I suffer from migraines and nothing seems to help. What are your recommendations for finding relief?
There are a few really great options for helping with migraines. But before I dive into these potential approaches, it’s worth noting that identifying any migraine triggers is incredibly important. Paying close attention to activities engaged in, foods eaten, or beverages enjoyed prior to experiencing a migraine (chocolate, red wine, and caffeinated drinks are a few common examples) might seem like an obvious approach, but it can be very helpful preventatively.
Stress is also worth paying attention to. A 2010 issue of Headache Journal determined that roughly 60 percent of migraines are brought on by stress, which is why integrative mind/body therapies can be so helpful. A 2011 study in Current Treatment Options in Neurology noted that lifestyle changes—including stress-reducing activities such as yoga, guided imagery, and biofeedback—can improve the likelihood of long-term remission or significant improvement of migraines by up to 65 percent.
But let’s say you are in need of relief right now from a migraine. Here are three areas to explore:
A 2009 study in Cochrane Systemic Review stated that acupuncture is at least as effective, or possibly more so, than prophylactic drug treatments and has fewer side effects. For those who have anxiety because of the needles, there are very effective forms of needleless acupuncture that have been proven in clinical settings to provide relief for a variety of ailments.
There are really some standout nutrients that can help alleviate the symptoms associated with migraines. In some instances, the root cause of the migraine may even be a micronutrient deficiency.
>> Magnesium. The first that comes to mind is magnesium. There have been a couple of impressive studies that have shown the preventative effects of magnesium supplementation on migraines as migraine sufferers often have low magnesium levels.
>> CoQ10 is another nutrient that can have a profound effect on migraines. Some studies have shown a 50 percent decrease with about 300 mg per day.
>> Riboflavin also has shown potential to decrease the intensity of migraines by 50 percent.
>> Butterbur has the most potential to help in the botanical (or herbal) category and has been recommended by the American Academy of Neurology in 2012.
Smaller studies have demonstrated some great results for patients suffering from migraines. Migraines are a vascular issue, which has led me in practice to introduce a specific upper cervical chiropractic adjustment to migraine patients. This particular technique was shown in a 2008 Journal of Hypertension article to have an effect on vascular health. More specifically, it was shown to affect blood pressure, and migraines can actually be connected to blood pressure.
I’ve experienced migraines myself and know firsthand the devastating effect they can have on your life. Sometimes it feels as if there’s no hope, but there absolutely is— research has proven that. The trick is finding what’s right for you. I wish you the best of luck on that journey.
Adam Killpartrick, DC, is a lead instructor in cranial release technology and the director of product development for Innate Response Formulas. He is currently maintaining his private integrative chiropractic/cranial practice in New Hampshire.