Migraine headaches – Often you hear a colleague talking about being down with a migraine attack and wonder what it is like. Yes, migraine headaches are for real and in today’s hustled life it is becoming a frequent phenomenon. These are neurological and vascular in origin. Swelling of the arteries of the head along with hormonal and chemical changes in the brain are said to cause migraine headaches however the exact mechanism of action is not yet fully understood
Migraine headaches range from dull, constant paint to a more aggravated throbbing, pulsating pain often localized to an area in the head. Migraines can be very debilitating in nature and affect work performance and routine activities in a patient for hours or days together. They may or may not preceed an aura which hints at an onset of impending migraine attack. Nausea and vomiting often accompany. Hormone estrogen, genetic occurrence, stress, powerful odors, harsh sunlight, irregular meals are all strong predisposing factors that may trigger a migraine attack. However at times it may occur suddenly for no reasons and without any warning signs.
Treatment for migraines range from over the counter painkillers to antianxiety, anti convulsant medications. Patients are confined to dark room for pain relief and rarely is one completely cured of migraine. But subtle changes in your lifestyle and some simple remedies from the kitchen can ensure decreased frequency and pain relief for a patient.
Revamp the diet – Dietary habits and certain trigger foods are known to aggravate or increase frequency of migraines. Adhering to meal timings is important. Avoid – Dairy food, MSG (additive to flavor up restaurant food), red wine, fermented, pickled, junk food and aerated drinks. Include fibre rich food in your daily diet to avoid constipation.
Early morning exercise– Migraines also happen due to chemical imbalance in the brain. Regular early morning sunlight and oxygen enriched air are known to release healthy hormones and endorphins (natural pain-relieving substances). Walking, jogging, and other aerobic activities help release the physical and emotional tension that may lead to headaches.
Scalp massage –Massaging the scalp with finger tips while onset of an attack promotes blood circulation. A gentle head massage with some hot oil regularly works wonders as a preventive measure.
Yoga and meditation- Importance of meditation and adopting a healthy lifestyle cannot be emphasized enough. Stress adversely affects physical and mental health. Yoga and meditation not only relieve anxiety but also increase threshold to pain and the breathing techniques promote oxygen flow to the brain.
Replenish nutrients – Low levels of magnesium can cause or worsen migraine headaches. As also Deficiency of vitamin B2 i.e. riboflavin is known to precipitate frequent attacks.
Easily available sources of magnesium-pumpkin seeds, mackerel, dried figs, and dark chocolate.
B2 straight from the kitchen- Almonds, sesame seeds, fish and cheese are high in riboflavin.
Ginger- Prostaglandins secreted by the body in response to pain is inhibited by ginger root. Also ginger calms the gastric upset symptoms like nausea vomiting. Piece of raw ginger to chew or ginger root tea is beneficial.
Flaxseeds– Rich with antioxidant properties and omega 3 fatty acids flaxseed oil or roasted seeds or powdered form are beneficial for a migraine patient. Omega 3 is anti-inflammatory and helps to alleviate the swollen blood vessels. Flaxseeds also ease bowel movements and relieve constipation.
Coriander seeds– Coriander seeds can be taken as a decoction, chewed raw or used in foods. Coriander has anti-inflammatory properties which soothe the dilated blood vessels that cause headache.
Peppermint oil– It has vaso-constricting properties which acts on the dilated arteries against the mechanism of action of a migraine attack. It relieves blocked sinuses thereby improving the blood and oxygen circulation.
Lavender oil– It has calming effect. Add two to three drops of lavender oil to boiling water and inhale or apply it locally. It is proven to settle down the migraine pain and works as a stress buster.
Basil oil– Apart from the strong herb essence it has muscle relaxant properties and relives spasms and throbbing headaches.
Simple but effective measures go a long way to help those suffering from migraine however one must excise caution not to overdo with home remedies. Eating healthy and staying positive goes a long way .