Migraines are a severe form of headache which can turn into a chronic problem. Its very different from a normal headache - it usually affects only one side of the head. Besides pain, migraine can also cause nausea and vomiting in extreme cases.
While there is a pill for every symptom of migraine, it just helps only for that particular migraine episode. and doesn't address the root cause, Migraine is multifactorial, meaning there is no one factor that causes it. Hence, identification of the right trigger becomes primary to a successful migraine management.
Lifestyle triggers that cause migraine include lack of sleep, chronic stress, unhealthy gut — constipation, bloating, indigestion, candida overgrowth — acidity, exposure to strong smells/noise, dehydration, too much caffeine, vitamin deficiency — mostly magnesium and vitamin B12, B6 — prolonged exposure to sun and erratic meal timings.
Amongst the above, the two major causes of migraines and headaches are constipation and lack of quality sleep/stress. Constipation leads to a build-up of toxins in the body leading to gasses that cause not just headaches and migraines but poor skin, hair, low immunity, cancers, disorders, weight gain, bloating, indigestion, fatigue and brain fog.
- Soak 4-5 black peppercorns for 4 hours and bite into them followed by sipping water before meals. This works really well in most migraine cases. Soaking peppercorns makes it less spicy. You can also heat it in ghee or add them to foods. It contain an enzyme known as "piperine", which is anti-inflammatory and is thought of as a natural painkiller.
- Practice deep breathing — 10-12 rounds of abdominal breathing helps infuse cells with plenty of oxygen, shifts body into a parasympathetic state (rested state). Sound producing breaths like omkar chanting or Bee breathing also help relax the mind and relieve you of migraine.
- Restorative yoga asanas like child's pose, corpse pose, legs up the wall also help.
- Turn on some soothing music and relax each muscle one by one. Example, clench the fist very hard in order to stop blood circulation, hold for 10-15 seconds and then release.
- Beetroots are rich in nitric oxide — a powerful vasodilator. Drinking fresh beetroot juice or a tsp of beetroot powder in a glass of water helps dilate blood vessel thereby enhancing blood flow towards the head region.
- Cabbage compress: grate cabbage and put it over a muslin cloth. Make a potli out of it and gently press it over the forehead for 5 mins.
- Rub some peppermint essential oil over temple region. Additionally, massaging 3-4 drops of lavender essential oil mixed with a tsp of coconut oil to the temples helps with pain relief.
- Brew teas using spices and herbs like ginger, peppermint, cardamom powder.
- Maintaining a journal makes it easier for you to identify potential triggers from food to fragrances as it can be different for each individual.
- Keep your body alkaline at the right times. Simple ways to do that are lemon water, mint/cardamom infused water and fennel seed water.
- Limit exposure to bright lights/screens
- Add daily probiotics and prebiotics either through food or supplement.
Luke Coutinho is a holistic lifestyle coach — Integrative Medicine