Alternative Answers for Menstrual Migraines
Migraine headaches are the most common vascular headache. Migraines are the
result of abnormal flow of blood to the brain. Pain can last for several hours
to several days. Migraines are frequently related to food and environmental
allergies. They may also be brought on by poor circulation, chemical
sensitivities, changes in humidity, stress or underlying illness. If you get
frequent or unusually severe headaches, medical attention must be sought.
Typically, migraines bring severe, one-sided throbbing pain (in 40 percent of
cases, however, the pain occurs on both sides). Often this is accompanied by
nausea and vomiting and perhaps tremor and dizziness. Some people also
experience premigraine warning symptoms, including blurred vision, "floating"
visual images, and numbness in an arm or leg.
28 million people in the United States suffer from migraine headaches. 12% of
the total population (6% of all males, 18% of all females). For more than 70% of
migraine sufferers the tendency to have migraines is hereditary. Migraines often
begin during adolescence, but occur most frequently in adults between the ages
of 35 and 45. Migraines are associated with changing levels of seratonin, a
neurotransmitter produced in the brain. While vascular changes are evident
during a migraine, the cause of the headache may actually be neurological, not
Migraine without an aura
Migraines are the result in an abnormal flow of blood to the brain. Pain can
last for several hours to several days. Migraines are frequently related to food
and environmental allergies. They may also be brought on by poor circulation,
chemical sensitivities, changes in humidity, stress or underlying illness. If
you get frequent or unusually severe headaches, medical attention must be
sought. Typically, migraines bring severe, one-sided throbbing pain (in 40
percent of cases, however, the pain occurs on both sides). Often this is
accompanied by nausea and vomiting and perhaps tremor and dizziness.
At the onset of a migraine headache the seratonin levels first rise and then
fall dramatically. In addition to a throbbing or pounding pain on one side of
the head, migraine sufferers also experience nausea, extreme sensitivity to
light and noise, and sometimes dizziness or lightheadedness. The pain is
aggravated by activity.
Migraine with an aura
20% of migraine sufferers experience a visual disturbance (aura) at the onset of
the headache, usually 20 to 60 minutes before the headache starts. The aura is
experienced as flashes of light or shimmering jagged lines in the field of
vision. The individual may also experience blank spots in the field of vision,
tunnel vision, numbness, weakness, or difficulty speaking.
Migraine headaches can be triggered by:
changes in sleep patterns
strong emotional states, such as depression, anxiety or excitement
Prevention is the key!
1. Sleep. A lot of people sleep a headache off, but don't oversleep. It is not
recommended that you nap. While a nap may rid you of an existing headache, you
don't want to nap if you're headache-free. Napping can actually cause migraines
to those who are PRONE to them. Sleeping in an awkward position, or even on your
stomach, can cause the muscles in your neck to contract and trigger a headache.
Sleeping on your back or in a fetile position helps.
2. Posture also plays a role. Stand tall, sit straight. Avoid leaning or pushing
your head in one direction. Forward head syndrome has been an issue recognized
more so lately, due to the fact that so many people work on computers. The
pitching of the head forward has actually become a syndrome. This weakens the
entire foundation from the lumbar spine upward. If you can imagine toy blocks
all aligned on top of each other. Now imagine pushing the top block forward. The
other blocks underneath it begin to "stress" as they try to hang on to the top
block. The same thing is happening to our spinal column as we pitch our head too
far forward, instead of keep the head back and aligned over the rest of the
spine. This leads to tension headaches and aggrevates TMJ syndrome.
3. Heat and cold. Some people like the feeling of cold against their foreheads
or necks and for them it seems to help. An ice pack applied to the areas of the
head, neck, back or shoulders will often relieve the burning sensation of
headaches. This tends to work better for inflammation due to (all day) overuse.
Others prefer hot showers or putting heat on their head, shoulder blades or
necks. Heat helps increase blood flow and circulation. The idea is to find what
works best for your type of headache.
4. Deep breathing is a great tension reliever. Take note: you're doing it right
if your stomach is moving more than your chest. Check yourself for signs that
you are tensing up and inviting headaches. Do you also have clenched teeth,
clenched fists, hunched shoulders? Do this progressive relaxation technique
5. Learn biofeedback. Studies have proven it effective for both tension
headaches and migraines. Biofeedback is the innate ability to influence the
automatic nervous system through the exertion of will and mind. Chances are you
have used biofeedback yourself. You've used it if you have ever taken your
temperature or stepped on a scale. These devices "feed back" information about
your body's condition.
6. Use your hands. Both self-massage and acupressure can help.
7. Excessive noise is a common trigger for tension headaches. Try balancing a
noisy situation with complete silence. Consider ear plugs for some quiet time.
8. Protect your eyes from the sun, fluorescent lighting, television, or a video
display and computer terminals which, can lead to squinting, eyestrain, and,
finally, headache. Sunglasses are a good idea if you're going to be outside. If
you're working inside, take some rest breaks from the computer screen and also
wear some type of tinted glasses.
9. Eat something. Headaches can be the result of dehydration or low blood sugar.
Drink a glass of water. Have a bowl of cereal or eat an orange. Chewing on a raw
piece of ginger root is an ancient Chinese secret for headaches.
10. Trigger point therapy. Probably one of my best remedies for tension as well
as, migraine headaches, can be done with a tennis ball while laying on a hard
floor. You can find this therapy and how to do it at:
An herbal protocol for migraines can often work better if taken for a 3 month
regimen, instead of a "spot treatment" or a quick fix. After 3 months, it is my
suggestion that you decrease the dosage down for a week and then evenly stop the
weening process. Return back to the regimen after 30-60 days and repeat the
process (if needed).
Bromelain Bromelain is a plant-enzyme. Bromelain is not actually a single
substance, but a group of protein-digesting enzymes found in pineapple juice and
in the stem of pineapple plants. It is primarily produced in Japan, Hawaii, and
Taiwan. Local swelling is the releasing of histimines in a localized area causes
the vasodilation and increased permeability of blood vessels. Bromelain has an
anti-inflammatory effect and is a very effective treatment for headaches. It is
recommend taking 500 milligrams as needed on an empty stomach at least ninety
minutes before or three hours after eating. Discontinue use if you develop any
itching or rash.
Burdock Root stimulates the immune system. This herb is known for purifying the
blood and therefore helps the liver and gallbladder function. Also great for all
Fenugreek is helpful in reducing inflammation and is a great herb for reducing
fevers. It is helpful for asthma, lung disorders and sinusitis pain and pressure
and reducing mucous.
Feverfew is renowned for help with headaches and especially migraines. Do not
take with other migraine medications, as, it may raise heart rate and blood
pressure. Feverfew has the potential to react with warfarin anti-coagulants,
increasing the thinning of blood.
Ginkgo Biloba helps to increase blood flow to the brain. It also helps your
blood from forming clots. Although this herb can take up to 6 weeks to increase
blood flow properly and relieve headaches, this memory boosting herb is one of
the best for treating the roots of headaches.
Magnesium is a very important mineral as it helps to relax the smooth muscle of
the blood vessels. Magnesium deficiency is the cause of many health problems
including restless leg syndrome, heart issues, as well as migraines and
headaches. To obtain the proper amount of magnesium, you can get it by eating
nuts, beans and whole grain cereals. If these particular foods are the same
foods that trigger your headache or migraine, magnesium can be taken effectively
in pill form. Take 400 - 800 mg of magnesium in addition to 1200 to 1500 mg of
calcium in divided doses. Calcium assists in the absorption of magnesium.
Certain foods my cause headaches. If you suspect that food is a trigger, do the
The Allergy Elimination Diet. Certain foods and food additives such as MSG,
citric acid, alcohol, vinegar and marinated foods can be the culprit. Also look
at possible triggers such as chocolate, wheat, sugar, lunch meat such as hot
dogs or bologna, dairy products, nuts or fermented foods such as yogurt, cheese
or sour cream.
Avoid constant chewing as with gum.
Ice cream and iced beverages can cause headaches.
Avoid excess salt intake.
Excessive caffeine can also be a trigger. Throbbing pain cause by blood vessels
that have diluted are the result of too much coffee. Caffeine withdrawal can
create even worse headaches, so drink coffee in small amounts and taper off
Histamine is associated with increased nasal and sinus congestion including
headaches. Vitamin C (2,000 mg three times per day) reduced histamine levels in
people with either high histamine levels or low blood levels of Vitamin C.
Bromelain, an enzyme derived from pineapple, has been reported to relieve
symptoms from a headache.
Tyramine and Phenylalanine can be two causes of headaches. Tyramine can be found
in alcohol, chicken, chocolate, bananas, cheese, citrus fruits, cold cuts,
onions, peanut butter, pork and wine. Phenylalanine is found in aspartame, MSG
To help prevent headaches, eat several small meals throughout the day. This
stabilizes the swing in blood sugar levels. Include snacks such as almonds,
watercress, parsley, fennel, garlic, cherries and pineapple.
Acupuncture and herbal medicine
Acupuncture and herbal medicine are effective therapies for the treatment of
headaches as well as menstrual migraines. Acupuncture redirects your energy (Qi)
into a more balanced flow. It provides support to the underlying energetic
spheres affected by your sinusitis, helping to resolve the cause or effects of
your sinus pain and pressure.
Acupuncture releases tension in the muscles. This allows increased flow of
blood, lymph, and nerve impulses to affected areas, decreasing the pressure and
blockage experienced by you. Consider apply some acu-pressure on these areas for
Key points for reducing pain with acupressure are:
Hegu (LI-4): Located at the highest spot of the muscle between the thumb and
index finger on the back of the hand when the thumb and index finger are close
together. This web between your forefinger and thumb (squeeze there until you
feel pain. Keep applying pressure until the pain slowly subsides.)
Tian Zhu or Celestial Pillar (UB 10): Located 1.3 cun lateral to Yamen (DU15)
and 0.5 cun within the posterior hairline, in the depression on the lateral
aspect of the trapezius muscle. This is under the bony ridges at the back of the
neck (use both thumbs to apply pressure there).
Touwei or Head Corner (St 8): Located 0.5 cun within the anterior hairline at
the corner of the forehead, 4.5 cun lateral to the midline.
Xiaguan or Below The Hinge (St 7): Located when the mouth is closed, in the
hollow below the zygomatic arch and anterior to the condyloid process of the
mandible. For the above two points, hook your thumb into St 7 and place your
index finger into St 8. Do this together on both sides of the head.
Zanzhu or Bamboo Gathering (UB 2): Located in the hollow at the medial end of
the eyebrow, in the supraorbital notch. This is at the inside of the eye brow on
the ridge. Press up on both sides using your thumbs. Let your jaw relax as you
Gently start massaging these points S-l-o-w-l-y in a clockwise motions. As you
get use to the light pressure, start going deeper, which will allow these main
areas to release. Observe the power of these points about 15 minutes after you
have massaged them.
Meridian Therapy: The Gall Bladder Meridian
This technique works on headaches located anywhere on the upper part of the head
-- in the forehead, temples, or down the back of the head and neck. The meridian
(energy flow) involved is called the gall bladder meridian. It covers the upper
part of the head, then flows down the back of the neck, down the sides of the
torso and legs, and eventually ends on the fourth toe of each foot. Headaches
are generally caused by a build-up of energy in this meridian - energy that for
some reason gets blocked in the head area. To relieve this blocked condition,
you simply have to massage a point further down the meridian to encourage the
energy to flow out of the head and neck area. Standing and letting your arms
hang loosely at your sides can find this massage point. About where your middle
finger touches your thigh (on both sides of the body), you will find a spot that
is very tender or even painful to touch when you are having a headache. This
spot might be a little above or below, or a little to the front or to the back
of the point where your middle finger touches the thigh, but you will find it
somewhere close by.
Chiropractic care is a science, art, and philosophy of healing that has been
practiced around the world for nearly 5000 years. Physicians in ancient China
used spinal manipulation or tuina to help their patients, as did Hippocrates.
Chiropractic care has gained respect as a safe, drug-free, and natural treatment
for: headaches, joint pain, spinal disk conditions, and strains, sprains, and
other injuries. Chiropractic can also offer significant relief for allergies,
asthma, digestive problems, and other disorders.
Chiropractic care works by strengthening and balancing the nervous system in
order to promote the healthy functioning of the body. Your central nervous
system consists of your brain, spinal cord, and all the nerves of your body, and
it controls the function of virtually every cell, tissue, organ, and bodily
system. One of the most common causes of nervous system disruptions is
subluxation or joints that are locked up, fixated, and not moving properly.
Chiropractic care includes gentle massage and manipulation of the spine and
extremities to restore proper joint function and strengthen supporting muscles
and soft tissues.
CranioSacral Therapy (CST) is a gentle hands-on method of evaluating and
enhancing the function of the craniosacral system - the physiological body
system comprised of the membranes and CSF or cerebrospinal fluid that surround
and protect the brain and spinal cord.
CST enhances the body's natural healing processes to improve the operation of
the central nervous system, dissipate the negative effects of stress, enhance
health and strengthen resistance to disease. The method generally requires only
a very gentle touch to test for restrictions in various parts of the
craniosacral system. Often the evaluation alone will help solve the presenting
problem. Among the dis-ease conditions for which CranioSacral Therapy has shown
to be effective are: migraines, headaches, neck and back pain, hyperactivity,
Attention Deficit Disorder, Autism, learning disorders, Chronic Fatigue,
Fibromyalgia, depression, emotional difficulties, Infantile Disorders and
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Andrew Pacholyk, MS, L.Ac
Therapies for healing
mind, body, spirit