Headache & Migraine

Headache & Migraine

Headaches affect most of us from time to time, for a variety of reasons. Migraines are a specific form of headache that tend to be severe, and may be associated with Nausea and vomiting, as well as other symptoms.

Symptoms

  • Pain in the head, which may be described as dull, throbbing, sharp, or full
  • Pain is often one-sided, especially in migraine
  • Muscle tension in the head, neck, shoulders and jaw
  • Vision may be blurred
  • Sufferer may feel Stressed, irritable and short-tempered
  • Nausea and vomiting may occur
  • In Sinusitis, the facial sinuses around the eyes, nose and jaw may be congested, painful and tender
  • Bright light or noise may exacerbate the symptoms (especially in migraine), forcing the sufferer to retreat to a quiet dark place
  • Migraine may be preceded by visual hallucinations ('aura'), and the sufferer may become extremely sensitive to taste and smells
  • Migraine sufferers may need to 'sleep off' a migraine attack, which can sometimes take several days to resolve

Causes

  • Stress may cause or exacerbate headaches by causing tension of the neck, shoulder, jaws and back muscles
  • Poor posture or spinal misalignment may also contribute
  • Migraines are vascular in origin, related to the constriction and dilation (opening) of the blood vessels of the head and brain; they are sometimes triggered by exercise because it increases blood flow
  • Food intolerances sometimes cause headaches, and certain foods (e.g. citrus fruit, cheese, chocolate, MSG and alcohol) tend to act as migraine triggers in susceptible people
  • Blood sugar problems may contribute
  • Facial pain may be indicative of Sinusitis (which is usually due to either infection or allergy), or of dental problems
  • Women may experience migraines or headaches as a symptom of premenstrual syndrome
  • Eye strain (e.g. from performing computer work for long periods) and some eye conditions (e.g. glaucoma) may lead to headaches
  • Some medications and drugs can contribute to headaches, including hormonal treatments (e.g. oral contraceptives), diabetes medications, alcohol (e.g. hangover)
  • Dehydration
  • Lack of sleep
  • Exposure to loud and ongoing noise
  • Headaches may also be caused by serious health problems, including stroke and some forms of cancer
  • From a naturopathic perspective, headaches and migraines are sometimes caused by Sluggish Liver function or Constipation, and are a consequence of wastes that have not been detoxified or excreted re-entering the blood circulation

Nutritional & Herbal Support

  • If Stress triggers or exacerbates your headaches or migraines, take a high potency multivitamin that provides B-group vitamins, vitamin C, magnesium and other nutrients that help combat nervous tension and Anxiety
  • Stress tightens the muscles of the head, neck, shoulders and back and can cause or worsen headaches and migraine; take extra magnesium, which supports the body's ability to cope with Stress and has a relaxing effect on tense or contracted muscles
  • Research suggests that taking co-enzyme Q10 (150-300 mg per day) for at least three months may significantly reduce the frequency and severity of migraines
  • Bilberry is a rich source of antioxidant compounds called anthocyanosides, which support the health of the capillaries, and in particular those of the eyes. It may improve vision and help to offset the effects of Eye Strain
  • Calming herbs such as valerian, skullcap and hops may also help with Muscle Cramps and spasms, and have additional benefits during times of nervous tension and Stress, especially when taken in combination with potassium phosphate, calcium phosphate and magnesium phosphate
  • If you regularly experience headaches or migraines as a symptom of premenstrual syndrome, take Vitex agnus-castus, a herb that has traditionally been used to balance female hormones
  • Vitex is sometimes combined with other herbs and nutrients that provide PMT support. Important ingredients to look for include magnesium, vitamin C and vitamin B6
  • Liver-cleansing herbs such as milk thistle, globe artichoke and schisandra increase bile output and support digestive function. They may be beneficial in cases when headaches or migraines are associated with Sluggish Liver and gall bladder function, or a tendency towards Constipation

Diet & Lifestyle advice

  • Severe, recurrent or persistent headaches may be indicative of underlying disease, and require medical investigation
  • Avoid known triggers of migraines (such as chocolate, cheese, citrus, alcohol and MSG)
  • During a headache or migraine, retreat to a well-ventilated, dark room, and try to sleep. Applying an ice pack to the forehead or tense muscles may help to relieve the pain
  • Learn and practice meditation or relaxation techniques in order to improve your ability to cope with Stress
  • Regular exercise is important for healthy circulation, to maintain muscle tone and to relieve Stress. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise (such as brisk walking) on most days of the week; if exercise tends to trigger your migraines, seek professional advice before you start
  • Avoid sitting in one position for long periods of time, as this can cause muscle tension. Stop working or driving regularly and take the time to stretch and rest your eyes
  • Protect your eyes from glare by wearing UV-rated sunglasses when outdoors
  • Drink at least two litres of water every day

If symptoms persist consult your healthcare professional. Information provided is of a general nature and should not replace that of your healthcare professional.

Thompson’s is an Integria Healthcare brand, a manufacturer and distributor of quality herbal formulations and supplements.
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