Natural Tips to Take the Headache Out of Treating Migraines
You wake up anticipating all the things you need to do today. Then it starts: the tight feeling deep in your forehead; the blurred vision. Then the subtle, pulsing throb that you fear will become an all-out pounding. Once that happens, game over! The nausea starts, the brain fog mounts and your day is now shot.
Types of headaches
Most headaches fall into 3 categories:
- Muscle tension headaches may start with pain in your neck and eventually feel like a band around your head. This is because thin sheets of muscle surrounding your skull are tense and put pressure on nerve networks. Muscle tension headaches worsen through the day.
- Sinus headaches are felt across the forehead. The pain is constant. It is often associated with nasal congestion.
- Migraines headaches are also called “vascular”, which means they are linked to blood vessels. The symptoms vary from person to person. Some start with an “aura”, like light flashes, tingling of your face or limbs and blind spots. This is followed by pounding in your head (usually on one side), nrausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light and sound. They can last for hours or even days.
When your head hurts, it’s often a blend of two of the types of headaches above.
For nerds only: How do blood vessels around your head cause pain?
Research suggests that during the aura phase, your blood vessels narrow (vaso-constrict).
This decreases blood flow to areas of your brain. Nerves surrounding your brain trigger your blood vessels to expand (vaso-dilate). This causes pounding. The dilated blood vessels become leaky and release proteins that cause inflammation to the structures on the surface of your brain. As the inflammation spreads, so does your pain.
What triggers YOUR migraines?
When you get a migraine, your body is telling you to pay attention. Something needs changed. It can be the way you eat, a particular food you are sensitive to, a nutrient deficiency or a stressful lifestyle. How many of these triggers can you check off?
Poor sleep patterns – This is one of the most common causes of migraine. Your tired brain must complete a series of sleep cycles each night to repair itself. If the cycles are interrupted for any reason (pain, caffeine, noise or light in the room), you are more likely to develop migraines. This is because the aroused brain makes different types of proteins than the sleeping brain, and these proteins are linked to pain.
Stress – When your body or mind is stressed, your adrenal glands release the stress hormone, cortisol. Cortisol decreases pain and protects against the harmful effects of stress. When stress is neutralized, cortisol levels decrease. The change in levels can trigger a migraine. Also, when you are stressed, the muscles of your head and neck tense, causing muscle tension headaches which can evolve into migraines.
Food sensitivities – Your body may be sensitive to some foods without you being aware. When you eat foods that you are sensitive to, they damage your intestine, triggering your immune system. The result is inflammation that diffuses through your body, damaging your organs. Culprits frequently include dairy, beans, chocolate, products containing gluten and cured meats. Monosodium glutamate (MSG), added to foods to enhance flavor, excites nerve cells, triggering headaches.
Smells – You may be sensitive to the chemicals used in products, like perfumes and cleaning chemicals. Smoke is also an irritant that may trigger headaches.
Alcohol – Many people develop migraines almost immediately after drinking alcoholic beverages. Studies have attempted to define which component is responsible. Alcohol itself is likely the trigger, through its ability to enlarge (vasodilate) blood vessels.
Triggers you might not have thought of
Dehydration – Drinks containing caffeine, sugar and alcohol don’t quench your thirst. They actually dehydrate you, setting a headache in motion.
Inactivity – Staying in one position too long can strain your neck muscles, causing a tension headache, which can ultimately become a migraine.
Hormones – This includes your stress hormone, cortisol. There is also a type of hormonal migraine related to the menstrual cycle. It occurs when your estrogen level decreases at the end of each cycle.
Poor diet – This may include too much sugar or too few nutrients (vitamins and minerals). If you are eating a nutrient-poor diet, high in sugar (carbohydrates), you are likely doing so at the expense of a healthy diet that is essential for brain and blood vessels.
Genetics – Sometimes your genes increase your chances for headaches. A specific gene (the MTHFR gene) is altered in some individuals. It directs how efficiently many chemical reactions occur. Because these reactions are hampered if you have this altered gene, your level of a chemical, called homocysteine, can elevate. High levels of homocysteine are known to disrupt the nerves and blood vessels, increasing your chance for migraines.
Tips for attacking back – reducing your frequency and severity of migraines
In keeping with our promise to keep things short and useable for our busy readers, we’ll end here. However, if you’d like to see how you can improve your headaches, we’ve compiled a list of tips shown to help. These include specific nutrients, simple life-style tips and other tricks you may not be familiar with. They work!!
Click below to instantly get the information to fix your migraines. Time to get ahead of the pain!