Ayurvedic Solutions for Migraine
Migraine is a severe and painful headache. It is a common health condition affecting 1 in every 5 women and around 1 in 15 men. WHO identified migraine as the 3rd most prevalent illness in the world, one that is so incapacitating that during an attack sufferers are often unable to function normally. Chronic and recurrent migraine can seriously diminish one’s quality of life. Some people who suffer from migraine can clearly identify triggers that cause it such as sun light, stress, crowd, fasting, exertion & loud sounds.
The symptoms of migraine vary from person to person and the individuals may have different symptoms during attacks. Attack may differ in length and frequency. Headache usually lasts from 4-72 hrs. and people are free from symptoms between attacks.
Some people suffer from warning features before the migraine commences called Aura in the form of confusing thoughts, perception of strange flashing lights, black spots in the vision, difficulty in speaking, tingling in the arms and legs.
Factors Triggering Migraine
Hormonal changes in women
Immediately before or during periods.
Such as oral contraceptives and hormone replacement therapy.
Aged cheese, salty and processed food, chocolates , soya sauce, ripe avocados, dry fruits.
The sweetener aspartame and preservative monosodium glutamate found in many ready to eat foods.
Alcohol and highly caffeinated beverages like coffee & tea.
At work or home.
Bright light and sun glare, loud sounds, strong smells including perfumes, paint, thinner and second hand smoke.
Change in wake-sleep patterns
Missing sleep or getting too much sleep.
Intense physical work, poor posture.
Anxiety, shock, depression & failure.
Change in environment
Change of weather or barometric pressure.
Missed, delayed or irregular meals.
Migraine sufferers share the same condition with a close relative which is suggestive of the role of genes.
Can begin in any age. Tend to peak during 30’s and gradually becomes less severe and less frequent in the following decades.
Women are 3 times more likely to have migraine.
Cause of Migraine
The exact cause is unknown although thought to be the result of temporary changes in chemicals, nerves and blood vessels in the brain.
Management of Migraine
Number of treatments are advised by modern physicians for the patients of migraine including painkillers, tryptans, antiemetics, sedatives and vasodialators. But these work for short period and also have serious side effects. For the effective results first and foremost step is to be taken by the sufferer himself. He/she should avoid all the trigger factors and should recognize the warning features of migraine and prevent a full blown attack by acting upon these signs.
Ayurvedic Therapies for Migraine
Ayurveda has solutions for this distressing condition in many forms.
Application of herbal pastes of Sandalwood, Camphor, Jatamansi, Dhaniya beej, Pepper, Shunthi, Krishan Til over forehead at the site of pain.
Pouring of thin stream of medicated oils, decoction of herbs and buttermilk over forehead.
Common medicated oils are Ksheerbala taila, Chandanadi taila, Dashmool taila, Brahmi taila.
Common decoctions used are Dashmool kwath & Brahmi kwath.
Retaining the medicated oils like Til taila, Maha Narayan taila over the leather cap fitted over scalp.
Instillation of medicated oils or expressed juices of fresh ayurvedic herbs or powdered form of dry herbs in nose.
Common oils used in Nasya are Shadbindu taila, Anu taila, Til taila.
Expressed juices of Tulsi, Bala, Dhaniya, Amaltas and powdered forms of Pippali, Shirishmool, Madhuyashti and Rasna.
Medicated oil is administered as enema. The medicine stays for a longer duration inside the intestines and shows the best results. Common medicated oils used are Til taila, Mahanarayan taila.
Massage of scalp, neck & forehead with medicated oils like Dashmool taila, Bala taila, Cow ghrit, Til taila.
Common Herbs Useful in Migraine
It acts as an adaptogen. It is an effective and powerful antioxidant for damage caused by free radicals. It has refreshing effects on mind, mood elevation and promotion of sound sleep. It is excellent for improving brain functions. It decreases the level of cortisol which is a stress hormone. It improves concentration.
Very calming herb known to be natural tonic for the brain. It balances the biochemical reactions in the body and possesses the power of reducing stress, anxiety and tension. It is a good carminative and thus prevents the migraine due to indigestion.
A miracle herb for migraine known as Indian ginseng. It helps by reducing migraine disability, overcoming oxidative stress, by improving focus and strength. Ashwagandha has been shown to decrease markers of inflammation in nerves & vessels.
A wonder herb that is beneficial in nausea and vomiting associated with migraine. It acts as an antioxidant that protects body cells. It possesses powerful anti inflammatory properties and thus relieves the pain of migraine and reduces the migraine attacks if taken regularly.
This herb consists of anti inflammatory and muscle relaxant properties, has the ability to induce normal flow of blood to the brain . Hence it is used to treat and prevent migraine pain.
It has been scientifically proven to combat migraine pain. Feverfew constricts blood vessels. Its leaves and flowers are used as herbal tea for this ailment.
A variety of natural supplements are used for migraine prophylaxis like Omega 3 fatty acids.
Sources are nuts, flax seeds, pacific oysters. These protect brain cells and bring down inflammation. Thus help in reducing the frequency and duration of migraine.
Found in spices, nuts, cereals, cocoa, pumpkin seeds, vegetables, grains. It plays a vital role in relaxing nerves and muscles and helps nerves from becoming overexcited.
Legumes, nuts, green leafy vegetables and milk provide riboflavin. Breads and cereals are often fortified with riboflavin. It helps protect cells from oxidative damage and thus reduces migraine attacks.
Pranayam for Migraine
Bhastrika Pranayama is an excellent breathing exercise. It keeps the body healthy and mind cool.
Steps for Bhastrika Pranayam
• Sit in a comfortable asana like Padmasana or Sukhasana. Spine should be straight.
• Breathe ‘in’ and breathe ‘out’ forcefully. Take the breath inside as deep as possible to fill the lungs and then exhale completely to evacuate lungs. Breathe in and breathe out with equal force. Do not stop the breath during the process. This is one cycle completed.
• Repeat this several times.
• Keep both the eyes closed and mentally chant the mantra ‘Om’.
• It should be practised 5 minutes maximum at one time.
Anulom Vilom is another pranayam to be included in daily routine by patient of migraine.
Steps for Anulom Vilom
1. Sit in a comfortable asana and close the eyes.
2. Close right nostril with thumb and breathe from left nostril.
3. Then close left nostril by middle finger and exhale from right nostril.
4. Inhale from right nostril and close it and exhale from left nostril.
5. Inhale from left nostril and repeat it.
Migraine is a disabling disease that significantly diminishes the quality of life. The healing science of Ayurveda opens new doors for its treatment and creates a balanced physiology and resolves the disease.