Do you struggle with chronic migraines? If so, the statistics show you are in good company. Worldwide, migraines are the most disabling neurological disorder among adults under 50 years old and women are three to four times more likelyto be affected than men. This significantly higher prevalence among women remains a mystery but clinicians surmise it’s likely due to a hormonal component linked to fluctuations in estrogen levels.
What exactly is a migraine?
For those of you who have experienced a migraine, you know how incapacitating it can be. A migraine can send you to bed for days, grinding life to a halt until symptoms subside. In order to be diagnosed with a migraine disorder you must have experienced at least 5 attacks of debilitating headaches lasting 4-72 hours, accompanied by nausea, light and/or sound sensitivity. Of course, symptoms vary by person and can also include visual disturbances (called auras), dizziness, painful throbbing and tingling in the face or extremities, etc.
How is it treated?
Here at Double Happiness Health we practice an evidence-based approach to healing migraines naturally. If you are already working with a western medical doctor and taking pharmaceuticals to treat and/or prevent your symptoms, not to worry. All of the following strategies are safe to implement while taking your medication and can, in some cases, help you gradually decrease or eliminate the medication altogether.
Our top recommendations for natural migraine prevention
1. Adopt an anti-inflammatory diet and eliminate common triggers.
Migraines are often caused by exposure to specific triggers that stimulate hypersensitivity in your nervous system. Common triggers include alcohol, sugar, aged cheese, food additives, nitrites, gluten and diary. Try an elimination diet like the Whole30to remove inflammatory foods and then slowly reintroduce what you removed, one at a time, to determine if they cause symptoms. Your diet should includea rainbow of organic fruits and veggies - aim for 6-9 cupsof cooked or lightly steamed vegetables daily. Focus on simple, cooked meals that are comprised of a wide variety of organic whole foods. Be sure to include healthy fats and protein to help balance your blood sugar.
2. Prioritize hydration.
Dehydration is one of the most common migraine triggers and is relatively easy to avoid. Our bodies are 60% water and require proper hydration in order to thrive. Try drinking herbal teas like Nettle leaf or Lemon Balm throughout the day to add a little more flavor to the mix.
3. See your acupuncturist
Acupuncture is extremely effective at alleviating migraines – we see this every day in clinic. What’s more, your acupuncturist may also be able to prescribe you herbal formulations specifically designed for your unique constitution and pattern. And if your migraines are triggered by hormone changes? Chinese medicine is great at balancing hormones and bringing your body back into homeostasis.
4. Take these vitamins and minerals.
In addition to the herbs provided by your acupuncturist, you may want to try these three specific supplementsthat have been proven to effectively alleviate and/or prevent migraines.
The first is Vitamin B2, or Riboflavin. At a dose of 400mg/day, Riboflavin improves cellular function (specifically in the mitochondria) and has been shown to prevent recurrent migraines by 50%.
The second is Magnesium Glycinate at 600mg/day. Magnesium has a wide variety of benefits and has shown to be most effective for premenstrual migraines and/or migraines with aura.
And the third supplement is Ginger - which, at a dose of 250mg, was studied to be as effective and significantly safer than 50mg of Sumatriptan, a common pharmaceutical used to stop migraines at onset.
**If you are pregnant and suffering with migraines, all three of these supplements are safe for use during pregnancy! For the associated research studies, please see the references below.
5. Calm your nervous system.
It’s no secret that increased stress is a common migraine trigger. We spend most of our time in our sympathetic “Fight or Flight” response and not enough time “Resting and Digesting” in our parasympathetic system. Trade some time in front of a computer, phone or television screen and find the behaviors that bring you the most rejuvenating rest. This could include deep breathing exercises, restorative yoga, walking in nature or quality time with loved ones.
Comparison between the efficacy of ginger and sumatriptan in the ablative treatment of the common migraine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23657930