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Migraine Headaches: Conventional and Alternative Treatments

 

They’ve come a long way, baby!  Conventional treatments for migraine headaches, that is.

Even twenty years ago, if you walked into your health care practitioner’s office complaining of a migraine headache, the best 

he could do was empathize with you.  There just weren’t any effective conventional treatments to help.

Today the medical community is armed with a number of solutions for your pain. Some of these have been specifically developed for the alleviation of the symptoms of a migraine headache.  Others are drugs which are used for a variety of health conditions other than migraine headaches..

Your health care practitioner may recommend you undergo what is called acute or abortive therapy.  This merely means that he’ll ask you take certain drugs when the  migraine attack occurs which  may be able to halt the symptoms once they have already begun.

Specific pain-relieving medications include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs also known as NSAIDs.  The most commonly used of this class of drugs include ibuprofen, sold as over-the-counter remedies under the brand names of Advil and Motrin.  Another NSAID is aspirin.  You may even find that some of these medications include caffeine as in the case of Excedrin Migraine.

These drugs usually seem to work fine for moderate headaches, but aren’t effective at all when the pain of a migraine worsens.  Your health care practitioner may recommend a stronger version of this class of drugs, one in which you can only obtain with a prescription.

While this may appear as a solution, you must keep in mind that the prolonged use of this class of medications can lead to some serious, adverse side effects. If used too long, these drugs have been known to cause ulcers as well as gastrointestinal bleeding in some people.  Ironically, the same medications taken to resolve the pain may also cause rebound headaches in certain individuals, only enlarging the problems.

There are also drugs that are tailored specifically to relief the pain unique to a migraine headache.  These are called triptans and are increasingly becoming the drug of choice for many health care practitioners.  They not only relieve the pain, but they also help to reduce the nausea and the light sensitivity that many complain of.

Here again, though, while this sounds like a blessing for migraine suffers, you need to discuss with your health care practitioner all the possible side effects these drugs bring with them.  They include: nausea, dizziness, muscle weakness and in more serious cases, even stroke or heart attack.

 

 

In addition to this he may also provide you with a variety of preventive medications.  These may require that you take them on a regular basis – usually once a day – in order to prevent the headache completely or at least reduce the severity or frequency of the problem. These drugs may include those originally designed for use on cardiovascular problems or they may be antidepressants or even anti-seizure drugs.

The approach your health care practitioner uses depends on several factors, including the severity of the pain – and the corresponding degree of disability you experience – as well as the frequency of the headaches.  Some experts, for example, explain that an individual is a candidate for preventive therapy is he experiences at two debilitating attacks a month or if you’re otherwise forced to some type of pain-relieving medication more than twice a week.

Other reasons you may be placed on preventive therapy include an unusually long time period of numbness or impaired movement on one side of your body, or the existence of an unusually prolong aura.


Migraine headaches:  Natural Remedies

Even though you may feel completely helpless at the onset and during a migraine attack, there are several actions you can take to help ease your pain and put you back on the path of the health and indeed happiness.

Many individuals turn to natural herbs to help alleviate the symptoms of a migraine. One of the most effective herbs for a migraine headache is feverfew.  If you’ve never heard of it, you might be more familiar with it by its more common name:  bachelor’s button.

A member of the daily family, feverfew has been used for generations to effectively ease the pain of migraine headaches without the harsh side effects of today’s prescription medications. You may discover though that unlike prescription drugs, you can’t “pop” a feverfew supplement just when the pain attacks.  Pain relief is best encountered when you use this herb regularly on a daily basis. 

But you don’t have to take the word of professional herbalists about the amazing ability of this herb, because there are several clinical trials that actually back this anecdotal evidence up.  In one of the studies, more than two-thirds of those individuals who used the herb experienced relief with regular use of feverfew.

Another herb you may want to ask your herbalist about is white willow bark.  An excellent choice for a headache, the white willow contains the same active ingredient found in aspirin.  Not only will white willow bark help ease the pain, it will also help reduce the inflammation of the blood vessels that is the original cause of the pain.

The herb cayenne may alleviate the pain of a migraine for you by literally raising your pain threshold.  This herb has been used for many years.  Recently clinical studies have proven the effectiveness of this plant.

Peppermint, better known as a great tasting candy flavor, is also a valuable herb in the treatment of migraine headaches.  People have used this for hundreds of years. You may take it as a supplement, or you may consider using it as an essential oil. Ask your spouse to massage your shoulders and the back of your neck, as well as pressing gently on the base of your skull.

Before using this or any herb, you should consult with a professional herbalist to ensure you’re receiving the proper serving of this herb in a form that works best for you.  Also, keep in mind that you should check with your professional health care practitioner before embarking on any herbal therapy program – even one that’s being directed by a professional herbalist.

Don’t overlook the healing powers of a massage even without the presence of any essential oils. If you don’t have anyone around to knead your neck and shoulders, you can take matters into your own hands – literally. Place your hand on your scalp and rotate your fingers. You’ll discover an easing of the pain.

Some individuals also claim they receive relief from migraine headache pain by applying pressure to the webbed part of your hand, that area between your thumb and forefinger. Many say they find near instant relief when they gently press this area.

When looking for areas to massage, you may be surprised to learn that a foot massage may provide you with some relief from your migraine. If you’re interested in this, there are many great books on the market as well as several internet sites that can help you.

Try heat . . . or cold!  That’s right!  It’s your choice.  Some people seek relief from the incessant pain of migraines.  Many individuals swear that a warm towel around their neck provides the relaxation and relief from the pain.  Others prefer to wrap ice around a towel and place it around their neck and lay down.

Note: Some statements in this article may not be approved by the FDA. This article is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as professional medical advice.

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Birth, Joy, & Raspberry Leaves
-a new video compiled by Catherine and Amanda Young
of The Compleat Mother

Go HERE for more information on the waterbirth video!


Click here to read: The Farmer and the Obstetrician

Click here for the Home Sweet Homebirth (Video)

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Greg Cryns
The Compleat Mother Magazine
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