7 Natural Tips for Migraine Relief
What is a migraine?
A migraine is not just an everyday headache that can easily be treated with some over-the-counter pain relief. A migraine is an extremely painful and often disabling throbbing in the head that is sometimes accompanied by nausea. When visual disturbances are experienced either before or during a migraine attack, this is known as a migraine with aura. However, most migraines are without aura. A telltale sign of a migraine is that the pain is often concentrated on one side of the head, or behind one eye. The negative impact on the lives of people who suffer frequent migraines is considerable, leading to days off work, days spent in bed, missed social events, and ruined weekends or holidays.
Doctors don't yet know exactly what causes migraines. It is thought that an attack starts with abnormal activity in the brain that involves changes to both chemical levels and blood flow. These changes seem to affect the nerve pathways in the brain and surrounding tissue, causing extreme pain. Some people who have regular migraines may be aware of some of their triggers for an attack, but they can also strike unexpectedly. Some of the known causes include dietary triggers such as alcohol, caffeine, chocolate or cheese, dehydration, stress, exhaustion, hormonal changes in women, heat, physical exertion, low blood sugar, and flickering screens. However, many sufferers can find it hard to pinpoint precisely which trigger, or combination of triggers, will cause a migraine.
Tips for natural migraine relief
It's estimated that around 12% of the population have migraines, so it's helpful to be aware of natural migraine relief strategies in case you or anyone you know is afflicted. As migraines can strike at any time, including when traveling, knowing what can give immediate relief from the pain is vital.
At the onset of an attack, it can be highly beneficial to find a darkened, quiet room in which to lie down and rest. Many migraine sufferers are highly sensitive to light and noise, finding that these things make the pain worse. For regular sufferers, traveling with an eye mask or sunglasses and ear-plugs can stand in when it's not possible to get to a dimly lit or peaceful room straightaway.
If possible, the application of an ice pack to the affected area can also really help to ease the pain. Try holding an ice pack on the forehead, scalp, or neck to see which alleviates the symptoms the most. In the absence of an ice pack, a cold wet flannel can be used, placing this over the eyes can some provide relief.
Yoga poses can help with blood circulation to the brain. As circulation can be affected during a migraine, it is worth learning yoga poses that can be used to alleviate a migraine attack. Regular yoga practice can also be used to reduce the overall frequency of attacks. Since prevention is often better than cure, the remaining tips focus on migraine preventative strategies. Regular workouts of forty minutes, three times a week have been shown to reduce the frequency of migraine attacks, with the endorphins released during exercise acting as natural pain killers.
The pace of modern life can be challenging, but as stress is a trigger for many people, migraine sufferers need to try to reduce their daily stressors, avoid overworking and have a range of relaxing activities to participate in during leisure time. It's also important to remember that a lack of sleep, and conversely too much sleep, are well-known migraine triggers. So, wherever possible, maintain regular sleeping habits.
The final tip for achieving lasting migraine relief is to start a migraine diary, as this can help to find out what specific triggers impact you. It's recommended to record the following sort of information for the hours preceding a migraine: food, medication or supplements taken, sleep, exercise, weather, work, and social activities. Women should also record details of their menstrual cycle, to see if a pattern emerges that can be linked to hormonal fluctuations.