Although there are many different symptoms suffered by those that are unfortunate to have migraines, for many of us put simply it’s a very, very bad pain in your head, which can last for several hours or longer and can build up over hours too. It’s a debilitating condition for sufferers and is more prevalent in women than men and often hormonal imbalances for women tend to make the condition worse. There may also be a genetic link as it is quite common for another family member to also experience migraine.
Migraine can vary in severity from milder throbbing pain to increased sensitivity to light and sickness. I have had clients who have to retire to bed in a dark room for 24 – 48 hours, or longer. And it can leave the sufferer exhausted afterwards.
With migraine, there can be common trigger foods such as cheese, spices, chocolate, nitrates in cured meats, alcohol, coffee and other caffeine containing drinks, artificial sweeteners and monosodium glutamate. It makes sense to keep your diet as natural as possible avoiding processed foods. Finding out what triggers your pain can be difficult however it will be worth the effort.
Other triggers can be travelling through time zones, weather pressure changes, excess stress, intensive exercise or lack of sleep.
Dealing With Stress:
Ensuring stress relieving techniques and exercises are part of your routine is especially important if you suffer from migraines.
Yoga, walking, meditation and being in nature are all wonderful activities that switch the nervous system to its non-stressed parasympathetic state (rest and digest); and deep abdominal breathing is my first go to technique whenever I feel stress levels rising as it achieves the same outcome. It’s also best to avoid ultra-high intensity workouts which cause a stress response to the body.
Sleep, Diet & Supplements:
Ensure you follow a regular sleep pattern, avoiding late nights and aim for 7-8 hours every night.
When it comes to foods, inflammation may play a role in migraine severity. Saturated fat is a pro inflammatory messenger in the body whereas oily fish creates anti-inflammatory messengers.
Few people realize eating oily fish (salmon, sardines, and mackerel) has this effect. You should aim to eat oily fish three times a week or supplement a good quality fish oil supplement containing 750 mg EPA/DHA.
Magnesium is an important mineral as it has so many essential functions in the body. Many people may be deficient today as our soils tend to be quite depleted and it is used up in significant amounts when we are stressed.
With regards migraine relief, it works synergistically with calcium in muscles by relaxing them (calcium contracts them). Magnesium may also help to relieve blood vessel spasms.
It has been shown that migraine sufferers may be deficient before an attack. I tend to recommend 350 mg of magnesium citrate or magnesium malate which also supports the energy cycle. Dark green leafy vegetables are a good source of magnesium.
It’s also worth thinking about your calcium intake and if it’s imbalanced in relation to magnesium. When I look at a client’s food diary this is one of the first things I will consider.
Coenzyme Q10 (also known as CoQ10) is a vitamin-like substance essential in the creation of energy in the body and a lack of energy production in the brain may be a trigger. It’s been shown to have a significant effect on lowering the number of migraine attacks. As a supplement Ubiquinol is the form I recommend at 100 mg per day.
Do You Take Statins?
Statins also block the CoQ10 pathway so if you are a migraine sufferer on statins, I would strongly recommend a CoQ10 supplement.
CoQ10 is found naturally in meat (especially organ meat) and fish (especially oily fish) and wholegrains.
Certain B vitamins, specifically B2 (riboflavin) and B6 are associated to improvement in migraine outcomes.
As B vitamins work better together (synergistically) I always recommend a B complex rather than the individual vitamins. Like CoQ10, B2 is involved in the energy cycle and B6 (with magnesium) is involved in better outcomes for menstruating women who experience worse migraines at the time of their period.
Before supplementing vitamins and minerals, please consult a qualified professional who can advise you on safe dosages to take alongside prescribed medications or other underlying health conditions.
About The Author
Caroline Peyton is a naturopath and nutritional therapist who has run physical clinics in Gloucestershire and Wiltshire for more than ten years under her business name Peyton Principles. She is now offering virtual support to clients from all over the UK and overseas. She has recently launched her first online self-help course “5 Steps To Relieve IBS”. Caroline has a Diploma of Naturopathic Nutritional Therapy and helped launch the Naturopathic Nutrition Association which she chaired for seven years. She also created the Natural Healthcare College which she ran for five years. She has a particular interest in gut health and psychosocial health. She believes true health comes when we feel emotionally, spiritually and physically in balance. She lives with her family in Gloucestershire and also has a passion for horses!
For more information visit https://www.peytonprinciples.com