You feel that twinge in your head, perhaps behind your eye, and you KNOW…a migraine is coming on! You rush to take your meds in hopes of preventing the impending doom, maybe you even cancel your appointments for the day and give in to the fact that you’re going to have to stay home for the rest of the day hiding from the light and noise.
Migraines are one of those enigmatic mysteries with an endless list of triggers, which of course vary from person to person. Periods of increased stress can definitely elicit a migraine, as can smoking. Certain foods like chocolate and cheese (life can be cruel) might be your trigger, and yet missing a meal may set you off as well. I’ve personally seen major bodily shifts, including a reduction in migraines, when discontinuing the use of birth control pills.
And ladies, I’m sorry to say that migraines affect three times as many women as men…
Though the precise mechanism is not 100% understood, it is believed that a change in vasculature (blood flow) mixed in with increased inflammation is the perfect concoction to whip up a nice little migraine to come along and ruin your day.
There are many over the counter and prescribed meds taken to try and combat migraines once they start, and some even have success with botox shots. But meds have side effects and the ideal is always prevention. Have you tried the following prevention methods?
Sleep: Follow a regular sleep schedule, making sure to get 7-9 hours per night.
Food: Keep a food diary where you write down everything you eat as well as any symptoms you experience. This practice is very helpful in identifying food triggers, not only for migraines but for any other pesky problems. Sometimes our headaches, tummy troubles, or joint aches may show up two days after eating the trigger food. If you have it all written down for at least a week, patterns will be easier to identify! Also, try to eat on a regular schedule so you’re body doesn’t go too long without food, as skipping meals may cause migraines in some.
Caffeine: Reduce or eliminate caffeine intake!
Stress: Try meditation, yoga, qigong, or even just taking 10 long breathes when you’re finding stress creeping up on you. Stress triggers a cascade of events in our body that lead to migraines, pains, and many long term health issues. Learning to manage stress is very important in preserving our health.
Acupuncture: A 2017 study found that frequent and regular acupuncture over a 4 week period significantly reduced the frequency of migraine occurrence in 249 people. And a 2016 meta-analysis concluded that acupuncture induces biological responses to both alleviate and prevent migraines.
Many patients who’ve come in to my office with frequent migraines have experienced incredible relief - usually in the form of fewer and also less intense migraines - after only a few visits which included acupuncture and massage to release the muscles in the shoulders and neck. Amongst other biological effects, acupuncture releases endorphins (body’s painkilling and joy-promoting hormones), reduces inflammation, and promotes blood flow in the body. Acupuncture has a way of up giving a boost to all the healing mechanisms that your body is already operating, so you’re likely to experience all kinds of blissful and yummy feelings both during and after your acupuncture sessions. If you suffer from migraines and have never given acupuncture a try, I highly recommend giving it a shot! I hope you find your relief : )
PS - if you want to get more “sciencey” this article has some interesting information on the effects of acupuncture! http://www.healthcmi.com/Acupuncture-Continuing-Education-News/1661-acupuncture-prevents-and-clears-migraines