At least one in every ten persons has migraine worldwide. Migraine is a pretty common health concern. After all, it is the second most common cause of headache. It is quite debilitating, and significantly adversely affects the quality of life, and even productivity as a whole, extending all the way to the economy. Migraines are horrible, but Medhya Herbals has Ayurvedic remedies at the ready.
What is a migraine exactly?
A migraine is a chronic neurological disease. It is an extreme kind of headache that results from the release of some chemicals around the arteries in the brain. These chemicals cause the blood volume inside these blood vessels to rise, and further go on to enlarge the blood vessels. As a result, there is a squeezing effect in the brain, resulting in pain.
Migraines come in form of episodic attacks. These attacks range in frequency from every few days to once or twice in a year. One single episode of attack may range in duration between four hours and seventy two hours.
Furthermore, migraine attacks can happen to anyone, though the incidence is higher between 15-24 years. However, they are more prevalent among people of ages 35-45. After the age of 50, the severity and frequency of the attacks would have tapered of. Unfortunately, it happens that women are three times more likely to suffer these attacks than men.
How do I know I have migraine or just a common headache?
Migraines are a type of headache alright, but they are very severe headaches. Migraine attacks usually start with a trigger, might come in slowly, and then increase in intensity. The symptoms may vary, depending on the advance in the stage of the attack.
STAGE I: Prodrome.
Prodrome is the first stage of the migraine attack, and begins hours or days to the attack. In this stage, the patient feels:
- Sensitivity to light, sound or smell;
- Severe pain;
- Lack of appetite;
- Nausea and vomiting.
STAGE II: Aura.
This is the second stage of the migraine attack. They start gradually and can last between five minutes and an hour. The symptoms that show up in this stage involve the nervous system, particularly the network for vision. The patient could experience the following:
- Seeing black dots, wavy lines, light flashes or hallucinations;
- Loss of sight;
- Numbness on one side of the body that goes away with the start of the full-blown advanced stage of the attack.
- Slurred speech;
- Ringing in the ears;
- Decline in smell, taste or touch senses.
STAGE III: Attack.
The actual migraine attack can last, as earlier said, 4 hours to 72 hours(3 days). It starts as a dull throbbing pain that worsens with physical activity. It may bring with it:
- Nausea and vomiting;
- Feeling clammy;
- Paleness and faintness;
- Pain in the head that may move from one side to the other or feel like the entire head is hurting badly.
STAGE IV: Postdrome.
Here, the attack is winding up, and can continue for a day after he attack stage. The patient feels:
- Tired or extremely fatigued;
- Unusually refreshed or happy;
- Muscle pain or weakness;
- Food cravings or lack of appetite.
Ayurveda and Migraines.
From ancient Ayurvedic texts, migraines, or Ardhavabhedaka, are described as being part of the 11 types of shiroroga(diseases of headaches). Ardahavabedhaka is a tridoshic disease, i.e., it results from an imbalance affecting all three dosha, including vata, pitta and kapha.
Migraines can be of different types.
The types of migraine are classified based on their symptoms:
- Migraine with Aura: It is a neurological disturbance that appears in 20% of migraine attacks. It involves visual disturbances like hallucinations, blind spots, random light flashes, photophobia, blurred vision, difficulty focusing, etc. Patients also experience seeing a glow in the outer edges of vision.
- Migraine without Aura: similar to the above. Presents with nausea and vomiting, light and noise sensitivity, but doesn’t come with the aura.
- Hemiplegic Migraine: This has genetic roots. It starts with numbness on one side of the body. It is a very extreme type of migraine but, thankfully, it is rare.
- Ophthalmologic Migraine: pain around the eyeballs, paralysis and drooping of eyelids.
- Basilar Artery Migraine(Bickerstaff’s Syndrome): more common in young women. It results from an occlusion of circulation at the back of the head or base of neck. Consequently, there is disorientation, loss of balance, vertigo, poor muscle control, ringing in the ears, and aura, among others.
- Abdominal Migraine: this type is more common in kids with a family history of migraine. The pain feels like it is in the abdomen.
Causes of Migraine: The role of triggers in migraine attacks.
Migraine has no clear cut cause, but evidences suggest that it is a genetic disease. Also, environmental effects might play a part.
Migraine attacks are set off by triggers, and these triggers are widely variable. As a result, it is not always possible to avoid them. Some of these triggers include:
- Foods: Poor food habits can trigger migraine, like skipping meals for example. Also, chemicals constituting food additives, like monosodium glutamate(MSG), which is widely used in Asia, can trigger an attack. Taking alcohols, aged cheese, fasting, etc, are all risk factors.
- Change in sleep pattern or sleep deprivation can also cause migraine attacks.
- Medications can lead to attacks too. For example, a woman who is at the end of a birth control pill cycle is at risk.
- Hormonal changes.
- Weather changes.
- Exposure to bright or flickering light(like a TV screen).
- Menstrual cycles.
Now that you know what migraine is, types symptoms and causes, how can it be alleviated?
The excruciating pounding pain in the head is not a jolly-good experience. Thankfully, there are several means of addressing this prevalent problem.
Modern means of treating migraines take means that include:
- The use of pain reliving drugs like ibuprofein(a Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug (NSAID)) ), acetaminophen. Unfortunately, when these are overused, they result in side effects like bleeding of the gastrointestinal tract and recurring headaches.
- Anti-nausea medications to tackle to nausea and vomiting syndromes that present.
- Cardiovascular drugs are also used. If not carefully taken however, they can cause drowsiness, light-headedness, and vertigo.
- Therapies including psychological and massage therapies.
Holistic Cure for Migraines with Ayurveda.
Ayurveda not only treats the symptoms of the migraine attacks, but seeks to remove the problem from its root.
Ayurvedic treatment options for migraines are intended to cleanse and detoxify the body in order to remove the root causes of migraines. They include:
- Panchakarma: This therapy involves:
- Nasya karma(pouring medicated oil in the nose) with sesame oil;
- Massaging the whole body with oil;
- Sweating therapy;
- Orally consuming medicated ghee.
- Shodana: This is a detox or purification therapy.
- Shamana therapy also helps in alleviating the problem.
- Virechana is also meant to cleanse and detoxify the body, thereby removing the root causes of the migraine attacks.
- Mindfulness exercises like yoga and meditation.
- Breathing exercises like brahmri pranayama.
Lifestyle for one who wants nothing to do with these splitting headaches.
To be free of migraines, lifestyle changes are actually an essential part of the process. These may help:
- Resting with eyes close in a dark quiet room, in order to avoid the potential triggers of bright light and noise.
- Putting ice packs or cold compresses on the forehead help deal with the pain of an attack.
Proper dietary habits that help against migraines.
- A balanced tridoshic diet to restore the doshas to their prakruti should be taken importantly.
- Drink plenty of liquids.
- Observe regular meal times without skipping meals.
In conclusion, migraines are debilitating and can seriously disrupt productivity. You can take a MIDAS (Migraine Disability Assessment) Test to know how badly it affects your everyday life.
If you notice the onset of a migraine attack, immediately take steps to prevent a full blown war. The suggestions given above can be helpful.