Migraines are the most common neurological condition affecting 1 in 7 people – two thirds of which are women but it can occur at any age and to any part of the population. The causes of migraines are not as yet fully understood, as no diagnostic test exists to study it. It is generally believed, however, that they are caused by changing chemicals in the brain – namely Serotonin (known as the happy chemical), levels of which greatly decrease during a migraine. As serotonin goes down, the blood vessels suddenly contract and become narrower which causes aura (this is the name given to the range of ‘warning signs’ that some people can get before an onset) and then widen, causing the headache.
Another cause is believed to be fluctuating levels of hormones – Migraines seem to occur frequently in women around the time of their period, just before the start of which levels of estrogen fall. Not all women are affected by this, however, and some of those who are suffer solely from menstrual migraines, whereas others can get them at other times also.
There are a number of things that can trigger this condition, however, such as emotional; environmental; dietary; and physical factors. There are a whole range of different Alternative and Complementary therapies that can be taken to help treat and ease the symptoms of Migraines, and as each patient is different, and some migraines have different causes, certain treatments may be more or less suitable and effective. The best way to do this, then, in order to understand how Migraines can be treated is by listing the different triggers and their own suitable holistic therapies and methods.
- Emotional triggers include: stress, anxiety, worry – words we hear bandied about so often, but do we really take into account the numerous and debilitating effect they can have on our bodies? All of these may start off as minor nigglings, but when left untended can become greater burdens – they can lead to depression and cause the body pain and illness. Treatments which would help these emotional causes include a whole number of different talking therapies such as Psychotherapy and Counselling, or NLP, Life Coaching and Hypnotherapy (very useful if you suffer from anxiety in particular).
- Physical triggers, such as tiredness, poor posture, and tension (generally in the neck and shoulders) can be brought about by lifestyle factors – such as long hours at a desk, shift work that include working nights, and travelling for long periods of time. For these physical factors there are a number of different wonderful therapies to relieve pain, help you relax and de-stress, and increase your natural energy levels. These can include Massage, Acupuncture, Cranio-Sacral Therapy, Bowen Technique, Shiatsu, Osteopathy, Yoga (to name a few!) …
- Dietary patterns and habits can have a very significant effect on our bodies and things such as lack of food (due to dieting), delayed or irregular meals, low blood sugar, dehydration, alcohol and caffeine can all be potential causes of Migraines. With so much information floating around the ether about what we can/ can’t, should/ shouldn’t eat, Nutritional Therapy offers a personally styled treatment plan based solely around the individual’s needs and tastes – it looks in great depth at lifestyle, habits and existing diet and offers motivation needed to implement changes where necessary.
… And this is only to name a few possible causes and their holistic treatments! Each Migraine is different, as I said, but they can be hugely debilitating and difficult to live with. They can last as long as 3 days, and symptoms don’t just include the headache (nausea, photophobia, phonophobia etc). The severity and unpredictable nature of a migraine can really affect daily life and is often misunderstood in the workplace or at school, with employers and colleagues not understanding why you can be in bed one day and fine the next.
What about in the meantime? Watch your triggers – think about mood, emotional levels, diet; can you see a pattern? We’re also happy to help and recommend whatever we can: each practitioner offers free 15 minute consultations, and we are dedicated to adapting each treatment to fit your individual needs.
Some informative websites:
This is a good website for explaining the typical acupuncture treatment for Migraines, how it helps and case studies for its effectiveness: