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Friday, August 27, 2010

Migraine Headaches

About Migraine Headaches

Migraines are not only painful they affect your quality of life. Even though there are warning signs an event is approaching these can often be overlooked and before you know it a full blown headache has occurred taking you out of action and at the most inconvenient times. The herb Feverfew has traditionally been used as a prophylactic (preventative) to assist with the reduction in frequency of incidences and severity of migraine headaches.

Around about 12% of the U.S. population will experience migraines. More females are affected, and this is thought to be a result of their fluctuating hormones. The females to males ratio is roughly 3:1. The onset of migraine can happen in childhood but can also occur in your 20s-40s. Onset over the age of 40 can still occur but is not so prevalent.

What is a migraine?
Migraines are generally classified either as 'classical' or 'common'.

Classical (migraine with aura) – An aura is a visual disturbance and occurs before the headache or you can experience an aura without the headache. The aura can affect the field of vision in both eyes for 5 minutes to 1 hour. It may appear as zigzag lines, flashing lights, blind spots or as if a curtain has been drawn over the eyes. Approximately 20-30% of migraines experienced are classical.

Common (migraine without aura) – The headache may last several hours to several days and is often accompanied by nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light sound smell and touch. Movement often makes the headache worse.

Two Kinds of Migraines: Vasoconstrictive and Vasodilative

In vasoconstrictive migraines, the head feels like it is in a vice or being squeezed. There is too little blood flow to the brain so remedies that enhance circulation to the brain and relax muscles such as magnesium, ginkgo biloba, lobelia or ginger may help.

With Vasodilative headaches there is too much blood flow going to the brain, so blood needs to be drawn to the digestive tract with bitter herbs like Digestive Bitters.

What happens during a migraine headache

Whether the migraine is classic or common there is usually warning signs the day before an attack, often subtle it can be as simple as feeling a little 'off'. The headache is often of a pulsating or throbbing nature and usually one side of the head is affected. Some of the symptoms experienced include nausea and vomiting and sometimes neurological symptoms such as tingling, numbness, of the face, disturbed vision (other than auras), slurred speech or weakness on one side of the body. The sufferer's senses become highly sensitive - light, sound, smell and even touch are amplified.

Once the headache is over the sufferer, can feel tired for a day or two.

Causes of Migraine

It is believed to be genetic and that you are predisposed to it. What physically changes for the headache to occur is that the blood vessel constrict and then dilate, causing the headache and other symptoms.

There are several 'triggers' that can ignite an attack and it is individual to the sufferer and they quickly learn what to avoid. These include:

  • Dietary – The main culprits here are, red wines, chocolate, citrus fruit, hard cheese, and can also include MSG, tinned fish such as anchovies, and sardines, yeast fermented foods miso or soy sauce and beer.
  • Environmental – sometime flashing lights and strong smells can trigger a migraine and even using a computer, changes in weather, time zones when traveling, can also effect the susceptible.
  • Hormonal – fluctuations of hormones can trigger a migraine; blood vessel changes occur in the brain during migraine, influenced by oestrogens, which is why women are more prone to migraines.
  • Physical – illness of any kind, lack of sleep, being dehydrated all can contribute
  • Emotional – stress in general.

It is advised that the sufferer becomes aware of their 'triggers' and also aware of the warning signs.
When experiencing a migraine, because the sufferer will become sensitive to light ,sound, smell and touch the best place is in a cool, dark, quiet room until it passes. It is important to have migraines properly diagnosed by a medical practitioner and they are likely to prescribe medication.

As you can see migraines can certainly have an effect on the quality of life of those who suffer from them. The herb
Feverfew or Tanacetum parthenium has traditionally been used as a prophylactic helping reduce the incidence and frequency of migraine headaches. Feverfew acts as a preventive remedy for vasodilative migraines.

As Feverfew helps to lessen the occurrence of headaches, it should be taken on a regular basis to be beneficial.

Avoid feverfew if you are allergic to the Asteraceae/Compositae (daisy or sunflower) family. Not recommended in pregnancy and breastfeeding. It is recommended that if you think you have the symptoms of migraine or are suffering from headaches to consult your healthcare practitioner.

In Addition

There is usually a liver problem in migraine headaches, so liver remedies, such as Liver Balance and Tiao He Cleanse, can help eliminate them.

Applying Tei Fu oil and lobelia essence to the neck and shoulders regularly to keep these muscles relaxed will also help.

Other remedies which may help: Dong Quai, Helichrysum, HistaBlock, Marjoram (Sweet), Migraquel homeopathic, Niacin, Proactazyme Plus.


Please let me know how I can help you best.
Share the Health,
Karen Herrmann-Doolan, NSP District Manager
Nature's Sunshine Herb Specialist
Natural Health Educator
H: 704-588-7638
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