Michael van Straten
Michael van Straten

Migraine Awareness Week 2017

  • Nearly one in three (27%) UK adults say that they have experienced a migraine headache at some time.
  • Of those migraine sufferers, 47% say that it is usually triggered by stress, 38% tiredness and 28% simply don't know why they suddenly get a migraine attack.
  • These findings are the result of a One-Poll survey among 3,000 UK adults in February 2017 commissioned by MigraHerb.

In Migraine Awareness Week, 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.

Many doctors, friends and family ignore, or don't understand the dramatic social consequences of this wretched condition. Missed schooldays, cancelled meetings, lost social opportunities, and refused invitations; all because you have, or fear you may get an attack. Migraineurs deserve and need your unswerving support.

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 and during pregnancy.

For this reason it is always worth trying a couple of months on one of the natural hormone helpers like MenoHerb, the only MHRA registered traditional herbal containing extracts of Black Cohosh.

PMT is a very common trigger of recurring episodes of migraine, and in my Christmas newsletter there will be a feature on this under treated and poorly recognised syndrome. However, if it is your problem, start right now on a course of PremHerb, a standardised extract of the traditional herbalist's panacea for PMT, Agnus Castus.

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, 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. Some are even sensitive to smells, and the waft of a perfume, filling up at the garage, or a blast of one of the dreadful artificial fragrances in air fresheners can bring on an attack in minutes.

It is important to keep a detailed diary of everything you eat and drink, and all your activities, for at least three or four weeks.  Make sure that you note the time of any migraine attacks, so that you can then study the diary for any regular patterns.  This helps to identify foods or activities which may be implicated.  It is best to cut out the common 'trigger' foods, and any other which you suspect.  Avoid long periods without food, as this leads to a drop in the sugar levels in your blood, and can be a frequent cause of the headaches. If cutting out the common triggers doesn't help you, then put them back in your regular diet. There is no point avoiding your favourite foods if it doesn't help at all!

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 prevents 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 an attack put a hot compress on the nape of your neck, and 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.

MigraHerbGabriella Clarke qualified as a medical herbalist in 1994 after studying for a four-year diploma. In 2012 she obtained a BSc(hons) degree in herbal medicine from the school of Bio-Science at the University of East London. She says "the herb feverfew has been used for headaches since at least the 17th Century when the famous herbalist Nicholas Culpepper wrote: "It is very effectual for all pains in the head" and it is said to provide 'mild and transient' benefits resulting in fewer migraine headaches per month. Feverfew also appears to block the release of histamine and helps widen blood vessels, helping to reduce the severity of migraine attacks."

The best way to use this herbal medicine is in the form of MigraHerb, a registered product containing extracts of Feverfew.

Add a Nature's Way Alive for Women's Energy soft gel for B vitamins and minerals.

These delicious chewable gels are all natural.

Alive Women UK

Drink 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 which are made worse when you cough, sneeze or strain.

For more information on the herbal medicines and vitamins I have listed, go to: http://www.migraherb.co.uk


Some of my books...

Sign up for my e-mail newsletter:


10 Day Detox With Kim WildeMichael Van Straten's 10 Day Detox With Kim Wilde

"In this video, we will take you through a series of easy to follow and achievable steps. You too can safely and effectively lose weight as well as significantly increase energy levels".

Migraine Misery?


MigraHerb® Feverfew capsules.

MigraHerb® is a traditional herbal medicinal product used for the prevention of migraine headaches exclusively based upon long-standing use as a traditional remedy. Always read the label.

tickLessens frequency and severity of migraine attacks

tickFor people who have a doctor's diagnosis for this condition

MigraHerb® 30 one-a-day capsules.
Normally £8.16
NOW £6.90
Save £1.26.

» For more information visit www.migraherb.co.uk

De-stress and Energise!


Vitano® Rhodiola rosea tablets.

Vitano® is a traditional herbal medicinal product used for the temporary relief of symptoms associated with stress, such as fatigue, exhaustion and mild anxiety, based on traditional use only. Always read the label.

tickHelps revive both mental and physical performance

tickBalances a hectic lifestyle... naturally!

Vitano® 30 tablets normally £13.27
NOW £9.90 - Save £3.37.
Multi-buy deal also available.

» For more information visit www.vitano.co.uk

Not Sleeping?


NiteHerb® Valerian tablets.

NiteHerb® is a traditional herbal medicinal product used for the temporary relief of sleep disturbances due to symptoms of mild anxiety exclusively based on long-standing use as a traditional remedy. Always read the label.

tickA natural solution to a good night's sleep

tickWake up revived - not groggy!

NiteHerb® 30 tablets normally £6.12
NOW £5.20 - Save £0.92.
Multi-buy deal also available.

» For more information visit www.niteherb.co.uk