Last week we talked a bit about headaches. This week I want to move on to the heavyweight of headaches, migraines! As I wrote in Top Ten Benefits of Acupuncture That You Need to Know Now, I think migraine sufferers would take a “typical” headache any day of the week and twice on Sundays. In addition to the pain associated with typical headaches, there can be dizziness, sensitivity to light so severe that a person cannot be exposed to light, distorted vision, seeing flashes of light, nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to sound. These symptoms can be so severe that a person cannot work, cannot function at home and many times just has to lay down in a dark room until the symptoms pass. Most of us can power through a simple headache, however annoying it is, but migraines can be debilitating.
The good news is that there are safe, natural ways to effectively treat migraines. A large study showed that patients who received acupuncture had fewer migraines, missed less work and suffered no side effects compared to patients taking typical western medications. I think the last part is really important. I see patients on two, three, even four different medications to try and control their migraines and sometimes even that is not enough. Most medications are meant to (or at least should) be taken on a short term basis, not as a long term solution. The problem is that patients are not given a long term solution. Medications have side effects and when they are combined, those side effects are increasingly unpredictable and dangerous. I have had patients reduce the amount of medications, the number of medications and even eliminate the need for medications with the use of acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine. There are other things that you can do to help reduce the number and severity of migraines:
Exercise and Mindfulness Practice:
Reducing stress is critical and exercise can be a huge aspect when dealing with migraines. Yoga, Tai Chi and mindfulness practices like meditation can actually eliminate symptoms from pain syndromes alone with consistent, regular practice. To see how else stress affects your body and how you can reduce it (Read Here Stress Relief )
- Caffeine and alcohol can be a triggers for migraines, but caffeine can also help. I recommend that sufferers eliminate both from their diet for 6-8 weeks and see how they react.
- Dehydration can cause and exacerbate many headache syndromes, so make sure you are drinking enough water. Four ounces every half hour is best because it does not overload you and gives your body time to absorb what is needed.
- Eating enough organic fruits and vegetables can help.
- There are many foods that are known or suspected to cause or induce migraines. Here is a good website for reference 9 Common Migraine Triggers Everyone reacts differently, so try eliminating and adding foods back in and see what you react to. Keep a journal and once you know what does not agree with you, eliminate it.
As I have outlined in some of my previous blogs, a combination of these approaches is usually best. It can seem daunting “What do I try, what will work for me”? It is often best to work with someone who is trained in healing and experienced with migraines so that a comprehensive approach, targeted to your individual needs can be formulated and implemented.
Princeton Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine
Our patients know just how effective treatments are for these and a host of other problems. Steven Hoffman, a New Jersey Licensed Acupuncturist and Diplomate in Oriental Medicine, will provide you with a thorough intake and evaluation and a clear, comprehensive diagnosis and treatment plan that will insure that your goals are met or exceeded. Do you want to move past these or other problems? We will help you thrive not just survive!