More than 23 million people in the United States suffer from migraines. 2 to 3 million of those Americans are chronic sufferers, experiencing a minimum of one severe migraine per month. Only a migraine sufferer can truly understand just how debilitating an attack can be. Migraines can seriously disrupt a person’s professional and social life, causing them to miss days at work or at school and forcing them to seriously restrict their day to day activities.
The conventional treatment for migraines is typically a combination of over the counter and prescription pain relievers. While these medications can offer some relief, they do not address the underlying causes of chronic migraines. They also come with a wide range of unwanted, and often dangerous, side effects. Migraine sufferers are increasingly looking for all natural ways to treat and prevent their chronic attacks. Fortunately, there are some measures that migraine sufferers can take to reduce the frequency and severity of their attacks, while eliminating the need for prescription drugs.
Common Symptoms of Migraines
Migraines affect every individual differently, and the severity of attacks can range from mild to intense. The most common migraine symptoms include:
- Throbbing pain, often localized to one side of the head
- Heightened sensitivity to light and sound
- Blurred or distorted vision
- Nausea and vomiting
For many migraine sufferers, any combination of these symptoms can require them to retire to their beds in a darkened and silent room, waiting for the pain and discomfort to subside. The intense pain can last for hours, or even days. In extreme circumstances, some migraine sufferers may require hospitalization.
Diet, Nutrition and Migraine Attacks
Certain foods are recognized as triggers for migraine attacks. Chocolate, citrus fruits, red wine and aged cheeses are a few of the most common culprits, but food triggers can vary widely among migraine sufferers. Keeping a food journal can help people with chronic migraines to identify those foods that act as triggers for their own attacks, so they can be restricted or eliminated from their diets. Over the course of keeping the journal, it will be easy to spot the correlation between certain foods and any subsequent migraines.
Some general dietary changes can help reduce the occurrence of migraines. Transitioning to a vegan diet has been shown to effectively reduce the frequency and severity of migraine attacks in chronic sufferers. Recent studies have also shown that increasing the intake of vegetables that are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, such as flax seeds, hemp seeds, spinach, kale, and broccoli can also have a profound effect on the occurrence of chronic migraines. For those people who find that they cannot get the required daily allowance of Omega-3 from their diet alone, nutritional supplements can be taken to offset any deficiency.
Stress Management and Migraine Headaches
Stress and anxiety are key triggers for migraines. Conventional medicine tends to treat these with anti-depressants or other mood altering drugs. Understandably, most migraine sufferers would prefer to avoid taking these often dangerous medications. Fortunately, there are some stress management techniques which can be adopted to help reduce stress and anxiety naturally. Deep breathing exercises can help promote an overall sense of wellbeing, and can reduce the effects of daily stress. Progressive muscle relaxation, in which the patient systematically tenses and relaxes specific muscle groups within the body, has also been shown to help relieve anxiety and stress. A routine of regular exercise is also a powerful tool in managing stress and anxiety. Regular exercise also helps to maintain a healthy body weight, which has been shown to have a direct impact on the frequency and severity of migraine headaches.
Meditation and Prayer
Prayer and meditation can have a profound effect on every aspect of the mind body connection, reducing stress and helping to manage pain. Setting aside an hour a day to meditate on God’s Word and practicing listening to the Spirit of God speak truth to the heart, will help migraine sufferers to reduce the anxiety and stress that can trigger a headache, as well as help them better manage their pain during an attack. The Lord has designed the body with an innate body/mind connection, and spirituality plays a key role in maintaining total health. Keeping the spirit, mind and physical body balanced and operating at peak efficiency is vital for total health.
For those that suffer with migraine headaches the thought of an endless regimen sometimes harmful, prescription medicines is unacceptable. But by making some simple dietary changes, and employing certain stress management techniques, migraine sufferers can significantly reduce both the frequency and the severity of their attacks.