In a previous article I discussed using peppermint and diet modification as treatments for migraine and tension headaches. There are also many other ways to ease them. These are:
1. Check your sleeping patterns. If you aren’t getting enough sleep, this can trigger a migraine. According to Dr. Michael Breus (‘The Sleep Doctor’™), if you are sleep deprived, your body produces more of a protein called P2X3. This protein initiates chronic pain. This can also happen if you change your sleep routine.
If your body is used to waking at 7 a.m. for work and you decide to lie in at the weekend, this change in routine can also trigger pain. If you find that you are getting headaches when you sleep in late, try going to bed earlier at night and getting up at the same time you would normally rise for work. This regulation of your sleep pattern may be enough to stop the headaches. (1)
2. Make sure you are drinking enough water, as dehydration can cause headaches. The European Journal of Neurology looked at water intake in patients with migraine and tension headache and found that if the patients drank an extra 1.5 liters of water per day it reduced the amount of headaches they suffered from and their intensity. (2)
3. Don’t have products that contain aspartame. Aspartame is a sweetener that is known to trigger migraine in some people. It is present in diet soda, sugar substitute products, some desserts such as chocolate mousse or yoghurt, some brands of vitamin pills (particularly ‘budget’ brands) and even in some medications.
Make a habit of checking all food and drink labels prior to purchasing and do the same with any medicines. Cut out diet soda altogether and opt for the non-diet variety or choose organic soda as this will not contain aspartame. (3)
4. Don’t skip meals! Lots of people skip breakfast or are too busy at work to find time to have lunch. This can mean that you don’t have enough blood sugar and can trigger a migraine. (4)
5. Try taking feverfew tablets. Feverfew comes from the herb Tanacetum parthenium and this has been shown to reduce the number of migraine attacks that people get, possibly due to the fact that it has anti-inflammatory properties and so may reduce brain vessel swelling.
You shouldn’t take this remedy if you are allergic to the Asteraceae family of plants, if you are having surgery or if you have a blood clotting disorder, as feverfew can have a blood thinning effect. (5,6,7)
1. Sleep Deprivation Triggers Migraines, WebMD. Web. 21 October 2011. http://blogs.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/2010/07/sleep-deprivation-triggers-migraines.html
2. Increasing the daily water intake for the prophylactic treatment of headache: a pilot trial, European Journal of Neurology, Volume 12, Issue 9, pages 715–718, September 2005. Abstract: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1468-1331.2005.01081.x/abstract
3. Migraine MLT-Down: An Unusual Presentation of Migraine in Patients With Aspartame-Triggered Headaches, The Journal of Head and Face Pain, Volume 41, Issue 9, pages 899–901, October 2001. Abstract: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1526-4610.2001.01164.x/full
4. Hypoglycaemia and Migraine, The Migraine Trust. Web. 21 October 2011. http://www.migrainetrust.org/factsheet-hypoglycaemia-and-migraine-10907
5. Efficacy and safety of 6.25 mg t.i.d. feverfew CO2-extract (MIG-99) in migraine prevention--a randomized, double-blind, multicentre, placebo-controlled study, Cephalalgia. 2005 Nov;25(11):1031-41. Abstract: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16232154?dopt=Citation
6. Nuclear factor-kappaB as a molecular target for migraine therapy, Ann Neurol. 2002 Apr;51(4):507-16. Abstract: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11921057?dopt=Citation
7. Feverfew, Drugs.com. Web. 21 October 2011. http://www.drugs.com/npp/feverfew.html
Joanna is a freelance health writer for The Mother magazine and Suite 101 with a column on infertility, http://infertility.suite101.com/. She is author of the book, 'Breast Milk: A Natural Immunisation,' and co-author of an educational resource on disabled parenting.
Reviewed October 21, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith