What are the signs you are having a migraine? What holistic, and OTC options are available for migraine sufferers? What can migraine sufferers do to prevent or reduce their migraines? More than a basic headache, migraines are a debilitating disorder than can drastically affect the quality of life for sufferers. Salonpas® sat down with two leading wellness authorities to learn more about the mysterious migraine headache which affects over 10% of people throughout the world.
Board-certified Jacob Teitelbaum, MD, says what differentiates a migraine from other types of headaches are its severity. “Severe headaches lasting over four hours which have been occurring on and off for over 3 to 6 months are likely a migraine,” says Dr. Teitelbaum. “They are often accompanied by nausea and sensitivity to light, sounds, and smells. They usually have warning that they are coming on, called an aura.”
Migraine headaches are not all created equal. “Most commonly we hear about the headaches and or visual migraines or migraines that may mimic having stroke symptoms for a few hours,” says Dr. Teitelbaum. “More important would be whether the migraines are caused by food allergies, nutritional deficiencies, or fluctuations in hormone levels (estrogen and progesterone). Often these are combined, although the ones that occur mostly around a person’s menses or ovulation, or in the morning when the birth control pills wear off for the day, tend to be resistant to any treatment except simply giving the hormonal support using a patch.”
Are there any foods or beverages that trigger migraines? “Approximately 30 to 50 percent of migraine patients get marked improvement by avoiding certain foods, and most people with migraines are not aware of what foods are triggering their headaches,” says Dr. Teitelbaun who is Director of the Practitioners Alliance Network (PAN) and author of the popular free iPhone application “Cures A-Z,” and several health books. “This has now been demonstrated in at least four placebo-controlled studies. Food sensitivities are an even bigger problem in children with migraines.”
“In one study, by avoiding the ten most common food triggers, subjects exhibited a dramatic reduction in the number of headaches per month, with 85 percent becoming headache free. The most common reactive foods were wheat in 78% of patients, oranges in 65%, eggs in 45%, tea and coffee in 40% each, chocolate and milk in 37% each, beef in 35%, and corn, cane sugar, and yeast in 33% each. Some studies also suggest that the artificial sweetener aspartame can trigger migraines and other headaches, although this is controversial. If you have severe and frequent migraines, it is definitely worth exploring food sensitivities. You may find that instead of avoiding foods that trigger your migraines for the rest of your life, you can eliminate the sensitivities/allergies using a powerfully effective acupressure technique called NAET.”
So what are some other alternative therapies taking hold? “Hypnosis can be an effective tool for resolving headaches and migraines,” says Drake Eastburn, who has been a hypnotherapist for over 30 years with a busy hypnotherapy practice. “One session is usually all that is needed, but typically the subconscious will learn to remove migraines in a few sessions. Almost always there is a secondary gain (meaning that perhaps the person ‘benefits’ from having the migraines because it may garner loving attention from others, or may be an excuse to bow out of attending a certain event, or allow them to avoid other unpleasant or unwanted activities, etc.) and often that root issue must be dealt with to achieve relief. Anyone who comes and truly wants relief will get it with hypnosis. There are those where a medical condition is causing the issue and that will need to be dealt with by medical professionals.”
“I recommend that the food allergies first be addressed,” said Dr. Teitelbaum. “I also recommend that my patients take Vitamin B1 100 400 mg, Coenzyme Q 10 200- 400 mg, and Magnesium 200 – 400 mg daily. Many other nutrients can help as well, including Vitamin B12. I find what works best and most simply is to have the person take a special vitamin powder called the Energy Revitalization System plus coenzyme Q 10 200 mg each day. It takes six weeks to see the frequency of migraines drop.”
“For an acute migraine, the most effective treatment (far more effective than narcotics) is to simply give 1 g of magnesium intravenously over 15 minutes,” says Dr. Teitelbaum. “This will eliminate 85% of migraine attacks completely within the hour. The only more effective treatment is decapitation – which is not recommended! Unfortunately, the 1 g of magnesium only costs about 10 cents, so nobody is teaching physicians about this research.”
“For migraines that occur predominantly around the menses and ovulation, using an estrogen patch beginning the week before can show dramatic benefits,” adds Dr. Teitelbaum.