Migraine and Herbal Medicine

Whilst most of us have experienced headache at some point in our lives, migraines are (thankfully) a rarer occurrence. Unfortunately some of us are more prone to them than others, with some people suffering from them on a regular basis.

What is there to be done?

First, let’s start by having a closer look at what is a migraine and how it occurs.

Migraine is usually portrayed as ‘the ultimate headache’ but, whilst some certainly experience excruciating pain, it can actually be painless!

What are the most common characteristics of a migraine attack?

  • Slurring or loss of speech
  • Distorted sight with kaleidoscopic visions or shooting stars
  • Short term memory loss or paralysis
  • Nausea
  • Tenderness of neck and scalp

Migraine attacks can come with or without preceding aura and, if left untreated, can last as long as 3 days at a time!

What is the cause of a migraine?

Although it was thought for a long time that migraines are a direct result of spams of the blood vessels which are supplying oxygen to the brain, it appears to be not strictly the case. The newest suspect is the trigeminal nerve which also happens to be the largest pain pathway in our heads.

Migraines can be initiated by fluctuations of hormones, especially oestrogen, which explains why they occur more frequently in women than in men. Other concomitant factors can include diet which is rich in alcohol and sugars (and foods containing tyramine), as well as changes to the sleep pattern or the barometric pressure. Serotonin is thought to play a role as well, since its levels seem to drop during the migraine episode.

As you can see, migraine is not a result of a one single factor, but rather a combination of an existing tendency coupled with more-or-less avoidable triggers.

Conventional medicine relies mainly on the use of painkillers and antiseizure medications but these do not come without their side effects.

In Herbal Medicine, the most commonly used herbs are:

  • Cayenne, especially when taken at the start of the migraine
  • Dong Quai- for prevention of migraines, especially if associated with PMS
  • Feverfew- as a preventive measure
  • Ginkgo- for prevention, through enhancement of circulation within the brain
  • Quercetin- especially when the migraine if a result of a food allergy
  • Tilden Flower- if associated with high blood pressure

In holistic mode to treatment, there is no question of one approach being appropriate for all of the cases. Although all migraines share some common characteristics upon which they can be diagnosed and given a name, everyone can experience them and be affected by them to a different degree. It’s important to take into consideration your symptoms and underlying health conditions to find the most appropriate treatment which will be tailored to your own personal experience.

If you suffer from migraines, you will obtain the best results of natural treatments if you consult a professional who will be able to guide you through all of the available choices.

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