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Alternative Treatment for Migraines

Did you know that migraine headaches affect upwards of 28 million Americans? This problem takes a significant toll on workplace productivity and accounts for up to two full weeks of missed work annually among the worst sufferers.

Here are few more things to know about migraines:

  • They affect women 2-1 vs. men because of the connection to the menstrual cycle.
  • 25% suffer 4 or more/month
  • Last 4 hrs – 3 days

Migraine headaches are characterized by moderate to severe pounding or throbbing pain in one side or both sides of the head. Associated symptoms include light sensitivity, nausea, aura, and sensitivity to noise & light. They are thought to be caused by constriction of blood vessels in brain where inflammatory factors like prostaglandins are released. Scientists believe there to be a “migraine pain center” in brain.

In my practice, I have observed the worst migraine sufferers have three major components:

  1. Hormonal triggers- ovulation or menstruation in women
  2. Muscle tension in the neck and shoulders
  3. Genetic predisposition to headaches

When all three of these factors are present, item 1 above is best addressed by herbal medicine and item 2 is best addressed with acupuncture, cupping, and massage.

Common Food Triggers for Migraine

  • MSG (monosodium glutamate) may be cause of up to 30% of food related migraines
  • Nitrates (preservatives) in hot dogs, luncheon meats
  • Alcohol
  • Aged Cheeses, smoked fish (contain tyramines)
  • Caffeine (excess use or withdrawal)

Herbs for Migraine

Butterbur

  • Type: Petasites hybridus
  • 2004 study of 245 patients showed  butterbur “effective and well-tolerated  treatment of migraines in children and adolescents” Lipton et al 2004 in Neurology1, HC 020251.276.
  • Dose studied: 75mg of proprietary extract ,2x/day

Feverfew

  • Type: Tanacetum parthenium
  • TCM Functions:
    • Releases exterior
    • Dispels wind cold
  • Western Functions:
    • Anti-inflammatory
    • Migraine prevention & treatment
    • Also good for tension headaches
  • Dose: 1-3ml/day

Gastrodia

  • Type: Armillaria mellea
  • TCM Functions:
    • Eliminates Wind & Damp
    • Treats “liver wind”
  • Western Functions
    • Treats Headaches, dizzines
    • Treats Stroke
    • Controls spasm & tremors

Rosemary

  • Name: Rosmarinus
  • TCM Functions:
    • Tonifies Yang
  • Western Functions
    • Treats headache
    • Increases mental alertness and memory
    • Improves circulatory weakness
    • Enhances Liver detoxification
  • Dose: 2-5mL/day

Clinical Acupuncture Trials for Migraine

  • Randomized controlled trials suggest that acupuncture has significant benefits for both adult and pediatric patients with chronic headaches — both migraines and tension-type headaches1-5
  • Treatment frequency is generally 1-2 treatments weekly for 4-6 weeks
  • Benefits persisted for 6 months of follow-up

Key Migraine Diagnostics

  • Classical Chinese Tongue & Pulse Diagnosis
  • Hair Mineral Analysis
    • Macro, trace minerals; heavy metals; key ratios
  • Adrenal Stress Index
    • Cortisol circadian rhythm
    • Blood sugar
    • DHEA levels
  • Digestive Permeability
  • Food Sensitivity Testing
    • 90 most common foods
    • Gluten testing
  • Female/Male Hormone Testing

Conclusion

Whether you are new to headaches or have been suffering with them for years, there is likely an effective solution available to you using acupuncture, herbal medicine, diet, and possible lifestyle changes. I would encourage to you to book your free 15-minute consultation online to determine if the services I offer are right for you.

References:
1.Coeytaux RR, Kaufman JS, Kaptchuk TJ, et al. A randomized, controlled trial of acupuncture for chronic daily headache. Headache. 2005;45:1113-1123.
2. Manias P, Tagaris G, Karageorgiou K. Acupuncture in headache: a critical review. Clin J Pain. 2000;16:334-339.
3. Endres HG, Diener HC, Molsberger A. Role of acupuncture in the treatment of migraine. Expert Rev Neurother. 2007;7:1121-1134.
4. Vincent CA. A controlled trial of the treatment of migraine by acupuncture. Clin J Pain. 1989;5:305-312.
5. Gottschling S, Meyer S, Gribova I, et al. Laser acupuncture in children with headache: a double-blind, randomized, bicenter, placebo-controlled trial. Pain. 2008;137:405-412.

 

 

 

 

 

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