Are you among those 6-7% of men, and 15-18% of women, who suffer from migraine headaches?
If you are, then you know too well that this nuisance can last from several hours up to several days. The rough statistics about it says: 20 million migraine attacks occur every single day!
Yet, despite this alarming number, the migraine attack is still one of the least understood and ill-treated medical disorder. Perhaps it is due to the fact that the experiences of migraine- suffering people vary greatly. Although the common symptom is a throbbing, searing pain, which may or may not be felt in one hemisphere – the left or right one, some people experience “auras” prior to the onset, while others don’t. Other symptoms include: vomiting, nausea, fever, chills, sweating and/or sensitivity to light, sounds and smells.
What is the underlying cause of migraine?
They most likely reason can be the complex interplay of genetic, environmental and neurological factors that change from one person to another. In fact, there are very many different theories on what causes migraines, but not one of them can thoroughly explain the occurrence of migraines in all sufferers.
These theories include:
1.Changes in the brain’s chemical called serotonin
If levels of serotonin drop, blood vessels, including those in your brain, become swollen and inflamed, which can lead to a migraine attack.
2. Vascular constriction in your brain
It starts with the initial blood vessel constriction and a drop in the blood flow, then it is followed by dilation and stretching of blood vessels, which finally activates pain-signaling neurons.
3. Excessive increase of blood flow in your brain
Another research has found that migraines are NOT preceded by constriction and decrease in the blood flow, but rather by an increase of nearly 300%, which is in direct contrast to the previous theory. The circulation then appears normal, or even slightly reduced, once the attack is in full swing.
4. A neurological disorder of the nerve cell activity that “sweeps” your brain, causing pain
In this approach, researchers maintain that a wave release of neurotransmitters [across your cortex] can directly stimulate your trigeminal nerves, setting off the chain reaction that ends in the transmitting of pain signals.
5. A nervous system disorder originating in your brain stem can also trigger migraines
Your control center for alertness, sensitivity to light, noise and smell, cerebral blood flow, cardiovascular function as well as pain sensitivity is your brain stem. Most of these conditions are part of the symptoms of a migraine attack. A devoted research has revealed that 3 clusters of cells in the brain stem are active at the time of and after a migraine attack. This hypothesis indicates that an abnormal activity in those cells could include the sensation of pain, even when pain signals from the brain membrane or blood vessels are not “launched.”
6. Another theory of migraines understands them as a disruption of the subtle energies circulating throughout your body, which, together with some unresolved emotional issues, manifest as headaches in your head.
7. This last theory states that migraines are due to mutation [or dysfunction] of certain transmissible genes.
Have you ever thought of your migraines as of a signal of vitamin deficiency?
Vitamins B6, B12 and folic acid food supplements were found to produce a two-fold reduction in migraines in the course of a 6-month period, a recent study discovered. Previous studies, such as a 2004 study in the European Journal of Neurology, have also reported that high doses of B2 (riboflavin) can help prevent splitting headaches.
Also, some gene mutations and dysfunctions over time can lead to higher levels of homocysteine production, which can make you more inclined to migraine attacks. Vitamins B6 and B12 significantly reduce your homocysteine levels. Researches also discovered that, depending on your genotype, you may need a higher or a lower dose to feel the difference.
Prof. Lyn Griffiths says that if all patients received the same vitamin dosage for the same period of time, it would be expected that those with TT genotypes, having a reduced enzymatic rate, would metabolize less homocysteine in the treatment period when compared with C allele carriers, thus resulting in a smaller reduction in homocysteine and consequent migraine symptoms. So, their goal is to determine the optimal dosage of B vitamins based on your genetic profile.
Indeed, it may be that TT genotypes (though having a higher risk of disease) actually require a larger dosage of vitamins to exhibit the same effect as C alleles. However, further clinical trials of much larger patient cohorts are required to prove this hypothesis.
According to Griffiths: “The success of our trial has shown that safe and cheap vitamin supplements can treat migraine patients.”
There may be one more vitamin deficiency underlying your migraine symptoms which is even more spread.
Namely, last year researchers presented results of an observational study at the 50th Annual Meeting of the American Headache Society and showed that nearly 42 percent of the patients with chronic migraines were deficient in vitamin D.
The study also revealed that the longer they suffered from chronic migraines, the more likely they lacked vitamin D. This breakthrough can be related to the literally hundreds of health ramifications as being caused by vitamin D deficiency.
Common Migraine Triggers to Avoid
Everyone should realize that treating migraines by using a simple remedy is rarely effective. So, while using supplements from the B-group vitamins might be useful, it is still an allopathic approach that is next to the one which uses medications. It is believed that pain can be one of your strongest “allies” if you use it to find what is truly contributing to your problem.
There are also various theories on the actual mechanics of the migraine pain and the potential triggers. So, rather than just popping some vitamins, you will need to consider a more comprehensive strategy.
Here are some of the most commonly-reported migraine triggers:
- Food and drink:many people have migraines when they eat certain foods, especially wheat, dairy (pasteurized especially), white sugar, artificial preservatives or chemical additives. Processed meats, alcohol, aspartame, caffeine and MSG are some of the most common culprits too.
- Allergies:food allergies and food sensitivities and chemical sensitivities.
- Dehydration and hunger
- A change in the sleeping cycle (jet leg):lack of sleep, and oversleeping as well, can both spark a migraine.
- Stress:any kind of emotional trauma can trigger a migraine, even after the stress has passed.
- Physical effort:some extremely intense exercises (including sex) can bring on migraines.
- Hormones:some women experience migraines before or during their periods, during pregnancy or during menopause. Others may get migraines from hormonal medications such as birth-control pills, or hormone replacement therapy.
- External stimuli:Bright lights, fluorescent lights, loud noises and strong smells (even pleasant ones) can initiate a migraine.
- Weather changes, seasonal changes and changes in altitude
How to relieve your migraine pain without taking dangerous drugs
Many people have said that migraine pain can be seriously debilitating. So, it oftentimes can justify popping a pill for an instant relief. Unfortunately, migraine medications only work in half of the people, half the time.
When this happens, they have intense side effects such as “medication overuse headache”, which occurs when people take too much of a certain medication. Things get even worse if you take tryptamine-based drugs, which bind to serotonin receptors to constrict your cranial blood vessels. Yet, your pain is not due to engorged blood vessels, so constricting them can potentially do a lot more harm. In addition, serious cardiovascular events, including heart attacks and strokes, can be some of these unwanted effects.
Fortunately, there are some better ways to treat migraines than pharmaceutical drugs. But first and foremost, you have to make sure to avoid the triggers!
This means that you should opt for whole foods and avoid the processed ones. Indeed, avoiding wheat, grains, sugar and all fluids (but water) seems to be particularly effective. Regular workouts will also be helpful and keep your migraines away.
But, if a migraine hits you anyway, and you need an instant relief, here are some ‘safe-and-sound’ alternatives you can also try:
1.Use the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT): This technique is known to relief 50-80% of migraines, and in most cases the relief and repair is complete and permanent. More sophisticated uses by an EFT expert may be required for some migraine sufferers.
2. Stimulate your body’s natural pain killing ability: Putting some pressure on a nerve just above your eyebrow can cause your pituitary gland to release painkilling endorphins right away.
3. Take 10 teaspoons of cayenne pepper in a glass of water: Endorphins are released by your brain when the cayenne hits your stomach lining.
4. Sniff green apple’s scent: A study found that green apple’s scent can significantly relieve migraine agony. This may also work with other scents that you enjoy, so consult with an aromatherapist. It may be truly beneficial. Other aromas that you can include are: peppermint, sandalwood oil, lavender and eucalyptus.
5. Hot and cold packs:Some people can find it helpful to use heat, while others get more relief from cold. So, try and see which one works for you, but avoid extreme temperatures! You can also try placing your hands in hot (but not scalding water), which can pull pressure from your head.
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Source: Healthy Holistic Living