What Is Migraine And How Common Is It?
Migraines are a big problem in England, with an estimated 190,000 attacks happening every day. Around 6 million people in the UK suffer from migraines. Between 5 and 25 percent of women and 2 to 10 percent of men suffer from it.
According to National Institute for Clinical Excellence migraine is defined as:
This is a disorder that is mostly characterized by headaches. These headaches usually last for 4-72 hours and are quite severe. Migraines are often accompanied by nausea, and sometimes vomiting. They can also be characterized by sensitivity to light, sensitivity to sound, and/or other sensory stimuli. Some people can have warning symptoms called an aura, before the start of a headache. There are several things that can cause migraines in people who are prone to them, including stress, change in sleep pattern, being overtired, drinking caffeine or alcohol, and exposure to certain weather conditions or staring at screens for too long.
According to the migraine trust:
However, the treatment of chronic migraine is often more aggressive because the goal is to achieve and maintain remission.” The therapies for chronic and episodic migraines are often the same, but chronic migraine is usually treated more aggressively because the goal is to keep the condition under control. This includes both drugs that require a prescription and drugs that don’t require a prescription, as well as drugs specifically for migraines like triptans. These are known as abortive or acute medications.
It is important to both change one’s lifestyle and to understand what triggers migraines. There are also treatments available that aim to prevent chronic migraines, but these are often linked to side effects, and many people cannot put up with them for long periods of time.”
Medication overuse is common and can lead to further complications and headaches that are caused by the medication.
This complication is due to the fact that there are multiple different types of migraines. The types of migraines that have been identified are:
- Chronic migraine: When a person experiences a migraine at least 15 days each month. It’s often associated with other conditions, such as depression, arthritis, or high blood pressure.
- Acute migraine: Also called episodic migraine, this term applies to anyone who gets migraines fewer than 15 days per month.
- Vestibular migraine: When the migraine is accompanied by symptoms of vertigo, such as dizziness and loss of balance.
- Optical migraine: When a person experiences visual symptoms along with other migraine symptoms (or sometimes on their own). This can include flashes of light, a blind spot, or temporary loss of vision in one eye.
- Hormonal or menstrual migraine: These are migraines linked with certain points of a woman’s hormonal cycle, such as ovulation, menstruation, pregnancy, menopause, or going off or on a hormonal birth control pill.
Migraines may be caused by an underlying central nervous disorder, irregularities in the brain’s blood vessel system, or abnormalities of brain chemicals and nerve pathways. Some research indicates that migraines may have a genetic cause, as they are often seen in multiple members of the same family. There are many things that can trigger migraines, including certain foods and food additives, alcohol, caffeine, stress and anxiety, hormonal changes, certain medications, extreme exercise, sleeping issues, and environmental triggers like weather changes, flashing lights, loud noises, and strong smells. If you are woman who has undergone puberty, you are three times more likely to have migraines than men. This is most likely because of the hormonal component.
What Can Trigger Migraine?
There are many possible reasons why someone might get migraines, including hormonal changes, emotional stress, physical activity, dietary choices, environmental factors, and medicines.
- EMOTIONAL TRIGGERS E.G. DEPRESSION, STRESS ANXIETY.
- PHYSICAL TRIGGERS E.G. LACK OF SLEEP, FATIGUE, HORMONAL CHANGES.
- ENVIRONMENTAL TRIGGERS E.G. SMOKING, BRIGHT LIGHTS, STRONG SMELLS, LOUD NOISES.
- MEDICINAL TRIGGERS E.G. ALCOHOL, CAFFEINE, CHOCOLATE, CHEESE, CITRUS FRUIT, IRREGULAR MEALS.
The Ethical Nutrition Perspective On Migraine
We will always consult the most recent health research and provide our opinions on the actual underlying causes. Not everyone will have all of the underlying factors because each person’s migraine developed differently. What we’re hoping is that if you can pinpoint just one thing and make a tiny change as a result, it may help you out with getting healthier. Here are some of the underlying factors related to migraine:
- Gut-Brain Connection. Problems in the gut can cause problems in the brain. Studies have demonstrated significant associations between migraine and gut conditions like celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease, and IBS. It is possible that inflammation and leaky gut could be connected to migraine.
- Gut Bacteria Imbalance. If your gut bacteria is out of balance it can lead to wider spread issues in the body and has been associated with migraine. An imbalance of gut bacteria could be the cause of gut inflammation and permeability, which can subsequently lead to food sensitivities.
- Neurotransmitter Imbalance. An imbalance of chemicals in the brain is associated with migraine. The most well-known neurotransmitter associated with migraine is serotonin, a chemical also associated with mood. Low levels of serotonin have been implicated in migraine, fibromyalgia and IBS. Perhaps this is why these conditions are connected. Patients with migraine have also been shown to have higher levels of GABA, a chemical which is important for reducing excitability throughout the nervous system.
- Hormonal Imbalance. Hormones like estrogen are important in controlling the production of serotonin, as mentioned above. An imbalance in hormones like estrogen could cause an imbalance in brain chemicals like serotonin and lead to conditions like migraine.
- Vitamin D Deficiency. Given that vitamin D has such widespread actions in the body and that so many people don’t get enough, it’s not surprising that people with migraine have been shown to have lower levels of vitamin D. Migraine patients also display lower levels of antioxidants and higher levels of inflammation.
- Magnesium Deficiency. Deficits in magnesium play a significant role in the development of migraine due to its importance in nervous system function.
- Food Sensitivities. Some evidence suggests that food-sensitivities could have a role to play in migraine. Our view is that multiple IGG food intolerances are likely to be indicative of more widespread gut dysfunction in the form of leaky gut.
- Blood sugar imbalance. Recent studies show that impaired blood sugar control could play a direct role in the development of migraine.
- Poor liver function. Sub-optimal liver function could theoretically lead to increased susceptibility to migraine triggers. In particular the triggers which need to be detoxified. There’s also some evidence that heavy metals could play a role in migraine.
- Cardiovascular function. The physiology of migraine inherently involves dysfunction of blood vessels in the brain so it’s no surprise that migraine is associated with cardiovascular dysfunction.
The Best Ways to Find Natural Migraine Relief
We prefer to treat the root cause of a problem, rather than just taking a pill that treats the symptoms but may create other health issues. Although treating the root cause is the ideal solution, it is not always possible. When migraines strike and immediate relief is necessary, natural, least invasive methods are sought. The ways to find natural migraine relief with the fewest side effects are provided below. Many of these ways can have an overall positive impact on your well-being.
Remedy 1: Dietary Changes
When trying to prevent migraine attacks, diet is the first thing to address. This is because what you do and don’t choose to put inside the body provides the basis for how all of your bodily systems function.
To avoid migraines, it is important to avoid foods and drinks that trigger them. Things that commonly cause migraines are alcohol (especially red wine), chocolate, artificial sweeteners, and foods that contain nitrates (such as processed meats like hot dogs or sliced turkey). Migraine sufferers should avoid cheese that contains the naturally-occurring compound tyramine, which is found in certain aged cheeses including blue, feta, Swiss, and Parmesan.
Caffeine can be a potential trigger for migraines, but it can also be used to help treat them. How much caffeine you consume affects how well it works as a pain reliever. Too much caffeine can make your pain worse. You need to monitor how much caffeine you consume to figure out the right amount for you. Most people should consume between 100-400 mg of caffeine per day.
Magnesium-containing foods like oatmeal, eggs, leafy greens, and nuts and seeds can help prevent migraines. Dehydration can trigger migraines, especially for those who are already sensitive to them, so it is important to drink plenty of water.
Remedy 2: Herbal and Plant-Based Remedies
While there are many herbs and plants that claim to offer natural migraine relief, there is not a lot of research to support these claims. Some examples of these plants are feverfew and valerian. There are two substances that have scientific support for their efficacy: ginger and butterbur.
A study from 2014 found that ginger powder was just as effective as sumatriptan, a common migraine medication, in treating migraines. In addition, ginger does not have any potential side effects or long-term health risks. Powdered ginger provides the strongest dosage of ginger, but it can also be consumed as a tea or in other dishes.
Remedy 3: Vitamins and Supplements
Magnesium is effective in preventing migraines. If you have low magnesium levels, you are more likely to have a migraine attack. The risk factor can be eliminated by taking a magnesium supplement. A review of several studies has shown that magnesium supplements can help to reduce the frequency of migraines, especially those associated with aura and hormonal changes. A small dose of magnesium is recommended to start with, slowly increasing to 600mg per day, as it can cause some digestive distress.
There are other things that can help with migraines in addition to B vitamins, Coenzyme Q10, and fish oil. B vitamins are important for regulating neurotransmitters in the brain, and since migraine is a neurological condition, taking a B vitamin complex can help reduce symptoms. Studies have shown that B2, B6, B9 (folate), and B12 can help to relieve migraines naturally.
The body produces a substance called CoQ10 naturally. This substance has antioxidant properties, which helps the body metabolize food. One study found that people taking 100mg of CoQ10 supplements per day saw reduced migraine severity, frequency, and duration.
A study done recently found that a diet with a lot of fatty fish and fish oil and not much vegetable oil could make migraines happen less often by 30-40%, as well as making the pain not as bad. This is likely because fish oil is anti-inflammatory, while linoleic acid (found in vegetable oil) can cause inflammation in pain processing tissues and pathways. You can get fish oil by eating fatty fish or by taking a fish oil or Omega-3 supplement.
Remedy 4: Essential Oils
A lot of essential oils that are advertised as remedies for migraines don’t actually work. There is some evidence to suggest that two essential oils may be effective in providing relief from migraines.
The study found that people who inhaled lavender oil during migraine attacks experienced faster relief of symptoms as compared to a placebo. Lavender oil can be used as a natural cure for migraine if you inhale it directly, apply diluted oil to temples, or use a diffuser.
Lavender can help to reduce the symptoms of migraines once they have started, whereas peppermint oil may help to prevent them from occurring. In one study, researchers found that applying a menthol solution to the forehead and temples was more effective at preventing migraine symptoms like pain, nausea, and light sensitivity, than a placebo.
Remedy 5: Acupressure and Acupuncture
Both acupressure and acupuncture are based on the Traditional Chinese Medicine belief that qi (life energy) flows through the body along meridians (sort of like channels). This flow of qi is thought to be essential for good health. Acupuncturists place needles in specific areas of the body, called acupoints, to improve the flow of energy or to stimulate the body and restore balance. This can help to treat various medical conditions. Acupuncture uses thin needles while acupressure uses pressure.
Acupressure may relieve headache pain by applying pressure to the acupoint between the base of the left thumb and pointer finger for five minutes. Applying pressure to the acupoint on the inside of the arm may also be effective in relieving migraine-associated nausea or vomiting, according to research.
Remedy 6: Stress Reduction
Stress can trigger migraines, which then lead to more stress, creating a cycle. There are many ways to reduce stress that are effective.
Yoga can help to reduce stress both mentally and physically, creating a sense of calm and peace while also leaving muscles and joints loose and relaxed. The researchers found that the group who did yoga in addition to their conventional migraine treatment had more relief than the group who only did the conventional treatment. This is another big advantage that natural remedies have over other treatments! Another study found that practicing yoga could help to reduce the frequency, duration, and intensity of migraines in women.
Although it may be perceived as a luxury, massage can actually be quite beneficial to your health. For example, it has been shown to provide relief for migraines. A study found that people who had a weekly massage were less likely to have migraines. This could be because massage helps improve sleep quality, reduces stress, and helps people to cope better.