According to the National Headache Foundation, around 28 million Americans have migraine headaches.
Women are affected more than men. A quarter of those women affected by migraines have four or more each month.
Thirty-five percent have one to four severe migraines in a month and forty percent have only one severe migraine each month. A migraine can last for a few hours or for several days.
Causes of Migraines
Researchers have been unable to pinpoint exactly what causes migraines. However, it is known that they are related to changes in the brain as well as genetics.
It is thought that you can inherit the tendency to be affected by some triggers for migraines, such as changes in weather, bright lights, fatigue, and others.
For a long time, scientists have believed there was a link between the blood vessels on the brain constricting and expanding and migraines.
However, now it is thought that migraines are actually due to genetic abnormalities in specific areas of the brain.
It seems that most migraines are actually triggered by external factors, including:
Typically, migraine sufferers are extremely affected by stressful events. During the stressful event, chemicals are released in the brain to combat the situation.
This is the “fight or flight” response. When these chemicals are released, vascular changes can occur in the brain that result in a migraine.
When you repress your emotions about the stress, such as worry, fatigue, excitement, and anxiety, the muscle tension and dilation of blood vessels can cause the migraine to be much more intense and severe.
In some cases, foods and beverages can trigger a migraine. This includes foods/beverages such as alcohol, aged cheese, and even additives in foods (nitrates, MSG, and others). It is said that around thirty percent of migraines are caused by sensitivity to these.
If you regularly consume high amounts of caffeine, and you suddenly stop, you could experience withdrawal, which can trigger a migraine.
It is thought that the blood vessels become sensitized to caffeine over time, and when you are no longer getting that caffeine, the headache comes on. You can actually use caffeine to treat acute migraines.
Changes in Weather
In some people, changes in the barometric pressure, storm fronts moving in, altitude changes, and even strong winds can trigger a migraine.
Other Possible Triggers
- Excessive Fatigue
- Changes in sleep pattern
- Meal skipping
- Menstrual periods
Natural Remedies for Migraines
For some time now, exercise has been recommended for those suffering from migraines.
New evidence shows that physical activity does indeed prevent migraines. Exercise helps to reduce stress and tension, which is a common trigger for migraines.
In addition, exercise serves to release endorphins, which act as a mild sedative, so insomnia will be decreased.
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)
Vitamin B2 is naturally found in certain foods, and also is in certain supplements. It protects your cells from degeneration, and also helps to boost energy.
Additionally, one study showed that Vitamin B2 can prevent migraines. In fact, 59% of individuals taking 400 milligrams of Vitamin B2 every day for three months had a 50% reduction in migraines. However, if you are experiencing a migraine, it does not help with pain relief.
Our bodies need magnesium- however, it does not naturally produce it. This means that we must rely on outside sources to get it.
There has been a direct link established between a magnesium deficiency and migraines.
Some researchers estimate that around 75% of adults in the United States have a magnesium deficiency- which helps to explain the high rate of migraines.
Magnesium relaxes the nerves and muscles and also transmits nerve impulses in the brain and throughout the body.
Since the magnesium relaxes the nerves, it also prevents them from getting overexcited. This mineral actually helps to prevent and reduce migraines.
This substance is naturally produced by our bodies in response to the amino acid tryptophan- which is found in turkey.
It has been said that this substance can help reduce the frequency and the severity of migraines.
This is because 5-HTP actually increases serotonin in the body, which is a neurotransmitter that regulates blood vessels.
Lower levels of serotonin has been associated with migraines, 5-HTP helps correct this imbalance.
CoQ10 (Coenzyme Q10)
This is an antioxidant that is extremely important for the health of your blood vessels. Though it is true that your body does naturally produce CoQ10, you can also get it from supplements and dietary sources.
It has been said that for those who experience migraines, CoQ10 can be an effective preventative.
In fact, one study showed that 61% of those taking 150 milligrams of CoQ10 daily had a reduction of 50% in the number of days they experience migraines.
Additionally, they experienced no negative side effects. CoQ10 helps to increase the flow of blood to the brain, helps improve circulation, and protects your cells from degenerative damage.
Additionally, it stabilizes blood sugar- which is important, as low blood sugar is said to be a trigger for migraines.
This is bushy herb that is a relative of daisies and has been used for years by herbalists and those who practice Traditional Chinese Medicine to prevent migraines and other headaches.
It has been said by some that using feverfew with white willow bark actually helps to reduce the intensity, frequency, and even duration of migraines by around 60%. Feverfew reduces inflammation, which helps to alleviate the throbbing pain of migraines.
Additionally, it has very few side effects. It can help to ease the feeling of nausea and even vomiting in those who experience those migraine symptoms.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
These are anti-inflammatory substances needed by the body. They are found in foods such as seeds, nuts, and even fish.
One study revealed a reduction of 28% in the amount of migraine attacks and a 32% reduction in the intensity of those attacks.
Additionally, another study revealed that 87% of migraine sufferers claimed that their condition was improved by a daily supplementation of Omega-3 fatty acids.
These substances help to reduce inflammation and protect the cells of the brain. By reducing inflammation, the pain of migraines is reduced.