Treatment Options for Headaches & Migraines
Did you know that almost 5 million people in the U.S. experience at least one migraine per month and migraines are the 6th most disabling illness in the world? Most conventional treatments for migraines come with many side-effects, but we have come a long way compared to historical treatments. It was common practice to burn the head, apply dead moles on the head, perform electric eel treatments and even pound holes into the skull. Actually, all (except for the dead moles) sound like characteristics of what migraines feel like!
Natural treatment options:
According to research, acupuncture is effective in treating migraines, tension headaches, cluster headaches, post-traumatic headaches, sinus headaches, high blood pressure headaches, etc. Some Western medications can cause serious side-effects and can even trigger rebounding headaches. Unlike Western medical treatment for headaches, acupuncture has almost no side-effects and can has side-benefits, such as, better sleep, less stress, more energy, improved digestion and less pain.
An effective acupuncture treatment plan for each patient will vary. Typically, for chronic headaches or migraines I recommend 10-12 acupuncture treatments until reaching a maintenance goal. Frequency of acupuncture treatments is essential because acupuncture works cumulatively, allowing each treatment to build progress.
Schedule your appointment at Turning Leaf Acupuncture and receive your personal report of findings and recommendations.
Here are two acupressure points that help relieve headaches and migraines. Press or rub these points gently for 30 seconds twice a day or as needed to prevent and treat headaches.
LIVER & GALLBLADDER HEALTH
In Chinese Medicine the liver is responsible for the regular and smooth distribution of qi and blood, it ensures a steady supply of qi where and when it is needed. Failure of qi distribution leads to localized accumulations and obstructions, such as headaches and migraines.
The liver and gallbladder are related and migraine or headache pain usually manifests on the gallbladder meridian by the temples or side of the head.
Acupuncture, Chinese and Western herbs, and liver/gallbladder flushes can all treat chronic headaches and migraines. Here are some common herbal formulas used to treat the liver and gallbladder:
Xiao Yao San
Tian Ma Gou Teng Yin
Tong Qiao Huo Xue Tang
Chai Hu Shu Gan Wan
*Please make an appointment or speak with a health care provider before treating yourself with herbs.
Magnesium is an important mineral that is necessary for over 300 biochemical reactions in the body! It is an essential in nerve and muscle function, supports the immune system, maintains heart rhythm, creates strong bones, regulates blood glucose and is required for energy production. Magnesium is also known as the "calming" mineral because it reduces anxiety, muscle pain/tension, and insomnia.
According to research, magnesium is a treatment option for migraines and headaches. I recommend patients to start with a low dose of magnesium because it can cause diarrhea. Because magnesium and calcium have a direct relationship, I typically recommend patients to use a supplement that has magnesium and calcium, such as the Calm brand (if calcium is already supplemented then it is not necessary to have it with the magnesium).
CoQ10 or coenzyme Q10 is an antioxidant that is is found in every cell of the body and is essential for energy production, it is found in higher amounts in the heart, kidney and liver. CoQ10 is often reduced in the body by certain prescription medications like statins. If you are on a statin, try adding CoQ10 in to reduce side-effects. CoQ10 has also been known to reduce blood sugar levels.
To treat migraines, Mayo Clinic's recommended dosage is 150-300 milligrams taken by mouth daily for up to three months. I carry the OrthoMolecular CoQ10 in my practice and have seen results with decreased severity and frequency of headaches and/or migraines.
REDUCE & MANAGE STRESS
Headaches and migraines may be a sign that stress is too high. Life is not always easy when stressors are fully surrounding us. The key is to not let the stress steal your sense of peace and focus. Exercise, breathing practices, and mediation or prayer reduce stress. Perhaps you need to sit down and refocus your priorities making sure that you are taking care of yourself and health. Getting enough sleep is essential in managing stress levels. Try making little goals like getting to bed 30 minutes earlier each night.
WHAT YOU EAT OR WHAT YOU ARE NOT EATING
Food can be a big trigger for headaches and migraines. First, it is important to eat at every meal. Skipping meals sometimes can cause headaches from low blood sugar and stress. Second, what foods are you eating? Keep a food journal to see if certain foods are triggering the headaches.
Try adding in foods that are anti-inflammatory that can increase energy and reduce stress and pain in the body.
Meat that is grass-fed, wild-caught and/or organic
Nuts - walnuts
Seeds - chia, flax, pumpkin
Fruit - blueberries, pineapple
Turmeric and ginger
Reduce sugar and allergens, such as, gluten, corn, soy, dairy and food colorings.
Caffeine, alcohol and chocolate are the most common triggers for headaches and migraines.
Did you know that our body is comprised of almost 70% of water? When we become dehydrated we can experience symptoms of fatigue, headaches, confusion, muscle cramps or aches, thirst, dizziness, etc. The recommended water intake should be individualized based on exercise and activity, diet, etc. I typically recommend patients to drink half the amount of their body weight in ounces depending on their activity levels.
Apply a few drops on the back of the neck, temples and forehead. You can make a roll-on with this blend by adding fractionated coconut oil.
6. Clary Sage - use especially if migraines are caused by hormones
In summary, I hope you have learned of some options you have to treat headaches and migraines. In my practice I see many patients with headaches and migraines and it is always great when they receive relief through acupuncture, lifestyle changes, and/or herbal supplementation. If you know of someone that suffers from headaches and/or migraines please share this information with them so they can have a better quality of life!
If you are having headaches and/or migraines and would like an expert opinion contact Samantha for a consultation.
*Please make an appointment or speak with a healthcare provider before treating yourself with herbs or supplements. We do not recommend going off of any medication.