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Migraine Headaches: Is Natural Relief Possible?
By Dr. Larry A. Johnson
Natural treatment methods for migraine headaches are usually harmless and also cheaper than traditional pain medications. Sure, it's possible you could experience a negative reaction or even increase your headache pain because of a natural treatment, but the odds are far less than with pain-relieving medications.
People are different from each other. A natural treatment that might relieve one person's migraine headaches may not relieve someone else's. But on the same measure, just because one migraine headache treatment does not work for one person does not mean it won't work for you. There are many effective alternatives to taking medication when it comes to relieving migraine headaches. One of these alternative methods may be just what you have been looking for.
Chiropractic adjustments, or chiropractic manipulations, are a very popular natural treatment method for headache relief. Patients with migraine headaches have been visiting chiropractors for over 100 years, and with very good results. Studies have shown that over 80% of headache patients find relief with chiropractic care. Plus, chiropractic treatment has been shown to be extremely safe. Spinal problems do cause headaches and by correcting these spinal problems many headache sufferers find welcome relief.
Biofeedback is another form of treatment that is safe and can be effective in eliminating pain. Biofeedback is a training program designed to help a person develop the ability to control their autonomic (involuntary) nervous system. Functions that are normally automatic can be controlled voluntarily. This technique makes it possible for a person to control their own heart rate, blood pressure, skin temperature, and of course, the relaxation of their tense muscles.
Stress can cause tension, which can lead to muscle tightness (muscle tension) and cause headaches. By relaxing these tense muscles, especially in the neck, it is possible to relieve the tension causing the migraine headaches. With biofeedback, once the technique is learned there is no longer any need for the biofeedback equipment. The patient with migraine headaches can now produce the desired effect at any. They can control certain bodily functions, such as muscle relaxation, which can help reduce and relieve their migraine headaches.
Most people are unaware that too much salt can cause headaches. And by simply lessening the salt intake headaches can sometimes be prevented.
Food allergies or sensitivities can also cause migraine headaches. Certain foods such as cheese, alcohol, monosodium glutamate (a food additive), nuts, beans, caffeine, chocolate and onions can cause migraines. Foods that cause headaches are called triggers. People who experience migraine headaches because of food sensitivities can eliminate their pain by simply eliminating the foods causing the pain.
However, it's not always easy to discover which foods are the culprits. One way is to keep a food diary. Get a small notebook, with each page representing one day. On each daily page make three columns. The first column will contain the hours in the day. The second column will be a list of the foods eaten that day. And the third column will list the symptoms that you experience.
As an example, if you had eggs and toast for breakfast at 8 AM you would write "eggs and toast" in the food column that corresponds with 8 AM. Make a note of everything that is eaten on this list and at what time they were eaten. When you eventually experience a migraine headache you write "migraine headache" or "headache" down in the symptoms column at the time it began. For example, if one of your headaches begins at 2 PM you will write "headache" in the symptoms column for 2 PM.
It may take a few weeks or even a few months, but after experiencing a few migraine headaches, with the help of the food diary, you will be able to tell which foods cause headaches. Over time, by figuring out which ingredients in these foods are causing your pain, you will be able to eliminate these ingredients and relieve some pain.
Another very common cause of tension headaches and migraine headaches is just plain stress. People who experience tension can get headaches from their increased tension. Relieving tension can often relieve migraine headaches. Tension can be relieved in many ways such as with biofeedback training (as explained above), taking a warm bath or shower, lying down and resting in a quiet dark room, putting something cold on the back of the neck (at the base of the skull) or having someone massage your neck muscles and possibly your temporal region to help relieve your tension and muscle spasms. Regular exercise can also, over time, reduce tension.
These are just a few of the many natural treatment methods that are available to migraine headache patients. They are all considered safe and are effective for many people. If you have headaches it may be beneficial to try some of these treatments or search out others on your own. But as always it is a good idea to talk with your doctor before attempting to treat yourself for a health problem.