Migraines: (By Claire Blazey, Naturopath for Health Space Kings Cross)
What are Migraines?
A migraine is a severe type of headache that occurs usually on one side of the head and can last anywhere between a few hours and a few days. Symptoms that occur with migraines include: pain (sharp or throbbing sensation), nausea, vomiting and extreme sensitivity to light or sound. Some migraines create warning symptoms, such flashes of light, blind spots or other visual disturbances.
What Causes Migraines?
It is thought that what causes the pain associated with a migraine is due to excessive constriction of the blood vessels of the head followed by rebound dilation. However the exact mechanism of action of a migraine involves a complex interaction between the nervous system and biochemical reactions triggered by the inflammatory response and overexcitement of the trigeminal nerve.
What are the Factors affecting migraines?
- Dehydration – Relating to an imbalance in electrolytes (sodium, chloride and potassium) that are necessary for the body to function
- Low Serotonin levels – have been linked to painful blood vessel constriction
- Magnesium deficiency – Magnesium is an important mineral that supports healthy nerve function.
- Food triggers (amines / histamine releasing foods (chocolate, cheese, beer and wine), alcohol (beer and red wine), chemicals, nitrates, MSG (monosodium glutamate)
- Hormonal fluctuations – e.g. menstruation, ovulation, and birth control pills
- Inflammation of maxillary nerve – a branch of the trigeminal nerve that runs behind the cheekbone.
- Stress, poor posture & muscle tension – causing tightening of the muscles in the upper back, neck and head.
How can a Naturopath help?
By giving the client tools to–
- Identify the precipitating factors that lead to migraine development
- Identifying and removing trigger foods
- Implementing nutritional foods and supplements that support healthy nerve function, serotonin levels and combat inflammation
- By helping to balance oestrogen fluctuations (if caused by hormonal disturbances)
- Improving stress response through education of relaxation tools and techniques