I?m sorry your mother has been suffering with migraines. They can be
What follows is a run down of the causes and treatments of migraines,
including ?alternative treatments? that often haven?t been well
Unfortunately, doctors don?t definitively know what causes migraines,
although it?s generally believed that they are caused by ?a
combination of the expansion of blood vessels and the release of
certain chemicals, which causes inflammation and pain.? (
Migraine Headache,? eMedicine:
http://www.emedicinehealth.com/migraine_headache/page2_em.htm ) Those
chemicals include dopamine and serotonin, which are found in every
normal brain, but seem to cause problems when their levels are ?off,?
or if an individual?s blood vessels are sensitive to them.
There are a number of known triggers for migraines. Not everyone will
get a migraine if these triggers are present, and not every trigger is
a factor for every migraine sufferer. These triggers include:
* Food. It?s important for migraine sufferers to keep a food diary of
what they?ve eaten, when, and when their migraines hit, since
different foods cause problems for different people. However, common
triggers are chocolate, cheese, nuts, alcohol, and MSG.
* Skipping a meal.
* Stress and tension, both physical and emotional.
* Birth control pills, menstrual cycles, and changes in estrogen
levels (I recommend that you and your mother also review the ?Women
and Migraines? section The American Council for Headache Education
website: http://www.healingwell.com/library/migraines/info2.asp Use
the menu at the left to navigate. )
* Bright lights
* Certain strong smells
Occasionally, other health problems (including stroke, tumor, and
inflammation of blood vessels) may bring on migraines, so it?s
important for sufferers to seek medical attention and be tested for
these possible causes. (Testing might include blood tests, an x-ray,
a CT scan or MRI, and/or a spinal tap).
First, lifestyle changes should be considered. Migraine sufferers
should keep regular sleep patterns, should exercise regularly, eat
regular meals, reduce stress, and stay away from any triggers.
Then there are treatments to consider once a headache has hit. Not
every treatment works for every sufferer, but here are some common
* A cold compress
* Laying down in a room with little or no light, sound, or orders
* Getting away from stressful surroundings
* Drinking a moderate amount of caffeine or a large glass of water
* Getting a massage
* Using pressure points (?Press on two pressure points at the back of
the neck. These points are about two inches apart, just below the
base of the skull. Press for a minute or two. This releases
endorphins that help against pain.? (FAQ:
* ?Take some vitamin C, vitamin B6, choline, tryptophan and niacin
and/or magnesium.? (FAQ:
* Over-the-counter headache medications. These include: Nonsteroidal
anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) like aspirin, ibuprofen (Motrin,
Advil), naproxen (Naprosyn, Aleve), and ketoprofen (Orudis). These
should not be taken by anyone with a history of stomach bleeding.
Also, check with your pharmacist about possible medicine interactions;
Acetaminophen (Tylenol), which may be taken with a NSAIDS, but should
not be taken if the sufferer has liver problems or has 3 or more
alcohol drinks a day; and combination medications like Excedrin
TRADITIONAL MEDICAL TREATMENT
According to eMedicine Health, ?about half of migraineurs stop seeking
medical care for their headaches because they are dissatisfied with
therapy.? Still, half of them find traditional medical treatment
Triptans, which target serotonin, are often used to treat migraines.
They only work against headache pain and won?t help other side
effects. These drugs include:
o Sumatriptan (Imitrex)
o Zolmitriptan (Zomig)
o Eletriptan (Relpax)
o Naratriptan (Amerge, Naramig)
o Rizatriptan (Maxalt)
o Frovatriptan (Frova)
o Almotriptan (Axert)
In addition, other drugs that target serotonin may be taken, but they
also affect other brain chemicals:
o Ergotamine tartrate (Cafergot)
o Dihydroergotamine (D.H.E. 45 Injection, Migranal Nasal Spray)
o Acetaminophen-isometheptene-dichloralphenazone (Midrin)
Other drugs work mostly for the nausea that comes with migraines, but
sometimes stop migraine headaches, too:
o Prochlorperazine (Compazine)
o Promethazine (Phenergan)
Narcotics are sometimes used to kill migraine pain. (These drugs are
o Butalbital compound (Fioricet, Fiorinal)
o Acetaminophen and codeine (Tylenol With Codeine)
All of these drugs are taken as the migraine begins?but there are also
medications that can be taken to prevent migraines. They are usually
only considered for patients who have more than one migraine a week.
These medicines include:
o Medications used to treat high blood pressure - Beta-blockers
(propranolol [Inderal]), calcium channel blockers (verapamil [Covera])
o Antidepressants - Amitriptyline (Elavil), nortriptyline (Pamelor)
o Antiseizure medications - Gabapentin (Neurontin), valproic acid
(Depakote), topiramate (Topamax)
o Some antihistamines and anti-allergy drugs, including
diphenhydramine (Benadryl) and cyproheptadine (Periactin)
For a table of preventative medications, see National Council for
Headache Education: http://www.achenet.org/prevention/5.php
In addition, Botox injections have helped some migraine sufferers find relief.
All of this may seem quite overwhelming. There are so many choices!
Your mother?s doctor should be able to help guide you through these
choices, choosing the best possibilities for your mother. You may also
wish to read ?What?s the Best Medicine for My Headaches?? at Healing
Please bear in mind that some of these treatments may be dubious.
Nonetheless, all have been said by some migraine sufferers to help.
According to the National Council for Headache Education
(?Nonpharmacological Strategies,? ACHE:
http://www.achenet.org/prevention/4.php ), some alternative remedies
* Biofeedback therapy (?...where people learn to gain control of their
body's internal functions... Biofeedback requires specific training
sessions with a trained biofeedback therapist. This training usually
takes one to two months of weekly 30-45 minute session...? This allows
some migraine sufferers to ?lower tension throughout the body, which
results in fewer headaches.?)
* Relaxation training (Which ?teaches a variety of relaxation
strategies for reducing tension and stress throughout the body.?)
* Cognitive-behavioral training (?also known as stress-management
training...often is done with the help of a psychologist,
psychiatrist, or other therapist. This training focuses on teaching
migraine sufferers coping skills and other ?cognitive? (thinking)
strategies for managing stressful parts of their life.)
* Hypnosis (?is now being studied in clinical trials for treatment of
a variety of conditions including pain management. Little has been
done so far about its use in preventing migraine. ?)
* Acupuncture (?recently received a boost in popularity because of the
consensus statement released by a panel convened by the National
Institutes of Health. This statement strongly suggests that
acupuncture is in fact a legitimate therapy proven to be effective for
some conditions...The panel concluded that nausea and acute dental
pain clearly respond to acupuncture. Many painful conditions,
including headaches, may respond to acupuncture, but additional
studies are needed.?)
* Massage (?Many migraine sufferers have tight, stiff, tender muscles
in the back of the head, neck, and shoulders...Pressure on these
points in the muscle may cause pain in the head, which is similar to
the pain of a migraine. These points are often called trigger points.
Massaging these trigger points can reduce the pain and tightness in
the muscles and can decrease head pain and migraine in some sufferers.
* Cervical manipulation
A site on Natural Migraine Treatment ((FAQ:
)adds the following:
* Chiropractic treatment. (?Sometimes the bones in the neck are in the
wrong place, and the little muscles near the bones are tense...The
nerves that lead out from the spine can be irritated...and this can
cause migraines...90% of patients were satisfied with chiropractic
treatment of headache.?)
* ? The following supplements, taken regularly, can help:
-- vitamin C ...
-- vitamin B6 ...
-- niacin ...
-- tryptophan ...
-- omega-3 essential fatty acids ...
* ?Feverfew helps many migraine sufferers...benefit is seen after 6-8 weeks.
Side effects include sore mouth, mouth ulcers and upset
Stomach...Reishi mushroom is also said to help against migraines.
Tiger Balm rubbed on the pain has been used, but only helps some
Migrains.org ((?Treatment & Management,?
http://www.migraines.org/treatment/treatalt.htm ) adds:
* ?The growing evidence supporting our long term belief that migraine
is a brain disorder coupled with the work showing a second brain in
the gut might cause some to look at proper
neuropeptide/neurotransmitter production by the digestive system as a
root cause of the factors leading to Migraine...One company...has
recently published an outcome based study in which they focus
primarily on healing and improving digestive dysfunction that they
believe on some level is occurring in most Migraine sufferers.
Synergistically, they provide nutritional support to the liver and
kidney believing that these organs are critical in balancing internal
function. This natural Migraine prevention approach has shown very
positive results in their initial study...Visit the ForeverWell
website, www.foreverwell.com and read the details and explanation of
their work and approach to treating Migraine.?
* ?MigraCap This non-drug non-vitamin Migraine relief product is
currently being evaluated...It looks quite promising ...Migra-Cap® was
developed by a sufferer for sufferers, using a combination of cold
therapy and complete darkness to give relief from the pain that is
associated with Migraine and most types of headaches...We understand
Migra-Cap® has been given an 81% success rate following its trial with
members of the Migraine Action Association of the United Kingdom...For
more information, visit the manufacture?s website at
* ?Petasites Hybridus (Butterbur root) is the latest non-drug
preventive treatment to become available in the United States. It is
available under the name of Petadolex? from the well respected German
firm of Weber & Weber. In recent double blind studies it was shown 77%
effective as a Migraine prophylaxis.?
I hope this helps,
Migraine alternative treatment
Migraine headache treatment