Migraines can be debilitating and unfortunately it is easier to prevent a migraine than it is to treat one. Try these techniques.

Migraine triggers

  • Avoid foods that contain a lot of the amino acid tyramine. Such ‘trigger’ foods include cured and processed meats, such as salami, frankfurters, and other sausages; aged cheeses, such as cheddar; nuts and peanuts. Chocolate and red wine, notorious migraine triggers, are also rich in tyramine.
     
  • Frequent use of aspirin or ibuprofen can cause ‘rebound headaches’ that start as soon as a dose begins to wear off. It's best to stop relying on these pain-killers even if it hurts to begin with.

Read more: Common migraine symptoms

 

Lifestyle changes for migraine relief

  • Headaches may be the result of ongoing, borderline sinus congestion, rather than tension or some other reason. Regularly eating spicy foods, such as chillies, has the effect of keeping mucus loose and flowing and stimulating circulation to the face and head, so reducing the congestion.
     
  • Eat at regular intervals. There's evidence that a drop in blood sugar–the result of going too long without eating–can set the stage for headaches.
     
  • At least 3 days a week, spend 30 minutes walking, cycling, swimming or performing some other kind of aerobic exercise. These exercises are great stress-relievers.
     
  • If you grind your teeth or clench your jaw—either when you're awake or asleep—take steps to prevent the problem. You might need to see a dentist and be fitted for a mouthguard to wear at night.
     
  • Drink a large glass of water and see if it helps. Dehydration often causes a headache.

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Herbal treatments for migraines

  • The herb feverfew has the power to reduce the intensity and frequency of migraines. Take tablets or capsules with an extract standardised to contain 200-600mcg parthenolide. (Caution: Don't take feverfew if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, or if you take anticoagulant drugs.) It may take several months to work properly. Fresh feverfew is best eaten with bread.
     
  • Flaxseed oil is rich in essential fatty acids, which help your body produce fewer inflammation-causing prostaglandins, hormone-like chemicals that can constrict blood vessels. Take 1-2 tablespoons a day. Buy the cold-pressed oil and keep it in the refrigerator to protect it from light and heat. Take it by mixing it into a smoothie or adding it to salad dressings.
     
  • Although experts aren't sure how, riboflavin can help to prevent migraines. It is recommended that you take 1-2mg riboflavin daily, although most products advise a dose of 40mg, and the effective dose used in trials of migraine prophylaxis is much higher–400 mg–with no apparent side effects.
     
  • A magnesium supplement may also help with the treatment of migraines. But if you do take magnesium, be sure to take 500mg calcium as well–imbalances of the 2 minerals can reduce their beneficial effects. The 2 supplements should not be taken at the same time–allow at least 3 hours between each daily dose.
     
  • Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties and has long been used as an effective remedy for headaches. To make an effective solution, grind up half a teaspoon of ginger, stir it into a glass of water and drink. Or, alternatively, pour a cup of hot water over a teaspoon of freshly ground ginger, allow the tea to cool a little and drink. Ginger also helps to control the nausea that quite often accompanies migraines.
     
  • Camomile, linden and lemon balm tea are all mildly relaxing herbs that help reduce emotional, and physical tension that could be triggering a nasty headache. Sip the tea or ask a medical herbalist to make up a tincture of these 3 remedies, and take in a little water, as recommended.
     
  • Try drinking a cup of rosemary tea; some people say it helps to prevent a headache from getting worse. Pour a cup of boiling water over a teaspoon of the dried herb, steep for 10 minutes, strain and drink.
     
  • One grandmother's remedy was strong black tea with a few bruised whole cloves added. Tea contains caffeine and cloves have anti-inflammatory properties, so this brew might indeed help to overcome a headache.

Read more: How to cure any kind of headache

 

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