Best Migraines and PMS
No one knows exactly what causes migraine headaches, or even what happens in the body and brain when someone has one.
One thing that is known, however, is that three times as many women as men have migraines. Many female migraineurs will also confess that their headaches are likely to coincide with the period just before their menstrual period.
A whopping sixty percent of women migraineurs have migraines during their period and during the rest of the month. Fourteen percent only have a migraine headache during their period.
Look at the numbers; seventy-four percent of all women migraineurs associate their period with their headaches, and while medical science does not deny the connection, the reason for it is still unknown.
In addition, many women who become migraineurs later in life say that their pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms became much more acute since the headaches began. A study published in the January 2006 issue of Headache confirmed the apocryphal evidence.
Women participating reported that bloating, weight gain, breast tenderness, mood swings, back pain, and abdominal cramps all became more severe during a migraine.
The women in the study were given a medication to induce a temporary artificial menopause by halting the action of the ovaries.
Even with the hormonal ups and downs of regular periods eliminated, they still reported worsened PMS symptoms during a migraine attack.
The fourteen percent of women who only have migraines during their period are said to have “menstrual migraines”. There is hope, though.
For some lucky women, taking a brief course of NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines, like ibuprofen)
for several days prior to their period as well as the first few days of it can stave off a menstrual migraine. Women who want to try this type of prophylactic treatment should discuss the option with their doctor.
10 Natural Ways to combat PMS
1. Keep Track:
Writing a symptoms diary can help. Recognise what’s going on throughout the month by noting how you feel from day to day. You can then schedule things to coincide with specific times. For example if you tend to feel great for a few days during your cycle, that’s the time to take your driving test, or go to a job interview etc.
2. Tackle the symptoms:
Many PMS symptoms can be easily controlled using natural remedies. For acne try taking a 15mg zinc tablet each day. Feverfew is a great to treat migraines. Women suffering from bloating can benefit from burdock root capsules.
3. Take vitamins and minerals:
Studies show that a lack of various nutrients can increase PMS symptoms. These include magnesium, calcium, vitamin D, B vitamins, iron and zinc. In one study, it was revealed that 50-80% of women with PMS were deficient in magnesium.
4. Lose excess weight:
Several scientists have discovered that the more overweight you are, the more likely you are to suffer from PMS.
5. Chill out:
Stress is also implicated in PMS. You are more likely to have worse PMS when you are stressed than when you are relaxed. Practice ways of relaxing.
6. Get Moving:
Excercise can lift you mood as it helps to boost the feel good chemicals in the brain known as Endorphins. Low levels of endorphins have also been implicated in PMS.
7. Snack Away:
According to reasearchers, your body needs 500 extra calories a day in the run up to your period as that is when your iron levels are at their lowest. On those days, have a healthly mid morning and mid afternoon snack.
8. Take essential oils:
Some studies suggest that gammalinolenic acid (GLA) helps to reduce PMS symptoms such as irritability, stomach cramps and breast pain. You can find it in evening primrose oil, starflower oil and blackcurrant oil.
9. Take herbs:
A plant called agnus cactus is popular in the treatment of PMS. Research suggests it can improve symptoms by more that 50 percent. St John’s Wort can also help, but it can reduce the effectiveness of the contaceptive pill.
10. Cut them out:
Salt, sugar, coffee and alcohol have all been linked to PMS symptoms.Salt causes bloating, alcohol can worsen your mood, caffeine can increase breast tenderness and sugar exacerbates food cravings.
Thermal Biofeedback and Migraines
Thermal biofeedback is an effective technique used by many migraine patients to reduce the pain intensity and frequency of their headaches.
This is especially true of pediatric migraineurs, particularly those who have entered puberty.
Pregnant migraine sufferers can doubly benefit from biofeedback. It enables them to avoid potentially dangerous medication during their pregnancy.
Second, a 1996 study showed an 80% reduction in headache frequency and intensity among pregnant migraineurs.
Thermal biofeedback, sometimes referred to as psycho-physiological feedback, is a treatment modality used to instruct people in the conscious control of their body temperature.
Patients achieve control through a combination of visualization (guided imagery), voluntary relaxation, and mechanical feedback.
A 1983 study tested the effects of three different medication-free techniques, thermal biofeedback, frontalis EMG biofeedback, and relaxation training, on migraineurs.
Patients using each technique experienced improvement in their migraines, but the thermal feedback patients appeared to experience the greatest success rate and were more able to sustain the effect long term.
Patients are attached to a temperature sensor, usually on the hand, during instruction in thermal biofeedback. This sensor allows
them to see the effect of their attempts to consciously control their temperature and change their methodology as needed to achieve the desired result.
Training in thermal biofeedback is usually provided by a psychologist or an alternative medicine provider in an office setting, and then practiced by the individual alone.
Patients interested in learning this technique should screen instructors thoroughly since there is currently no licensing requirement for those who provide it.
At-home thermal biofeedback practice is frequently more successful in children because they tend to be more imaginative than adults.
To utilize this treatment successfully, patients must be very motivated and diligent in practicing it. Some adults can only achieve thermal control when guided by an instructor and are unable to practice the technique alone.
Nature’s Oils and Herbal Remedies for Migraine Sufferers
Research shows that women are three times more likely to suffer from migraine than men. Migraine is also more common among
American women than type 2 diabetes, osteoarthritis, or asthma. More than 80% of people with migraines (called migraineurs)
have other members in the family who have them too. Migraine headaches are the second most common type of primary headache
and they can have symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, or sensitivity to light.
Almost one-fourth of women in their reproductive years experience migraines because during these years, women are building
both their families and their careers — factors that make them more prone to stress and fatigue. Research also indicates
that migraine is an important issue in women’s health. But, fortunately, women can prevent migraines. All they need to do is
seek the solution from Mother Nature.
There are so many different methods to get migraine headache pain relief. Over-the-counter headache pain relief medications
are easily accessible. However, they don’t cure headaches and are not without side effects. Over time, any medication can
lose its effectiveness if taken too frequently.
However, would it be better off if migraine headache sufferers could stop using over the counter pain relievers and find some
other method to control their headache pain? Natural alternatives to headache pain relief are just as effective if a person
knows the cause of their headache.
Some natural migraine pain relief herbal remedies are known to prevent or ease a migraine headache. Dried herbs can be used
to make teas or tinctures. Herbal extracts are potent and need to be diluted before use. Capsules come in many herbal
combinations and are readily available at most natural or health food stores. Essential oils such as Chamomile, Rosemary,
Peppermint and Lavender are used to treat symptoms of headaches. Other natural herbal remedies for migraine pain relief
• Feverfew – Feverfew contains substances that inhibit the release of mood hormones in the brain. For best results, use
fresh feverfew. When this is not available, consume as tea or in capsule form.
• Bay – There have been some doctors who recommend taking feverfew with bay to prevent a migraine headache. You can
often find a combination of these herbs in most health food stores.
• Ginger – Ginger has long been known to relieve and prevent headaches. It is an anti-inflammatory and has substances
that help reduce pain.
• Peppermint – Taken internally or used externally, peppermint can help to relieve a migraine headache. To take
internally, drink peppermint tea. To use externally, mix several drops of peppermint oil with lotion or body oil and massage
onto the temples.
In order to prevent a migraine, you need to identify what causes it. Many foods can trigger an attack. These include cheese,
chocolate, wheat, and caffeine. If you indulge in one of these foods and experience a migraine attack 24 hours later, the
food is most likely a migraine trigger. Other triggers include stress, changes in sleeping patterns, hormonal imbalances, and
changes in altitude.
Natural migraine pain relief remedies can help reduce the length and severity of a migraine headache. Not all natural
migraine cures work for everyone, so try various remedies until you find the ones that work best for you. Finally, learn to
control the triggers to avoid getting a migraine.
The Classification Subcommittee of the International Headache Society (IHS) publishes and revises the “International Classification of Headache Disorders”,
now in its second edition. This book offers specific diagnostic criteria for diagnosing migraines and is currently used worldwide.
According to IHS, a common migraine headache, also known as a migraine without aura, is defined by the specific criteria found below.
The patient must have at least five of these headaches.
The headache, excluding attendant symptoms or prodromes, must last a minimum of four hours, up to seventy-two hours.
Headaches that last over seventy-two hours generally require immediate medical attention in order to rule out other, more dangerous conditions.
In order to be classed as a migraine a headache must include at least two of four different qualities of pain:
1) The pain is one-sided; the headache is primarily on one side of the head.
2) The pain is not constant; it throbs, pounds, or pulsates.
3) The pain must be of moderate or severe intensity, to the point where the sufferer is inhibited in daily activity, potentially to the point of being temporarily disabled.
4) The pain is increased, sometimes only slightly, by routine physical activity like bending over, climbing stairs, or moving quickly.
Headache pain must be accompanied at least one of four common side effects:
3) Photophobia – sensitivity to light
4) Phonophobia – sensitivity to sound
Appropriate medical testing, such as a MRI or CAT scan, and/or a physician’s exam must be conducted to rule out other conditions that may have caused the headache.
These criteria have helped simplify the diagnosis of migraine for many. However, because migraines are historically associated with extremely high levels of pain, people suffering from moderate migraine may not realize that is what they are experiencing.
Butterbur for Migraines
Migraineurs would prefer not to have migraines at all. If headache cannot be eliminated, reducing the number of migraine episodes they experience would certainly be an improvement.
It would be even better if it could be done without synthetic pharmacologicals.
Migraineurs, meet butterbur (Petasites hybridus). Butterbur is a shrub native to southwestern Asia, Europe, and northern Africa.
It is not what’s above ground that makes it interesting though, it’s the root. Several studies have shown that daily doses of extract of butterbur root reduced the frequency of migraine episodes by approximately 50% in almost 80% of the participants.
Butterbur is used in Europe and Asia, but only in the last decade have American doctors looked at it as a viable herbal preventative for migraineurs.
Double blind, placebo-controlled studies conducted in 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004, and 2005 all confirmed the herb’s efficacy.
Migraine frequency reduction ranged from 37% – 62% among study participants, with almost no side effects. The only side effect reported was minor gastrointestinal upset, and that was in a small portion of both the herb and placebo groups.
Butterbur is currently considered to be safe, as of this writing, to take with other migraine medications. A healthcare professional should always be included in the decision to add herbal products to any treatment regimen.
Crude butterbur contains pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs). These alkaloids are known to be toxic in humans, particularly to the liver. When choosing butterbur, make sure the product is labeled PA-free.
The amount of alkaloids in butterbur root is minimal, less than 0.01% concentration. Most butterbur treatment regimens recommend taking the supplement for a maximum of for to six months.
If migraine frequency increases, it is safe to take again for another 4-6 months, but at least a month needs to separate each course of treatment.
When Is A Headache More Than ‘Just A Headache’?
Do you often suffer from frequent, bad headaches that make you sick to your stomach or sensitive to light and sound?
Does the pain grow so bad that you have to miss days of work or time with your family and friends? If so, you may suffer from migraine headaches and not even know it. You’re not alone.
“Migraine pain can occur on one or both sides of your head, but what people may not know is that migraine may also be associated with runny nose, sinus or face pain and pressure, and neck pain,” said Dr. Lisa Mannix from Headache Associates in Cincinnati, Ohio.
“Because patients do not commonly associate these additional symptoms with migraine, many people may be misdiagnosed. A misdiagnosis only delays pain relief and could lead to unnecessary tests, medications and sometimes even surgery.”
Michelle Draveski, a stay-at-home mom, suffered one migraine attack after another before being properly diagnosed.
When she first went to her doctor, she was told she had “hormonal headaches” and that over-the-counter painkillers should work. But even though she took more than the recommended dose, the pain didn’t go away.
“I remember my worst attack like it was yesterday,” said Draveski. “My oldest son was eight months old and I was struck with the worst headache of my life.
I was miserably sick to my stomach. All I could do was lie on the cold bathroom floor with blankets over the windows to block out the light.
That’s when my son woke up from his nap. I tried to care for him, but I was helpless. I finally called my grandmother to come help with my son, but she ended up taking me to the emergency room instead.”
Soon after this, Michelle saw a new doctor who diagnosed her with migraines and prescribed a migraine-specific medicine, Imitrex® (sumatriptan succinate) Tablets.
Today, Michelle keeps her medicine with her at all times so if she gets a migraine, she can take it at the first sign of pain and go on with her life.
Dawn’s Near Miss
Many migraine sufferers feel as if they’re missing out on life because of their condition. In fact, most worry that a migraine will interfere with a big day in their life. That’s how Dawn Michelson felt when a migraine almost caused her to miss her only son’s wedding.
“It was a special day and I was excited to celebrate with our new family,” said Michelson. “But all the stress of traveling, lack of sleep and a glass of red wine triggered an awful migraine attack. I took my Imitrex as soon as possible and waited for the pain to go away.”
Dawn eventually started to feel better and was able to get back to celebrating her son’s special day. She added, “I truly believe that if it was not for my medication, I would have missed the day entirely.”
You Can Do Something About It
More than 28 million Americans suffer from migraines and about half of those people are undiagnosed. Women make up the largest number of migraine sufferers.
Studies show that migraines affect women three times more than men. If migraines go untreated, they can have a huge impact on a person’s life, often making it impossible to carry on with their daily activities.
If you suffer from frequent, bad headaches, there are simple steps you can take to get the help you need. The first step is to be aware of your symptoms, so you can tell them to your doctor.
This is important because symptoms can be different from person to person and attack to attack. People who are able to clearly report their symptoms are more likely to get a proper diagnosis.
Also, there are tools available to help you know what kind of information to share with your doctor. One of these tools is the headache quiz, available at www.headachequiz.com.
On the Web site, take the quiz and talk to your doctor about the results. Getting the right diagnosis can mean getting the right treatment plan.
If the diagnosis is migraine, then migraine-specific prescription therapies, like Imitrex, are available for the acute treatment of migraine attacks with or without aura.
Imitrex was the first prescription drug in a class of drugs called triptans to receive U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for the acute treatment of migraine in adults.
Imitrex provides relief of migraine pain and associated symptoms, without drowsiness, for many patients.
Patients should not take Imitrex if they have certain types of heart disease, history of stroke or TIAs, peripheral vascular disease, Raynaud syndrome, or blood pressure that is uncontrolled.
Patients with risk factors for heart disease, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes or are a smoker, should be evaluated by a doctor before taking Imitrex.
Very rarely, certain people, even some without heart disease, have had serious heart- related problems. Patients who are pregnant, nursing, or taking medications should talk to their doctor.
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