The World Health Organization lists migraines as one of the top 20 most disabling medical problems around the world. Symptoms often vary from person to person, making it a very difficult condition to care for. A migraine is known for throbbing and pounding head pain, nausea and vomiting, sensitivity to light, sound, and some odors, and dizziness or vertigo. Migraines can last as long as 72 hours. In two-thirds of the cases, the pain is felt on one side of the head only.
Some people experience what is called an aura. This is a type of sensory warning sign indicating a migraine is about to occur. You may have blind spots in your vision, see flashes of light, have an increased sensitivity to light and sound, feel tingling or numbness in the arms and legs, or have nausea and vomiting. Just a few days before the attack, you may notice odd food cravings, irritability, constipation, diarrhea, a stiff or sore neck, and repeated yawning.
As many as 75 percent of those with migraines have a family history of migraine attacks. A change in brain chemicals may be to blame for this disabling, painful condition. Often, migraines come on after experiencing a trigger or a combination of triggers:
- Low blood sugar from missing a meal
- Irregular sleep
- Improper posture
- Bright, flashing lights
- Loud noise
- Strong odors
- Fluctuations in hormones
- Changes in weather patterns
- Going from hot to cold or cold to hot environments
Trying Home Remedies to Ease the Pain
Some of the following home remedies may be helpful when it comes to fighting the pain of migraines. However, keep in mind that unless you address the root cause, migraines will continue to occur. Keep reading to find out how to correct the underlying cause of migraines.
- Coffee: A strong cup of coffee may help reduce migraine pain symptoms. This is due to the fact that caffeine can restrict blood vessels and block certain receptors that are involved with migraines. To make this drink even more potent, add a few drops of freshly squeezed lemon juice. This will counteract the effects of acidic diets which contribute to cyclic headaches. *Please keep in mind that caffeine can be a trigger for migraines in some people. In addition, too much caffeine can make your headache worse or cause a rebound headache.
- An apple a day: You have probably heard the age-old advice about eating an apple a day to keep the doctor away. Well, in this case, eating an apple when the first warning sign of a migraine is coming on may save you from going through a migraine episode. Research has revealed the smell of a green apple can help reduce the severity of migraines, particularly if you find the smell appealing.
- Splurge for a massage: You can get this done by a professional or ask your spouse or relative to do it for you. Massaging the head can help ease migraines because it blocks pain signals being sent to the brain. You will also boost your serotonin levels and stimulate serotonin receptors, helping to reduce the symptoms of migraines. A study revealed the best way to do a massage:
- Using a circular motion, gently massage your head with your first two fingers. While massaging, remember there are pressure points at certain locations, such as the base of the skull, the middle of the forehead between the eyebrows, and the corners of the eyes. Putting pressure on these areas can help relieve pain.
- Another option is to use sesame oil. Heat two tablespoons of it and mix in a half a teaspoon of cinnamon and cardamom powder. Apply to your forehead and massage it in. Leave it on for a few hours.
- Feverfew: Feverfew has been used for centuries. It is an herb which has the compound parthenolide to relieve muscle spasms and counteract inflammation. It also neutralizes prostaglandins which have a huge effect on pain signals.
- Prepare an herbal tea by steeping a teaspoon of feverfew and dried peppermint in 8 ounces of hot water for thirty minutes. Strain and drink a few times during the day until the pain subsides. Another option is using a dry leaf capsule (50 to 100 mg daily).
*Consult your doctor before trying any kind of supplement to ensure it is safe for you to take.
- Ginger: A study from 2013 reveals ginger may be able to improve migraines. It blocks prostaglandins (chemicals that promote muscle contractions, impact hormones, and regulate inflammation in the blood vessels of the brain). This works similar to how NSAIDs (non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs) work.
- Chew on a piece of raw ginger root to help relieve nausea and digestive distress along with migraines.
- Drink ginger tea throughout the day until you get relief.
Finding Help for the Root Cause of Migraines
An interesting thing about migraines is that a large number of those who have them also have a misalignment in the top of the upper cervical spine, particularly the C1 and C2 vertebrae. A misalignment in this area can act as a hindrance to the flow of blood getting to and leaving the brain. The result is reduced oxygen to the brain and intracranial pressure leading to migraines.
Upper cervical chiropractors specialize in finding these misalignments and helping to correct them. We use a method that is both gentle and effective to encourage the bones to move back into place naturally. Once corrected, may people see an improvement in their migraines. Some patients see them go away and not return.