Headaches and migraines can be triggered by a variety of factors, including:
- Environment sudden storms, smoke, perfumes, or pollution.
- Foods or Drinks caffeine, alcohol, especially red wine, chocolate, cheese, wheat/gluten, or processed deli meats (e.g. salami, ham). Flavourings and artificial additives (e.g. MSG, Aspartame), sweeteners can also trigger headaches and migraines. It’s important to consider foods that you’re sensitive to, in order to rule out reactions that may trigger an episode.
- Health Related Conditions congestion from allergies where mucous gets trapped in the sinus cavities located just under your cheekbones. These headaches usually accompany a rhinovirus or head cold. You’ll feel the onset of symptoms by pain directly in the sinus area that later radiates into your eye sockets. This same type of headache often occurs with allergy sufferers; their sinus cavities also fill with mucous and although they don’t have colds, the headache is just as annoying, painful and uncomfortable. Changes in hormones (menstruation, menopause), and fluctuations in blood sugar levels may influence the frequency and severity of migraines and headaches. A busy lifestyle can also trigger headaches or migraines from lack of sleep, stress, neck-shoulder tension, poor posture, skipping meals, and dehydration.
Here are a few natural ways to support your body before, during, and after episodes…
- Magnesium a mineral that’s responsible for the relaxation of muscles. Taking magnesium daily may be beneficial in reducing migraines and headaches due to magnesium deficiency.
- Vitamin B2 studies show that taking high dose riboflavin (B2) of 400mg/day significantly reduces the number of migraine headache attacks. Foods that are relatively high in Vitamin B2 include avocados, beans, sprouts, eggs, milk and dairy products, and wholegrain cereals.
- Co Enzyme Q10 a study conducted on migraine sufferers found that CoQ10 (150mg/day, 4 weeks) supplementation reduces the frequency of migraine headaches and the number of days of each attack.
A number of herbs used in traditional Western Herbal medicine can support the mucous membranes and sinuses, reducing mucous build-up and associated symptoms such as congestive pain, while also assisting the body to maintain overall respiratory health, they work towards decreasing catarrh and aiding the bronchial passages to clear out any unwanted matter, in turn, assisting to ease congestion of the upper respiratory tract and relieving associated headache.
- Feverfew acts as an anti-inflammatory and a prophylactic against migraines. Feverfew has been traditionally used to assist with the reduction in the frequency of migraine headaches.
- Turmeric an anti-inflammatory herb that helps to reduce inflammation. Turmeric also supports digestive, gall bladder and liver functions.
- St. Mary’s Thistle supports the liver in its detoxification function. Toxins in the body may be associated with migraines and headaches.
- Fenugreek is considered to be an expectorant, demulcent and tonic. It contains mucilage, volatile and fixed oils, and steroidal saponins including diogenin. Fenugreek can be taken to help relieve inflammation of the respiratory tract and to provide temporary relief from coughs. As a demulcent it can help to relieve irritation and inflammation of the mucous membranes, particularly those of the respiratory and digestive systems.
- Thyme is an expectorant that can be used to help relieve catarrh of the upper respiratory tract. It contains volatile oils including thymol and carvacrol, and flavonoids.
- Wood Betony is thought to be a nervine tonic/sedative that is also a tonifying circulatory stimulant to the cerebral & head area. It can be useful for catarrhal congestion of the head as well as nervous debility associated with anxiety & tension.
The body is made up of about 80% water, so it’s vital to ensure that your body is adequately hydrated to ensure every system and part of the body can perform its function. Dehydration can trigger headaches and migraines. Increased physical activity and warm climates will increase your body’s demand for water. Dehydrating foods and drinks such as caffeine, alcohol, sugary drinks, salty popcorn and soy sauce, cured deli-meats, will also increase the body’s demand for water.
A healthy lifestyle with regular aerobic workouts, relaxation exercises, and relaxation-breathing will help to minimize the severity of headaches and migraines.
Stretches and deep tissue massage are some of the best ways to loosen tight muscles. Tightness, particularly around the shoulder and neck area, can contribute to tension headaches and migraines.
KEEP A HEADACHE DIARY
Keeping a headache diary can help you identify common triggers or causes. Log foods and drinks eaten through the day, stressful events, emotions (anger, fear, confusion), physical activities, unexpected news, and weather changes. Record when a headache or migraine has occurred, the time and duration. This diary will allow you to identify any patterns, food sensitivities, and try to avoid them in the future. Understanding the cause and which foods or activities trigger a headache will best help you manage the incident and the severity.
Mauskop, A, et al, Why all migraine patients should be treated with magnesium. J Neural Transm. 2012 May;119(5):575-9.
Riboflavin (Vitamin B2) Medline Plus http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/957.html
Rozen TD et al, Open label trial of coenzyme Q10 as a migraine preventive. Cephalalgia. 2002 Mar;22(2):137-41.