Migraine headaches are a major health concern for over 37 million Americans. A migraine headache is different than a common headache, which can be caused by many things, like exposure to environmental factors, heat, allergies, stress, injury, high blood-pressure, and other causes. A migraine is a result of inflammation, and swelling of blood vessels in the brain.
Migraines have one unique characteristic, in that they warn the suffer that they are coming, often as much as 24 hours in advance. Warning signs are:
- Food cravings
- Feeling irritable
- Stiffness in the neck
- Uncontrollable yawning
That’s stage 1. The next warning stage can occur several hours before the actual attack:
- Visual phenomena such as seeing shapes, flashes of light, or spots
- Reduced or loss of vision
- Feeling of pins and needles in the legs
- Slurred speech or language
The next thing that happens is the actual attack, which consists of:
- Excruciating, throbbing pain in one or both sides of the head
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Extreme sensitivity to light and smells
- Blurred vision
- feelings of being light-headed, or even fainting
After the attack, the victim can feel drained, and depressed. Anyone who has ever suffered from migraines will tell you they feel even worse than all this sounds.
Migraines effect women 3 times more than men, but the reasons for this are not currently understood. In fact, the cause for migraines is not known at this time, but stress is a suspected cause, as well as genetic factors. We do know that they are triggered by over-stimulation of nerve cells in the brain. This causes a release of chemicals that cause the blood vessels in the brain and neck to swell, resulting in excruciating pain. So, logically, the way to treat this condition should be to reverse the process. Unfortunately, the human body is seldom logical.
The current protocols for treatment and prevention of migraines consist of medications to reduce the swelling and inflammation, with the most common being Topomax. However, medications can have side-effects, sometimes serious. And to top it off, almost 1/3 of migraine sufferers report that medications are ineffective. While there is not much you can do once an attack is in progress, there are ways you can prevent migraines, and/or reduce the severity and frequency of attacks, without resorting to medications. Let’s take a look at 7 effective ways that will help you get rid of migraines (and also prevent it).
Recent studies have shown that regular mild exercise can prevent migraines and reduce the frequency and severity of attacks by over 50%. It is now commonly recommended that people who are at risk for attacks should engage in mild aerobic exercises for at least 150 minutes per week. We’re not talking about going out and running marathons or triathlons, just some mild, enjoyable activities such as short bicycle rides, walks in the park, mild floor exercises like Jumping Jacks, using a Stair-Climbing Machine, treadmill, etc…. Just 20-30 minutes a day is enough.
Studies have shown that high doses of vitamin B2 (riboflavin) are very effective at preventing migraines. Results of testing showed as much as a 50% reduction in migraines compared to a control group. The recommended dose is 400mg daily. Foods that are high in riboflavin include oily fish like mackerel, sardines and salmon, spinach, almonds, pistachio nuts, cashews, beef, lamb, eggs, mushrooms, squid, clams, oysters, and mussels, sesame, chia, pumpkin and squash seeds.
3. Increase your magnesium intake
The human body needs magnesium, but it can’t make it, so it depends on a steady intake of this vital mineral for proper functioning. It’s been estimated that 3 of every 4 Americans are suffering from some level of magnesium deficiency. Magnesium is a requirement for proper nerve functioning. Since migraines are a result of improper nerve impulses, more magnesium in the diet should help. A minimum dose has not been established, but most health care professionals recommend between 200mg-1000mg per day. Magnesium Infusion from Activation Products is our favorite option. Foods that are high in magnesium include dark leafy greens like spinach, kale, turnip and mustard greens, sesame seeds, almonds, peanuts, cashews, pecans, walnuts, Brazil nuts, mackerel, tuna, pollock, halibut, soy beans, white beans, pinto beans, chick peas (Garbanzos), green beans, kidney beans, black-eyed peas, millet, quinoa, Bulgar wheat, buckwheat, wild rice, oats, pasta barley, whole-grain breads and baked goods, avocados, cheeses, yogurt, kefir, bananas, apricots, dates raisins, currants, figs, and (my favorite) dark chocolate.
There is strong evidence that 5-Hydroxytrytophan has a strong preventative effect on migraines. This substance is manufactured in your body and increases the secretion of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate circulation. Recommended doses range from 200mg to 600 mg daily. 5-Hydroxytryptophan is only present in foods in insignificant quantities, so you will most likely need to use 5-HTP supplements, which are widely available.
5. Take Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10)
Studies have shown that taking CoQ10 supplements can reduce the frequency of migraines by more than 50%. CoQ10 is an antioxidant that is important for blood vessel health. CoQ10 is made in the body as well as taken in through nutrition. Recommended dosage is 60-100mg per day. CoQ10 is readily available as a supplement, as well as in fish, organ meats like liver, and whole grains.
Feverfew is a bushy herb widely used for over 100 years in Chinese Medicine for prevention of migraines and other ailments. Feverfew, especially when combined with White Willow Bark (what they make aspirin from) can prevent, and reduce the severity and frequency of migraines significantly. A minimum dosage of 250-300mg daily should do the trick. It can be taken as a supplement, or drank as a tea.
7. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega3s are natural anti-inflammatory nutrients that are abundant in nuts, fish and seeds. Studies have shown that Omega-3s are very effective preventatives for migraines. The recommended dosage is 100mg daily. If using supplements, be sure to keep them refrigerated after opening, because the oils oxidize easily.
As you can see, there are several options to handle migraines without resorting to medications. Always consult with your doctor before using any herbs or supplements.
This article is for informational purposes only, and is not intended as medical advice of any kind. If you feel you have a medical issue, seek the advice of a licensed medical professional as soon as possible.
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