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Well-Known Migraine Triggers
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Treating Menstrual Migraines
Migraine Treatment:  A Natural Approach

Migraine Treatment:  A Natural Approach

Before you take that prescription for your migraine headache, consider this:  There are now several natural treatment options.We'll discuss them further down, but first, let's look at what a migraine is.

A migraine is a condition in which a person's blood vessels in the brain expand, causing extreme pain.The National Headache Foundation says that over 29.5 million Americans experience migraine attacks.Symptoms of these attacks are usually (but not always) medium to extreme pain on one side of the head--or less commonly, both sides.This pain is usually described as throbbing or pulsating, and gets worse with physical activity.Other symptoms include nausea and sometimes vomiting, sensitivity to sound or light, and an "aura" just before the migraine.This aura could bring light flashes, blind spots or zig zags in your vision.They also sometimes cause tingling in the arm or leg.

Here are a few natural remedies that some use for migraines:

  • Feverfew.This is an herb which has been used for hundreds of years to treat headaches (including migraines), arthritis, fever and pain--especially in Europe.In the 1980s, its popularity as a treatment alternative for migraines really exploded.There have been several studies of feverfew, one of which examined 170 people, some who took the herb and others who took placebo.Those who took the real herb had a significant decrease in the number of migraines.However, one review of five separate studies that involved 343 people together concluded the evidence is not convincing that feverfew is an effective treatment.Some of feverfew's side effects include gas, abdominal pain, nausea, diarrhea, nervousness and vomiting.Also, keep in mind that feverfew's safety for pregnant or nursing women has not been determined.
  • 5-Hydroxytryptophan (or 5-HTP).This is a compound produced inside a person's body from tryptophan, an amino acid.The body uses it to make serotonin and a hormone called melatonin.This compound is available also as a supplement.It's made from the seeds of the Griffonia simplicifolia, an African plant.Some studies have suggested that 5-HTP is helpful in preventing migraines and reducing their severity and frequency.however, no large, controlled, randomized study has been conducted yet.
  • Magnesium.This mineral is found in foods like nuts, green leafy vegetables, whole grains, and seeds.Everybody needs magnesium to produce 300 biochemical reactions in their bodies.It also regulates a person's blood-sugar level and is used for normal nerve and muscle function, immune function, heart rhythm, bone health and blood pressure.Several studies have shown that magnesium might have significant effectiveness in treating migraines, possibly lowering their frequency as much as 41.6 percent.Possible side effects include digestive irritation and diarrhea.
  • Butterbur.This herb's scientific name is "Petasites hybridus."  It's a shrub which grows in Europe, northern Asia and some areas in North America.Medicines are usually made out of extracts of the herb and have been used to treat stomach cramps, coughs, asthma, allergies, and yes, migraines.There have been several studies that show butterbur is effective as a migraine treatment.Side effects could include indigestion, fatigue vomiting, nausea, constipation or diarrhea.Also, since butterbur is a member of the ragwood family, those with certain allergies might experience allergic reactions.Women who are pregnant or nursing or those with liver or kidney disease should not take this herb.

For more information about any of these treatment alternatives, consult your doctor.

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