relieve migraine episodes. Herbal medicines can also provide some alleviation of pain. But until the causative triggers are determined, they will only give limited symptomatic relief.
Addressing the Causes:
If we can determine the underlying causes of the migraine, long term pain relief really is possible! A naturopathic assessment may help you finally discover the heart of the problem; and accompanying supportive herbs and nutrients could get you feeling back to your old self! To determine dietary triggers, a simple hair test is performed. This assesses 500 foods and household products that are potentially contributing to migraine pain. Once they are identified and eliminated, pain and even other non-related symptoms you have may be resolved. If you believe that your headaches are linked with your hormones, we can also address imbalances here as well. There is no need to suffer any longer! For more information, call me on 0402 539 020 or to book an appointment, visit www.torquayholistic.com.au. Yours in health, Lynda.