Migraine and Headache Awareness Month
The National Headache Foundation established Migraine and Headache Awareness Month as an annual event to further awareness of headache and migraine as legitimate neurobiological diseases. Each June information and blogs from a host of participants are distributed focusing on causes, prevention and treatment options.
Five Ways You Can Treat a Migraine Naturally
As researched by The Poliquin Strength Institute, the five best ways to naturally treat migraines are the following:
1) Identify and Eliminate Food Intolerances
Unsuspected food intolerances are THE main cause of headaches. A food intolerance occurs in a whopping 20 percent of the U.S. population and is accompanied by a delayed, negative physical reaction to certain foods, beverages, or food additives. This is usually due to insufficient levels of a specific enzyme that will begin to break the food down for digestion.
Food intolerances are different from allergies in that they are delayed from the time you consume the food in question, are less dramatic, but may cause just as many health problems since they are less often identified. A migraine headache may manifest as intolerance up to 12 hours after eating the offensive food.
To identify foods that you may be intolerant of and that is causing you migraines, get a food intolerance test done. There are many food intolerance panels but the problem with many of them is that they produce false positives.
After doing multiple tests on my clients with different companies, and consulting with Dr. Mark Schauss, I have found the MRT test (Mediator Release Test) to be the most clinically reliable. No amount of supplements will correct the migraine situation unless you first invest in a food intolerance panel. The MRT test will isolate those foods that induce an inflammatory response by the body, causing migraines.
If you can minimize inflammation, you will lower the number of headaches and migraines you experience. One way to get an MRT with additional dietary guidance is to visit a BioSignature practitioner who has completed the Lab Analysis certification. See the link links at the bottom of this article for more information.
2) Get Adequate Magnesium to Prevent Migraines
Magnesium deficiency is strongly associated with migraine headaches. Multiple studies have shown the positive effects of supplemental magnesium on reducing frequency and severity of migraine headaches.
Magnesium affects the sympathetic nervous system and the levels of norepinephrine and neurotransmitter in the body. Low magnesium and poor norepinephrine release causes the stress hormone cortisol to be elevated as part of your stress response. You will be more stressed out with low magnesium and have more headaches not a happy picture.
Magnesium is essential for the metabolism of cortisol and adequate magnesium helps you sustain a more relaxed state. Having optimal magnesium can reduce the severity and frequency of stress induced migraines. To treat with migraines, I suggest highly absorbable magnesium that includes a variety of different magnesium forms. For example, magnesium bound with taurine (magnesium taurate) and the addition of the amino acid tryptophan will help nutritionally support the prevention of migraines.
3) Use the Botanical Butterbur for Immediate Relief
Studies have shown the prolonged use of the botanical Butterbur (also called Blatterdock or Bog Rhubarb, and scientifically named Petasiteshybridus )will reduce the duration, frequency, and severity of migraine attacks. The active substances in Butterbur are Petasin and Isopetasin.
Petasin lowers spasms in smooth muscle and vascular walls, with a very specific affinity for the brain blood vessels. Furthermore, it supplies an anti-inflammatory effect that inhibits leukotriene synthesisÃ¢â‚¬â€leukotrienes produce an allergic response and one way to prevent allergic reactions and treat asthma is to inhibit leukotrienes production.
Isopetasin helps with relief by positively affecting the prostaglandins, which play a crucial role in the expression of pain and inflammation.
For maximum relief, make sure that the Butterbur extract comes from the root of the plant, and is standardized to contain at least 7.5 mg of both Petasin and Isopetasin.
4) Get Soft Tissue Work for Permanent Relief
Sometimes migraines are caused by a severe trauma to the cervical spine. For example a few years ago, one of Canada’s top alpine skiers had a severe fall, where the blunt of the load was taken with his cervical spine. He came to see me in Colorado Springs so I could introduce him to Dr. Michael Leahy, inventor of Active Release Therapy.
Prior to his visit, the athlete had seen nine medical doctors, with zero relief. His girlfriend told me that he lived in a dark closet and was suffering from deep depression from not being able to train for the Olympics. Dr. Leahy proceeded to treat the small intrinsic cervical muscles. When done, the athlete ran out of the treatment room, did 20 reps of high platform step-ups, jumped down, ran to the magazine rack, pulled out a magazine, and started to read.
He was blown away that he had no more head pain and zero symptoms. He was doing things that normally would instantly bring on a migraine headache. The very next day, he was back training with me. Acupuncture, osteopathy, dry needling, and chiropractic work can all also help with migraine headaches your main concern should be the quality of the provider.
5) Take CoQ10 for Migraine Pain Relief
The nutrient Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ0) optimizes mitochondrial energy metabolism in the brain and has produced good results for migraine sufferers. Take a daily dose of at least 100 mg a day for relief.
In a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial, researchers compared the effect of giving CoQ10 with a placebo on 42 migraine patients. After 12 weeks of supplementation, CoQ10 was superior to placebo in reducing the frequency of attacks, the number of days subjects had headaches, and days-with-nausea. Â Nearly 50 percent of the patients in the CoQ10 reduced the frequency with which they got migraines attacks by half, compared to only 14 percent of the placebo group having a similar drop in incidence of migraines.
Another research study involving 32 patients with a history of episodic migraines with or without aura, demonstrated that a daily dose of 150 mg of CoQ10 produced an average reduction in migraine frequency of 55.3 percent after 12 weeks. The average number of days with migraine prior to the start of the study was 7.34 and this decreased to 2.95 after three months of using CoQ10 impressive results!
These five natural solutions (identifying food intolerances, magnesium, CoQ10, Butterbur, and soft tissue work) will help support the healing and prevention of migraine headaches, without all the side effects of medications.
More than 29.5 million Americans suffer from migraine, with women being affected three times more often than men. This vascular headache is most commonly experienced between the ages of 15 and 55, and 70% to 80% of sufferers have a family history of migraine. Less than half of all migraine sufferers have received a diagnosis of migraine from their healthcare provider. Migraine is often misdiagnosed as sinus headache or tension-type headache.
Many factors can trigger migraine attacks, such as alteration of sleep-wake cycle; missing or delaying a meal; medications that cause a swelling of the blood vessels; daily or near daily use of medications designed for relieving headache attacks; bright lights, sunlight, fluorescent lights, TV and movie viewing; certain foods; and excessive noise. Stress and/or underlying depression are important trigger factors that can be diagnosed and treated adequately.
Migraine characteristics can include:
-Pain typically on one side of the head
-Pain has a pulsating or throbbing quality
-Moderate to intense pain affecting daily activities
-Nausea or vomiting
-Sensitivity to light or sound
-Attacks last four to 72 hours, sometimes longer
-Visual disturbances or aura
-Exertion such as climbing stairs makes headache worse
Approximately one-fifth of migraine sufferers experience aura, the warning associated with migraine, prior to the headache pain. Visual disturbances such as wavy lines, dots or flashing lights and blind spots begin from twenty minutes to one hour before the actual onset of migraine. Some people will have tingling in their arm or face or difficulty speaking. Aura was once thought to be caused by constriction of small arteries supplying specific areas of the brain. Now we know that aura is due to transient changes in the activity of specific nerve cells.
The pain of migraine occurs when excited brain cells trigger the trigeminal nerve to release chemicals that irritate and cause swelling of blood vessels on the surface of the brain. These swollen blood vessels send pain signals to the brain-stem, an area of the brain that processes pain information. The pain of migraine is a referred pain that is typically felt around the eye or temple area. Pain can also occur in the face, sinus, jaw or neck area. Once the attack is full-blown, many people will be sensitive to anything touching their head. Activities such as combing their hair or shaving may be painful or unpleasant.
Diagnosis of migraine headache is made by establishing the history of the migraine-related symptoms and other headache characteristics as well as a family history of similar headaches. By definition, the physical examination of a patient with migraine headache in between the attacks of migraine does not reveal any organic causes for the headaches. Tests such as the CT scan and MRI are useful to confirm the lack of organic causes for the headaches.
There is currently no test to confirm the diagnosis of migraine.
Many factors may contribute to the occurrence of migraine attacks. They are known as trigger factors and may include diet, sleep, activity, psychological issues as well as many other factors. The use of a diary to record events that may play a role in causing the headaches can be useful for you and your healthcare provider. Avoidance of identifiable trigger factors reduces the number of headaches a patient may experience. Healthful lifestyles including regular exercise and avoidance of nicotine may also enhance migraine management. Non-pharmacological techniques for control of migraine are helpful to some patients. These include biofeedback, physical medicine, and counseling. These, as with most elements of migraine, need to be individualized to the patient.