Natural Solutions for Migraines
Do You Have Migraines?
First, the warning signs appear. Some¬times migraines are preceded by visual disturbances, known as "aura," or tingling in one arm or leg. There is also often a deep ache beneath the eyes and forehead (Pain Med 2008; Epub). Then, throbbing pain, nausea, light sensitivity and vertigo ensue.
Migraines are generated by the con¬traction and dilation of blood vessels in the brain, perhaps due to fluctuating hormone levels. Newer theories indicate genetic factors.
According to the Chiropractic Resource Organization, at least 18 million women and 5 million men in the United States suffer from migraine headaches. A new study blames female sex hormones, along with environmental and cultural factors, for the gender imbalance (Med Hypotheses 2008; Epub). Dr. Ayouby is using the latest research to find the most effective strategies for each individual patient who endures this debilitating problem. From alleviating pain to prevention, Dr. Ayouby offers several drug-free options for migraine sufferers.
The Burden of Migraines
People who don't endure migraines may not understand the enormity of the problem. In Taiwan alone, migraines account for 3 7 million annual sick days, at an economic cost of at least $4.6 billion (I Chin Med Assoc 2008;71:74-8). Those with chronic migraines also experience a variety of related health issues. Along with special migraine drugs, migraineurs often take additional prescription medications, and suffer from a spectrum of gastrointes¬tinal and psychiatric issues (Headache 2007;47:65-72).
Several studies suggest that this condition is seriously under- or misdiagnosed altogether. As a result, it's also undertreated, which leads to self-medication (Headache 2008;430-41).
Scientists took a look at one typical patient who had been freely treating himself. He used caffeine supposito¬ries and ergotamine, a prescribed migraine preventive, but frequently ended up in the emergency room. Eventually his migraine trigger was correctly diagnosed as related to muscle spasm in the neck, which, when treated, helped break the cycle of pain ( I Neurosci Nurs 2007;39:213-6).
Limitations and Dangers of Migraine Drugs
Many diagnosed migraine sufferers turn to medication with potentially hazardous side effects. Prescriptions range widely and include barbiturates, narcotics, serotonin receptor agonists, beta blockers and anticonvulsants. But there are questions about the effectiveness of these drugs. Studies indicate that over the long term, they may actually make migraines worse. And they all harbor dangerous side effects.
Some migraine studies showed that up to 46 percent of participants had pain relief from what turned out to be the placebo (I Pediatr 2008;152:527-33). Because of this, nondrug treatments should be folded into every comprehensive plan that targets migraines (I Am Osteopath Assoc 2007;107:ES10-6).
Chiropractic Corrects Migraine Triggers Chiropractors have long been aware that spinal conditions cause headaches, including episodic migraines (JVSR 2006;1-9).
Specific spinal culprits include re¬duced neck mobility, forward head posture and the action of certain facial and occipital muscles (Headache 2007;47:662-72). Limited neck mobil¬ity and muscle injury are also associ¬ated (I Orthop Sports Phys Ther 2007;37:33-9). Many types of headaches, including migraines, are accompanied by discomfort of the neck muscles (Expert Rev Neurother 2005;5:355-62).
Specifically, fatigue in the neck flexor muscles appears to be tied to headache occurrence (Eur J Pain 2007;11:764). In addition, if there is restricted move¬ment in the neck, or if the spinal bones (vertebrae) in the area are slightly out of place — a common problem known as vertebral subluxation — nerves may become irritated and can induce a migraine.
Research shows that chiropractic care for vertebral subluxation has clear benefits for migraine sufferers whose migraines are related to dysfunction in the spine of the neck (cervical spine) (I Manipulative Physiol Ther 2007;30:408-18). Neck exercises also help to prevent this type of problem.
Research Shows Chiropractic Alleviates Migraines
Chiropractors and other health-care practitioners often recommend physical management of the neck problems that cause migraines. In an extensive analysis of clinical trials, Harvard Medical School researchers compared results for physical therapy, massage and other nondrug options as remedies for headache.
Outcomes showed that chiropractic adjustments helped with tension-type headaches that have migraine-like symptoms (Headache 2005;45:738¬46). This type of care was found to be safe, with no serious adverse events, in a review of more than 19,000 pa¬tients (Spine 2007;32:2375-8). Other Natural Solutions Your doctor of chiropractic may recommend that, as an adjunct to chiropractic adjustments, you consider other natural approaches.
These may be particularly helpful for preventing migraines. Acupuncture, for one, has been proven to be a genuine migraine cure (Curr Treat Options Neurol 2008;10:20-9). Other alternative methods have met with some success. For example, in wet-cupping, a vacuum is created by placing a special cup over a superficial skin cut to draw out small amounts of blood. Wet-cupping may increase oxygen flow to a painful area, such as the neck. In one analysis, this ancient Chinese technique was credited with reducing migraine severity by 66 percent.
It also lowered the monthly number of "headache days" for test participants (Am J Chin Med 2008;36:37-44). Hypnosis, relaxation, skin-warming, biofeedback, endurance training and physical therapy have also been shown to work. Aromatherapy is also recommended, with applications of essential oils to the "pressure points" on the face and neck. Try oil of peppermint, marjoram and lavender.
Finally, doctors of chiropractic often suggest:
• Taking a warm bath or shower
• Resting in a dark room
• Applying a cold compress to the forehead or back of the neck
• Drinking fruit juice, especially tomato juice
• Massaging the face, head, neck and shoulders Supplements for Headache Pain and Prevention Your doctor of chiropractic may also suggest dietary supplements in con¬junction with chiropractic care.
For example: Feverfew: The herb feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium) reduces mi¬graine pain and frequency.
Butterbur: Butterbur (Petasites hy-bridus) is thought to prevent migraines.
Magnesium: Some older studies have linked migraine incidence to magnesium deficiency. Supplementing with this naturally occurring mineral is still thought to help reduce severity and frequency of migraine events (Headache 2003;6:601-10).
5-Hydroxyhyptophan: (5-HTP): 5-HTP is an amino acid compound pro¬duced by the body to help make two important neurotransmitters: serotonin and melatonin. Also available as a supplement made from Griffonia sim-plicifolia, 5-HTP may also prevent migraines, reduce their duration and lessen their overall impact.
Vitamin B3: While some people com¬plain that niacin, or vitamin B3, some¬times causes facial flushing, it is ex¬actly this mechanism that may relieve the blood flow disruption that brings on migraines.
Reishi: For some individuals, reishi mushroom applications work against headache pain. Note: Always talk with your doctor before beginning any supplementation program.
Put an End to Migraine Misery If you have migraines, don't wait for the sinking realization that your next headache is on its way. Empower yourself by talking to this chiropractic office immediately about a preventive care program.