Migraine Misery?

Natural help for soothing the symptoms of migraines

According to the Migraine Trust, one in seven people are affected by migraines, and the condition is more prevalent than diabetes, epilepsy and asthma combined.

“Migraines are headaches which commonly cause visual disturbances, nausea and an increased sensitivity to light and sound,” explains Julie Lamble, senior nutritionist at Lifeplan (www.lifeplan.co.uk). “They can be caused by hormonal changes, stress, tiredness, dehydration, as well as certain foods and drinks. If you are a migraine sufferer, thankfully there are natural ways for you to help prevent attacks.”

Find out your triggers

“Some foods are associated with increasing the risk of migraine attacks, such as chocolate, cheese and citrus foods,” says Julie. “So these are best eaten in moderation or not at all by sufferers. Also, the substance tyramine, which is found in smoked fish and cured meat, is a known migraine trigger, so it’s best avoided.”

Mix up some ginger powder

“Ginger is a fantastic spice that can be added to curries, stir fries, dressings and found in teas,” says nutritionist Clarissa Lenherr (clarissalenherr.com). “It is great for digestive comfort, nausea and pain. Studies have suggested that taking 250mg of ginger in its powder format is comparable in its ability to relieve migraines as taking Sumatriptan, a common medication prescribed for migraines. Try mixing ginger powder in warm water and sipping to help relieve headaches and migraines.”

Supplement with magnesium

“Magnesium is needed for over 300 functions in the body, including the nervous system, which is one of the bodily systems responsible for the development of headaches and migraines,” says Clarissa. “Studies actually suggest that taking magnesium supplements can help reduce the severity and frequency of migraines.” Julie adds: “For best absorbency, choose one that provides a triple source of magnesium, taking 400mg daily which should help to prevent migraines or reduce their severity.” You can also increase your magnesium intake through foods. Eat lots of green leafy vegetables, brown rice, quinoa, beans, fish and avocados.

Stay hydrated

“Hydration is key for every system and function in the body, and as the weather gets warmer, more of us can find we are dehydrated,” says Clarissa. “Ensuring you drink enough water can help reduce the onset and development of migraines. Also, be aware that if you drink coffee or certain teas that are diuretics, this can lead to dehydration, as diuretics make us excrete more fluid than we take in. For every cup of tea or coffee, reach for another glass of water to hydrate!”

Try some herbal help

“Migraines are very often related to stress and/or hormone imbalances and working with a medical herbalist can really help to prevent migraines,” says Hannah Charman, a medical herbalist who runs www.physichealth.uk. “Feverfew is a well-known migraine remedy but although it’s useful for reducing migraines, its relative Alecost (Tanacetum balsamita) is better at stopping them in their tracks. Taking 20 drops of tincture in water every 30 minutes is often enough to keep migraines at bay, but both herbs should be avoided during preconception, pregnancy and breastfeeding. You could make basil tea from the fresh herbs you find at the supermarket, by covering it in boiling water and covering it whilst it brews for five minutes. Another trick is to firmly pinch the area between the thumb and forefinger for a few minutes, but again, avoid this during pregnancy and preconception.”

Did you know?

“The mineral magnesium is a natural muscle relaxant and can lessen the severity of migraine attacks and reduce their frequency by 40 per cent,” says nutritionist Julie Lamble.

There are 190,000 migraine attacks every day in the UK, according to the Migraine Trust.

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