Getting a headache every once in a while is a rather common occurrence these days. One painkiller down the throat usually does the trick of relieving us of this pain. Stress, workload, lack of sleep, worries, over-thinking, hunger and the likes are bound to give us that ache in the head some day or another. But when that excruciating pain in the head seems to recur a lot and is so painful in its intensity that normal painkillers rarely do the job, it may be an alarm signaling to a more serious situation.
A migraine is primarily a headache, which is pulsating in nature and aggravated by factors such as light, sound, smell etc. It causes throbbing pain, usually on one side of the head but can also radiate to the eyes, eyebrows, temples etc. Migraine attacks usually last for4 to 72 hours. The exact cause of migraine attacks is unknown, although it is believed that it involves some disruption in the blood vessels and nerves in the brain. It is also due to certain hormonal imbalances in the body. Changes in the level of serotonin, a chemical in the brain cause this headache. When levels of serotonin drop, they cause the release of neuropeptides, resulting in migraine attacks. Here are some other facts related to a migraine:
• A migraine is largely hereditary, with around two-thirds of cases that are genetic.
• Women are more susceptible to experience migraine attacks than men, with the prevalence being two to three times more.
• Puberty also has a role to play as hormonal changes trigger migraine attacks.
• Around 15 percent of the population worldwide suffers from this debilitating disorder. As of 2016, it was considered as one of the leading causes of disabilities.
• Migraines are usually a result of a consequence of environmental and genetic factors.
• It usually starts at the stage of puberty and gets worse during middle age. Although symptoms tend to reduce after menopause in women.
Symptoms of migraine pain are categorized into various stages;
1. Prodrome phase:
This stage, with its premonitory symptoms, occurs in about 60 percent of the patients suffering from a migraine. It usually lasts between 2 hours to 2 days before the start of pain or aura. It is characterized by symptoms such as irritability, mood swings, feeling euphoric or depressed, craving certain foods, fatigue etc.
2. Aura phase:
Aura is basically a transient focal neurological phenomenon that results in visual disturbances, sensory or motor symptoms during or before a headache. Visual disturbances are the most common and people see flashes of light or zigzag motions. Most people suffering from migraine pain do not experience aura.
3. Pain phase/ attack:
In this phase, the actual headache and pain start. It is usually a throbbing pain on one side of the head that may be moderate to severe in intensity. Associated symptoms include nausea, vomiting etc. Patients tend to also become sensitive to stimuli such as light, sound, smell etc and they worsen the pain and symptoms. Sometimes, people may face additional symptoms such as diarrhea, frequent urination, blurred vision, sweating, runny nose etc. In some cases, the pain is bilateral and may radiate to the back and the neck.
4. Postdrome phase:
This phase follows a headache or the acute migraine attack. This phase is usually categorized by feeling either really tired, fatigued, and depressed, or feeling energetic and euphoric. People might feel soreness in the area where the pain had been, gastrointestinal problems, impaired cognitive functioning, weakness etc.
Now that we have had a brief insight into what exactly migraine is and how it affects the brain, let us talk about how to get rid of a migraine in the most natural way:
As with all other aspects of health, migraine attacks are also highly influenced and triggered by what we eat. A lot of things we eat on a daily basis have known to trigger a migraine. Foods that migraine sufferers should avoid include;
• Nitrates found in many foods such as hot dogs, bacon etc tend to trigger a migraine
• Processed foods and foods containing monosodium glutamate
• Caffeine in high amounts
• Tyramine-containing foods such as blue cheese, feta cheese, Swiss cheese etc
The right thing to do is maintain a record of what foods tend to make your migraines worse or trigger an attack. That way you’ll know what to be wary of.
While caffeine made it to the list of foods to avoid, one of the best cure for migraine also includes caffeine. In moderate amounts, a cup of coffee or a caffeinated beverage can definitely mitigate the pain. But bear in mind that going about taking excess amounts of caffeine will only aggravate the pain and constrict your vessels, even more, causing more headaches.
3. GRAPE JUICE:
Grape juice is known to assuage pain and is effective in relieving headaches caused by migraines. Just juice up some fresh grapes, add a bit of water and avoid sweetening agents. The more natural it is the
This is a technique very much similar to acupuncture. In this technique, you apply pressure on certain points in the body to reduce pain for the purpose of cleaning blockages in meridians. It is an effective method to attain instant relief and one of the best cure for headache. Try putting pressure on certain points on your head to direct the pain and tension elsewhere and cure the pain associated with migraine attacks.
Nuts are both delicious AND healthy. They have been known to have many benefits on health and are loaded with nutrients that help the body maintain a good health. Amongst the many health benefits of nuts, they are known to have analgesic effects and can be added to the list of foods that help migraines. Many nuts contain an ingredient known as salicin, that the body converts into aspirin; the active ingredient in your over-the-counter painkillers. Nuts such as almonds, pistachios, cashews, chestnuts etc can be used for this purpose. Almonds, in particular, are rich in magnesium; an element known to have effective outcomes for migraine sufferers with low levels of magnesium.
People with low levels of magnesium tend to find relief from migraine attacks by adopting a diet rich in magnesium. It is an effective way of preventing oneself from indulging in medications that may harm the body in the long run. Not only does it help with the pain, but magnesium has also proven to reduce the frequency of migraine attacks. Magnesium is known to block certain signal transmissions that lead to migraine attacks, thus preventing them. Magnesium also assists in boosting your immunity, by promoting platelet function and aiding in healing. You can consume up to 200-600 mg of magnesium every day for preventive purposes. Magnesium also regulates hormonal imbalances and can help provide relief in migraines caused during menstruation. Magnesium-rich foods include almonds, cashews, broccoli, whole grains, beans, squash, leafy vegetables etc.
7. ESSENTIAL OILS:
Massaging our head, forehead and temples seem like the most relaxing idea when faced with a terrible headache. Doing so can be even more effective if you make use of essential oils such as peppermint oil and lavender oil. Peppermint is renowned for its cooling effects that can help assuage the pain. It has muscle relaxant properties and can help in soothing the muscles in your head. It also stimulates blood flow to the forehead and when mixed with ethanol, is shown to reduce sensitivity to headaches. Lavender oil also has calming effects on the nerves and studies have proven that migraine sufferers respond well to remedies involving lavender oil.
Herbs such as feverfew and butterbur can also help relieve pain and symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, light and sound sensitivity etc caused by a migraine attack. It is one of the most effective home remedies for migraines and has proven to be quite effective. These herbs for migraines have shown to decrease the frequency of migraine attacks as well.
Eating raw ginger might sound distasteful and unpleasant, but it definitely has numerous health benefits. One, in particular, being pain relief. Chewing raw ginger root can help mitigate the pain associated with migraines by reducing inflammation and producing lipids that help us calm the nerves. It also helps with nausea associated with migraines. If chewing on raw ginger sounds like an impossible task, try having some ginger tea instead.
10. STAY HYDRATED:
A lot of our problems can be resolved easily by simply keeping ourselves adequately hydrated. When the body is dehydrated, we tend to experience headaches. Thus making sure we meet our daily requirements of water intake will benefit us in more ways than one. You can also make use of fruits and vegetables rich in water content to make this process tastier. Cucumbers, watermelons etc have high water content and can be incorporated in your diet
Lastly, it is important to stay tension free and to not let everyday stresses get to you. When a migraine attack hits, make sure you stay away from light and sound and rest in a dark place.