Migraine can be defined as a paroxysmal ailment, accompanied by a severe headache, generally on one side of the head and associated with disorders of the digestion, the liver, and the vision. A migraine normally comes on suddenly. The head and neck muscles, reacting from continuous stress, become overworked. The tight muscles squeeze the arteries and reduce the blood flow.
The constricted muscles expand, stretching the blood muscle walls. With each heart beat, the blood pushes through these vessels and expands them further, causing intense pain.
There is a definite pattern of a migraine. The pain is on only one side of the head and usually radiates from the eye. The right side of the head may be affected in one attack and the next time, the concentration of pain may be on the left side. Migraine attacks are usually proceeded by a short period of depression, irritability and loss of appetite. Classic migraines begin with warning signs such as flashing lights or colors. One side of the body may feel prickly, hot, or weak. Common migraines do not have the same warning signs. Some persons get attacks daily; others every month or ever two or three months and still others only once or twice in several years. The duration of such pain is anything from 2 hours to 3 days.
The main symptoms of migraines are a
- pounding pain
- Extreme sensitivity to light and sound.
Migraine pain can be excruciating and may incapacitate for hours or even days. The blood vessels on the affected side of the head become prominent and pulsating. A migraine gives a fair warning before striking. The person sees flashes of light or black spots or only parts of the objects in front of them. They may also feel numbness or weakness in an arm or leg, or on one side of the face, tongue and the entire mouth making the speech slurred and difficult. As the headache progresses, disturbed digestion becomes a marked feature.
Migraine can result from a number of causes such as low blood sugar, allergy, infection, excessive intake of certain drugs, a weak constitution, low energy, nutritional deficiency, consistent overwork, improper sleep and rest, excessive smoking, drinking and sexual indulgence. Menstruation in women is also one of the most important causes of migraines.
It can also be hereditary. Most children who get migraines, have at least one close family member who suffers from migraines too. If a child has one parent who suffers from migraines, they have a 50% chance of getting them too More men than women suffer from cluster headaches. These are intense headaches that often occur at the same time every day or every few days. These are debilitating, but usually don't last longer than 90 minutes.
There are certain foods and drinks that can trigger migraines in certain individuals. These include coffee, chocolates, yellow cheese, other dairy products, red meat, nuts, vegetable extracts, foods high in monosodium glutamate and alcohol. These are the most common triggers, but individual sufferers may respond to a variety of different foodstuffs or beverages.
NOTE (Aug 27, 2008): The latest science points to the fact that many people's migraines are the result of food intolerance to amines and/or salicylates. All the foods listed above are very high in amines, for example. In such cases, a person is not allergic to the foods themselves and neither are the foods triggers as such. The issue is the overall level of amines and/or salicylates in the body at any given time. If this peaks over a certain threshold, which differs for each person, then a migraine is triggered. For remedies to this, see below.
Fortunately, management of migraine pain has improved dramatically in the last decade. Although there's still no cure, medications can help reduce the frequency of migraine and stop the pain once it has started. The right medicines combined with self-help remedies and changes in lifestyle may make a tremendous difference. One of the easiest things to do is apply cold compresses or ice packs to the forehead and lie down in a quiet, dark room for several hours. One can sleep, meditate, or listen to music.
If a person's migraines are related to food intolerances, i.e. amines and/or salicylates (see above, in Causes), then avoidance of amine- and/or salicylate-high foods will generally result in a decrease and even, in some cases, a complete remission of migraine headaches. However, it does take several weeks on an amine- and/or salicylate-free diet for the body to expel stored amines/salicylates. After this, challenge-testing is recommended for each foodstuff containing amines and/or salicylates.
 Alternative Therapies
It is essential to undertake a thorough cleansing of the system and adopt vitality-building measures. To begin with, one should fast on orange juice and water for two or three days. If the orange juice does not agree with the person, juices of carrot, celery or cucumber can be taken. After the juice fast, the patient can adopt an all fruit diet for about 5 days including three meals a day of fresh fruit juices. Thereafter the person can have a well balanced diet consisting of seeds, nuts, grains, vegetables and fruits. This diet should be supplemented with milk, yogurt, buttermilk, vegetable oils and honey. Further short periods of the all fruit diet may be necessary at intervals of a month or two, according to the requirements of the case.
NOTE: If your migraines are related to intolerance of foods containing high levels of amines and/or salicylates (see "Causes" section, above), you must avoid certain foods, such as oranges, most nuts, spinach, bananas, and many others, as these are extremely high in amines and/or salicylates.
The juice of ripe grapes is an effective home remedy for migraines.
NOTE: If your migraines are related to intolerance of foods containing high levels of amines and/or salicylates (see "Causes" section, above), you must avoid grapes, as these are extremely high in amines and/or salicylates.
Niacin has proved helpful in the treatment of migraine. Valuable sources of the vitamin are yeast, whole wheat, green leafy vegetables, tomatoes, nuts, sunflower seeds, liver and fish. Vitamin B complex tablets containing 100 mg of niacin can be taken for the same purpose.
NOTE: If your migraines are related to intolerance of foods containing high levels of amines and/or salicylates (see "Causes" section, above), you must avoid spinach, tomotoes, dark-flesh fish, liver, and most nuts, as these are extremely high in amines and/or salicylates.
 Cabbage leaf compress
An ancient folk remedy for easing the pain of migraine is a cabbage leaf compress. A few leaves of the compress should be crushed, placed in a cloth and bound on the forehead at bedtime or when convenient. The compress should be removed when the leaves dry out.
 Lemon crust
The crusts of lemon have also been found beneficial in the treatment of migraine. The crusts should be pounded into a fine paste. The paste should be applied as a plaster on the forehead. It provides great relief.
NOTE: If your migraines are related to intolerance of foods containing high levels of amines and/or salicylates (see "Causes" section, above), you must avoid lemons although, as these are extremely high in amines and/or salicylates. Even when applied topically (to the skin), there can be absorption of these substances.
 Vegetable juices
Carrot juice, in combination with spinach juice, or beet and cucumber juices, has been found beneficial. In the first combination, 200 ml spinach juice may be mixed with 300 ml of carrot juice to prepare 500 ml or half a liter of the combined juices. In the second combination, 100 ml each of beet and cucumber juices may be mixed with 300 ml of carrot juices
NOTE: If your migraines are related to intolerance of foods containing high levels of amines and/or salicylates (see "Causes" section, above), you must avoid spinach and tomato in juices, as these are extremely high in amines and/or salicylates. Other non-juicing vegetables to avoid include eggplant, mushrooms, sauerkraut, and olives.
 Herbal medicine
One can have Feverfew, Cayenne Pepper, Valerian or Yellow Jasmine
- Prepare a mix of a few drops of Melissa in water and have a bath
- One can also have a massage with Melissa, Rosemary and Marjoram.
Acupuncture therapists recommend this treatment, The needle penetration is so shallow and the needles are so thin that acupuncture generally causes little or no pain or discomfort. A number of clinical trials have found acupuncture may be helpful for headache pain
- Try and practice muscle relaxing exercises and/or yoga
- Spend at least 30 minutes each day doing something relaxing be it listening to music, gardening for health, or reading.
 What to avoid
- The foods that must be avoided are white flour products, sugar, congectionary, rich cakes, pastries, sweets, refined cereals, greasy foods, tinned or preserved foods, pickles, condiments and sauces.
- The patient must eat frequent fewer meals rather than few large ones.
- If your migraines are related to intolerance of foods containing high levels of amines and/or salicylates (see "Causes" section, above), you must avoid foods containing high levels of these substances.
 Emergency Do's
 Consult a doctor immediately
- If there is a headache that gets worse or lasts more than 24 hours despite treatment
- You develop a high temperature.
- You faint or develop weakness, numbness, double vision, difficulty with speech, or neck pain or stiffness
 Did you Know
- Up to 17 percent of women and 6 percent of men have experienced a migraine.
- Over 75% of migraine sufferers are women, outnumbering men by about 3 to 1.
- Migraines occur most often between the ages of 25 and 55 — typically the most productive years of a person’s life.
- About 28 million Americans suffer from migraines.
- At one time or another, 77% of migraine sufferers have limited ability to function during an attack.
- The World Health Organization ranks migraine as one of the most disabling illnesses.
 Useful Information
For a complete list of amine and salicylate content in foods, see Zip World
- Migraines - Myth vs Reality