Genetic Research into Migraines
Migraine headaches are a huge health problem. In a 2004 report, the World Health Organization (WHO) called migraines and headache disorders a global public health calamity.
Migraines and other chronic headache conditions are disabling. In the same report, the WHO ranked migraine as one of the top twenty conditions in the world to cause years of healthy life lost due to disability.
Migraines and all other headache disorders combined rank in the top ten causes of disability. As a result of the increasing global recognition of migraine as a health threat, genetic research into the condition has multiplied exponentially in the last ten to fifteen years.
Doctors have long known that a child with two migraineur parent will likely have migraines.
A 2000 Danish study using primarily twins indicated that migraine without aura (common migraine) is approximately sixty-one percent genetic.
The other thirty-nine percent was attributed to genetic factors, making migraines a partially genetic disease. Family history studies and the Danish study both suggest that migraines are a multi-genomic condition, meaning that several genes or combinations of genes are required for the condition to be inherited.
In a study published in June 2003, Dutch doctors revealed that a particular sub-type of migraine, familial hemiplegic migraine, follows a conventional Mendelian inheritance pattern
(simple inheritance) in seventy-five percent of all cases. The same study indicated that common migraine is considerably more complex. Several potential genetic loci have been looked at.
The Genomics Research Centre at Griffith University, Queensland, Australia, reports progress in locating genetic loci for migraines.
Researchers have been studying multi-generational migraine sufferers within the same family for years. According to their website,
the researchers have identified three different genetic regions on the chromosomes 1, 19, and X that harbor genes which increase migraine susceptibility.
This type of research may eventually lead to a genetic treatment for migraines.
Aromatherapy and Migraines
Most physicians agree that aromatherapy makes an excellent complementary therapy for migraineurs. Aromatherapy has not been shown to eliminate migraine headaches,
but when used to complement traditional therapy and medication it can reduce the frequency and severity of attacks.
Aromatherapy is a natural healing methodology that uses plant-derived essential oils to achieve a desired therapeutic affect.
It is not known precisely how aromatherapy works, whether it is the scent or a chemical action of the essential oil itself that provides relief. Because of this unknown factor some doctors worry about potential essential oil interactions with standard drugs used in treating migraines.
When trying aromatherapy to relieve migraines, keep in mind a few safety precautions.
* Always talk to a doctor before trying anything new.
* Speak to an experienced aromatherapist, if possible.
* When combining aromatherapy with other medications, watch for adverse reactions and report them to a doctor immediately.
* Buy real plant-derived essential oils designed for aromatherapy. Good ones will be sold in dark containers and stored away from direct sunlight.
* Use a carrier oil or aromatherapy diffuser. Essential oils can be powerful irritants and should not be applied directly to the skin.
Essential oils can be used in a number of ways. They can be used in an aromatherapy diffuser and inhaled two or three times daily. Oils can added to a large bowl of hot water and the aroma inhaled with eyes closed.
While essential oils can also be added to carrier bath, face, or massage oils and applied to the body or bath, this should only be done after consulting with a knowledgeable aromatherapist to make sure the oils used are safe for this purpose.
Some of the essential oils commonly recommended for migraine aromatherapy are lavender, peppermint, rosemary, eucalyptus, sandalwood, clary sage, ginger, ylang-ylang, basil, marjoram, and chamomile.
Migraines and Depression
Being in pain so fierce that the only recourse is to hide in a dark, quiet room until it is over several times a year would make anyone sad.
Migraineurs, though, are five times more likely to develop clinical depression than people who do not have these debilitating headaches. Conversely, people who are depressed are three times likelier than happy people to become migraineurs.
Many scientists view the intertwining of migraine and depression as a chicken or egg situation.
They are patently comorbid, but does one cause the other? If so, which one starts the process, the migraine or the depression? The answer is not that simple.
Migraines, depression, and, unsurprisingly, insomnia, a state associated with both conditions have something in common. All three are associated with neurotransmitter deficiencies in the brain.
Doctors believe that while they are related, depression and migraine headaches have distinct causes with a similar neurobiology.
For years, doctors blamed depression in migraineurs on their resultant loss of quality of life due to headaches. Now it looks as though the link is a biologic shared mechanism rather than psychology.
One danger for clinically depressed migraineurs is possible drug interaction between their depression medication and their migraine drugs.
In July 2006 the FDA recognized one such danger, that of mixing triptans for migraines with SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) or SNRIs
(serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors), used to treat depression and mood disorders. Combining the drugs can lead to a condition called serotonin syndrome.
Serotonin syndrome occurs when there is too much serotonin in the body. Symptoms include hallucinations, increased heart rate and body temperature, fast changes in blood pressure, and gastrointestinal upset.
Sometimes a patient has no choice but to take these medications together, but they need to weigh their options with their doctor and be monitored closely for serotonin syndrome.
Reflexology for Migraines
Say the word migraine and most migraineurs will reflexively cringe in remembered pain, their last headache still vivid in their memory.
Say the word reflexology to them and you will likely get a blank stare. A recent (2006) study in Denmark indicates that migraineurs who get more familiar with reflexology are less likely to cringe reflexively at the mention of migraines.
What is reflexology?
Reflexology is a massage technique based on the idea that every part of the human body has a corresponding point on the sole of the foot.
Reflexologists believe that massage and stimulation of these points on the foot can relieve tension, pain, and stress in the corresponding parts of the body.
In the Danish study involved a mix of migraineurs and people experiencing chronic tension headaches.
Approximately 90% of the people who participated in the study admitted to taking prescribed medication in the month prior to the study specifically for their headaches.
After the study, 19% of participants said they were able to stop taking medication for their headaches thanks to the treatment.
The study involved a course of six to eight treatments with monthly follow-up treatments thereafter for a period of six months.
At the conclusion of the six months 23% of the study participants said they were completely cured and no longer having headaches.
Fifty-five percent of the participants noted marked improvement in their condition—headaches were less frequent and less severe. A remarkable 78% of the study participants saw an improvement in their condition.
At a follow-up check three months after the conclusion of the study 23% of the migraineurs stated they were cured. About 41% said they felt their quality of life was improved.
The treatments were most effective on younger patients and those who had been experiencing migraines for a shorter period of time.
How you should drink tea if you have Headaches, Migraines, High Blood Pressure and Stress ..
Many people have heard and seen the many advertisements about tea and its various cures and benefits. Along with weight loss, cancer fighting, and other cellular benefits curing Headaches and Migraines while reducing stress is among the top advertised.
But when I see these ads, I think Why ?
After drinking tea for a while, including Green Tea, Oolong Tea, Rooibos, Lemongrass, and a wide listing of organic herbal blends, I have found that I don’t really know if I am fighting cancer inside my body.
But I do know that tea can greatly help me to balance out a stressful time, and help get rid of and prevent headaches.
Simply drinking tea, especially some of the herbal blends specifically mixed for the occasion, can help with headaches, and you will receive all other benefits from the actual tea itself.
But only drinking the tea in itself will not allow you to fully maximize all the potential, especially in regards to headaches and migraines. Because not always, but sometimes, drinking tea is about Drinking Tea.
I drink tea all day long. Cup after cup (Thank you, Tea Stand) I drink with no sense of traditional practice, or religious afterthought. I just drink it.
But when I have a headache (from stress, sinus headache, caffeine, or many other reasons), just drinking tea isn’t always best. That is when my tradition comes out.
I don’t use special pots, or time honored traditions. There is nothing wrong with them, but I rarely have time for that, and growing up in the United States, there are no time honored tea drinking traditions.
I always used tea bags (low quality as they were my only option, and didn’t know any better).So now, even though I am closer to tradition, I still do not have time for this.
My Headache/Stress tea drinking practice takes less than five minutes. Usually, that is all the time I have (which is mostly why I have the headache in the first place).
I begin with the double chamber gourmet tea bag. High quality loose tea, easy to use tea bag, reusable; three of the reasons why.
I rough it up a little to make the tea inside spread out, and then I put the bag into my mug. With the tea bag ready I pour steaming hot water over it. A little bit too hot to drink.
When the cup is full, I bob the tea bag in and out of the water for a minute or so, and let it site for a minute (maybe, depending on how strong I want the tea, how many times have I used the tea bag already, etc.)
When letting the tea bag sit, I wrap the string around the mug handle and anchoring it with the bead at the end. After the tea is ready, I take the tea bag out of the cup, and hang it on my tea stand.
With green teas and Oolong teas, this is especially important. If you leave the tea bag in the cup too long it can get very bitter.
Now that my tea is ready ( a process which took maybe two minutes) I am ready to relieve myself from this nagging headache. With the cup still steaming, I cup my hands around the mug and slowly breath in the steam.
Slow, deep breathes. I do this three to five times, or until the tea has cooled down a little so that I can begin drinking it.
It is still hot, but I won’t burn my tongue or lips if I drink it. Then I take small slurping sips. The hot water is important not only for the steam but also for these first few sips.
The hot water slows down your drinking, and also helps to clear out your head. After a couple minutes of this I am generally feeling better.
Maybe this 5 minute practice is loosely based on tradition, and doesn’t sound too complicated, but it helps me.
I am sure that all in this hectic world can appreciate 5 minutes where life is slowed down and especially a tradition that is fast, easy, and that really helps to get alleviate life’s little inconveniences; headaches, migraines, and stress.
Chiropractic Care for Migraines
Chiropractic care is a safe, non-invasive way to relieve migraine suffering without the use of medication. Chiropractic migraine treatment is not for everyone,
but it may be particularly useful for patients who cannot use prescription medication due to other risk factors.
Migraine headaches are idiopathic. This means that despite the last century’s advances in medical science their cause is still unknown.
A number of theories exist to explain migraines. They include a possible serotonin deficiency in migraineurs, genetics malformations, and arterial swelling in the cranium.
A common chiropractic theory is that subluxations in the muscles at the base of the skull and the neck cause, or contribute to, the formation of migraine headaches. Subluxations are tense areas in the muscles adjoining the small bones of the upper spinal column.
On an x-ray, the bones appear to be in the correct place and medical doctors often miss the tension in the muscles. A chiropractor gently manipulates the spine to relax these subluxations.
Chiropractors offer two varieties of care for migraine patients, straight chiropractic and mixed chiropractic. Straight chiropractic only involves manipulation of the spine and spinal subluxations.
Mixed chiropractic care combines traditional manipulation with other complementary techniques. The focus in mixed chiropractic is to reduce overall neck strain and tension.
Researchers at Northwestern College of Chiropractic in Minnesota recently compared chiropractic care with drug therapies for migraines and chronic tension headaches. The study was published in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics.
Two hundred eighteen headache patients were given either drug therapy or regular chiropractic care. Both groups reported a 40-50% reduction in headache pain at the end of the study.
Follow ups four weeks after discontinuing all care showed only the chiropractic group still enjoying the pain reduction the treatment initiated. Only 20-25% of the drug therapy patients were still benefiting from their treatment at this follow up.
Fewer Migraines with Feverfew
Migraineurs (people who suffer from chronic or episodic migraine headaches) are looking for headache relief that doesn’t come from a drug lab.
All too often pharmaceutical migraine solutions have unpleasant side effects, including, ironically enough, headache.
Some migraine sufferers have found help from feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium), a common flower that grows all over Europe and North America. Feverfew plants resemble daisies.
They have flat yellow centers with slender white petals on lightly furred stems and small yellow-green leaves. Medical texts going as far back as Ancient Rome list dried and crushed feverfew leaves as a palliative for headaches.
Feverfew is best used in a preventive program. Several clinical trials, all in the past decade, have shown that feverfew, taken two to three times a day, can reduce the frequency of migraine episodes by up to 50% for some people.
Several study participants who experienced chronic daily headaches (CDH) plus migraine episodes reported that their daily headaches stopped completely after four weeks of feverfew treatment.
Feverfew, while helpful to some, has a significant amount of potential side effects. Few people experience them, but they can be serious.
Any patient wanting to add feverfew to their migraine prevention regimen should consult with their doctor and a licensed herbalist.
Feverfew is available in many forms. It can be homegrown and the migraineur can chew two to three leaves from the plant each day.
It is also available in tea, tablet, capsule, and tincture forms. Feverfew in any form can cause mouth ulcers, but they are most common among those that chew the leaves or drink the tea. If mouth sores develop, discontinue use immediately.
Pregnant or nursing women should take feverfew. Do not give feverfew to pediatric migraineurs without consulting a doctor. Feverfew can trigger an allergic reaction in patients with common pollen allergies and should be used with caution.
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