Natural Migraine Treatment FAQ

Discussion in 'Health and medical' started by Catherine Woodg, Mar 16, 2004.

  1. Archive-name: medicine/migraine/natural-cures
    Posting-Frequency: Every 27 days
    Last-modified: 2001/08/26
    Version: 2.3

    Natural Migraine Treatment FAQ

    (1) Introduction
    (2) For Immediate Relief
    (3) Definition of Migraines
    (4) Chiropractic treatment
    (5) Biofeedback
    (5.1) Theory of biofeedback
    (5.2) Handwarming biofeedback
    (5.3) Other biofeedback
    (6) Acupuncture, Aromatherapy and Myotherapy
    (6.1) Acupuncture
    (6.2) Aromatherapy
    (6.3) Myotherapy
    (7) Nutritional Treatments
    (7.1) Food Sensitivity
    (7.2) Blood Sugar
    (7.3) Not Overusing Salt
    (7.4) Nutritional Supplements
    (7.5) Herbs
    (8) Psychology
    (9) Nociceptive Appliance

    (10) Books/articles
    (11) Links
    (12) About the author of this FAQ
    (13) Contact info
    (14) Disclaimer
    (15) Copyright

    (16) Introduction

    This Natural Migraine Treatment FAQ, posted to, attempts to summarize all
    non-medical treatments that help prevent or cure migraine
    headaches. Most treatments mentioned here have worked for
    many people, and usually have a theoretical basis as well.
    This FAQ doesn't discuss drugs.

    Natural treatments are usually harmless, as opposed to
    drugs, which usually have side effects (though note that
    natural treatments are not always harmless). Therefore,
    depending on cost and convenience, it can make sense to
    continue a natural treatment even if you're not sure whether
    it's doing any good. It often makes sense to apply several
    natural treatments at the same time. If one treatment
    reduces the number of headaches or the amount of pain, then
    several treatments used at once may completely or almost
    completely eliminate them.

    Different things work for different people. Some of the
    treatments mentioned here may actually increase headache
    pain for some people. In fact, many treatments which help in
    the aura phase make the headache worse if used in the pain
    phase, and vice versa. (Many drugs, including caffeine, work
    like this.) Some treatments may have no effect on some
    people. You may decide to try several things and choose the
    ones that help you.

    This FAQ can be found on the Web at
    alternative/Natural_Migraine_Treatment_FAQ (all one line)

    Note the disclaimer at the end of this FAQ.

    (17) For Immediate Relief

    Most of the treatments in this FAQ are used to prevent
    migraines from happening. This section describes things you
    can do when you're in pain, to reduce the pain.

    -- Have a bath or shower. -- Lie down to rest in a dark
    room. -- Avoid bright or flashing light. -- Put something
    cold on the back of your neck, such as a cold, wet cloth;
    or alternate hot and cold cloths where the pain is. -- Put
    a cold compress on your forehead and your feet in a
    container of warm water. -- Have a drink of water or
    natural juice, especially tomato juice. -- Have some food,
    or a nutritious drink, if you haven't eaten for a while. --
    Massage your own face, head, neck and shoulders, or get
    someone else to do those and your back. Relax your muscles.
    -- Press on two pressure points at the back of the neck.
    These points are about two inches apart, just below the
    base of the skull. Press for a minute or two. This releases
    endorphins that help against pain. -- Massage or press on
    the fleshy area between thumb and forefinger. -- Gently
    lean the head to left or right to stretch the neck muscles.
    Massage and relax any tense muscles. -- Avoid sources of
    stress. Cancel activities so there's less to worry about.
    -- Avoid exercise during a headache if it makes throbbing
    pain in the head and neck worse. On the other hand,
    generally exercise improves health, and it may help you
    relax during a headache. -- Take some niacin (a form of
    vitamin B3). Taking enough niacin to cause a flush (blood
    rushing to the skin) can provide relief from headache pain,
    but this much niacin can also have side effects (flush,
    nausea, heartburn, liver damage, etc.) Niacinamide doesn't
    have such bad side effects, but isn't as much use against
    migraines, either. Smaller, safer amounts of niacin are
    also helpful. Niacin can trigger a migraine, though. --
    Take some vitamin C, vitamin B6, choline, tryptophan and
    niacin and/or magnesium.

    (18) Definition of Migraines

    The word "migraine" comes from words meaning "half the
    head", and sounds like "demi-cranium", because migraine
    headaches often hurt on only the left or right side of the
    head. However, many people with migraines always have pain
    on the whole head.

    A migraine headache is caused by hormonal fluctuations which
    cause blood vessels in the head and neck to contract and
    then dilate. The first phase, or contraction phase, may last
    minutes, hours, or days. During this phase, symptoms can be
    spots in front of the eyes, difficulty concentrating, and
    cold fingertips and hands. This is called an "aura". Many
    people recognize this phase of their headaches; many others
    don't notice any symptoms at this time. Some people who
    think they don't have an "aura" can learn to recognize it.

    When the blood vessels dilate, the headache pain starts.
    Apparently the hormones over-react. Instead of just going
    from a contracted state back to normal, the blood vessels
    dilate much wider than normal, causing pain. Other things
    also happen about the same time: swelling of the brain,
    release of certain chemicals, and perhaps muscle tension.
    These things add to the pain.

    There are a number of different processes that can cause the
    interplay of hormones leading to contracted and then over-
    dilated blood vessels. It's not always the same hormones
    that are involved. Some of the natural treatments listed
    here focus on a single process. Different things work for
    different people. Some people may need to use several
    treatments at the same time. Some people who think they have
    "tension headaches" are actually helped by migraine
    treatments. Many headaches are probably a combination of
    muscle tension and migraine.

    Because migraines occur in a two-phase process, with levels
    of certain hormones high in one phase and low in the other
    phase, a lot of treatments can either help or make the
    headache worse, depending on timing. For the same reason,
    treatments that help one person can make a headache worse
    for another person.

    (19) Chiropractic treatment

    Sometimes the bones in the neck are in the wrong place, and
    the little muscles near the bones are tense. This is called
    "subluxation". It's like having a crick in your neck. The
    nerves that lead out from the spine can be irritated when
    there is a subluxation, and this can cause migraines. The
    bones are very close to being in the right place, so a
    medical doctor might say they are in the right place. A
    chiropractor treats people by gently pushing the bones back
    into place.

    Stress on any part of the spine, as from lifting heavy
    objects or sitting in a twisted position, can cause
    subluxations in the neck, leading to migraine.

    Some relief from migraine can be obtained by doing slow,
    gentle stretching exercises of the neck. (Rolling motions or
    sudden motions are not recommended.) Avoid sitting for a
    long time with the head leaning forward, straining the neck.
    Avoid lying on your back with your head raised on a pillow.
    Lying on your back is OK with no pillow, or with a pillow
    that supports the neck but doesn't raise the head much. When
    lying on your side, a pillow should support the head and
    neck. When sitting, for example at the computer, change
    position frequently and check for things like tension in the
    shoulders from supporting the arms.

    Chiropractors usually ask their patients to be x-rayed on
    the first visit, but you can ask your chiropractor to treat
    you without the x-ray -- they can do this and normally do
    for pregnant women.

    The body of literature supporting a cervical spine (neck)
    origin of headache is substantial.

    Vernon [16] found that 90% of patients were satisfied with
    chiropractic treatment of headache. (Note: numbers in square
    brackets refer to the list of books and articles near the
    end of this FAQ.)

    In a study involving 200 patients, Jirout [9] reported
    that...manipulation directed to the areas of fixation
    resulted in complete relief in approximately 80% of

    A landmark descriptive survey of a chiroparctor's experience
    in the treatment of migraine headache was reported by Wight
    [17]. Eighty seven patients were included, 34 with common
    migraine and 53 with classical migraine. In the common
    migraine group, 85% of the females and 50% of the males were
    greatly improved. In the classical migraine group, 78% of
    the females and 75% of the males were greatly improved.

    Frykholm [5] describes the confusion associated in the
    diagnosis of cervical ( neck) headache by stating: "In my
    experience, cervical migraine is the type of headache most
    frequently misinterpreted. Such patients have usually
    received an inadequate treatment and have often become
    neurotic and drug-dependent."

    (20) Biofeedback

    (20.1) Theory of biofeedback

    With biofeedback, a person learns to control a body function
    which was not under direct conscious control, but was
    indirectly under conscious control.

    Here is an example to explain what is meant by a body
    function under indirect conscious control. Generally
    speaking, a person can't decide to do the following: "I'll
    flip a coin, and if it comes up heads, I'll immediately
    make my heart beat faster, even though I'll still be
    sitting down." However, a person can decide, "If the coin
    comes up heads, then I'll put up my hand to ask a question
    in front of this roomful of people, which I'm nervous about
    doing." As soon as the person sees the coin come up heads,
    their heart starts to pound because of their nervousness.
    Yet all that happened was that they made a decision and
    then flipped a coin. Thus, their conscious thoughts
    affected the heart rate. In this way, heart rate is
    indirectly under conscious control.

    Body functions such as muscle tension, finger temperature,
    and levels of some hormones in the blood (such as adrenalin
    in the above example) are under indirect conscious control.
    Some of these functions are involved in headaches.

    Biofeedback means making information about one's body
    available to the conscious mind. Devices which measure
    muscle tension, finger temperature etc. and which supply
    that information to the person are biofeedback devices.

    Gradually, a person learns the semi-conscious thought
    patterns that make the device show the desired result, such
    as warm fingers. It's like learning to ride a bicycle. Once
    the skill has been learned, the person can use it at any
    time, without needing the biofeedback device. For example, a
    person who has gone through many learning sessions with a
    thermometer and has learned to warm their fingers can then
    warm their fingers after that without using a thermometer.

    (20.2) Handwarming biofeedback

    Phase I of a migraine is similar to what the body does in
    response to fear, though the reaction may have been caused
    by a food the person ate rather than by actual fear. In
    phase I, blood is reallocated out of the hands and head and
    into the large muscles that would be used for running from
    danger. The hands, especially the fingertips, become cold
    when the blood is withdrawn. The feeling of confusion, or
    inability to think clearly, that can accompany phase I is
    similar to fainting from fear.

    The pain occurs in phase II, when the blood vessels of the
    head and neck over-react and re-expand to larger than the
    normal size. The headache can be prevented by reducing the
    severity of phase I, thus preventing phase II.

    The level of the hormones in the blood that contract the
    blood vessels, such as serotonin and adrenalin, can be
    brought under semi-conscious control. By thinking relaxed
    thoughts, the hormone level can be lowered. The serotonin
    level is monitored by checking the temperature of the
    fingertips and hands. During phase I, first the fingertips
    and then the hands become cold. The finger temperature can
    be checked either with a thermometer, or by touching the
    fingertips to your cheeks. If they feel warm or hot, that's
    good. They should be at body temperature. If they're cool or
    cold, it could be either from being in a cold room, from
    poor blood circulation due to diabetes or some other
    condition, or from a phase I reaction.

    After many attempts of trying to think relaxed thoughts and
    checking the finger temperature, a person gradually learns
    how to get into the right frame of mind to affect the
    serotonin levels. Eventually, a person can decide to warm up
    the fingers, meditate for a while, and the fingers become
    warm. Under a lot of stress, for example if you're about to
    speak in front of an audience, it may be impossible to warm
    the fingers at that time, though attempting it may reduce
    the severity of a migraine later. For learning, it's best to
    use a low-stress situation such as sitting at home.

    It normally requires trying several times a day for several
    weeks before much progress is made. It helps to keep records
    of the finger temperature before and after attempting

    A person who has learned biofeedback can become aware of
    their finger temperature so that they notice when their
    hands suddenly become cold. They can then take a break from
    stressful activities, relax until their hands warm up, and
    prevent a headache from happening. The feeling of confusion
    and stress that usually accompanies phase I can mean that
    you tend not to notice things like finger temperature at
    that time -- you're too busy thinking about whatever is
    causing the stress -- but eventually you can learn to
    notice it.

    Kohlenberg's book [11], which comes with a thermometer,
    explains how to do handwarming biofeedback; unfortunately
    this book seems to be out of print. It's easier to do
    biofeedback when combining it with cognitive therapy (see
    the psychology section of this FAQ).

    (20.3) Other Biofeedback

    Biofeedback devices can be used to monitor the tenseness of
    muscles in the forehead, the amount of sweat on the
    fingers, and other things. The person spends time learning
    to make the muscles relaxed, the fingers dry, etc. These
    forms of biofeedback can help with headaches. A migraine
    usually involves some muscle tension in the head which adds
    to the pain.

    (21) Acupuncture, Aromatherapy and Myotherapy
    (21.1) Acupuncture

    One woman had been suffering from headaches for seven years.
    Her condition was so severe, that the neurologist she had
    been seeing recommended she have an operation to sever the
    nerve over one eye. Instead, she tried acupuncture. After
    her first treatment the headache started to subside. After
    two more, it was gone completely.

    On, some posters said
    acupuncture helped their headaches. Some said it helped
    somewhat, and others were enthusiastic about it helping a
    lot. Other posters said it didn't help them at all. A few
    said it made their headaches worse.

    (21.2) Aromatherapy

    Sniffing certain essential oils when you have a headache may
    help treat migraines. The olfactory (smelling) organ in the
    nose is connected to parts of the brain that control
    emotions and hormone release. Peppermint, lavender, and
    marjoram have been recommended.

    The essential oils can be mixed with the edible kind of
    alcohol and rubbed on the neck and forehead, also an
    opportunity to massage these areas.

    (21.3) Myotherapy

    "Myotherapy...a method for relaxing muscle spasm, improving
    circulation and alleviating pain. To defuse 'trigger point-
    s,' pressure is applied to the muscle for several seconds
    by means of fingers, knuckles and elbows. The success of
    this method depends on the use of specific corrective exer-
    cise for the freed muscles. The method was developed by Bo-
    nnie Prudden in 1976."
    -- Taber's Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary

    (22) Nutritional Treatments
    (22.1) Food Sensitivity

    Many books agree that chocolate is the most likely food to
    cause migraines. Other foods which can cause migraines
    include avocados, pineapples, beans, peas, lentils, MSG,
    pork, shrimp, pickled herring, alcohol, caffeine, cheese,
    nitrites as preservatives in hot dogs and other processed
    meats, and coconut. One person reports that chamomile or
    valerian herbal tea can cause headaches.

    The caffeine in chocolate is not the main reason chocolate
    causes migraines. There's a group of substances called
    amines, common in food, which are the main food trigger of
    migraines. There are different amines in different foods.
    The one in chocolate is the worst. The one in cheese is
    called tyramine and is next worst. Hanington's book [8]
    describes an experiment in which it was shown that
    tyramine can cause migraines. Migraine people have less
    monoamine oxidase (MAO), the enzyme in platelets that
    breaks down amines.

    The amount of tyramine in cheese varies tremendously by type
    and even batch of cheese. Milk is OK, since the tyramine is
    produced in the cheese-making process by microorganisms.
    Other amines are found in other types of food. The reaction
    to amines is not an allergy. The amines cause certain
    hormones to be released in the body. Different amines may
    cause migraines in different people.

    Nitrites in foods can also cause migraines. Nitrites are
    present in some processed meats such as hot dogs, sausages
    and lunch meat; the nitrites are added as a preservative.
    MSG (monosodium glutamate) may also cause migraines in
    some people.

    A web page [21] describes one person's discovery that it's
    essential that food be quite fresh; older foods can cause
    migraines, apparently. The bacterial action in the making of
    cheese is what creates the tyramine in cheese -- perhaps
    similar bacterial action can create migraine-producing
    chemicals in a variety of foods such as milk which has been
    sitting in the refrigerator a few days.

    Each person needs to experiment to figure out which foods
    give them migraines. This is not always easy to do. A
    food might not cause a migraine every time it is eaten;
    perhaps only when another cause of migraines happens at
    the same time.

    It's better to go on a very restricted diet for a while, a
    week or a month, say, than to experiment by eliminating just
    one suspicious food at a time. To illustrate this, suppose
    you have a list of 20 suspicious foods, and that by
    eliminating 5 of them you can cut your headaches in half,
    from 10 a month down to 5 ... but you don't know that, and
    you don't know which 5 foods are the bad ones. If you spend
    20 months, eating everything except one food each month, you
    will learn nothing. You will still have about 10 headaches a
    month. Some months you'll have about 9 instead of 10, but
    that's not enough to notice a difference: you probably vary
    from 8 to 12 headaches a month anyway. However, if you stop
    eating all 20 foods for a month, you'll notice something
    interesting: you'll have only 5 headaches instead of 10. You
    can then gradually re-introduce the suspicious foods. Now
    that you have fewer headaches, you'll notice it if you have
    a headache a few hours after eating a suspicious food. Make
    sure your restricted diet contains all the vitamins and
    other essential nutrients.

    If you combine advice from several books, there will be
    nothing left to eat! I recommend the restricted diet
    suggested by Brainard [1] as a starting point for
    experimentation. When I followed this diet, my migraines
    diminished significantly, and over the following weeks,
    months, and years I gradually tested and re-introduced to my
    diet most of the disallowed foods. Some I went on and off
    several times to test for subtle effects. I subjected myself
    to several bad headaches to be completely sure I needed to
    avoid chocolate!

    (22.2) Blood Sugar

    Studies show that when a migraine person eats refined sugar,
    their blood sugar level goes up very high, then quickly
    comes down again. [Low, 12]. Any kind of refined sugar
    causes this effect: sucrose, glucose, etc. The blood sugar
    level goes up and down so fast that a standard glucose
    tolerance test with blood samples taken less often than
    every 15 minutes can completely miss the effect. Many
    migraine people have been told they're very normal after a
    glucose tolerance test, but in fact they have a condition
    similar to hypoglycemia.

    Natural sugars, such as fruit, completely unprocessed sugar
    cane juice, etc. do not cause this effect. Eating natural
    sugar causes the blood sugar level to go up, but not as
    high, and it doesn't come down so fast. There's something in
    natural sugar that helps the body absorb it. Glucose
    Tolerance Factor (GTF), a molecule containing chromium, may
    be responsible. Chromium is usually present with natural
    sugars, and is missing in refined sugar. It works with
    insulin to help the body process sugar. There may be other
    factors present in natural sugars, such as vitamins,
    enzymes, etc., that are also important.

    When refined sugar is eaten, the pancreas releases a lot of
    insulin. For some reason, people who get migraines release
    more than the normal amount of insulin. Insulin stimulates
    the release of adrenalin. This starts phase I of a migraine.

    Going without eating for 3 to 4 or more hours causes low
    blood sugar levels which can also trigger a migraine.

    In his book [12] Rodolfo Low recommends the following for
    all migraine people. He claims that every person who has
    followed these recommendations, including himself, has
    completely eliminated migraines:

    -- Do not eat any refined sugar. Not even small amounts.
    Fruit should be fresh, not dried or cooked. Eat a wholesome
    balanced diet of natural foods including fruit. -- Eat
    every three hours. Have six small meals a day instead of
    three. Have snacks of healthy foods at midmorning, midafter-
    noon, and bedtime. -- Avoid drinking alcohol. -- Avoid
    drugs that stimulate the pancreas. Many drugs taken for
    other purposes also stimulate the pancreas, e.g. aspirin.
    See the book [12] for a list of drugs to avoid.

    [Above recommendations paraphrased by C.W.]

    Strenuous exercise may cause low blood sugar which may lead
    to migraines. (On the other hand, exercise generally
    improves health in the long term and therefore may reduce

    Many people are deficient in chromium. Eating refined sugars
    leads to chromium deficiency. A supplement of GTF chromium
    or chromium picolinate is helpful to hypoglycemic people and
    can allow them to maintain good blood sugar levels when
    going several hours without eating. Low has shown that
    migraines are closely related to hypoglycemia, so perhaps
    chromium supplements would help migraine people too. I used
    to get a headache if I went 4 or 5 hours without eating;
    with a chromium supplement (200
    mcg/day, not a megadose) this is no longer the case. Someone
    says she gets headaches when she takes chromium, though.

    (7.3) Salt

    A normal person who eats a very large amount of salt will
    get a headache. Brainard [1] claims that for people who get
    migraines, a smaller amount of salt can have the same
    effect. He describes the hormonal processes that occur when
    salt is eaten. [See his book for details.]

    Everyone needs some salt (sodium chloride) in order to live.
    Natural foods generally contain some salt. Processed foods
    often have too much added salt.

    Brainard recommends:

    -- Moderate amounts of salt with meals are OK. -- No large
    amounts of salt with meals. -- No salt at all between
    meals; not even a salted cracker or a cookie cooked with
    the usual large amount of salt. -- Avoid soups; these often
    contain large amounts of added salt.

    [Above recommendations paraphrased by C.W.]

    During a migraine, a person makes more urine than usual. One
    has to drink more in order to make up for the missing water
    and avoid getting dehydrated. Drink if you're thirsty. It
    has been recommended to drink 15 mls of water every 15
    minutess to assist hydration.

    (7.4) Nutritional Supplements

    There are many vitamins and other essential nutrients which
    can have an effect on the complex hormonal processes that
    cause migraines.

    The following supplements, taken regularly, can help:

    -- vitamin C (is needed to convert tryptophan to serotonin)
    -- vitamin B6 (also needed to convert tryptophan to
    serotonin) -- niacin (see side effect warning under section
    2) (is a form of vitamin B3; dilates blood vessels) --
    choline -- tryptophan (is converted to serotonin in the
    body, when needed) -- omega-3 essential fatty acids
    (EFA's), e.g. unrefined, cold-pressed, uncooked flax seed
    oil, nuts, seeds, wheat germ, some fish (EFA's are used by
    the body to make prostaglandins) -- chromium? (See section
    6.2.) -- magnesium; as much magnesium as you take calcium
    (magnesium deficiency can also cause a craving for
    chocolate.) -- someone says melatonin and B6 at bedtime
    treats a headache. (melatonin affects the daily sleep
    rhythm and should only be taken at bedtime; it may cause
    the body to make less of its own melatonin, leading to a
    dependency effect. Melatonin aids sleep and causes
    drowsiness.) -- someone says sublingual vitamin B12 helps.

    (7.5) Herbs

    Feverfew helps many migraine sufferers. It's claimed by
    some to be best to eat fresh leaves, one small leaf per
    day. It should be taken regularly; benefit is seen after
    6-8 weeks. Side effects include sore mouth, mouth ulcers
    and upset stomach (and vivid dreams?). Damage to smooth
    muscle or vasculature is indicated in some experiments: see
    the Medicinal HerbFAQ [19] or do your own medline search
    [20]. Take after eating. Someone warns not to take it if
    pregnant as it is a natural abortifacient. Others state
    three fresh leaves chewed and swallowed as soon as the
    migraine commences can dispose of the migraine. It has a
    very bitter taste.

    Jacquie Naughton ([email protected]) uses a combination of
    equal amounts of feverfew, lavender, sage, mint, lemon balm
    and rosemary infused as a tea when she has a migraine.

    Reishi mushroom is also said to help against migraines.

    Tiger Balm rubbed on the pain has been used, but only helps
    some people.

    Someone recommended the book "Herbs for Headaches and
    Migraine" [6].

    See also the Medicinal HerbFAQ [19].

    (8) Psychology

    People often think thoughts that are just a little
    frightening. When normal people think these thoughts,
    nothing much happens. But migraine people have over-reactive
    hormone systems, and adrenalin and other hormones are
    released along with just slightly scary thoughts. A migraine
    person may not feel scared at all, may claim to be relaxed,
    but at the same time may be showing the physical symptoms of
    fear. These symptoms may be partly resulting from various
    chemical processes such as the foods the person ate.
    However, they are also the result of thoughts.

    The scary thoughts that bring on phase I of a migraine are
    usually semi-conscious ... just outside the range of
    conscious thinking. For instance, a migraine person may look
    at a gift they're wrapping and consciously think, "Maybe I
    should have bought something better." But at the same time,
    in a semi-conscious way, the following thoughts flit rapidly
    through the mind: "I'm no good at buying presents. People
    will look down on me for being cheap. I might lose a
    friendship." These thoughts go by so fast it's hard to pin
    them down. But they're real, and are accompanied by cold
    fingers and other symptoms of phase I of a migraine. The
    person might not notice the symptoms. Later, when they have
    a headache, they might not realize they had been under
    stress. "I was just having fun quietly wrapping presents."

    It helps to write down such thoughts. Kohlenberg [11]
    recommends writing the thoughts down in the form of a proof
    that either there's a threat to one's life or health, or
    that a law of nature has been broken, i.e. that something
    "should" be happening and isn't. Writing the thoughts out
    slows them down so that they come under conscious scrutiny
    and control. Then, on another part of the page, write down
    arguments against each point. "I may not be the best in the
    world, but I'm capable of buying reasonably good presents. I
    have no evidence that people will look down on me, and if
    they do it won't hurt me. If the friendship is worth keeping
    it involves a lot more than just gifts."

    It helps to avoid thoughts with words like "should" and
    "ought" in them. Instead of thinking, "I should wash the
    dishes now," think "I want to wash the dishes now." One good
    way to eliminate a "should" thought is to start doing the
    thing. If you don't want to, there's probably a good reason
    not to. Then, instead of thinking, "I should ...", think, "I
    decided not to... because ...". Accept that every decision
    has both good and bad results.

    It's useful to combine this technique with biofeedback. See
    Kohlenberg's book for both. Since that book is difficult to
    obtain, other books which are excellent for dealing in a
    similar way with emotions (but which don't specifically
    address headaches) are Burns [2] and Ellis [4], Greenberger
    [7], and other books by the same authors.

    (9) Nociceptive Appliances

    The FDA has approved a device that prevents migraine pain
    without drugs or surgery: the NTI-tss. ("Nociceptive
    Trigeminal Inhibition Tension Suppression System").

    Everybody tenses their temporalis muscles while sleeping.
    Some migraine sufferers do so with such intensity, that it
    causes morning headache and allows the stage to be set for
    migraine attacks.

    The special appliance makes the teeth bite together only
    at the front. This stimulates a reflex to relax the jaw
    muscles. The effect is similar to placing one's finger
    or other object between the front teeth. It is removed
    while eating.

    In clinical trials submitted to the FDA and soon to be
    published in "CRANIO: The Journal of Craniomandibular
    Practice", 82% of migraine suffers had a 77% average
    reduction of migraine events.

    For more information, see the web page listed in the
    links section [18]. The device can be obtained by seeing
    your dentist.

    involved in migraines. For both men and women, it's common
    for migraines to begin around puberty. [8]. Women often
    notice headaches corresponding to certain times of the
    menstrual cycle. Menopause can mean fewer or no headaches
    for some lucky women (or the onset of migraines for others).
    Someone whose headaches stopped at menopause got headaches
    when taking Premarin.

    brings on headaches for other people. Nutritional treatments
    can help reduce symptoms of pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS),
    including headaches. ([13],[15]).

    Birth-control pills contain artificial hormone-like
    chemicals which are different molecules from the hormones
    normally present in the body. They have some of the same
    effects as real hormones, and some different effects -- they
    have long lists of side effects which vary from one brand to
    another and include migraines. Women who get migraines are
    advised not to take these pills.

    The modern processed diet tends to be deficient in omega-3
    essential fatty acids. These EFA's are used by the body to
    make prostaglandins, which in turn are converted into some
    hormones. Supplementation of omega-3 and/or omega-6 EFA's is
    helpful for some people.

    It's normal during breast-feeding for a woman to have no
    menstrual periods for a time which can be 3 months, 2 years
    or more, averaging about 14 months. [10] For some, this is a
    welcome rest from a range of symptoms which can include PMS
    and headaches. Unfortunately, breast-feeding is often
    disrupted, resulting in increased health risks to both
    mother and baby and the inconvenience of early return of
    menstrual cycles, along with the familiar accompanying
    symptoms. The return of menstruation is an individual thing;
    a slight reduction of nursing may bring it on in one woman,
    while another may be nursing only a few times a day and
    still not menstruate. Early return of menstruation can be
    caused by:

    (Things to avoid, if you don't want to start menstruating
    soon:) -- early weaning -- use of bottles or pacifiers --
    mother-baby separations, e.g. use of babysitters -- other
    foods given to baby before about 6 months of age --
    encouraging baby to "sleep through the night" -- limiting
    breast-feeding, based on clocks and calendars

    Speculation: It is known that pollutants such as pesticides,
    PCB's and by-products of chlorine bleaching can act as
    hormone mimics, disrupting the development of animals and
    humans. Chemicals which mimic estrogen have been most
    extensively studied, but pollutants mimic other hormones as
    well. [3] Hormones are involved in migraines. Are migraines
    more common these days than they used to be? Could migraines
    sometimes be partly caused by hormone-disrupting pollutants?

    (10) Books/articles

    [11] Brainard, John B., 1979. Control of Migraine. W.W.
    Norton & Co., New York -- London.

    [12] Burns, David. Feeling Good: A New Mood Therapy

    [13] Colborn, Theo, Dianne Dumanoski, and John
    Peterson Myers, 1996. Our Stolen Future. Penguin
    Books, New York, NY.

    [14] Ellis, Albert. A New Guide to Rational Living

    [15] Frykholm R. Cervical Migraine: the clinical pictures.
    In : Hirsch C, Zotterman Y, eds. Cervical pain. Oxford,
    Great Britain: Pergamon Press 1972; 13-16.

    [16] Gosling, Nalda. Herbs for Headaches and Migraine. ISBN
    0-7225-0396-2 Thorsons Publishing Ltd. 1978.

    [17] Greenberger, Dennis and C.A. Padeskey. Mind Over Mood.
    ISBN 0898621283 Guilford Press, 1995.

    [18] Hanington, Edda, MD MRCP, 1980. The Headache Book.
    Technomic, Westport CT.

    [19] Jirout J. Comments regarding the diagnosis and
    treatment of dysfunctions in the C2-3 segment. Manual
    Medizin 1985; 2:1617.

    [20] Kippley, Sheila. Breastfeeding and Natural Child

    [21] Kohlenberg, R.J. Migraine Relief: A Personal
    Treatment Program

    [22] Low, Rodolfo, 1987. Migraine: The Breakthrough Study
    That Explains What Causes It and How it Can Be
    Completely Prevented Through Diet. Henry Holt & Co.
    Inc. New York NY.

    [23] Nazzarro, Dr. Ann, and Dr. Donald Lombard, with Dr.
    David Horrobin, 1985. The PMS Solution: Premenstrual
    Syndrome: The Nutritional Approach. Eden Press,
    Montreal -- London.

    [24] Sacks, Oliver. Migraine. ISBN 0-330-32988-X Picador/Pan
    Books, 1993.

    [25] Shannon, M. Fertility, Cycles and Nutrition.

    [26] Vernon H. Manipulative therapy in the chiropractic
    treatment of headaches: a retrospective and prospective
    study. J Manipulative Physiol Ther 1982; 5:109-12

    [27] Wight JS. Migraine: a statistical analysis of
    chiropractic treatment. J Am Chiro Assoc 1978;
    12: 363-67.

    (28) Links

    [29] Nociceptive Appliances

    [30] Medicinal HerbFAQ
    cont.html or http://www.cis.ohio-

    [31] Medline searches for titles/abstracts of medical
    experiments: ttp://

    [32] This page says that food which is not fresh can cause
    migraines: (page no
    longer accessible)

    [33] Tips on starting an MSG-free diet

    [34] Migraine Association of Canada

    [35] Migraine Action Association (UK)

    [36] New Zealand Migraine Sufferers Support Group

    [37] Migraine: Sites Francophones http://www.chu-

    [38] Rhonda's Migraine Page (includes a
    migrainepage chat room)

    [39] Migraine and Magnesium Deficiency

    [40] Light Therapy for PMS, Migraine, SAD...

    (41) About the author of this FAQ

    I've had migraines since about age 16. Sometimes I had daily
    mild headaches and often worse ones. Using some of the
    natural treatments listed here, I've mostly eliminated them.

    I'm interested in many things: nutrition, alternative
    medicine, evolution, societal cooperation, barter,
    mathematics, car-free living, psychology and
    psycholinguistics, midwifery, breast-feeding, and natural
    family planning. My web page has information on a barter
    system I invented, on Natural Family Planning, and on
    Explorers, that is, people with a drive to think creatively.
    I hope to put up sections on breastfeeding, teaching
    phonics, and family discipline.

    Parts of this FAQ were written/contributed by other people.
    I've left off names for privacy reasons; if you're one of
    these people let me know if you want your name mentioned.
    Thanks to all who contributed.

    Comments are welcome but to be honest I rarely get around
    to updating the FAQ. Polite criticism is welcome.
    Messages containing emotionally-charged criticism or
    strongly pejorative language will be ignored. Do not
    include a copy of this whole FAQ, or any other large
    files, in your email. Please don't email me about
    products you're selling even if they're to help with
    migraines. Word your message so I can see it's not spam.
    I'm always happy to hear about it if you found this FAQ
    useful. Very specific information about important dangers
    of any treatment mentioned here is welcome.

    Cathy Woodgold [email protected]

    (42) Disclaimer

    This information about natural migraine treatments,
    collected from various sources, is provided for your
    convenience. Though effort has been made to make it
    accurate, it may contain errors, omissions or inaccuracies.
    It is hoped that readers will tell me about any errors. It
    is not to be considered to be medical advice. Different
    things work for different people. Some of the suggestions
    here may actually increase headache pain for some people,
    or cause other problems. If you decide to use any of the
    treatments mentioned here, you are responsible for that
    decision and for any effects that occur. You may wish to
    collect information from other sources before beginning to
    use the treatments mentioned here. Some headaches are
    caused by other serious problems requiring other treatment;
    this FAQ only discusses migraines. If the author knows of
    serious safety problems, they will probably be mentioned
    here, but absence of specific warnings does not constitute
    a statement or guarantee that the treatments are safe. Any
    nutritional supplement can be harmful in very large
    amounts. This FAQ is provided with no warranty of any kind.
    Life is full of unknowns.

    (43) Copyright

    Copyright (c) 2001 Catherine Woodgold Copies for personal
    use or to give to a friend are allowed and encouraged, but
    it is requested that instead of putting a copy of the FAQ on
    your web site, you put a link to it, so that any updates
    will show immediately. When copying this FAQ do not make any
    changes or deletions.