Migraine – No Ordinary Headache

No Ordinary Headache

Migraine

A Holistic Approach

Yes it is true, there are headaches and headaches, and migraine. It is estimated that over 5 million people in England suffer from this condition, which may be best described as head pain, brought about due to changes in brain chemistry associated with extreme nerve control of blood vessels. Attacks may begin with sensory disturbances, lasting from minutes to hours, followed by onset of the head pain, which at its peak may be so severe as to cause vomiting.

What causes migraine?

There is very seldom a single cause for this condition, but more a series of triggering mechanisms in varying degrees, affecting a susceptible person usually with a hereditary disposition to migraine.

What are the migraine triggers?

Hormonal Imbalance

Hormonal balance tends to be a major aspect, especially in females. Migraines tend to occur around period time. An association between migraine and menstruation has been reported by 50% of women, with many women reporting that menstrual attacks are more severe, last longer, and respond less well to treatment compared with non-menstrual attacks. It is interesting to note that HRT therapy can often cause or intensify attacks and, medically, it would be advisable to stop therapy should this be the case.

Platelets and dilation of blood vessels

Food allergy is perhaps the best known of the migraine triggers, but not fully understood. It is not the food as such that causes the problem, but particular compounds common to certain food groups. Citrus fruits, red wine, chocolate, cheese, all contain the enzyme Tyramine, but the list is more extensive. Other compounds such as Phenylisothiocynate, found in pulses and beans, as well as foods high in the amino acid Serotonin, i.e. banana or avocado could also become triggers.

Dehydration

The human body is 65% water. Simply put, dehydration occurs as the result of excessive loss of water from the body, when we lose more water than we take in. It’s a bit more complicated than that since the body loses valuable electrolytes as well. That’s why sports drinks have become so popular; they replenish electrolytes as well as just fluid.

Serotonin

Serotonin aids in the chemical transfer of information from one cell to another. More importantly for migraine sufferers, serotonin also plays a major role in the relaxation and constriction of blood vessels. All of the serotonin in the blood is stored in the platelets and is released by platelet aggregation.

Platelets and dilation of blood vessels

Migraine headaches are primarily caused by excessive dilation of blood vessels in the head. Migraine pain occurs when the blood vessels and muscles lining the brain and scalp become stretched or tensed. Migraine headaches seem to be connected to the instability of blood vessels in the brain and to a reduction in blood flow during a migraine attack.

Melatonin and sleep

Melatonin helps you sleep, and sleep and migraine have often gone hand in hand. Changes in sleep patterns, even getting too much sleep, can trigger migraines in many of us. Usually, migraine goes away when you get a good sleep (unlike tension headache, which often doesn’t). And sleep makes it much easier to cope with any type of pain.

So what can be done about migraine?

From an examination of the triggers, it is obvious that the causes are varied and combine together in varying degrees at different times, to such an extent that the sufferer may well say, “that nothing in particular causes their migraine,” or that, “sometimes they may react to certain foods but other times not”. The reality is that food reacts when another factor such as hormones is active, or that an hormonal imbalance is aggravated by low blood sugar and trigger foods. From a study of all the overlapping factors it becomes obvious, that a holistic approach, which would examine and attempt to correct all the relevant triggers together, must be the logical choice.

Wimbledon Clinic of Natural Medicine offers a complete assessment of all the above-mentioned triggers, and a complete program of treatment, individual to each patient, can be developed.

New developments in the diagnosis and treatment of migraine.

Triggers such as back and neck problems, dental focus, disturbances from dental amalgams, areas of food allergy etc., need to be evaluated and corrected. However, most of the other triggers tend to relate to some functional disorder or other causing the chemical changes, which tend to produce the migraine.

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Migraine Factors

Low blood sugar, or what may be called functional hypoglycaemia, is another common trigger where the attack is triggered after a period of irregular eating or missing out meals.

Low blood pressure, which at face value may be a great asset, tends to be a common finding in migraine sufferers. When considering the neurovascular aspect of migraine “blood vessel headache,” low blood pressure becomes an understandable trigger.

Sleep disturbance is another common, although seldom realized trigger.  Many sufferers will admit to either waking up with a migraine or with the sensation of being pre-migraine, the attack to develop later in the day.  These sufferers may well also be affected by jetlag or SAD syndrome – “winter blues”.

Dental focus associated with the electrical exchange between amalgam fillings or between different metals in the mouth, could well be a hidden trigger, as may TMJ alignment, (uneven or unstable jaw alignment).

Spinal problems especially relating to the neck, are a certain aggravating factor to migraine.  Strangely, it is not necessary to have pain for there to be a “back” or “neck” problem.

VDUs and other electrical devices, such as digital alarm clock radios, fluorescent lighting, have in recent years become known as migraine triggers.

Noise, smells, bright lights can also be triggers for the susceptible sufferer, as will highs and lows of adrenaline related to exercise.

Stress is of course the overall trigger, but is best understood as aggravating the pre-existing weakness.  In simple terms “stress goes to the weakness”.

Symptoms & Illnesses and Our Holistic Approach to Treatments

Symptoms & Illnesses

We believe in a holistic system of healing based on traditional Chinese medicine and the principle of internal balance and harmony. Those fundamental theories take a deep understanding of the human body and underlying problems. It explains the importance of health and overall wellbeing, having a problem in one part of your body may cause the disruption in other organs. Therefore, to treat symptoms and illnesses, we need to identify the core of the problem before any treatments can begin.

Treatments

With over 30 year experience in natural therapies and medicines we truly understand the profound effect health concerns can have to a person, their families and their quality of life. That is why we give you the best naturopathic treatments available that tailored to suit individual needs to achieve maximum results, while always reanalyse your body to monitoring the success of each health program that prescribes to you.