The Natural Path – A Naturopathic Approach to Migraines

by Dr. Marita Schauch, ND, Tall Tree Integrated Health Centre – 

Do you or someone you know struggle with migraines? Whether they are chronic or occasional, it’s no fun to feel like your brain hurts.

If you are considering a more naturopathic approach to migraines, it may be because you are concerned about possible long-term side effects of taking pharmaceuticals. Experimenting with the natural remedies and practices listed below are a great option as they have relatively low side effects.

What are some factors that trigger migraines?

Stress. Whether it’s your job or other environmental/social factors, stress is one of the biggest triggers for migraines.

Hormones. Major shifts in hormones such as our monthly cycle and/or menopause can trigger migraines.
Diet/Dehydration. Not getting enough water is a huge reason for triggering a migraine attack. Certain inflammatory foods – refined sugar, alcohol and gluten – may also trigger migraines for some individuals.

Light. Fluorescent lighting can be a big trigger in aggravating migraines.

Chemicals. Strong perfumes, chemicals in food and other household products can cause an instantaneous migraine headache.

Poor Sleep. When we are not getting proper sleep, our body and most importantly our brain isn’t able to refresh and renew each night.

Of course this isn’t an intensive trigger list, but it’s very telling at just how many different factors can cause a migraine. Let’s look at some natural solutions:

Hydration. One of the biggest triggers for migraines is dehydration. Upping water intake, consuming more hydrating fruits and veggies and drinking electrolyte drinks are a great way to balance out hydration levels. Electrolyte favourites: coconut water, lemon water and celery juice. Bonus: add a pinch of sea salt!

Magnesium. There is a direct link between migraines and magnesium levels in the body. When magnesium levels drop, blood vessels can tighten which could be a big indicator to keep this mineral replenished!

Herbs. Feverfew and Butterbur are the most popular herbs for migraines.

CoQ10 and Vitamin B2. Research shows that both these nutrients could reduce the frequency and duration of migraines.
Mind/Body Practices. Yoga and meditation are very helpful in relaxing the body, lowering stress levels and preventing migraines. When we engage in practices that focus on deeper breath awareness, it allows for more oxygen throughout our body, therefore decreasing tension and constrained blood vessels.

Complementary Healing Modalities. There are many alternative options for migraine relief. Acupuncture is a great option as it helps promote blood flow to the tissues and provide relief for muscle tension. If you are not keen on small needles, massage is another great alternative and is even more powerful when paired with certain essential oils which can help soothe and relax the body.

Diet Adjustments. Avoid migraine-inducing drinks such as alcohol and caffeine, which are big-time dehydrators, as well as foods containing preservatives and other chemicals which aggravate and induce pain.

This is a very simplified breakdown of migraine protocols so be sure to reach out to your health care provider for more individualized options.

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