Migraine headaches are a type of neurovascular headaches, but the exact cause is unknown. It is thought that they are due to an issue with the nervous system, causing a chain of neurologic and biochemical changes, some of which subsequently affect the brain’s blood vessel or vascular system.
The changes in the vascular system cause blood vessel dilation or swelling, which is the major factor in the production of pain, giving you that throbbing pain. Thirty-six million Americans, about 12% of the population, suffer from migraine headaches. Migraines are three times more common in women than men and affect 30% of women over a lifetime.
Being as I am part of the population that suffers from migraines, I thought I would share some natural ways to help fight and prevent migraines!
- Chiropractic: Misalignments in the spine puts stress on the nervous system and on blood vessels causing a migraine. We have so many patients that come into our office with migraines and chiropractic has helped tremendously! I know it has helped me!
- Acupuncture: Acupuncture needles trigger the release of pain-reducing chemicals, while also decreasing inflammation and muscle tension. And it is so relaxing!
- Magnesium: People with migraines and cluster headaches are often deficient in magnesium. Taking magnesium supplements daily has been shown to reduce migraine frequency by nearly 42 percent!
- Water: Plenty of headaches and migraines are triggered by dehydration. By quickly drinking a few glasses of water when you feel a migraine coming on, it can actually sometimes stop it in its tracks. So make sure you are getting plenty of water!
- Omega-3-Fatty Acids: A dose of these healthy fats fight inflammation, which is a likely culprit in many headaches and possibly some migraines. Plus, they also help with brain and heart function as well!
- Ice: Ice helps reduce pain and causes the dilated blood vessels to constrict to give you relief.
- Caffeine: In small doses, caffeine can help reduce pain. Actually, some headache medications have caffeine in them. So instead of taking them, try caffeine instead.
- Peppermint essential oil: Peppermint seems to have pain-reducing effects. You can dilute in glass of water or rub it in the area of pain.
- Feverfew: A natural herbal remedy that has been used for centuries to help migraines, this plant can be used in many forms, including supplements, tea or even eaten raw. Feverfew helps relieve smooth muscle spasms, stops the brain’s blood vessels from contracting and prevents inflammation.
- Ginger: This spice is well-known for being friendly to upset stomachs, but it can ease migraine-related nausea, too. It may also ease pain thanks to some of its anti-inflammatory properties. Just be sure you’re getting the real thing, ginger ale doesn’t cut it!
What are some common migraine triggers?
- Hormonal changes in women. Fluctuations in estrogen seem to trigger headaches in many women with known migraines. Women with a history of migraines often report headaches immediately before or during their periods, when they have a major drop in estrogen.
- Aged cheeses, salty foods and processed foods may trigger migraines. Skipping meals or fasting also can trigger attacks.
- Food additives: The sweetener aspartame and the preservative monosodium glutamate, found in many foods, may trigger migraines.
- Alcohol, especially red wine, and highly caffeinated beverages may trigger migraines.
- Stress at work or home can cause migraines.
- Sensory stimuli: Bright lights and sun glare can induce migraines, as can loud sounds. Unusual smells — including perfume, paint thinner, secondhand smoke and others — can trigger migraines in some people.
- Changes in the environment. A change of weather or barometric pressure can prompt a migraine.
- Medications, such as oral contraceptives and vasodilators, such as nitroglycerin, can aggravate migraines.
Hopefully this helps fight or prevent your next migraine!
Dr. Jessica Stensland is a busy family wellness Chiropractor in Urbandale, Iowa. She spends her weeks taking care of dozens of families. Not only does Dr. Jessica specialize in pediatric and pregnancy chiropractic care, but she’s a board certified Acupuncturist. Dr. Jessica believes that a healthier community means taking care of all ages. She is a Minnesota native and enjoys seeing family and friends in her free time, in addition to staying active and reading the many books she has on her kindle.