Migraine is an especially agonizing type of headache that occurs repeatedly in acute episodes. Usually only one side of the head is affected, often behind the eye, and an attack can last hours or even days. Migraine headaches tend to be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, dizziness and sensitivity to light, noise and odors. The headache itself stems from a disturbance of blood vessel function, the cause of which is not yet known. In many cases, the arteries of the brain first contract, then expand again, resulting in a headache. Some migraines, called classic migraines, are accompanied by or preceded by visual disturbances, which often mimic flickering lights, known as auras. Many people, however, experience migraine like headaches without nausea or the aura. A migraine headache can be triggered by hormonal imbalances, stress, alcohol or even by certain foods, chocolate, cheese, caffeine and MSG are the most common culprits. Natural remedies can offer relief from the pain of migraine headache and its symptoms.
Herbs and headache triggers
Choose herbal remedies based on what generally triggers your headaches. If your headaches are linked to menses, try hormonal herbs such as chaste tree or yarrow. If your headaches are linked to stress, anxiety or neck pain, try kava kava or black cohosh, calming muscle relaxants. If your headaches are linked to diet or digestive troubles, try chamomile or licorice teas, milk thistle or an anti allergy diet. For overall relief, try a mashed caraway compress on your forehead.
What you can do?
During a migraine attack, lie down in a dark, quiet room and protect yourself from drafts. Sleep is usually helpful. Don't eat anything during an attack. And drink only water and tea. You can alleviate pain with hot or cold compresses, relaxation exercises, herbal teas and homeopathic treatment.
Prevention through relaxation
A hectic lifestyle full of pressure and tension encourages the occurrence of migraine. Typically, attacks occur during weekends or vacations, when the body and mind begin to relax and the contracted, tensed blood vessels expand. Relaxation exercises, yoga, meditation and biofeedback not only help migraine sufferers cope with stress but also reduce the severity and frequency of headaches.
A pain diary can help you pinpoint possible migraine triggers. Record exactly what time of day and in what situation the attack occurred; also note how strong or sudden the headache was. Insofar as possible, avoid the obvious or potential triggers in the future. Its important to try to treat the cause, not just the symptoms.
Homeopathic treatments under professional supervision can achieve very good results. It is best to begin the therapy during attack free periods. Commonly used remedies include belladonna for throbbing pain in the forehead, Gelsimium for exhaustion with nausea and Sanguinaria for pain behind the right eye.
Take care! : Low blood sugar may trigger migraine headaches. Beware that if you suffer from persistent, non-acute headaches, high blood pressure may be the cause; be sure to have it checked.
Feverfew tea can prevent migraine attacks. Pour 1 cup of boiling water over 1 heaping tbsp. of feverfew leaves. Let steep for 1 min; strain. Drink 1-2 cups daily. Continue for several months. Feverfew capsules can also be taken daily.
Herbal tea blend
This antispasmodic herbal tea blend can help allay nausea and pain
2 oz. peppermint leaves
1 oz. chamomile
1 oz. vervain
1 oz. hops
Pour 1 cup of boiling water over 1tsp. of the blend. Let it steep for 5 min. strain. Drink upto 3 cups daily.
To relieve tension and pain, gently massage a few drops of peppermint essential oil into your forehead and temples and behind the ears. Or place drops of the oil on a damp cloth and lay it on your forehead for 15 min.
Grate a small amount of horseradish and add 2-3 tsp. of apple vinegar. Spread the paste on a linen cloth and lay it on the back of your neck for 5 min. apple vinegar relaxes the blood vessels and horseradish stimulates the skin; both will help lessen the pain.
When you have throbbing head pain or a flushed face, the blood vessels in your head are likely engorged. Immerse your feet in the hottest water you can stand. The heat dilates blood vessels in the feet and legs, pulling blood away from the head and reducing pain.