Michael van Straten
Michael van Straten

How To Cope With Migraine

There can’t be many people who don’t either suffer from migraine, or know someone who does. The blinding headaches, the sickness and vomiting, the sensitivity to sound and light, and the utter wretchedness of the severe migraine sufferer, have only to be seen once, never to be forgotten.

Women are more likely to have this condition than are men, though in children, the illness is divided equally between boys and girls. Attacks usually start after puberty, and may continue into middle age. Many women find that the problem is closely related to the menstrual cycle, and often disappears after the menopause.

The causes are complex, and may include adverse reactions to certain foods, stress and anxiety, hormone changes, the contraceptive pill, high blood pressure or problems in the neck. Naturopaths, like me, have constantly urged the holistic approach to this distressing illness. Though there are modern medicines that help it can seldom be well treated just by medication, but needs a combination of diet, relaxation therapy, life-style changes, osteopathy, acupuncture, vitamins and herbal medicines. I am delighted that many doctors now realise the importance of food in relation to migraine, and there are even some hospitals using acupuncture.

Migraine is one of the most difficult conditions to treat, but over the years, I have found a number of simple things which I advise patients to do, in order to help themselves. Try them; they are safe, easy, cheap and suitable for anyone with these awful symptoms. They can all be used in conjunction with any medication prescribed by your doctor.

There are some foods which are known to be a frequent trigger of attacks. The common culprits are cheese; chocolate, red wine, sherry, port, citrus fruits, tea and coffee, but individuals may have adverse reactions to many other substances. Food additives like colourings, flavourings, preservatives and the infamous monosodium glutamate may be responsible, so avoid them.

Do increase the amount of fluid that you drink, aim at three pints a day, as this helps to trigger the body’s own elimination mechanism, and prevent the fluid retention which is often involved in the cause of migraine. At the very first sign of an attack, drink three large glasses of cold water, as this can sometimes be enough to stop the migraine before it develops.

Learn to do some simple neck and shoulder exercises - rolling the head in gentle circles, turning from side to side, dropping it gently forward onto the chest, then pushing it back as far as it will go, raising the shoulders and letting them drop, rotating the shoulders both forwards and backwards. Use some of the simple relaxation techniques - yoga, meditation, stretching exercises - there are lots of good books on this area.

If you have attacks put a hot compress on the nape of your neck, a cold one on your forehead, lie down in a dark room with a small pillow or rolled up towel under your neck and massage some lavender oil into your temples.

The herb, Feverfew, is one of the oldest of all remedies for this condition. You can grow it and eat one large or two to three small leaves daily. It is best to put it into a sandwich, as it may cause mouth ulcers. Ginkgo biloba is an ancient herb which is known to improve the circulation, especially to the brain. Available as tablets it’s certainly worth trying for a couple of months - it’ll help your memory anyway. Add a B complex vitamin pill, lots of water and change your diet - you could be turning over a new leaf.

See your doctor if:-
* Headaches start suddenly, and there is a rash, vomiting, high temperature or stiff neck. This is especially important with children.
* If the pattern of your regular headaches changes, or the pain is different.

* When ordinary pain killers don’t help and the pain is severe.
* If your attacks come more often, are more severe or last longer.

* If your speech, memory or vision, deteriorate, your sight or balance are affected, you start to pass out during attacks, you get thin or experience muscle weakness.

* If you wake with headaches that are made worse when you cough, sneeze or strain.

CASE HISTORY: This is the story of a listener to my radio show
Katy, a 29 year old legal assistant, has had to live with migraine headaches since her teens. As a youngster she missed school, as an adult she had to take time off work as, though she’d tried everything from the doctor and over the counter, the only remedy was going to bed in a dark room. She used to have two or three attacks a month till she tried a simple herbal remedy that’s kept her free of migraines for a year.

“I live on my own in Hampshire and have a demanding
job that means a lot of driving, talking to clients and working at the computer, and the migraines were making my life a misery” says Katy. “They’re at their worst the week before my period and I’ve been forced to take time off work because the pain was so bad. Two days before I start to feel tired, nauseous and headachy. My vision is affected too so I try not to drive. I’m never actually sick but I’m sure I would be if I wasn’t lying down. The GP prescribed the normal drugs and I’ve bought everything you can over the counter but none of them relieve the pain much or prevent the episodes at all.”

“I’ve also done the whole diet thing and cut out cheese, chocolate, coffee and lots of other foods too and haven’t been able to pinpoint anything that triggers my migraine, so in the end I resigned myself to living with it. Because work is so competitive I worry every time I take time off, that makes me stressed which doesn’t do the migraines much good.

Then I heard Michael talk about MigraHerb a natural medicine made from the plant Feverfew, that had helped his patients. I went straight to Boots and bought some and it’s changed my life. It’s not 100% effective as I still get some mild symptoms just before my period starts but I don’t feel sick, I don’t get a migraine and I don’t have to take any time off work.

“I can honestly say that I’ve been migraine free for a year and you can’t imagine how this has changed my life. It’s hard for anyone to appreciate the relief if they’ve never had migraine themselves.”

The herb Feverfew is one of the best of all natural migraine remedies. Around 1 in 4 women and 1 in 12 men are affected by this really awful illness that is so often not seen as a serious problem by others.

Using the herbal preparation, MigraHerb, the only MHRA registered herbal medicine containing Feverfew for the prevention of migraine headaches available in the UK, could change the life of sufferers. Just one capsule a day is all you need. For more information visit www.migraherb.co.uk


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