Headaches are a fairly common condition-- globally, about one half of the population experiences one each year. Migraines on the other hand are more serious, last longer and carry more physical effects than the common headache. In the U.S., the Migraine Research Foundation estimated that almost 12 percent of people suffer from migraines. These types of headaches are debilitating for sufferers and can impact daily life if they become chronic. There are many different medications used to treat and prevent migraines, but some people prefer to go the natural route and use alternative methods to deal with their headache pain.
The information in this article is not intended to provide a medical diagnosis and does not replace seeing a mental health professional. If you think you are suffering from this disease, consult with a health professional immediately. To find a health professional in the Highbrow network, click here.
In traditional Chinese medicine, the energy flow or life force known as qi flows throughout the body in different pathways or meridians. Acupressure is a technique that many people find helpful in relieving pain. By applying pressure at specific points, some migraine sufferers find that their symptoms are greatly relieved. This process, sometimes called acupuncture or acupuncture without needles, involves applying pressure strategically to points on the body-- many of the same points used in acupuncture with needles are used in acupressure. The applied pressure administered by a practitioner’s fingers (or can be self-administered) is said to rebalance the energy flow in the body and relieve unwanted pain. Acupressure is often used to alleviate many conditions by targeting specific meridians- in the case of migraines, Gallbladder 20 or Feng Chi is considered the most effective. Researchers and doctors believe acupressure works because it improves circulation and reduces tension by tapping into the body’s natural pain killers known as endorphins.
Essential oils are highly-concentrated liquids made from different parts of a plant like the leaves, stems, roots and bark. Essential oils can offer significant health benefits like reducing stress and improving circulation by way of sensory stimuli (scent). Essential oils help headache and migraine sufferers too (without the long list of side effects that can accompany many prescription headache medications). Different oils offer different benefits. It’s important to note that essential oils must first be diluted in a carrier oil such as coconut or almond oil as they must never be applied directly to the skin or ingested. Essential oils like peppermint, rosemary, eucalyptus, lavender and chamomile are some of the most popular in relieving headache and migraine pain. For instance, breathing in lavender has been found to reduce pain in migraine sufferers after only 15 minutes of inhalation. Chamomile was found to be great at soothing muscles and treating anxiety and insomnia, which are common causes of headaches. If your headaches are caused by sinus issues, eucalyptus helps open up the nasal passages to relieve tension. If your headaches or migraines are persistent and interfere with your life, essential oils may work to ease your pain away.
Vitamin and Herbal Supplements
Years before the introduction of prescription drugs, cultures from around the world relied on herbal remedies for common headaches and even migraines. Many of these herbal traditions have survived today. Butterbur and feverfew are just two herbal supplements that have been found to be helpful in reducing migraine pain and the frequency of them. According to the American Migraine Foundation, a daily dose of butterbur has been shown to be effective in lowering migraine frequency when taken for approximately 3 months. Magnesium which is an essential mineral, has also been shown to be effective in reducing the frequency of migraines. In fact, a deficiency of magnesium can actually trigger a migraine headache in some individuals. Research at the National Headache Foundation backed up the claim that magnesium supplementation can be highly effective in reducing the frequency of migraines for some.
Medical Marijuana and CBD
One of the many benefits that are currently being touted about MMJ and CBD oil is that it can help prevent and treat migraines. For anyone who suffers from migraines, this is a welcomed possibility. In order to understand how CBD oil and other marijuana properties help with migraines, we need to understand how they work in the body. Our bodies have an endocannabinoid system (ECS) which makes its own cannabinoids and has cannabinoids receptors. This system as a whole regulates many functions in the body, and pain is one of them. One of the molecules produced in our ECS system is anandamide, which is comparable to a natural THC, giving us a feeling of bliss and effectively fighting pain. One theory of migraine pain suggests that migraine sufferers have lower than average anandamide in their system. Cannabis and its counterparts take advantage of our bodies' cannabinoid receptors causing a natural rise in anandamide and with it, pain relief. This ECS deficiency correlation is likely what makes CBD and medical marijuana particularly effective on Migraine headaches. Based on what we know, taking oral CBD oil daily can be very effective in treating and preventing migraine pain. This alternative to traditional treatment of migraine has advantages, not only because of its promising effectiveness but also because it is not habit forming and poses little risk of side effects. While medical studies are still on-going, there have been a handful of studies that have shown promise, some claiming pain reduction anywhere from 40-100 percent of patient cases. The NBCI database published an article entitled "Emerging Role of (Endo)Cannabinoids in Migraine" which stated, "In summary, cannabinoids – due to their anticonvulsive, analgesic, antiemetic, and anti-inflammatory effects – present a promising class of compounds for both acute and prophylactic treatment of migraine pain." While there are many promising advantages to using medical marijuana for migraines, there are a few precautions to consider when considering MMJ in treating and preventing migraines. Medical marijuana is not legal in all states, so it makes sense to only purchase products from reputable companies in states where marijuana is legal. CBD oil, on the other hand, can legally be shipped to any state making it easier to purchase from a reliable source, with fewer side effects and no risk of getting high. In summary, the developing information is exciting and potentially life-changing, especially for migraine sufferers.
While headaches are a common condition that many people deal with, migraines are on another level and can be downright unbearable. It’s always a good idea to collaborate with a doctor or migraine specialist even when trying natural remedies. Keeping a migraine or headache journal can be useful in identifying triggers and effective remedies for migraines.
If you are a migraine sufferer, you understand the impact your chronic condition has on your life.
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