Last week, we talked about some of the common food-related triggers of migraines. However, it’s clear that migraines have numerous causes, and so today we will collaborate with our amazing Health One naturopathic doctor, Saira Kassam, to get her best tips for the natural treatment of migraines.
“Essentially with migraines getting to the root cause is super important, whether it be food intolerances (very common), stress, lack of sleep, tight muscles, etc. Then it would be about treatment based on the cause.” – Saira Kassam, ND
Here are 5 tips from Dr. Saira for the natural treatment of migraines.
Decipher the Root Cause
Working with a naturopathic doctor can help you thoroughly examine the possible underlying cause of your migraine headaches. A few additional examples of triggers include excessive dilation of the cerebral blood vessels, low serotonin, tight muscles, stress, vitamin deficiencies, hypertension, food allergies, low or high blood sugar, and the release of substance P that can irritate the nerves and blood vessels causing pain.
Read our previous post about the most common dietary triggers of migraines here. Dr. Saira also suggests to, “minimize refined sugars, which are known to cause inflammation in the gut.” In a recent study, patients who regularly experienced severe migraines were placed on a low carbohydrate, high fat diet. Within one month, the severity and intensity of migraines was significantly reduced! This is especially important for women, who experience more blood sugar related headaches than men.
- Examine your medications – Have you recently changed any medications or supplements? Headache is a commonly reported side effect of some medications.
- Avoid skipping meals – A very common trigger (especially for women) is low blood sugar from skipping meals. Make sure to eat regular meals that include protein and fibre!
- Dehydration – It is so easy to forget to drink enough water. Try keeping a big bottle of water with you throughout the day.
- Sleep quality – Are you sleeping 7-8 hours per night? Is your room dark enough to provide deep, quality sleep? We love our Fitbit’s sleep tracker at Health One to show us our nightly sleep quality.
- Stress and Tension – Headaches are frequently caused by tension in the muscles of the face and neck. Try doing some stretching at home, heading to a yoga class, or paying a visit to our registered massage therapist!
There is evidence to support the role of several dietary supplements in preventing future migraines. If you are curious if any of these supplements could be right for you, make an appointment with Dr. Saira here.
- Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) – Protects against free radical damage
- CoQ10 – Essential for energy production
- 5-HTP – Increases serotonin levels in the body
- Vitamin B12 – Helps to negate the side effects of NSAID’s
- Magnesium Citrate – Helps to decrease muscle tension and vasospams
- Petasites Hybridus (Butterbur Extract)
- Tanacaetum Parthenium (Feverfew)
Many people find that acupuncture can work wonders when it comes to helping a headache dissipate. Proponents of this technique attribute the pain relieving effect to a release of hormones and endorphins stimulating the immune and circulatory systems of our body. A 2016 study also reported that acupuncture was associated with improved clinical outcomes in the treatment of migraines.
Dr. Saira’s Bonus Tips
- Contrasting heat therapy – try placing a cold towel at the base of your neck, while soaking your feet in hot water for about 20 minutes.
- Black coffee – Blood vessels in the head tend to dilate at the onset of a migraine, while coffee is a vasoconstrictor. Try drinking 1 small cup of black coffee when you feel a migraine coming on.
- Lavender essential oil – A 2012 study found that a statistically significant percentage of migraine suffers felt their headache was diminished after inhaling lavender essential oil.
Did you find these tips useful? Let us know on Twitter @HealthOne!
To book an appointment with our naturopathic doctor Siara click here.