Firstly, lets take a look at what a migraine is, what triggers them off, and then some natural remedies for migraines that aim keep attacks at bay.
One in 8 people in the UK suffers with migraines, and this affects twice as many women as men. 20% of women and 7% of men experience migraines with an average of 3 a month. Migraines usually occur on one side, at the back or front of the head, and early signs of an attack might include flashing lights, partial blindness or numbness. Some suffers have a sensitivity to light or noise, tingling sensations or vomiting. In fact, attacks are often accompanied by nausea and/or vomiting.
Nutritionist, Gareth Zeal says “almost 90% of migraine cases I see are linked to food intolerances”, but changes in weather, stress or lack of sleep can also trigger an attack.
Lavender is one of the most versatile of the essential oils, and has been studied recently for several purposes, including treatment of mood and anxiety disorders. Though it’s better known for its pain-killing properties, there hasn’t been a single documented clinical trial on lavender for the treatment of migraine headaches, which affect tens of millions of people every year. That is, until now: “Lavender Essential Oil in the Treatment of Migraine Headache: A Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial.”
Migraine sufferers were asked—at the early signs of headache—to rub two to three drops of lavender essential oil onto their upper lip and inhale its vapor for a 15-minute period, then score the severity of their headache for the next two hours. In the control group, they did the same thing, but with drops of unscented liquid wax instead. Neither group was allowed to use any painkillers. In the lavender group, 74% of patients had an improvement in their symptoms, significantly better than the placebo group.
Although lavender wasn’t directly compared to more conventional treatments and outcome measures differed, lavender appears to hold its own against typical migraine drugs. Lavender helped about three quarters of the time; high dose Tylenol may only work about half the time; and Ibuprofen 57% of the time. The top prescription drug, generic Imitrex, is effective 59% of the time, and the hardcore treatment they use in emergency rooms where they inject you under the skin works 70% of the time. Fortunately, all of above work better than the original migraine therapy, known as trepanning, where doctors drilled holes in our head to let the evil spirits escape!
The lavender researchers concluded that the results suggest that inhalation of lavender essential oil may be an effective and safe treatment in acute management of migraine headaches.
Migraine sufferers may also want to experiment with avoiding potential triggers, or other alternative treatments:
As many migraines are linked to food intolerances it would be a good idea to complete a food diary and try to identify any triggers
Low blood sugar has also been linked to attacks, so ensure you eat healthy meals on a regular basis.
Rosemary or fresh ginger tea can help with symptoms
Problems with the vertebrae in the neck can disrupt the blood flow to the brain, causing headaches and migraines. Try Spinal Touch Therapy to re-align the neck and head, and increase the blood flow.
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