Chronic migraine headaches affect nearly seven million Americans, so there is a strong need for natural treatment. A migraine headache is described as a headache that occurs more than 15 times within a month – unless it is an episodic migraine, which can occur less often. A migraine headache can last four hours or more and is often associated with depression, anxiety, sleep problems, or other issues.
A migraine headache can be quite debilitating. People often become sensitive to light and sound, and can even become nauseous and vomit. Because of its effects and frequency, migraine headache often keeps people away from work and other responsibilities as they simply cannot function normally while experiencing a migraine headache.
Although there are therapies to treat migraine headaches, these are often not effective at preventing future episodes – they simply lessen the symptoms associated with active migraine headaches.
The World Health Organization has categorized migraine headaches as being on the same level of disability as dementia, quadriplegia, and acute psychosis.
Chronic migraine facts
Nearly one in four American households has a person who suffers from chronic migraines. Over 12 percent of the population – including children – experience chronic migraines. More people suffer from migraine headaches than diabetes and asthma combined. Women typically suffer more from chronic migraines than men, and migraines tend to run in families.
Chronic migraines are the eighth most disabling illness in the world. Roughly every 10 seconds, someone in the U.S. is experiencing one. Nearly 90 percent of migraine suffers are unable to work or attend school.
Although from time to time we all experience a normal headache, which can be a nuisance, a migraine headache is much different. As mentioned, a migraine comes along with many neurological symptoms and can be accompanied by light and sound sensitivity, nausea, vomiting, tingling or numbness in extremities, and dizziness.
Chronic migraine treatment options
The first step in treating chronic migraines is to uncover migraine triggers and control them. Common migraine triggers include sleep problems, changes in eating habits, physical activity, scents, and sounds, to name a few. By becoming aware of your triggers you can better prevent chronic migraines.
Other treatment options include pain-relieving medication during migraines and preventative medications such as antidepressants, beta-blockers, calcium channel blockers, and anticonvulsants.
Alternative methods to treat chronic migraine headaches
Alternative treatment methods for chronic migraine headaches have been shown to offer supplementing relief alongside traditional methods. Here is a list of alternative methods worth trying to treat chronic migraine headaches.
Acupuncture: Hair-thin needles are inserted into the skin at designated points in order to offer relief from pain.
Biofeedback: This involves becoming aware of changes in muscle tension, heart rate, and skin temperature. By recognizing these changes, you can take medication earlier or resort to other preventative methods.
Massage: Massage can help alleviate stress and muscle tension.
Herbs, vitamins, and minerals: There is some evidence that some herbs, vitamins, and minerals may be beneficial in the treatment of chronic migraine headaches. Always speak to your doctor before taking supplements and herbs to avoid complications and medication interactions.
Electrical stimulation of the occipital nerve: A battery-powered device is implanted near the occipital nerve located at the base of your neck. Continuous energy pulses are then sent to this nerve.
Essential oils: Aromatherapy utilizes essential oils to promote relaxation and reduce stress. Some evidence supports that the scents of ginger, peppermint, and lavender can ease migraine headache pain.
Dietary changes: For some people, food can trigger migraine headaches. Common trigger foods are chocolate, aged cheese, citrus fruits, and red wine. To determine what your food triggers are, keep a food diary for a month and report when you experience a migraine.
Natural relaxation techniques for migraine headache relief
A person who suffers from chronic migraine headaches can benefit from relaxation. A few different methods that can help promote relaxation are:
Rhythmic breathing: We typically breathe quickly because we are often in a rush. Rhythmic breathing entails slowing down your breath. Inhale for counts of five and exhale for counts of five until you can breathe that way without counting.
Deep breathing: When we breathe quickly, we also breathe shallowly. For deep breathing, inhale to completely fill your abdomen and then exhale to let it all back out.
Visualized breathing: This method is best done with your eyes closed, imaging the tension in your body being released with every exhale.
Progressive muscle relaxation: Turn your thoughts onto your body – picture your headache or other pain and focus on relaxing those body parts to release it.
Relax to music: If you need an aid in relaxation, calming music can be used.
Mental imaginary relaxation: Imagine relaxing scenarios like a park, a warm spring day, or even a beach. Whatever image relaxes you, picture it.
Steps to avoid migraine pain naturally
Prevention is also a large part in treating migraine headaches. Here are tips to help prevent migraines from occurring or at least lessen their impact.
Find a calm environment – turn off the lights, apply cold compresses on your neck and head
Sleep well – establish regular sleep hours, unwind at the end of the day, minimize distractions, check your medications
Eat wisely – document meals in a food diary to find food triggers, don’t skip meals, avoid trigger foods, eat consistently
Exercise – often and at the level recommended by your doctor
Manage stress – don’t rush, finish assignments early, make to-do lists
Keep a migraine diary – learn triggers, patterns, causes
Strive for balance – meditate, practice yoga, stay calm
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