Complementary Medicine - Cam
Migraine Headache (Holistic)
About This Condition
Clear your mind of migraines. According to research or other evidence, the following self-care steps may be helpful.
About This Condition
Migraines are very painful headaches that usually begin on only one side of the head and may become worse with exposure to light.
Migraines are commonly preceded by warning symptoms (prodrome), that may include depression , irritability, restlessness, loss of appetite, and a characteristic “aura”—usually a visual disturbance such as flashing lights or a localized area of blindness that follows the appearance of brilliantly colored shimmering lights. Migraines may also involve nausea, vomiting, and changes in vision.
Healthy Lifestyle Tips
Some doctors have found that reactions to smoking and birth control pills can be additional contributing factors in migraines.
Infection with Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori, an organism that causes peptic ulcers ) may predispose people to migraine headaches. In a preliminary trial, 40% of migraine sufferers were found to have H. pylori infection. Intensity, duration, and frequency of attacks of migraine were significantly reduced in all participants in whom the H. pylori was eradicated.1 Controlled clinical trials are needed to confirm these preliminary results.
Many reports have shown acupuncture to be useful in the treatment of migraines. In a preliminary trial, 18 of 26 people suffering from migraine headaches demonstrated an improvement in symptoms following therapy with acupuncture; they also had a 50% reduction in the use of pain medication.2 Previous preliminary trials have demonstrated similar results,3 , 4 , 5 which have also been confirmed in placebo-controlled trials.6 , 7 Improvement has been maintained at one8 and three9 years of follow-up. In preliminary research, patients suffering from chronic headaches of various types (including migraine, cluster , or tension headaches ) have also experienced an improvement in symptoms following acupuncture treatment.10 In a trial comparing acupuncture to traditional drug therapy, a significantly greater cure rate was achieved in the acupuncture group relative to the drug treatment group (75% vs. 34%).11
Dry needling is a form of acupuncture that does not utilize traditional Chinese medicine diagnosis or traditional acupuncture points for treatment. Instead, acupuncture needles are inserted into painful muscle areas (trigger points). A study of 85 patients comparing dry needle acupuncture to conventional drug therapy found a similar reduction in frequency and duration of migraine attacks in both treatment groups.12
Percutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (PENS) is an electrical nerve stimulation technique that has become increasingly popular in the complementary and alternative management of pain syndromes. PENS involves insertion of needle probes, similar to acupuncture, at specific therapeutic points and then applying low levels of electrical current. In one study, PENS was significantly more effective than needles alone at relieving pain in migraine headaches (tension headaches and post-traumatic headaches were also improved).13
Practitioners of manipulation report success in treating migraine with manipulation.14 Migraine sufferers are reported to often have neck pain, tenderness of the spinal joints of the neck,15 and limited ability to move the neck,16 all of which suggest the presence of neck problems that could respond to manipulation. Two preliminary trials reported significant benefit to 75–80% of migraine patients treated with manipulation,17 , 18 while a third preliminary trial reported reductions in headache frequency and duration, nausea, and sensitivity to light one year after the completion of a two-month course of manipulation.19 A controlled trial compared three types of manipulation and found all three provided significant improvement in headache frequency, severity, and duration.20 , 21 Another controlled trial compared two months of manipulation to sham (fake) manipulation and to placebo treatment with a non-functioning electrical unit. People in the manipulation group had significantly more improvement of headache frequency and duration, and of ability to function in daily life; they also used less medication.22 The largest controlled trial to date compared eight weeks of manipulation, drug therapy, or both treatments in combination. Manipulation was as effective as the medication in reducing an overall score of migraine suffering, but had fewer reported side effects.23
The right diet is the key to managing many diseases and to improving general quality of life. For this condition, scientific research has found benefit in the following healthy eating tips.
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42. Volger BK, Pittler MH, Ernst E. Feverfew as a preventive treatment for migraine: a systematic review. Cephalagia 1998;18:704–8.
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50. Gallai V, Sarchielli P, Coata G, et al. Serum and salivary magnesium levels in migraine. Results in a group of juvenile patients. Headache 1992;32:132–5.
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53. Mazzotta G, Sarchielli P, Alberti A, Gallai V. Intracellular Mg++ concentration and electromyographical ischemic test in juvenile headache. Cephalalgia 1999;19:802–9.
54. Weaver K. Magnesium and migraine. Headache 1990;30:168 [letter].
55. Peikert A, Wilimzig C, Kohne-Volland R. Prophylaxis of migraine with oral magnesium: results from a prospective, multi-center, placebo-controlled and double-blind randomized study. Cephalalgia 1996;16:257–63.
56. Facchinetti F, Sances G, Borella P, et al. Magnesium prophylaxis of menstrual migraine: effects on intracellular magnesium. Headache 1991;31:298–301.
57. Pfaffenrath V, Wessely P, Meyer C, et al. Magnesium in the prophylaxis of migraine—a double-blind placebo-controlled study. Cephalalgia 1996;16:436–40.
58. Mauskop A, Altura BT, Cracco RQ, Altura BM. Intravenous magnesium sulphate relieves migraine attacks in patients with low serum ionized magnesium levels: a pilot study. Clin Sci 1995;89:633–6.
59. Schoenen J, Lenaerts M, Bastings E. High-dose riboflavin as a prophylactic treatment of migraine: results of an open pilot study. Cephalalgia 1994;14:328–9.
60. Schoenen J, Jacquy J, Lenaerts M. Effectiveness of high-dose riboflavin in migraine prophylaxis. A randomized controlled trial. Neurology 1998;50:466–70.
61. Schoenen J, Jacquy, Lenaerts M. High-dose riboflavin as a novel prophylactic antimigraine therapy: results from a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial. Cephalalgia 1997;17:244 [abstract].
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64. Kimball RW, Friedman AP, Vallejo E. Effect of serotonin in migraine patients. Neurology 1960;10:107–11.
65. Sicuteri F. The ingestion of serotonin precursors (L-5-hydroxytryptophan and L-tryptophan) improves migraine headache. Headache 1973;13:19–22.
66. Titus F, Davalos A, Alom J, Codina A. 5-hydroxytryptophan versus methysergide in the prophylaxis of migraine. Eur Neurol 1986;25:327–9.
67. Maissen CP, Ludin HP. Comparison of the effect of 5-hydroxytryptophan and propranolol in the interval treatment of migraine . Schweizerische Medizinische Wochenschrift /Journal Suisse de Medecine 1991;121:1585–90 [in German].
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69. Mathew NT. 5-hydroxytryptophan in the prophylaxis of migraine. Headache 1978;18:111–3.
70. Bono G, Criscuoli M, Martignoni E, et al. Serotonin precursors in migraine prophylaxis. Advances in Neurology 1982;33:357–63.
71. De Giorgis G, Miletto R, Iannuccelli M, et al. Headache in association with sleep disorders in children: A psychodiagnostic evaluation and controlled clinical study ñ L-5-HTP versus placebo. Drugs Exptl Clin Res 1987;13:425–33.
72. Santucci M, Cortelli P, Rossi PG, et al. L-5-Hydroxytryptophan versus placebo in childhood migraine prophylaxis: a double-blind crossover study. Cephalalgia 1986;6:155–7.
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90. Sicuteri F. The ingestion of serotonin precursors (L-5-hydroxytryptophan and L-tryptophan) improves migraine headache. Headache 1973;13:19–22.
91. Titus F, Davalos A, Alom J, Codina A. 5-hydroxytryptophan versus methysergide in the prophylaxis of migraine. Eur Neurol 1986;25:327–9.
92. Maissen CP, Ludin HP. Comparison of the effect of 5-hydroxytryptophan and propranolol in the interval treatment of migraine. Schweizerische Medizinische Wochenschrift /Journal Suisse de Medecine 1991;121:1585–90 [in German].
93. De Benedittis G, Massei R. 5-HT precursors in migraine prophylaxis: A double-blind cross-over study with L-5-hydroxytryptophan versus placebo. Clin J Pain 1986;3:123–9.
94. Mathew NT. 5-hydroxytryptophan in the prophylaxis of migraine. Headache 1978;18:111–3.
95. Bono G, Criscuoli M, Martignoni E, et al. Serotonin precursors in migraine prophylaxis. Advances in Neurology 1982;33:357–63.
96. De Giorgis G, Miletto R, Iannuccelli M, et al. Headache in association with sleep disorders in children: A psychodiagnostic evaluation and controlled clinical study ñ L-5-HTP versus placebo. Drugs Exptl Clin Res 1987;13:425–33.
97. Santucci M, Cortelli P, Rossi PG, et al. L-5-Hydroxytryptophan versus placebo in childhood migraine prophylaxis: a double-blind crossover study. Cephalalgia 1986;6:155–7.
98. Claustrat B, Brun J, Geoffriau M, et al. Nocturnal plasma melatonin profile and melatonin kinetics during infusion in status migrainosus. Cephalalgia 1997;17:511–7 (discussion 487).
99. Nagtegaal JE, Smits MG, Swart AC, et al. Melatonin-responsive headache in delayed sleep phase syndrome: preliminary observations. Headache 1998;38:303–7.
100. Alstadhaug KB, Odeh F, Salvesen R, Bekkelund SI. Prophylaxis of migraine with melatonin: a randomized controlled trial. Neurology 2010;75:1527–32.
101. Gatto G, Caleri D, Michelacci S, Sicuteri F. Analgesizing effect of a methyl donor (S-adenosylmethionine) in migraine: an open clinical trial. Int J Clin Pharmacol Res 1986;6:15–7.
102. Thys-Jacobs S. Vitamin D and calcium in menstrual migraine. Headache 1994;34:544–6.
103. Thys-Jacobs S. Alleviation of migraines with therapeutic vitamin D and calcium. Headache 1994;34:590–2.
Last Review: 02-05-2013
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