Laura Thompson is a local Nutritional Therapist, Acupuncturist and creator of the Healthy Gut Plan, offering advice on a range of health issues
Anyone who has suffered from migraines will be aware of just how debilitating they can be. Many sufferers will have no choice but to retreat to a dark, quiet room until it eases. Moreover sometimes migraine drugs can complicate things with ineffective results and sometimes unpleasant side affects. So are there any alternative treatments that can help?
Some sufferers will be aware that there are specific triggers which bring on an attack but for many it can be hard to pin down.
Often a major trigger can be diet related. Common food triggers are processed foods such as nitrates, monosodium glutamate and tartrazine, alcohol particularly red wine, chocolate and caffeine. Having a food intolerance test or keeping a food diary can help identify triggers.
Another common cause can be a deficiency in magnesium which is an essential mineral. Research has found that taking a Magnesium supplement can be useful in reducing attacks in some people.
Particularly in menstrual migraines; with menstrual migraines it can also be due to a drop in oestrogen also affecting women during the menopause.
Taking good care of the diet and the gut will be big factor in balancing hormones. Check with your doctor before taking Magnesium if you are on any prescribed medication or have other health conditions.
Another supplement that can be of help is Vitamin B. B vitamins are water soluble which means that any excess levels are excreted through the urine and not stored in the body. B vitamins are also good for alleviating stress and help to regulate metabolism.
Dehydration is another cause of migraine. Drinking water at regular intervals throughout the day will keep you sufficiently hydrated.
Falling blood sugar levels can also be a factor. Try to avoid sugary snacks and eat at regular intervals.
Including a small amount of protein with your carbohydrates will slow down the release of sugars into your blood, helping to keep them stable. Likewise a small amount of cinnamon will keep sugar levels stable.
Sleeping too much or too little can also be a trigger. Try to get seven or eight hours daily. Don’t over sleep.
Some therapies such as acupuncture have had some really positive results. Massage is also very useful as tense neck and shoulder muscles can cause attacks. It is also great for stress.
Obesity is another factor so try and maintain a healthy body weight. Exercise but don’t over do it either.
Peppermint oil applied to the temples and forehead can ease the pain, nausea and light sensitivity.
Ginger has long been associated with treating motion sickness and nausea and a ginger tea will help.
Finally, a word of caution: always consult your doctor before trying any treatment stratigies.
Migraine Awareness Week takes place from September 1 to 7. See www.migraine.ie for more information.