Migraines are excruciatingly painful headaches that can last anywhere from a few hours to a few days. They tend to surface between the ages of 10 and 30 and occur twice as often in women as in men. During an episode, the eyes are very sensitive to light, and hearing seems heightened. Migraines can also be accompanied by nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, or a tingling sensation in the arms and legs. Many migraine sufferers say they can “feel one coming on” because they see flashes of light or get blind spots. Others say they slip into a negative frame of mind that can range from sadness to anger to just plain lethargy.
Roughly 1/3 of all migraines are thought to be caused primarily by food allergies. Other factors include low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), stress, genetic, strong odors or smoke, and pollutants and chemical irritants. Identifying—and then avoiding— the “trigger” that causes your migraine is the best thing you can do for this condition, because once the headache is in full force, little can be done. Still, we have some suggestions that can help prevent or at last lessen the intensity of a flare-up.
Agrimony. This liver-detoxifying herb may help prevent migraines.
Almonds. Indigenous to North Africa and western Asia, almonds are readily available in American markets. These tasty nuts have a pain-relieving ingredient in them—similar to aspirin—that can be used to ease migraines.
Bee propolis. This brown resin is loaded with vitamins, minerals, amino acids and enzymes—a whole lot of nutrition in one package that can help prevent some migraines.
Calcium. Calcium is an important supplement even for people who don’t get migraines. It is best taken at night, because it also has a calming effect on the body and helps promote sleep.
That same calming effect helps migraine sufferers by relaxing muscles in the head and easing tightening in the temples.
Chromium. If you suffer from low blood sugar or hypoglycemia, you are a likely candidate for a migraine, and a chromium supplement may help you by regulating your blood sugar levels.
Evening primrose. Herbalists say that the oil of the evening primrose, when taken in capsule form twice a day, can help loosen the tight muscles that accompany a migraine.
Feverfew. This member of the daisy family has been used extensively in Europe to treat migraines, and studies in both Europe and the U.S. have shown that this herb unquestionably relieves the pain. Feverfew has an anti-inflammatory agent that helps dilate the tight, constricted blood vessels that are characteristic of migraines. It also contains a compound that stops blood vessel spasms from occurring. Feverfew is most effective if taken in capsule from every day as a preventive. However, it is still helpful during a flare-up, and its healing properties are multiplied if it is combined with the tincture of a natural sedative like valerian or Jamaican dogwood. CAUTION: Although you can chew one small feverfew leaf every day to prevent migraines, some people develop sores in their mouths from this practice. You may want to try the capsule from, instead. Also, stay away from feverfew if you’re on a blood-thinning medication like Coumadin.
Fish oil. Omega-3 fish oils have natural anti-inflammatory properties that ease the pain of a migraine headache without the need for aspirin (which can actually aggravate the condition).
Ginger. Ginger has an agent that relaxes muscle spasms and lessens the tightness that is brought on by a migraine attack.
Lavender. Not only does this flower have a delightful scent, it is a natural sedative, analgesic, and antispasmodic. Make yourself a soothing rub of one part lavender oil mixed with two parts olive oil, and massage it on your throbbing temples.
Magnesium. Many migraine sufferers may be victims of a magnesium deficiency. So try supplementing with this essential mineral if you’re prone to this condition.
Michele Cagan is an alternative health researcher and reporter. Ms. Cagan authored the alternative health book, Act 50 Think 40 Feel 30 – The Doctor’s Secrets to Living Younger Everyday (Agora Health Books), with Allan Spreen, M.D.
Ms. Cagan is also a contributing writer and researcher for Health Science Institute.
Michele Cagan is the Editor of the Health Sciences Institute Members Alert, a monthly health newsletter with approximately 200,000 paid subscribers, dedicated to presenting natural and alternative cures. The Members Alert covers a wide range of diseases and conditions including depression, weight loss, insomnia, cancer, diabetes, arthritis, fibromyalgia, aging, Alzheimer’s disease, adrenal fatigue, and dozens more.
Ms. Cagan tracks down the sources of these natural cures in the Amazon rainforest, along the shores of the Sea of Galilee, in the Siberian tundra, and atop the Himalayas. From medicinal mushrooms to Traditional Chinese herbs to Ayurvedic treasures, Ms. Cagan seeks the most trusted natural cures, backed by centuries of effectiveness and modern science.
Ms. Cagan also authored the alternative health book, Act 50 Think 40 Feel 30 - The Doctor's Secrets to Living Younger Everyday with Allan Spreen, M.D.
In addition, Ms. Cagan created the Health e-Living Letter (an online health column on the benefits of natural remedies), HSI On the Spot (an alternative health blog), and Code Red (an urgent e-letter informing subscribers about newly discovered adverse events), along with special in-depth reports on critical alternative cures. Ms. Cagan is also a featured contributor on HealthierTalk.com.
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