Migraine - no ordinary headache
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 balance tends to be a major aspect, especially in females. Migraines tend to occur around period time. 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.
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.
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”.
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.