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Avoid Summer Migraines

While there is much to love about summer- longer days, outdoor picnics, trips to the beach, pool time and nighttime barbecues, summer months can also increase the risk of debilitating migraines. Hotter temperatures, barometric pressure changes, and high humidity make many migraine sufferers more susceptible to an attack.

What triggers migraines during the summer?

A host of factors make summer one of the worst seasons for migraine attacks. For example, dehydration, a common migraine trigger, is more likely to occur during the summer months when the weather is warm and during periods of profuse sweating where people lose more fluid than they take in.

Other factors may trigger migraines during the summer months, including:
• High humidity
• High winds
• Longer days (which can change sleeping patterns)
• Typical summer foods and drinks (hot dogs, bacon, sausage, soda, alcohol, pre-made sauces like BBQ sauce, chips, candy, etc.)
Barometric pressure changes

But even though migraines often rob us of summer’s little pleasures, there are things you can do to minimize your risk and ward off triggers. Here are some helpful tips for avoiding migraines and headaches this summer:

migraineur

How do you avoid a summer migraine?

Stay well hydrated.
For many migraine sufferers, even mild dehydration is the quickest way to a migraine attack. To avoid getting dehydrated while you are out and about, carry a water bottle with you at all times and drink 6 to 8 ounces every hour. Drinking water is not the only way to stay hydrated: fruits and veggies with high water content like grapes, watermelon, celery, and cucumber are fun and effective hydration options perfect for pool or beach days.

Wear sunglasses.
Many migraine sufferers are sensitive to light before, during, or even after an attack (photophobia). 85 to 90 percent of migraineurs experience photophobia which is why so many migraine sufferers seeking migraine relief, lie down in a dark room.

Some migraineurs swear by dark, polarized, tinted, or FL-41 lenses, but keep in mind that there is no right or wrong way of choosing sunglasses for your migraines. The perfect pair will be the one that sits comfortably on your face, provides adequate UV ray coverage, and reduces discomfort.  It is important to choose frames with good eye-coverage that can help block light that comes from above, that comes from the side, and that causes glare that comes from the back.

You may also need to wear your sunglasses indoors to deal with fluorescent lights, computer screens, etc. However, wearing sunglasses indoors too much can lead to something called chronic dark adaptation, which can make your sensitivity to light even worse.  If you have to wear sunglasses inside, be sure to take them off every hour or so to avoid getting chronic dark adaptation.  Consider decreasing glare and brightness by turning off fluorescent lights or adjusting or tinting your computer screen.

Maintain a consistent sleep schedule.
With longer days and shorter nights, you probably find yourself going to bed later and waking up earlier than usual. Daylight hour changes can be very disruptive to sleeping routines; humans are wired to sleep after the sun sets and wake up when it rises. But during the summertime, the earth tilts on its axis ever so slightly, bringing more daylight hours to most places around the world.
Sleep deprivation is a potent migraine trigger, but you can avoid it by sticking to a regular sleeping schedule, making sure your room is dark, the temperature is pleasant, and limiting your sugar and caffeine consumption before bed.

Before you give in to the inevitability of waking up with a migraine, consider a natural sleep aide to help you reset your internal clock and ease back to sleep. Natural supplements with melatonin, valerian root extract, or magnesium are all safe and effective options.

Avoid Fragrances.
Fragrance-loaded summer products like sunscreens are important to avoid if you are susceptible to this migraine trigger. Try to purchase fragrance-free products when possible.

Manage Stress.
Although summer is a carefree time of fun and relaxation, many people may experience what some call a “let-down” migraine because they occur on the first day of vacation or the start of a weekend. According to a study conducted by researchers at the Montefiore Headache Center and Albert Einstein College of Medicine at Yeshiva University, in the first six hours of reduced stress, a person’s risk of getting a migraine attack increases nearly five times, an effect that lasts up to 24 hours. The researchers found that relaxation following heightened stress was an even more significant trigger for migraine attacks and reduced stress from one day to the next significantly increased risk of migraine onset on the following day.

 

stress management

Practice mindfulness in order to reduce stress

It is important for people to be aware of rising stress levels and attempt to relax during periods of stress, rather than allowing a major build-up.  Rising temperatures are also known to increase levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Practicing mindfulness or yoga and taking natural supplements to help maintain healthy levels of cortisol are great ways to manage stress and prevent migraines.

On-the-Spot Nutritional Support

If you are using MigreLief Original daily formula, don’t forget to pack it along on any trip you may be taking.  It is available in a small travel-size bottle.  Be sure to keep MigreLief-NOW close by, in your purse or backpack in case of emergencies for on-the-spot neurological comfort during difficult times.

Relax, enjoy your summer, and stay safe.

When your out and about this summer, remember to avoid heat-related illnesses. Avoid becoming overheated.  While having fun and the sun, be sure to seek out shade occasionally, drink plenty of water and cool down by misting yourself with a spray bottle of water.

Migraine Prevention Tips

~The management of those factors that could lead to disease so as to prevent the occurrence of the disease.

If you or a loved one is a “prisoner” of chronic migraines, this information could change your life.

When it comes to chronic migraines, PREVENTION is by far the most sensible choice.  The alternative to prevention may be treating the symptoms of migraine pain for a lifetime.  Migraines should not be a lifestyle.

A PROPER PREVENTIVE REGIMEN INCLUDES LIFESTYLE CHANGES AND PROVIDING NUTRITIONAL SUPPORT TO THE “MIGRAINE BRAIN.”

Few physicians or researchers who are experts on migraines would deny that “STRESS” can be a major factor in the occurrence of migraines.

Making a few minor changes in your lifestyle can make a big difference.  Improving sleep habits is important for everyone, and especially those with headaches. What you eat also has a huge impact on your life and can trigger migraines, therefore dietary changes can be extremely beneficial.

AVOID TRIGGERS

Barometric Pressure/Temperature Changes:  When the temperature climbs, so does the likelihood of developing a migraine or other severe headache. In one recent study, researchers found a 7.5% increase in headache risk for every 9 degrees Fahrenheit. Low barometric pressure, which often precedes rain, was linked to a small bump in non-migraine headaches.

Strong smells — even nice ones — trigger migraines in many people. Why this happens is unclear, but the odors may stimulate the nervous system. The most common culprits are paint, dust, perfume, and certain types of flowers.

Aged Meats and Cheeses:  One of the most common migraine triggers is aged cheese, including blue cheese, brie, cheddar, feta, mozzarella, parmesan, and Swiss. These foods contain tyramine which can cause a migraine. Red wine and some alcoholic drinks also contain tyramine.  Cold cuts and processed meat contain both tyramine and nitrates which can also affect many migraine sufferers.

Caffeine: Though caffeine is found in many headache medications, it is actually a cause of rebound headaches. Though it is difficult for people who are used to consuming large amounts of caffeine to withdraw from it, doing so can significantly reduce migraine frequency and intensity.

Other Triggers: • dairy products* • chocolate • eggs • citrus fruits • meat** • wheat (bread, pasta, etc.) • nuts and peanuts • tomatoes • onions • corn • apples • bananas
* Includes skim or whole cow’s milk, goat’s milk, cheese, yogurt, etc. ** Includes beef, pork, chicken, turkey, fish, etc. Discover your triggers and avoid them if possible.”

HEALTHY DIET:  One study indicated that a low fat/ high complex carbohydrate diet may significantly reduce the frequency, severity, and duration of migraine headaches.

Eating Regularly:   This is important to prevent low blood sugar. People with migraines who fast periodically for religious reasons might consider taking preventive medications.

Fish Oil. Some studies suggest that omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in fish oil, have anti-inflammatory and nerve protecting actions. These fatty acids can be found in oily fish, such as salmon, mackerel, or sardines. They can also be obtained in supplements of specific omega-3 compounds (DHA-EPA.)

 

omega 3s

Consider adding fish to your diet

 

Aerobic ExerciseExercise relieves stress to put it simply, more specifically, exercise leads to the release of certain neurotransmitters in the brain that alleviate pain, both physical and mental, called endorphins. Endorphin is the brain’s painkiller, and it is 3 times more potent than morphine. Low impact, moderate exercise has been shown to help in the prevention of migraines. Walking, hiking, treadmill, or elliptical machines are good choices.

Always start with a gentle stretch, incorporating breathing techniques as taught in Yoga or Pilates. Taking a deep breath through the nose releases a gas produced in the sinus cavity that when inhaled into the lungs, significantly enhances your lung’s capacity to absorb oxygen. This gas is lethal to bacteria and viruses and is also known to increase oxygen absorption in your lungs from 10-25 percent. The result? You enter a relaxed state which is perfectly combined with stretching and will work in your favor in preventing those migraines.  Move on to a warm-up to get the blood flowing to every part of your body then proceed into your workout. Remember not to do anything too suddenly or vigorously.

Behavioral Treatments – Many neurologists who specialize in treating migraine patients recommend behavioral techniques that reduce stress and help patients to identify it. Research indicates between 35 – 50% reduction in migraine and tension-type headaches with these techniques. generally include:

* Biofeedback therapy * Cognitive-behavioral therapy * Relaxation techniques

Avoiding Oral Contraceptives – Oral contraceptives (OCs) have been associated with worse headaches in 18 – 50% of women and have also been linked to a higher risk for stroke in women with classic migraines (with auras). This is due to the hormonal modulation that these kinds of drugs cause.

Why your prescription medication works against you – Many migraine sufferers use either prescription medicines like triptans (i.e. Imitrex, Zomig) or over-the-counter medications many of which contain caffeine. When these medications are consistently used many times a week they actually cause significantly more migraines to happen, even though they may help the current migraine at hand.

Many prescription drug users will find the need to take more of the drug in a day or two because they think the migraine they had returned, when in fact it is a new migraine. THIS IS REFERRED TO AS MEDICATION-OVERUSE HEADACHE (MOH) and this problem is rampant, especially in chronic migraine sufferers.

 MEDICATION OVERUSE – A HUGE CAUSE OF RECURRING MIGRAINES.

When the medication you turn to for help, turns on you, it’s time to make a change.  The cycle of recurring migraines due to overuse of prescriptions medicines and over-the-counter drugs especially ones containing caffeine is a vicious one.  It is very important for migraine sufferers to be aware of their MOH problem because it stops them from responding to preventive techniques and medicines and PREVENTING A MIGRAINE IS A MUCH BETTER OPTION THAN TRYING TO TREAT ONE AFTER IT HAS OCCURRED.

HORMONAL MIGRAINES:  Hormone imbalances and blood sugar swings are major causes of migraines that can be addressed through prevention.  Fluctuating hormones and PMS increase the frequency of migraines in some women. As previously mentioned under the contraceptive pills section, the changes in the hormonal balance that occurs during various stages of the menstrual cycle can have a large impact on the occurrence of migraines. 18-50% of women report that there is a menstrual component to their migraines. A dietary supplement like MigreLief+M is a geat option for women as it not only provides nutritional support to sufferers of menstrual migraines, it addresses symptoms of PMS too.

AVOID STRESS OR ALLEVIATE IT WHEN POSSIBLE:   STRESS-REDUCING TIPS – TO AVOID MIGRAINES

BREATHE!  Breathing exercise can literally help control your migraines to an extent you may never have thought possible.

breathing techniques for migraine

Practice methodical breathing

The depth and rate of our breathing respectively decrease and increase when we are stressed. This can deplete oxygen flow to the body and the brain. Please do this breathing exercise exactly as it is described at least 3 times a day:

Blow your breath out through your mouth and then seal your lips. Breathe in slowly through your nose for 10 seconds while expanding your chest. Hold it for 30 seconds while trying to think about “nothing”.

At the end of 30 seconds then slowly expel the breath you were holding, through your lips over a 15-second interval. Notice how your entire body relaxes throughout this breathing exercise especially during the exhalation segment.

Repeat this sequence at least 3 times in a row, working yourself up do doing it 5X in a row, three times a day.

Over time, as your body and brain relax and get used to this very effective breathing technique, you may want to increase the time you breathe in through your nose to 15 seconds, the time you hold your breath to 60 seconds and the time you exhale through your mouth to 30 seconds.

There are other various techniques available to reduce tension and stress. Studies have shown the following to be effective in preventing migraine headaches.

Biofeedback

This system teaches people to monitor and control their physical responses, including muscle tension and even blood pressure. Biofeedback was once considered an alternative treatment, but many studies have proven its effectiveness, and it is now a common migraine treatment.

Relaxation Therapy

There are various techniques used to relax the body, including deep breathing, visualization, and progressive muscle relaxation (a technique of tensing and relaxing various muscles in a specific order).

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT is a form of psychological treatment that teaches patients to recognize and cope with sources of stress in their lives.

PROVIDE NUTRITIONAL SUPPORT TO YOUR BRAIN 

The migraine brain is different, with dysfunctional brain processes that can lead to migraines when triggered. Many migraine sufferers especially chronic sufferers can benefit from dietary supplements that provide nutritional support.

Magnesium, Riboflavin, and the herb Feverfew have been shown in clinical studies to be beneficial to migraine sufferers by helping to maintain normal cerebrovascular tone and function and to maintain healthy levels of mitochondrial energy (the powerhouses of cells).

OUTSMART YOUR MIGRAINES

There are 4 distinct phases to a migraine:  Prodromal (aka Premonitory), Aura, Pain and Postdrome.

It is during the first two phases (prodromal and aura) that you get hints that a migraine is coming, and recognizing these hints (symptoms) may give you the edge you need to fight back and either prevent the migraine entirely or decrease the severity and or duration of the pain phase (which is obviously the most debilitating and problematic).

The Prodrome Stage – About 65% of migraine sufferers experience the prodrome phase. In the prodrome stage, sufferers experience emotional or physical symptoms two hours to two days before the pain phase starts.

These symptoms can occur in migraineurs with and without aura:

  • Fatigue
  • Yawning
  • Appetite changes
  • Altered mood – depression
  • Muscle Stiffness – especially in the neck
  • Appetite changes
  • Digestive changes – (some sufferers vomit up food they ate quite a while ago)
  • Irritability
  • Euphoria
  • Food cravings
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Sensitivity to odors, noise, and light
  • Increased urination

Physicians who specialize in migraine treatment find that only 30% of sufferers recognize that they have one or more of the “prodrome” symptoms until they are actually told what symptoms to look for. Once informed then up to 80% of sufferers report having one or more of them.

The Aura Stage – Less than half of migraine sufferers experience the aura stage. During this stage, about one-third of patients see flashing lights, wavy lines, and blank spots in their field of vision (called scotoma) for a few minutes to a few hours before the pain stage begins. Some also have temporary trouble speaking or feel tingling or numbness on one side of the face or feet. (called paresthesias). Others may develop a hypersensitivity to touch.

The Pain Stage – The onset of the pain stage can start within minutes or sometimes hours of the commencement of the aura stage. In addition to pain, nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light (photophobia) sound (phonophobia) and movement may also be experienced.

The Postdrome Stage – During this stage of migraine, even though the pain is gone, some sufferers can feel exhausted, depressed and/or, residual neck pain.

What to try when you notice any of the symptoms in either the “prodrome” or “aura” phases.

If you haven’t realized it already, it is advantageous to experience either or both of these stages because they can both serve as a type of “advanced warning” system that a migraine is imminent.

It is to your advantage to address your migraine as early as possible, so focus on the 13 symptoms listed in the prodromal section.

If you don’t experience any of these, but do experience the symptoms listed in the “aura” section, then that’s when you can start trying the following techniques to prevent your migraine from occurring:

MORE TECHNIQUES TO TRY:  (None of these techniques work for everybody. You will need to experiment to see which of them help you the most.)

  1. H2O – Drink plenty of room temperature water to make sure you are well hydrated.
  2. Breathe see above.
  3. Perhaps have someone massage you (if massage relaxes you.)
  4. Try taking a warm (not hot or cold) bath.
  5. ESSENTIAL OILS – Try applying essential oils to your temples, forehead, and back of the neck. An organic roll-on for migraine and headache sufferers is available combining peppermint, spearmint, lavender, and rosemary in a jojoba oil base. This combination is great for stress relief as well.
  6. GET OFF THE COMPUTER – The blue light and flickering or flashing lights of a computer screen is a trigger for some migraine sufferers.
  7. WALK –  If it’s not too hot or cold, get out and take a walk at a moderate pace for 10 minutes.
  8. NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF NUTRITION – A combination of magnesium, riboflavin (B-2) and Puracol® feverfew in the dietary supplement MigreLief has been effective “daily” nutritional support for chronic migraine sufferers for over 25 years.  However, at the first sign of discomfort, the fast-acting MigreLief version called “{MigreLief-NOW” can be taken on-the-spot for neurological comfort.

Please remember that none of the above suggestions works for everyone all of the time. You will have to experiment to see if one or more of these techniques works for you.

A Diet Rich in Omega-3 Can Reduce Migraine Frequency and Intensity

Eating a diet higher in omega-3 fatty acids could reduce the frequency and intensity of migraine headaches, according to an interesting study published in the prominent British Medical Journal last week. 

The study, which recruited more than 180 adults with frequent migraines (about 5 to 20 per month), randomly assigned participants into one of three diet plans to evaluate the effects of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in migraine inception and progression.

The skinny on healthy fats

Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, sometimes known as n-3 and n-6, respectively, are unsaturated fats critical to several essential functions of the body. Both types of fatty acids, which are made up of a specific number of carbon and hydrogen atoms linked together, are precursors of oxylipin, a family of substances closely involved in pain regulation and inflammation.

Omega-3, the most acclaimed of fatty acids, is known for its cardiovascular and neuroprotective effects, as well as its ability to fight inflammation. High levels of omega-6 fatty acids, on the other hand, can contribute to excess inflammation, raise your blood pressure, and lead to potentially fatal blood clots.

There are many types of omega-3 and 6 fatty acids, which differ based on their chemical composition and size. However, they are all considered “essential” fats because the human body cannot produce them, meaning that you need to obtain them from food or dietary supplements to maintain adequate levels. Omega-3 is found in animal and plant-based foods such as fish, nuts, and flaxseed, and foods high in omega-6 include vegetable oils, processed foods, and meat.

The migraine-omega link

Previous studies already theorized that a higher intake of omega-3 fatty acids could be associated with a reduction in the frequency and duration of migraine headaches. Human and animal clinical trials have shown that omega-3 acids have properties that may inhibit the production of inflammatory substances long associated with pain syndromes such as migraines. But specific studies on omega-3 supplementation to manage and prevent migraines have been mostly inconclusive. 

Conversely, the new study’s findings, which was conducted by the National Institute of Aging (NIA) with funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), paint a clearer story. Over a 16-week period, all participants — regardless of the diet plan they were assigned to — received meal kits containing fish, hummus, vegetables, and breakfast items.

Beyond the standardized meals, one group received higher levels of omega-3 and lower levels of linoleic acid (omega-6). The second received higher levels of both omega-3 and omega-6, and a third group (control) received low levels of omega-3 and high levels of omega-6, which, according to the researchers, mimics the standard American consumption of fatty acids.

The participants were also asked to track the frequency and duration of their headaches in addition to everyday factors, including their ability to function socially, at school, or work, as well as their medication intake and number of migraines per month. 

At the end of the study, both omega-3-rich diets led to important decreases in migraine frequency and duration, compared with the control diet. But it was the high omega-3 plus low omega-6 diet that offered the most remarkable improvements, yielding a significant reduction in total migraine hours per day as well as shorter and less severe headaches, compared to the control group.

What this means for you

There’s still a lot we don’t know about migraines and why some people seem to be more susceptible to these excruciating headaches than others. However, studies like this add to the existing body of literature and provide helpful information on drug-free interventions that could potentially improve the lives of millions of women, men, and children who suffer from this debilitating neurological disease. 

migraineur

What’s the link between omega-3s and migraine?

Experts recommend that adults consume a minimum of 250 to 500 mg of omega-3 per day (currently there’s no upper limit of omega-3 intake, though most experts draw the line at 5 grams per day). It’s also important to note that the standard American diet contains nearly 10 times more omega-6 than omega-3, which could hinder the positive effects of healthy fatty acids. Research suggests that the optimal omega 3 to 6 ratio should be closer to 2:1. 

How to Get More Omega-3s in your Diet

The best way to get more omega-3 into your diet is from healthy foods like fish and nuts, though omega-3 supplements are generally considered safe and produce little to no side effects in healthy individuals at the appropriate dose. If you don’t know where to start, consider adding these omega-3-rich foods to your daily meals:

omega 3 diet

Chia seeds

  • Chia seeds (5,060 mg per tablespoon)
  • Walnuts (2,570 mg per serving)
  • Flax seeds (2,350 mg per tablespoon)
  • Salmon (4,123 mg per serving)
  • Sardines (2,205 mg per serving)
  • Anchovies (594 mg per serving)
  • Mackerel (2,753 mg per serving)

Foods high in omega-6 that you should consider cutting down or avoiding altogether include:

  • Fast foods and processed foods
  • Processed chips 
  • Vegetable oils (corn, safflower, cottonseed, soybean)
  • French fries
  • Store-bought baked goods
omega 6 foods

Just say no to processed potato chips

 

 

Cool Down Migraines With Ice Therapy | DIY Ice Packs

Cold therapy is one of the simplest and most accessible natural remedies to alleviate pain and discomfort. Different cooling agents have been used as complimentary migraine therapies for more than 150 years. So much so that cold therapy is, nowadays, the most common self-administered treatment for people experiencing migraine without aura and the second most common for migraineurs with aura.

What is Cold Therapy?

Ever since humans discovered how to manipulate temperature – the measure of the average kinetic energy of a substance – we have been looking for ways to use it to our advantage. One of the most obvious applications of this knowledge today is cooking, where we use various degrees of temperature to heat or cool down different foods. Another inventive way of using temperature is as a therapeutic agent by applying heat or cold to different areas of the body to reduce inflammation, ease pain, and even loosen up stiff muscles.

Treating different types of injuries or ailments calls for using different ranges of temperature. Heat therapy – which improves circulation and blood flow – is better for treating muscle pain and stiffness, but it shouldn’t be used in swollen areas or open wounds. Cold therapy, also known as ice therapy or cryotherapy in some settings, is an affordable and easy way of reducing inflammation and alleviating sharp pain.

Cold Therapy for Migraines

The first time cold was used as a treatment for migraine headaches was in 1849 when James Arnott, an English physician and cryotherapy pioneer, documented the benefits of using a mixture of ice and salt crystals to ease headache pain. Since then, numerous clinical trials have explored the effects of this technique and tested different ways of applying cold for relieving migraines.

For instance, in a 2006 pilot study, 28 female migraine patients were asked to wear a frozen gel cap for 25 minutes during migraine attacks and record the details of their headaches in a diary. Their results showed that cold therapy alone was able to mitigate 50 percent of attacks. But the mechanisms by which cold therapy reduces migraine pain remain unclear, according to the authors of the same study.

One of the most popular theories of how this mechanism may work suggests that the cold sensations induce an anesthetic reaction by slowing the transmission of pain signals from nerves to the cerebral cortex. Cold therapy has also been shown to promote vasoconstriction, i.e., to contract blood vessels, which may lower pain sensations by limiting blood flow in the targeted areas.

Cold therapy, of course, is not a miracle treatment, and some migraineurs don’t see any improvements in their pain with this method. But if you’ve only tried applying ice packs to your head during migraine attacks, you may want to try them on your neck the next time you are in pain.

A clinical trial looking at the effects of neck cooling for the treatment of migraines, 64 participants were randomly assigned into two groups. One group received a frozen neck wrap to wear during migraine attacks, and the other wore the same neck wrap at room temperature. Their findings indicated that applying a cooling agent in the neck, near the carotid artery (a major blood vessel that supplies blood to the brain), significantly reduced self-reported pain in participants with migraine headaches.

 

cold therapy migraine

 

Home Made Ice Packs – Flexible and Squishy – Do It Yourself

 1. Alcohol & Water Ice Pack:

This is a simple recipe that consists of 1 part alcohol to 3 parts water as a rule of thumb. Adding alcohol to water will keep it from freezing completely. To make this method in a quart size Ziploc bag, combine 1½ cups of water with a ½ cup of rubbing alcohol. Seal and put in the freezer for several hours or overnight. Sometimes you can also find a Green Colored Wintergreen Rubbing Alcohol which gives the ice pack a little bit of color.  You can adjust the recipe for use in smaller snack size zip-lock bags or larger ones by keeping the 1:3 ratio of alcohol to water.

2.  Sponge and Water:

You can make an ice pack simply with just a clean sponge and water.  The sponge will be hard and firm with no flexibility when first taken out of the freezer.  Do not force it to bend too much at first, or it will snap.  As it warms up it becomes moist and soft again, but not drippy.  You can put it in a baggie if you want, but it isn’t absolutely necessary.

3. Dish soap or Glycerine and Water Ice Pack:

The best part of a gel ice pack is its squishy, flexible nature. The time frame for this method is more important, depending on what type of ice pack you want.  It can be soft and squishy if you freeze it for a couple of hours.  The longer you leave it in the freezer, the more icy and firm it will become. Either way, it’s a simple method that can be made in any size Ziploc bag You can hold it against your head or  mold it to the body part in question (or in pain). It holds its coldness well. Just fill a plastic zip-lock bag with corn syrup or dish soap (no need to measure) and freeze. The corn syrup or dish soap will not freeze solid making it a perfect cooling therapy.

4.  Salt and Water Ice Pack:

Salt changes the freezing temperature of water so that your DIY ice pack is more slushy-like. Simply combine two tablespoons of salt for every two cups of water in a Ziplock bag and freeze for a few hours. A quart Ziploc bag is the perfect size for combining 2 cups of water and 2 tablespoons of salt.  Regular table salt is fine to use.

A final word…

Whether you suffer from chronic or episodic migraines, finding a combination of treatments that work for you can take some trial and error. Using an ice pack is an affordable and effortless way of improving migraine pain at home, but you may also want to try other approaches like keeping a migraine diary, avoiding triggers, and taking daily nutritional supplements to complement your natural regime.

 

Vestibular Migraine | Migraine with Vestibular Symptoms

Vestibular migraine is considered one of the most common causes of recurrent spontaneous vertigo attacks.  Because of the broad spectrum of symptoms with or without headache, it is not always a clear-cut diagnosis and experts believe vestibular migraine is often underdiagnosed.

What are vestibular migraines?

The term “vestibular migraine” is not a real medical classification. A more accurate description would be migraine with vestibular symptoms.

The vestibular system in the inner ear, is one that maintains balance and equilibrium. Therefore vestibular symptoms are dizziness, vertigo (a sense of spinning or motion when at rest), or loss of balance and disequilibrium.

Basilar migraines can also present with vertigo and tinnitus. Menieres disease (a condition with similar symptoms) is often diagnosed when in fact the patient my be experiencing migraines with symptoms of vestibular disorder. It is known that people with migraines are more apt to experience Menieres and vice versa.

Up to 40 percent of migraine sufferers experience vestibular symptoms, a migraine ‘side effect’ that can make you feel like the room is spinning around you or cause severe dizzy spells that may leave you unable to get up from your bed.

Almost everybody has had a headache before, but when they happen too frequently, it can be a sign of a bigger disorder. One of the most common types of headache disorder is migraine, which affects over 12 percent of the population regardless of their age, gender, or ethnicity.

Migraine headaches are characterized by severe pain (usually in one side of the head), but many people experience other symptoms like an upset stomach, light and sound sensitivity, fatigue, and more. There are also several subtypes of migraines, sometimes called syndromes, which may have their own set of signs and symptoms that often need to be treated separately.

Vestibular migraines are a migraine subtype that causes episodes of vertigo, dizziness, light-headedness, and more. While this syndrome seems to be fairly common among migraineurs – some experts estimate that up to 40 percent of migraine sufferers have vestibular symptoms – it is significantly underdiagnosed. In fact, one research study conducted at a Center for Vertigo and Balance Disorders in Switzerland found that even though doctors had initially suspected vestibular migraines in only 1.8% of their young patients, 20% of patients were eventually diagnosed with this type of migraine.

What causes vestibular migraines?

Experts aren’t completely sure what causes vestibular migraines. Like most headache disorders, vestibular migraines seem to run in families, though that’s not always the case. Many of the same risk factors that trigger migraines can also set off a vestibular migraine, including:

The term ‘vestibular’ stems from the word vestibule, which is the central part of the bonny labyrinth in the inner ear. Together with a structure called the semicircular canal, the vestibular system helps control your sense of balance and eye movements. Non-migraine-related vestibular disorders can happen as a result of infections, head trauma, aging, and genetic or environmental factors.

Vestibular migraine symptoms

Vestibular Dizzy Girl

Vestibular symptoms can happen before, during, or after a migraine, though most migraineurs report experiencing these types of symptoms without headaches. The main symptoms of vestibular migraines are vertigo – a sensation of spinning or losing your balance even if you are not moving – and dizziness that lasts more than a few seconds.

Other symptoms of vestibular migraine include feelings of disorientation, confusion, motion sickness when you move your head, eyes or body, light-headedness, and nausea or vomiting. If you have a vestibular episode during a migraine attack, you may also experience classic migraine symptoms like throbbing or pulsating pain in one side of your head, blurry vision, photosensitivity, neck pain, etc.

Symptom Checklist:

Vertigo – a sense that you or your surroundings are spinning

Disequilibrium – being unstable on your feet, feeling like the ground is moving beneath you, swaying, rocking, or tilting

Disassociative symptoms – derealization, disconnection from the environment around you, depersonalization or disconnection from your body

Ataxia – lack of coordination, difficulty walking

Lightheadedness – feeling faint or that you may pass out

Vision dependence – the brain relies too much on visual signals for balance when it is not especially relevant.    This is thought to be due to a lack of confidence in vestibular or somatosensory (body sensation) input

Photophobia (sensitivity to light) – an intolerance of light including sunlight, fluorescent light, and LED lighting

Phonophobia (sensitivity to sound) – the tolerance for sounds is significantly reduced and creates discomfort

How are vestibular migraines diagnosed?

Currently, there are no laboratory or imaging tests that can diagnose vestibular migraine. The International Headache Society (IHS), in collaboration with other medical associations, developed a set of diagnostic criteria to help clinicians diagnose and treat this type of migraine. Among other factors, the criteria are based on the patient’s migraine history as well as the frequency and duration of vestibular symptoms.

Tracking your symptoms and recording facts surrounding your episodes in a migraine diary will be helpful information you can provide to a physician to help with an accurate diagnosis. Click here to download a printable migraine diary.

Before diagnosing you with vestibular migraine, your doctor may want to rule out other vestibular disorders, like:

  • Benning paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV)
  • Vestibular neuritis (labyrinthitis)
  • Ménière’s disease
  • Acoustic neuroma

How are vestibular migraines treated?

Because there is no specific medication that can treat vestibular migraines, doctors usually recommend a combination of abortive and preventive treatments for migraine, vertigo, and other vestibular disorders.

You can reduce the frequency and intensity of your vestibular migraines by eating a healthy diet, keeping good sleeping hygiene, tracking and avoiding your triggers, and managing your stress. For the best nutritional support beneficial to migraine sufferers, consider the dietary supplement  Migrelief available in daily and as-need formulas for adults and children age 2+.

Magnesium for Migraines – is it Enough?

Studies have shown migraine sufferers with poor cerebrovascular tone have low levels of magnesium. Magnesium is a natural mineral that is necessary for healthy bodily function as it promotes heart health, stabilizes blood pressure, regulates nerve and muscle function, and builds bone, DNA, and protein. Magnesium is intimately involved in the control of N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) glutamate receptors which play an important role in pain transmission in the nervous system and in the regulation of cerebral blood flow. Magnesium ions plug the NMDA receptors which render calcium unable to exert its vasodilatory effects.

Magnesium has numerous effects that support cerebrovascular tone and function including the following mechanisms of action:

  • Inhibition of platelet aggregation
  • Interference with synthesis, release, and action of inflammatory mediators
  • Direct alterations of cerebrovascular tone
  • Inhibition of vasospasm
  • Stabilization of cell membranes

Numerous studies support the use of magnesium as a supplement for preventing migraine headaches.  In fact, many studies have shown that serum levels of magnesium were substantially lower in migraine sufferers than in the general population of people who didn’t get migraines. The researchers found that as serum levels of magnesium decreased the frequency of migraine attacks significantly increased.

Magnesium supplementation in the correct forms and amounts has to be part of any migraine sufferer’s regimen. But is it enough?

The answer is yes, for some sufferers, and, no, for many other sufferers.  This is because there is not just ONE malfunctioned or dysfunctional mechanism or imbalance that is known to cause migraine attacks.

Some of the dysfunctional brain processes that have been shown to be present in migraine sufferers during migraine attacks include:

  • Excessive platelet aggregation resulting in vasospasms due to serotonin release
  • Decrease in the brain cell’s mitochondrial energy reserves
  • Inflammation

So while magnesium certainly plays a role in helping to prevent or balance some of these contributing factors, by itself, it doesn’t work for every chronic migraine sufferer.

We do not know which individual factor or combination of factors contributes to migraine occurrence in each individual.  Therefore, a comprehensive nutritional approach using three natural ingredients; magnesium, riboflavin and feverfew to provide three different mechanisms of action can be extremely beneficial to migraine sufferers.

In addition to magnesium for adult and pediatric migraine sufferers, riboflavin and feverfew are listed in the American Academy of Neurology’s Evidence-Based Guidelines for Migraine Prevention. 

Riboflavin (Vitamin B-2)
Research has shown that a mitochondrial defect may reduce an individual’s threshold to migraine triggers and lead to migraines. A deficiency of mitochondrial energy reserves has been observed in many people exhibiting poor cerebrovascular tone. Riboflavin is a water-soluble vitamin that helps the body convert food to energy. It is a precursor of flavin adenine dinucleotide (FAD) and flavin mononucleotide (FMN ) which unlike CoQ10 are involved in all three cellular energy production processes; glycolysis, Krebs cycle, and electron transport. At the proper dose, riboflavin helps maintain healthy mitochondrial energy reserves which is very beneficial to migraine sufferers.

Feverfew
The herb feverfew (Tanacetum Parthenium) has been recorded as a medicinal remedy for millennia. Commonly recommended for its ability to reduce platelet aggregation which can lead to vasoconstriction and support cerebrovascular tone, feverfew is rich in compounds known as sesquiterpene lactones and glycosides.  Scientific studies show feverfew inhibits platelet aggregation and the release of serotonin from platelets and polymorphonuclear leukocyte granules. Feverfew also inhibits pro-inflammatory prostaglandin synthesis and the release of arachidonic acid.

All 3 ingredients have been recommended for years by many doctors and top headache specialists based on clinical studies.  (Read JANA Report – Journal of the American Nutraceutical Association

 

MigreLief™ and this information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or illness. Please consult with your licensed medical practitioner if you have, or suspect you may have, a health problem.

 

 

 

Smoking Cigarettes and Migraine Headaches

Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the United States, according to the CDC. But aside from killing up to half of its users, smoking can also trigger headaches and migraines.

Smoking and migraines

Almost every person in the world has had a headache at some point or another. Some people get them sporadically, only experiencing one or two mild episodes per year. A few others, however, are more susceptible to getting frequent headaches or migraines, which may be triggered by a wide range of factors, including smoking and inhaling secondhand smoke.

A smoking headache or smoker’s migraine can happen as a result of inhaling or being exposed to cigarette smoke. People who experience frequent headaches or suffer from migraines may be more susceptible to getting a headache after smoking. Some research even shows that migraineurs who smoke may have an increased risk of stroke.

Keep reading to learn more about how smoking cigarettes, cigars, marijuana, and other tobacco products contribute to headaches and migraines, and what you can do to prevent them in the future.

Can smoking cause headaches?

No matter which way you look at it, tobacco is harmful to your health. Each year, more than 480,000 people in the United States die from tobacco-related illnesses. That means that smoking kills more than car accidents, guns, illegal drugs, and alcohol combined.

Smoking can lead to a multitude of health complications. Lung cancer, heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and infertility are among the most alarming adverse effects. But smoking cigarettes also affects many of your body’s essential functions, like immunity and circulation.

When you smoke, you inhale more than 7,000 different chemicals. The vast majority of the substances present in cigarettes and other tobacco products are toxic or poisonous, and at least 69 of them have been shown to be carcinogenic.

The number of cigarettes you smoke may influence your risk of getting a migraine. A study published in the Journal of Headache and Pain found that smoking 5 or more cigarettes a day could trigger migraines and that, in general, smokers have more migraine headaches than non-smokers.

The research involved 300 medical students who were well trained in identifying a migraine from another type of headache, like tension or cluster headaches. According to Dr. Pascual, the lead researcher in the study, “smoking is a precipitating factor of this type of headache, as the prevalence of active smokers is one third higher in migraine sufferers and there is a direct relationship between the number of cigarettes consumed and the frequency of migraine attacks.”

Though there is no proven mechanism for why smoking increases the frequency of migraines, it is possible that the nicotine and other harmful substances in cigarettes generate excessive amounts of free radicals, causing substantial oxidative stress, which is known to contribute to inflammation, which may then affect the nerves.

Harmful chemicals in cigarettes

Many of the harmful chemicals found in cigarettes are known to contribute significantly to headache disorders. However, carbon monoxide and nicotine are particularly detrimental for people who experience headaches often. This is how these two substances may be causing you headaches:

Carbon monoxide

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, flavorless gas produced by burning fuels that contain carbon, like gasoline, coal, and cigarettes. Considered highly poisonous, high levels of carbon monoxide can kill a person in a matter of minutes, though long-term exposure to low levels can be just as dangerous.

When you inhale carbon monoxide, it enters your lungs and gets carried over to your bloodstream. There, it binds with hemoglobin, reducing your red blood cell’s ability to carry oxygen to other parts of the body. Too much carbon dioxide in the bloodstream can deprive vital organs of oxygen, damage your tissues, and may cause death. Headaches are one of the most common symptoms of too much carbon monoxide in the body.

Most people have some level of carbon monoxide in their blood. Depending on where they live, their occupation, and other factors, the normal level of carboxyhemoglobin (the combination of carbon monoxide and hemoglobin) for a nonsmoker is less than one percent. Heavy smokers, on the other hand, may have levels of as much as 20 percent.

The good news is that quitting smoking can make a drastic improvement in your health. Within just two days of giving up cigarettes, your body will eliminate most of the carbon monoxide from your blood, and levels will return to normal.

Nicotine

Nicotine is a chemical compound found in the tobacco plant. It is a vasoactive substance which means it has an effect on blood vessels.  When consumed, nicotine enters the bloodstream and travels to the brain. Once there, nicotine over-stimulates the central nervous system, elevating your blood pressure, increasing your heart rate, and narrowing your blood vessels. It constricts blood vessels resulting in a reduction of blood flow towards the brain and its coverings known as meninges. Decreased blood flow causes depressed brain activity and severe pain.

Nicotine is highly addictive, and when used for an extended period, it changes the chemical balance of many brain structures. Quitting nicotine suddenly disrupts this balance, causing uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms like headaches and anxiety. Fortunately, most nicotine withdrawal symptoms – including headaches and migraines – subside after a few weeks, but the positive effects of quitting cigarettes and tobacco products last forever.

Marijuana and Headaches

Few substances are more controversial in the medical world than marijuana. Over the past few decades, the availability of medical and recreational marijuana has increased, and new evidence has shown that cannabis may be helpful for some conditions like certain forms of epilepsy and multiple sclerosis. But the research on medicinal marijuana is still in its early stages, and many questions still remain.

Little is known about the effects of marijuana, or weed, on migraines. In theory, marijuana has natural compounds called cannabinoids that bind to certain receptors in your brain and ease pain signals. In one research study published in the Journal of Pain, investigators found that using cannabis reduced headaches and migraines by 50 percent, and patients reported a reduction in migraine severity of 88 percent.

But despite what many people think, it’s also possible to get a headache from smoking marijuana. Some call it a ‘weed hangover;’ these are symptoms that show up a few hours or up to a day after using marijuana and usually go away on their own. While there is not enough research surrounding weed hangovers, anecdotal reports suggest that some people experience headaches, nausea, fatigue, and other symptoms after using cannabis.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Does smoking cause headaches?  Yes, smoking can cause headaches. Smoking increases carbon monoxide in your blood, which is a known headache trigger.

Can smoking trigger migraines?  Yes, smoking can trigger migraines. In addition to increasing carbon monoxide levels in your blood, many migraine sufferers find the smell of cigarettes and other tobacco products triggering.

Will quitting smoking cure my headaches?  If you have a headache disorder, quitting smoking will not cure your headaches. However, when you stop smoking, your body eliminates carbon monoxide from your bloodstream, your nicotine levels get depleted, and your circulation improves. All these factors

Can e-cigarettes cause headaches?  Yes, e-cigarettes or vapors can cause headaches. Vapers contain strong chemicals (including nicotine) and artificial flavoring agents that can give you a vaping headache. Propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin, two base ingredients of vape or e-juice, are known to cause dehydration, which is a known headache and migraine trigger.

Can I get headaches from second-hand smoke?  Yes!  Second-hand smoke is very dangerous and according to the researchers, undiluted sidestream smoke contains many harmful chemicals and in greater concentration than cigarette smoke inhaled through a filter.

If you are a smoker and also get migraines or headaches, limiting the number of cigarettes you smoke or quitting altogether is a healthy option.

RELATED PRODUCTS – MigreLief-NOW

On-the-spot formula for neurological comfort.  

Fast-acting nutritional support when migraine and headache sufferers need it most!   LEARN MORE OR BUY NOW

 

 

 

 

Try These 5 Easy Stretches to Ease Migraine Pain

If you’ve ever had a migraine before, you know that nothing can ruin a perfect day faster than a surprise attack. Nobody knows exactly why some people get migraines and others don’t; experts believe that these debilitating headaches are caused by a combination of genetic predisposition and environmental factors.

Vigorous exercise is one of those factors thought to trigger migraines in some people. However, a regular exercising and stretching routine can, ironically, also lower the frequency and intensity of migraine attacks and headaches.

Tension headaches are the most common type of headache. When you have a tension headache, you may feel mild to intense head pain and pressure around the forehead and eyes. Experts think tension headaches are caused by muscle contractions in the head and neck regions. A common triggering factor for tension headaches is bad posture and staring at the computer all day — two activities most of us are guilty of.

There is great debate on whether vigorous exercise can trigger migraines or tension headaches. Evidence suggests that intense physical activity does increase the risk for migraines in some people. However, research also shows that a regular exercising and stretching routine reduces the frequency and intensity of migraine attacks.

The importance of stretches for headache relief

Stretching is an important – yet often overlooked – form of physical activity. Most people think of stretching as something that you do before and after exercising, but a set of daily stretches can do more for your health than you think.

Taking the time to stretch every day keeps your muscles flexible and strong. This is important because flexibility is essential for performing your day to day activities with ease and without pain. Research shows that those who are less flexible are at a greater risk of losing their balance and falling.

Stretching also helps you increase your range of motion, improves blood flow to your muscles, helps you relax, and can even relieve tension headaches and migraines. In fact, research suggests that stretching exercises like yoga can be beneficial in reducing the duration, severity, and frequency of migraines as well as related psychological parameters like anxiety and depression scores.

Even though tension headaches and migraines – which can sometimes be hard to tell apart – are two different conditions, they share a major trigger: stress. We know that emotional stress doesn’t just affect the mind; when we are stressed, the body triggers an avalanche of responses designed to protect us against injury and pain. One of those responses is tensing up the muscles, which happens almost immediately after we start feeling stressed out. Chronic stress causes the muscles to stay contracted for long periods of time, which can, in turn, trigger stress-related disorders like migraine and tension headaches.

Finding relief with migraine and tension headache stretches

These 5 upper-body stretches are designed to relieve tension in the neck and shoulders, help you ease migraine pain and tension headaches, and help you relax and unwind after a long day:

Chin Tucks

Chin tucks are one of the most recommended exercises for neck pain, migraines, and headaches. The purpose is to align the head with the spine, correcting poor posture and strengthening the neck and upper back muscles. Chin tucks can be performed either standing up or in a seated position, making them perfect for repeating throughout the day.

To perform this exercise, sit or stand looking straight ahead with your back straight and your shoulders back, making sure your ears are aligned directly above your shoulders. Place two fingers on your chin and gently bend your head forwards until you feel a stretch on the base of your neck and you have a “double chin.” Hold this position for 20-30 seconds and release. Repeat three times.

Lateral Flexion Stretch

Relieve tension in the neck and shoulder by performing this simple stretch in the morning after you wake up and before going to bed at night. Lateral flexion stretches, also known as the ear to shoulder stretch, increase the angle between your shoulder and neck, and lengthen the spine.

Stand up straight and gently bend your neck to the right side as if you were trying to touch your shoulder with your right ear. Stop as soon as you begin feeling the stretch on the left side of your neck – you shouldn’t feel any pain doing this exercise. Hold for 30 seconds and change sides. Repeat 2 or 3 times on each side.

Cervical Extensor Stretch

The splenius capitis and the splenius cervicis are two pairs of deep (intrinsic) muscles on the back of the neck that are involved in movements such a shacking the head. Stretching these muscles can improve the range of motion of the neck and help elongate your spine.

To stretch the extensors on your neck, sit or stand up looking straight ahead. Gently tilt your head forward and turn your neck 20 to 30 degrees to one side until you feel a slight stretch. Don’t bend your heat too much and try not to move your shoulders – the purpose of this stretch is not to touch your shoulder with your ear. If you turned to the right, use your left hand to gently push your head forward. Hold this position for 30 seconds and change sides. Repeat 2 or 3 times throughout the day.

Shoulder Rolls

Shoulder rolls are the perfect stretch for releasing built-up stress in your neck and shoulders, and you can do it while sitting on your desk at work or when you are standing in line at the grocery store.  This is one of the most effective stretches for migraine sufferers because it promotes blood flow to the brain and instantly improves your posture.

Start by properly aligning your head, neck, and shoulders. If you are sitting, keep your feet flat on the floor and avoid crossing your legs or ankles. If you are standing, keep your shoulders back, pull your stomach in and let your arms fall comfortably to the sides.

Now, gently roll your shoulders up and back in one continuous motion. Repeat 5 times and reverse it, rolling your shoulders down and up this time. Repeat a couple of times on each side.

Neck Rotations

Neck rotations are ideal for improving range of motion and relaxing your neck when it’s feeling tight. Start this exercise by sitting or standing tall and turn your neck to look at your right side, keeping your head and your body straight. Hold this position for 10 seconds keeping your chin lifted. Repeat 5 times on each side.

What else can I do to prevent tension headaches and migraines?

Even though there are countless medications, supplements, and even yoga stretches for migraines, the truth is you may never be able to prevent all headaches. Why? Because migraines are caused by myriad triggers that can’t always be prevented or even identified.

The good news is that you can reduce the frequency and severity of these headaches by managing your triggers. We recommend trying our these tips do to start learning and avoiding your triggers:

  • Keep a migraine diary
  • Watch what you eat and drink. If you notice certain foods give you headaches write them down. If you start noticing a pattern, stay away from that ingredient.
  • Manage stress
  • Consider taking a daily supplement
  • Get enough quality sleep

 

 

 

Feverfew for Migraines – A Real Plus!

Peter Rabbit’s mother was onto something when she put him to bed with a cup of wild chamomile tea after his escapade in Mr. McGregor’s garden. People in the modern world often think of chamomile as a sleep or digestive aid. But wild chamomile is another name for the herb Feverfew. A tea of feverfew would not only have relaxed the hapless rabbit but would also have routed his headache, calmed his upset tummy, put his mind at ease, and soothed his jangled nerves after his terrifying turn in the garden.

Feverfew Health Benefits

Native to southeastern Europe, feverfew is now widespread throughout Europe, North America, and Australia. Feverfew is a short perennial that blooms between July and October, and gives off a strong and bitter odor. The herb Feverfew (Tanacetum Parthenium) has been recorded as a medicinal remedy for millennia. One can find references to the Latin “febrefugia” from which Feverfew gets its name in Old Saxon records. Hildegard of Bingen, a great 12th-century abbess and healer made mention of it in her herbal tomes. Febrefugia literally means “Fever flies,” and has always been used as a fever reducer among other purposes. In even more ancient times, the Greeks used Feverfew to treat melancholy which was characterized as much by debilitating headaches as it was by long-term depression.

Historically Feverfew has also been used as a dietary supplement for headaches, constipation, diarrhea, and dizziness. But one of the greatest boons in the modern era is the discovery of Feverfew as an aid for migraine headaches.

FEVERFEW & MIGRAINES

Commonly recommended for its ability to support cerebrovascular tone, Feverfew is rich in compounds known as sesquiterpene lactones. One of the more important of these compounds is parthenolide, which represents 85% of the sesquiterpene lactone content in Feverfew. Some scientific studies indicate that while parthenolide may be important there may very well be other phytochemicals in Feverfew that are as of yet unidentified and play a role in its effectiveness.

INHIBITING BLOOD PLATELET AGGREGATION
Feverfew can help to prevent the clumping together of platelets in the blood – (part of the sequence of events leading to the formation of a clot)

Over aggregating of platelets in the blood appear just before a migraine forcing a release of serotonin. Serotonin causes the blood vessel to constrict.  Scientific studies have found parthenolide (one of the many beneficial phytochemicals in feverfew),  inhibits platelet aggregation and the release of serotonin from platelets and polymorphonuclear leukocyte granules thus keeping the blood vessel normal.

Feverfew has also been shown to inhibit pro-inflammatory prostaglandin synthesis and the release of arachidonic acid. Each of these phenomena is associated with migraines. Studies have shown the benefits of Feverfew on long-term cerebrovascular tone in multiple human studies. (1-10)

ACTIVATING DYSFUNCTIONAL BRAIN PROCESSES
Though the exact cause of migraines is unknown, certain triggers like tyramine in aged cheeses, chocolate, scents/perfumes, bright lights, changes in weather/temperature/humidity/altitude, over-use of headache medications, stress, hormonal fluctuations, and many more, can activate certain processes that increase the risk of migraines occurring.

The dysfunctional processes that these triggers can activate are:

*  Excessive platelet aggregation which can result in changes in blood vessels associated with migraines.

*  Decrease in the cellular energy reserves in the brain that is common to migraine sufferers.

NUTRITIONAL APPROACH – When Migraine Sufferers Get These 3 Factors Under Control – The Results Can Be Life-Changing

1.  Maintain normal platelet aggregation
2.  Reduce or eliminate vasospasms
3.  Maintain normal mitochondrial energy reserve in the brain.
A Nutritional Approach to Migraine Control:  Riboflavin, Magnesium, and Feverfew for maintaining normal cerebrovascular function.

All 3 are listed in the American Academy of Neurology’s Guidelines for Migraine Prevention.

Magnesium:  Research studies show that almost half of all migraine sufferers have low blood levels of Magnesium, which is critical in controlling vasospasms (the contraction and dilation of blood vessels in the brain which occur during migraines).

Riboflavin:  Migraine sufferers also suffer mitochondrial energy deficiencies, which Riboflavin (Vitamin B2) can improve when given in high dosages.

Feverfew:  Research studies show Feverfew inhibits blood platelet aggregation and helps maintain a healthy inflammatory response.

 

References:

  1.  Awang DVC. Herbal Medicine, Feverfew. Canadian Pharm J 1989; 122:266-70.
  2.  Heptinstall S, Awang DVC, Dawson BA, et al. Parthenolide Content and Bioactivity of Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium). Estimation of Commercial and Authenticated Feverfew Products. J Pharm Pharmacol 1992; 44:391-5.
  3.  Pugh WJ, Sambo K. Prostaglandin Synthetase Inhibitors in Feverfew. J Phrm Pharmacol 1988; 40-743-5
  4.  Heptinstall S, White A, Williamson L, Mitchell JRA. Extracts of Feverfew Inhibit Granule Secretion in Blood Platelets and Polymophonuclear Leukocytes. Lancet 1985; i:1071-4.
  5.  Makheja AN, Bailey JM. A Platelet Phospholipase Inhibitor from the Medicinal Herb Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium). Prostagland Leukotrienes Med 1982;8:653-60.
  6.  Sumner H, Salan U, Knight DW, Hoult JRS. Inhibition of 5-Lipoxygenase and Cyclo-oxygenase in Leukocytes by Feverfew. Biochem Pharmacol 1992;43:2313-20.
  7.  Johnson ES, Kadam NP, Hylands DM, Hylands PF. Efficacy of Feverfew As prophylactic Treatment of Migraine. British Med J 1985; 291:569-73.
  8.  Murphy JJ. Heptinstall S, Mitchell JRA. Randomized Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Trial of Feverfew in Migraine Prevention. Lancet 1988; ii:189-92.Brown D, Gaby A, Reichert R. Clinical Applications of Natural Medicine–Migraine. NPRC 9
  9. Condition-Specific Monograph Series, 1997.
  10.  Lawrence Review of Natural Products, September 1994.

 

 

Magnesium Helps With Much More Than Just Migraines

You may already know of the many benefits of magnesium for migraine sufferers which is why we include two forms of magnesium in MigreLief products. But are you aware of magnesium’s other amazing health-protecting benefits?

For example, the Journal of Clinical Nutrition revealed that people who eat foods rich in magnesium reduce their risk of stroke caused by blood clots in the brain (referred to as ischemic stroke) by 9% for each 100 mg. increase in their daily magnesium intake and by 8% per 100 mg. of magnesium for all other kinds of strokes. (An extra 400 mg. per day of magnesium in addition to the other health benefits listed below, will reduce your risk of stroke due to a blood clot in the brain by 36 %.)

Other very important health reasons you need to consume enough magnesium on a daily basis are:

• Helps to maintain healthy blood sugar levels

• Helps to maintain healthy blood pressure levels

• Helps to prevent heart attacks

• Helps keep the heart beating regularly

• The citrate form along with potassium helps to prevent kidney stones

• Helps with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

• Reduces risk of heart pains (angina)

• Helps prevent spasms of breathing pathway in asthma

• Helps protect the bones against osteoporosis (might be more important than calcium)

• Helps to prevent the symptoms of PMS (Premenstrual Syndrome)

• Helps to reduce urinary urgency in women

• Helps to reduce or eliminate leg cramps

• Helps to prevent constipation

Daily intake of magnesium should be about 800 mg. per day from all sources. Good sources of magnesium are:

• Bran (rice, wheat, and oat) – ½ cup contains about 460 mg.

Dark chocolate – 2 ounces contain 200 mg.

• Nuts – i.e. almonds, cashews, brazil nuts, walnuts approximately 200 mg. in 2 ounces

• Sunflower seeds – 200 mg. in 2 ounces

• Edamame – (cooked soybeans) – 225 mg. in 2 ounces

sunflower seeds

sunflower seeds

So for those of you using MigreLief daily which contains 360 mg of magnesium daily,  know that you are getting these important health benefits as well.

I hope this article convinces you to pay attention to your daily intake of magnesium. It is an excellent investment in both your short and long-term health.

 

To the Best of Health,
Curt Hendrix M.S. C.C.N. C.N.S.

 

RECOMMENDED READING: MAGNESIUM FOR MIGRAINES – IS IT ENOUGH?

 

 

 

TIPS for Managing Migraines While Working from Home

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed almost every aspect of our daily lives, including how we work, study, and interact with each other. For starters, a recent survey showed that before the pandemic, only one in five employed Americans worked from home. Now, more than 70 percent of those workers are working from home all or of most of the time. A significant number of school and university students are also learning from home part or full-time. That means that we are relying on our devices more than ever to work and stay connected with friends, family, neighbors, co-workers, and more.

For migraine sufferers, this shift has been both a blessing and a curse. Under normal working conditions, more than 90 percent of migraineurs said they were unable to work or function normally during an attack. In fact, it is estimated that over 157 million workdays are lost every year in the U.S because of migraines. Migraines can be so disabling that many sufferers qualify for accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which, among other things, allows them to work from home occasionally.

For people with migraines, some of the perks of working from home include more control over their triggers (aka no bright overhead lighting or strong co-worker’s perfumes), fewer distractions, and more comfort. But working remotely doesn’t come without its challenges. Increased screen time, lack of childcare, poor posture caused by an inappropriate workspace, and changes in diet, sleep, and exercise are just a few of the triggers migraine sufferers have to deal with nowadays.

Take a break when you need to

The pandemic has blurred the lines between work and home life for many of us. We work at strange hours, skip meals, and, since we are working from home, we tend to take up more workload than we used to. If you are getting more migraines that last longer than usual, it may be time to create a routine and put time aside for regular breaks and rest.

There’s no secret formula for how many breaks you should take or how long they should last. Just make sure you schedule adequate time to eat (no skipping meals or eating at your desk while working!), go for a short walk, stretch, and walk away from your electronic devices for a few minutes. Also, don’t try to “push through” a migraine to get work done; it will worsen the headache and make it last longer.

Limit screen time when you can

It is estimated that up to 90 percent of migraine sufferers experience photophobia or sensitivity to light, and the blue light emitted from phone and computer screens can be particularly triggering. Here are some things that may help:

  • Adjust the brightness of your screen: it shouldn’t be brighter than the light around you. If you work in a dark environment, consider getting a lamp to even out the light sources.
  • Invest in an anti-glare screen cover: or consider getting eyeglasses with anti-glare lenses.
  • Sit at least 2 feet away from the screen.
  • Talk to your employer about accommodations: don’t hesitate to ask your employer for accommodations you may need, like screen time limits or a better screen.

Get some fresh air

Being “cooped up” inside for extended periods can increase feelings of loneliness and isolation, which are liked to higher risks for physical and mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety – both big migraine triggers.

Stepping out into fresh air increases your oxygen levels, helping dilate blood vessels in the lungs and promoting tissue reparation. It is also a great opportunity to step away from the screen, rest your eyes and calm the mind.  The benefits of fresh air are extensive.

Build a migraine rescue kit

A migraine rescue kit is a homemade pack of all the items you find helpful.  It saves you time from having to run around looking for these items including a cold pack during those first precious minutes before a full-blown migraine strikes. Migraine kits are very personal and should include the things that work for you.

Here are some items you may want to consider including in your kit:

  • Medication: at least two doses of your rescue and prevention medication.
  • Eye protection: sunglasses, blackout sleep mask, etc.
  • Nutritional Supplements: such as MigreLief Original or MigreLief-NOW.
  • Ear protection: earplugs, noise-canceling headphones, etc.
  • Anti-nausea treatment: ginger tea, ginger candy, motion sickness medication, etc.
  • Essential oils: peppermint oil, rosemary, lavender, etc. All-in-one migraine roller sticks are convenient and easy to use.
  • Water bottle: hydration is key when you have migraines, so don’t forget to keep a water bottle near and drink plenty of water throughout the day.

 

 

More Than a Headache: The Social Impact of Migraines

Migraine is a common yet exceedingly debilitating neurological disease. According to the Global Burden Disease Study, migraines are among the top five most disabling conditions in the world, costing nations and individuals billions of dollars every year in productivity loss and healthcare expenditures.

But the burden of migraines is not just economic. More than 90 percent of migraineurs report being unable to work or function normally during an attack, which can last anywhere between 4 hours to 3 days. Several population-based studies have tried to estimate how many days of work are missed on average due to migraines.

In a 2018 study measuring the impact of migraines on work productivity among 1,500 adults in Switzerland, individuals reported missing an average of 31.91 workdays each year from migraines alone. Another report analyzing the socioeconomic burden of migraines in Europe estimated that frequent migraine sufferers miss up to 46 workdays per year. According to another study published by the American Journal of Managed Care, Americans lose an average of 38 workdays every year due to migraines.

In addition to absenteeism (missing work or school) and decreased productivity, many people with migraines have to live with the stigma of having an “invisible” illness. The sad reality for individuals who have “unseen” disabilities like fibromyalgia or migraines is that they are often discriminated against or considered lazy or unreliable.

Given the excruciating nature of migraines, people suffering from this condition often find themselves having to abruptly cancel plans, walk away from family activities, or avoid events or places that might trigger an attack. In a survey conducted by the Migraine Trust, 90 percent of respondents reported feeling isolated because of migraines, and 34 percent said that they miss out on social or family events every week due to headaches.

Migraines are not a one-off event. In fact, many migraineurs find themselves adapting their life, schedule, and aspirations around their migraines, knowing all too well that while they might be pain-free or have fewer attacks for months, at the end of the day migraines are completely unpredictable.

Living with the constant worry that a migraine can hit at any minute also takes a toll on mental health. Chronic migraineurs are five times more likely to develop depression, and 20 percent of people with episodic migraines are thought to have depression as well.

However, the link between migraines and depression or anxiety is not fully understood yet. Some people develop anxiety or depression as a consequence of migraines. In contrast, others with a prior history of mental health problems develop migraines after having depression or anxiety for some time.

An essential part of living with migraines or other pain conditions is learning a variety of techniques to cope with both the physical and the emotional aspects of the disease. Beyond traditional therapies like abortive medications and medical interventions, it is important to reflect on the impact that migraines are having in your life and seek help if you feel like your pain is getting the best out of you. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), meditation, and mindfulness can help you reshape your relationship with pain and to tackle your migraines with a different mindset.

Are migraines negatively impacting your quality of life? Click HERE to take the Migraine Disability Assessment Test (MIDAS) to evaluate the extent to which migraines are interfering with your day to day life, and talk to your healthcare provider to learn more about your options.