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If you or anyone you love suffers from migraines you will know how debilitating they can be. When a migraine hits it hits hard. The pain seems to consume not only the head, but also the neck, shoulders, and upper back.

What is a Migraine?

A majority of the people who suffer from migraines also experience extreme nausea as well.  I, myself, have suffered with migraines for most of my adult life.  Over the years I have learned to recognize the warning signs and have gotten pretty good at catching them before they get out of control.  However if I let it slip up on me I am generally out of commission for at least twelve hours. 

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A migraine is a vascular condition where there are distinct changes in the blood vessels in the head.  It is thought that the throbbing type pain associated with a migraine is because there are chemical changes that make the vessels inside the brain to continuously constrict and dilate.  Scientists think they understand the process where there is an imbalance of serotonin which is the chemical released into our bodies that helps regulate our sleep cycle, digestion of food, moods, the temperature control, and cardiovascular functions in the body.  When there is a fluctuation of this chemical this causes the vessels to constrict and dilate which causes the migraine.  

Although the actual migraine is likely caused by genetics or the chemical imbalances, there are many situations that can trigger or worsen an active migraine.  Stress is one of the main contributors to triggering and worsening of a migraine.  Unhealthy levels of stress causes a domino effect within the body.  A person who maintains a high degree of stress will often not be eating a healthy diet or getting enough proper physical exercise.  Stress also causes insomnia and when the body isn’t rested the systems of the body become weak, such as the immune system. 

Foods that Fight Migraines

There are certain nutrients that have been found to be extremely beneficial in reducing the onset of migraines.  These powerful nutrients are listed below:

  • Magnesium:  Magnesium is found in whole grains, seeds, soybeans, nuts, many vegetables, and fish.  Magnesium is essential for healthy blood and nerve vessels and is beneficial to help prevent spasms in blood vessels. 
  • Fatty Acids:  Research is showing that individuals who add fish oil along with magnesium to their diet can help prevent the onset of migraines.  This is due to the fact that both magnesium and fish oil reduce spasms in the blood vessels. 
  • Vitamins B and D:  Vitamin B2, which is also known as riboflavin, has been tested and proven to reduce the severity and frequency of the onset of migraines.  Riboflavin is an essential nutrient which is necessary for the metabolism of energy.  Vitamin D and adding more calcium to the diet has also been found to help lessen the onset and severity of migraines.

Other foods you should omit from your diet are sugar substitutes that you find in sugar free drinks.  It has been found that these types of sweeteners constrict the vessels which cause general headaches as well as migraines. 

Relax Your Migraine Away or Simply Avoid Certain Foods

It often seems ironic that many migraines seem to happen on the weekend or during a relaxing vacation.  That’s because when we are working and have stress in our lives, the hormone adrenaline is pumping through our bodies.  Adrenaline protects the vessels from constricting.  However, when we relax our bodies don’t need adrenaline and thus the vessels are unprotected.  It is important to lessen the stress in your life gradually and not all at one time.  Taking a ten minute break a couple of times a day while at work will help your body get used to the down time.  Sudden reductions in stress could trigger a migraine as the body is not used to being without the adrenaline. 

Your Diet and Migraines

A larger percentage of people will suffer with migraines because of some type of sensitivity to certain foods or drinks.  Foods such as red wine and chocolate are known triggers for migraines because of the amino acid tyramine.  Foods high in MSG are also high on the list as triggers for the onset of migraines.  If you are somebody who suffers from migraines it would be a good idea to begin a journal and keep track of the foods you eat and how they affect you.  Over time you will begin to notice a pattern of which foods seem to trigger the migraine.  Once you find the trigger you can avoid that food and lessen the frequency of migraines.

More Anti-migraine Suggestions

  • Take an Aspirin© every other day:  Before you begin this type of preventative measure, check with your doctor to make sure it is safe for you to do this. 
  • Ice:  Apply an icepack to your head to help constrict the blood vessels back to normal size. 
  • Exercise:  A regular exercise routine helps reduce stress which in turn helps to prevent the onset of migraines.  Exercise also strengthens the cardiovascular systems and keeps the blood vessels healthy.
  • Take a shower:  Taking a long warm shower will help relieve tension and often will lessen the symptoms of a migraine.  Allow the jets of water to massage the back of your neck and the base of your skull.
  • Relax in a dark cool room:  Light generally worsens a migraine.  A dark cool room will help lessen the symptoms of a migraine from removing yourself from light.  The coolness of the room helps lessen the nausea you might be having with the migraine. 

Dealing with a pounding headache is no fun at all.  Dealing with a pounding headache that also includes nausea and vomiting is one of the worst feelings in the world.  Luckily science has made great strides in learning about what the root causes of migraines are and how we can naturally help prevent the onset and frequency of migraines by following a few simple rules. 

Watching what you eat, adding magnesium, Vitamin B2, Vitamin D to your diet, and reducing the amount of stress you have a little at a time can save you from a great deal of pain.  The most important aspect of treating a migraine naturally is knowing what the triggers are and then eliminating those triggers from your life.  You may not be able to eliminate all the triggers but you can certainly cut down on the triggers enough to be able to notice a marked difference. 

  • www.newhope.com/nutritionsciencenews/nsn_backs/Jun_99/migraines.cfm
  • www.mothernature.com/Library/Bookshelf/Books/48/136.cfm

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