Most of us have had a headache from time to time, or even experience them regularly. In most cases, a painkiller solves the problem and we are right as rain a couple of hours later.
But what if you regularly have to lie down in a dark room, sometimes for hours on end? What if the pain in your head is so intense you can hardly endure it, and nothing the doctors give you seems to alleviate the sickness or the flashing lights that accompany the sharp stabbing that seems to gouge a pathway through your very brain? What if your job is in jeopardy because of these seemingly endless attacks that crop up out of the blue, necessitating unscheduled days off work and sickness leave?
It sounds like something from a horror movie. For regular migraine sufferers, it often feels like it. So what makes a migraine different?
Migraine headaches are much more severe than a normal headache. They often come with feelings of sickness, or feeling faint, alongside a sensitivity to light or too much sound. Sometimes your heart will race, sometimes you can be physically sick. Sufferers shut themselves away in a silent darkened room, keeping as still and unmoving as possible and pray for an attack to pass. It may last a few hours, or linger for days. Migraines come out of the blue, sometimes after weeks, or even years, of attack free days. In some cases, they are accompanied by a visual disturbance known as aura.
A childhood friend suffered terribly from them, and we worked out together that the trigger for her was food-related. Almost every time she ate peanuts an attack followed shortly afterwards. We were told that chocolate and avocados could do the same thing, but they were never her particular problem and once she swapped to popcorn as her snack of choice the attacks died down, eventually fizzling out altogether.
Stress is an acknowledged trigger for migraines, though everyone's stresses are different. And hormones can do it too. Often puberty and menopause are times when women in particular suffer. Pharmaceutical medicine nowadays offers a range of pills that shut down an attack as soon as the migraine rears its ugly head. But they don't work for everyone... and what if they don't for you?
Holistic medicine offers a range of natural healing remedies for migraines. They are well worth a try, though each of us suffers migraines for a different reason, and logically therefore, what works for one person may not for another. Keep experimenting until find your answer.
6 natural healing remedies for migraines
1. Check if there is a food link
Write down what you eat each day, and keep a food diary for as long as it takes to identify any patterns that link to your migraines. If there aren't any, then food is not your problem. If there are, then cut that food out of your diet entirely and observe any change.
2. Learn to tap
Usually, once a migraine starts, it's difficult to stop it in its tracks. Emotional Freedom Technique, or EFT, is a therapy that can, and I would recommend learning the technique for immediate relief. I have personally worked with a patient who reduced her pain level from 10/10 to 2/10 in a period of minutes. Shortly afterwards her migraine disappeared entirely.
EFT, which is sometimes referred to as 'psychological acupressure', involves tapping gently on a series of acupuncture points in a set sequence, whilst focusing on the pain in your head and the thoughts and feelings that the migraine brings up for you. It's simple to learn (you can buy a book and practise, or read my recent post about it) and takes a very short time to bring your symptoms under control and manage the pain. Highly recommended!
3. Consult a homeopath
Research has been done into the efficacy of homeopathic remedies, showing that different remedies work for different styles of migraine.
If your migraine gets worse in the afternoons, your hands and feet go cold, your head throbs and you are affected by noise, light and movement then you may be prescribed the remedy Belladonna.
If your pain is pulsing and mainly on the left hand side of your head consider the homeopathic remedy, Lachesis. This also works for women who make a connection between their migraines and their menstrual periods and hormonal shifts.
If the pain is mainly on the right hand side of your head, stretching across the back of your skull to your forehead, experiment with Silicea. This also works if your migraine trigger could be mental stress.
Originally grown in the wild throughout the Balkans, this daisy like plant has been found effective at preventing migraines if taken daily as a supplement. There have been five important research studies to date, several concluding that taking feverfew in leaf form in a capsule reduces the quantity of monthly migraines suffered. Powdered whole leaf dosage is 80-100 mg daily.
Ginger powder taken at the onset of an attack has been scientifically proven to reduce severity of a migraine by 90% within 2 hours.
In a double-blind, placebo-controlled test involving 202 people, the herb butterbur (sometimes called bog-rhubarb due to the resemblance between the two plants) was found to be effective at reducing both frequency, length and intensity of migraine attacks. The dosage that was most effective was 75mg twice a day over a period of three months.
Have you tried any of these remedies? What works for you?
Written by health advocate Sara Davenport, founder of one of the UK's largest breast cancer charities, Breast Cancer Haven. With over twenty years' experience in holistic health, Sara's digital dose of wellness teaches you to listen to your body, tweak your lifestyle and improve your health.
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