By: JB Bardot
Migraine sufferers are often anxious to rid themselves of the terrible pain characterizing this condition. Health-conscious individuals choose natural treatments to avoid drug side effects. Many migraine sufferers don’t realize the certain foods and chemicals may have on their systems, contributing to the development of migraines, or to their resolution. Diet, herbs and supplements can provide natural relief to some migraine patients.
FOOD ADDITIVES AND ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS
Eliminate food additives and artificial sweeteners. Artificial sweeteners, preservatives and flavor enhancers such as monosodium glutamate (MSG), are known to create severe reactions in some people, triggering migraine headaches.
Sweeteners such as aspartame, saccharin and Splenda can be replaced with stevia, a naturally sweet herb with no known side effects and no calories. 92 symptoms of aspartame toxicity were submitted to the FDA in 2002. For a time, aspartame products were recalled by the FDA after numerous side effects were reported; however, the product was allowed back on the market, where it continues to cause a constellation of problems for consumers.
Lavender is used by herbalists to soothe jangled nerves and has an analgesic effect on migraine sufferers. Lavender reduces the inflammation that occurs in blood vessels during a migraine, and relieves spasms in the muscles of the neck, around the eyes and in the scalp. Place dried lavender flowers in sachets or herbal hot packs to use when headaches start. Alternatively, make a tea by steeping one teaspoon of the dried flowers in one cup of boiling water for 15 minutes. Sip slowly throughout the day. Sweeten if desired.
Avoid specific foods that are known triggers for migraine headaches. Chocolate, alcohol, caffeinated beverages, sodas, refined sugars, gluten-containing grains, aged cheeses and peanuts are some of the more common food culprits that may be causing your migraines.
Reintroduce potential problem foods one at a time over a period of weeks to find out which one is causing the problem. Taking these foods out of your diet may feel like a sacrifice; however, if your headaches are eliminated or greatly reduced, then it may be worth it.
Add tryptophan to your diet either in supplement form or by eating foods like turkey, which is high in tryptophan. This amino acid stimulates the production of the brain transmitter dopamine, which in turn contributes to the release of serotonin. Migraine relief often results from the flow of serotonin, which elevates moods, relieves anxiety and tension, and relaxes tiny muscles around capillaries in the scalp.
GINGER, PEPPERMINT, CAYENNE PEPPER
Use common household herbs like ginger, peppermint and cayenne pepper to treat a migraine. Ginger or peppermint can also be helpful in reducing the nausea accompanying many migraine headaches. Ginger thins the blood, so it should be used with care if you’re taking blood-thinning medications.
To make an herbal tea, mix the three herbs together. Place a pinch of cayenne pepper, a one inch piece of fresh ginger and a teaspoonful of dried peppermint in two cups boiling water and allow to steep for 15 minutes. Remove the herbs and sweeten with honey to taste. Natural pain relievers in each of these herbs can help ease away your migraine headache.
The herb butterbur was found to reduce the intensity of migraine headaches by lessening inflammation and stabilizing blood flow to the brain. It acts as a beta-blocker, helping to control blood pressure and preventing spasms in the capillaries. Only use butterbur that is labeled PA-Free, ensuring that any harmful toxins have been thoroughly removed from the supplement, making the herb safe for use. Butterbur is also known to relieve numerous allergies, especially those that may contribute to causing headaches.
About the author:JB Bardot is trained in herbal medicine and homeopathy, and has a post graduate degree in holistic nutrition. Bardot cares for both people and animals, using alternative approaches to health care and lifestyle. She writes about wellness, green living, alternative medicine, holistic nutrition, homeopathy, herbs and naturopathic medicine.