Stop this Pain in my Brain by Rich Allyn - HTML preview

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Introduction

Hi, I’m Rich Allyn.

I have put this ebook together because of the pain and suffering my daughter has had to endure over her life time. The excruciating pain and having to lie in bed with no noise and the total absents of all light for sometimes days until the pain finally subsides.

She was born 3 months early and weighed in at just 2lbs 10 oz. This was when a baby so small had to be a fighter or would not survive.

Being a little girl the doctors told us her chances were better than if she was a boy but still only had a 1 to 10 percent chance of making it through the first 48 hours of her life. Being born in a great hospital in the Midwest and having a fantastic doctor I am happy to say today she is a beautiful woman in many ways.

I couldn’t help but think that the oxygen she was on and being born so early may have played a part in her migraine headaches. So with the help of the internet and access to all the information in this ever shrinking world I set out to find answers.

No father or mother in this world wants to see their child suffer no matter how young or how old that child is. I am not a doctor nor am I an over intelligent individual. I just want to help my daughter and in doing so maybe help others find information or a few answers to their questions about migraine headaches.

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Report 1

Abdominal Migraines

Anyone who has ever had a migraine will say they do not just happen in the head. The headache is usually the worst and most painful part of a migraine, but there’s more. Most migraineurs (people who suffer from migraines) will talk about photosensitivity (sensitivity to light), phonosensitivity (sensitivity to sound), scent sensitivity, gastric pain, cramping, and vomiting.

Sometimes the abdominal symptoms show up without the other typical migraine symptoms. When they do, a patient is said to be experiencing an abdominal migraine. An abdominal migraine is pain, usually varying from mild to medium, in the abdomen. The pain is either along the midline or unspecified and is frequently accompanied by abdominal tenderness, cramp-like spasms, bloating, vomiting, and loss of appetite.

Since abdomen pain can be caused by a wide variety of conditions other causes need to be ruled out before a diagnosis can be made. In a classic abdominal migraine, no gastric cause for the pain can be identified. Migraineurs need to let their doctors know about their migraines when they experience unspecified abdominal pain so that the doctor knows abdominal migraine may be a possibility.

Abdominal migraines are most common in children. Children who experience abdominal migraines frequently grow up to be migraineurs.

While abdominal migraine is not unheard of in adults, it is rare. Like most other types of migraine, it is also more common in females than in males.

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While the exact cause of abdominal migraines is unknown, it is highly likely to be related to serotonin deficiency. Serotonin deficiency has been linked in several studies to migraines, and 90% of the body’s serotonin is produced in the gastric system. Serotonin deficiency causes cascading waves of nerve reaction in the brain when triggering a migraine and a similar process may be in effect in the abdomen.

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Report 2

Acupressure and Migraines

Acupressure is a completely non-invasive treatment option that has a high success rate among migraineurs (people who suffer from migraine headaches). It has a proven track record as a successful pain abatement technique. Acupressure is also efficacious in reducing both the frequency and intensity of migraine attacks.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, there are over 800 vital energy points in the human body. These points lie along meridians that run throughout a person’s body. Chi, or life energy, flows along the meridians and through the energy points in healthy people. Chi that is blocked or overabundant near particular energy points causes illness and pain.

Acupressure massage applies pressure to these energy points in order to release chi and stimulate the body’s own healing mechanisms. The energy points are massaged with the fingers, thumb, or occasional blunt object with medium pressure in a circular pattern.

The simplest acupressure a migraineur can learn is an all-over head massage. This technique just requires the practitioner to massage the scalp as though they were washing their hair. Sit with the elbows resting on a table to prevent arm strain and the head resting lightly in the hands to perform head and neck acupressure.

Moderate pressure applied to the GB20 points offers the best relief for migraine pain. They are on either side of the neck, approximately one inch to each side of the spinal column just below where the skull and neck muscles connect. GB20 also goes by the more romantic-sounding Chinese name “The Gates of Consciousness”.

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Migraineurs seeking to relieve their headache and neck pain should practice deep breathing while using the thumbs of both hands to press firmly on the GB20 points for one to two minutes. If this is painful at first, home practitioners can start out by pressing and releasing the points in five to fifteen second intervals.

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Report 3

Acupuncture for Migraines

Acupuncture is one of the oldest medical techniques in the world, practiced in China for over 2,000 years. It is a FDA-approved treatment modality for a number of illnesses, especially pain management and chronic pain, and is particularly effective in treating migraines.

Acupuncture is a Traditional Chinese Medicine treatment that involves stimulating some of the over 800 vital energy points in the human body with fine, hair-thin needles to release chi and encourage the body to heal itself. The vital energy points are on the meridians that run through the body from head to toe.

Chi (pronounced chee), or life energy, flows through these meridians and energy points.

The obstruction of the flow of chi leads to illness and is considered the source of many bodily aches and pains. The flow of chi along the meridians can be obstructed by illness, poor diet, the weather, and other outside factors.

Most acupuncture practitioners work with patients to form a treatment plan that addresses both the blockages themselves and the things that cause them. These treatment plans, like those of Western Medicine, often include diet and lifestyle changes to enhance the patients’ well-being.

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Migraineurs (people who suffer from migraine headaches) need to tell their acupuncturist exactly where they hurt when seeing one for pain mitigation. The location of pain is important due to the large number of acupuncture points in the head, face, and neck. Where to apply pressure depends on where the migraine pain is most acute.

Migraineurs can find long-term relief from their migraines by working with an acupuncturist who specializes in headaches. These specialists do an individualized assessment of the patient to create a long-term treatment plan. Many people who undergo an acupuncture program like this experience relief from migraines for years afterward. For some the headaches stop completely.

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Report 4

Aging and Migraines

Aging is a fact of life. Getting older means increasing frailty and susceptibility to illness, but it can also be a boon to migraineurs (people who experience migraine headaches). Only 2-10% of the elderly population experiences migraines (as opposed to up to 28% of adults under 65), and elderly women are still more likely to have them than their male counterparts.

Migraines can happen at any age, but they peak around age 40. The frequency of migraine attacks after 40 decreases for most people.

Many migraineurs who have suffered with this condition for years experience a reduction in the frequency and severity of attacks after age 55.

About two thirds of migraineurs stop having attacks altogether by age 65. Patients over 65 who still have migraines report drastically decreased severity, duration, and frequency in their attacks. They are also less likely to experience the gastrointestinal upset that accompanies migraine in younger people.

The downside to all this good news is that adults over 65 who suffer from migraines are more likely than younger patients to experience disability because of their affliction. Many physicians are uncomfortable with treating senior citizens for migraines because therapeutic methods used on younger people are often not tested for safety in an older patient.

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Additional conditions and the medications used to treat them complicate the problem. Seniors are more likely to be on one or more prescription drugs and each new medication increases the risk of adverse drug reactions. This possibility makes some doctors reluctant to offer senior migraineurs pharmaceutical assistance.

The onset of migraines after age 50 is very rare and should be investigated with a doctor to rule out the possibility of secondary causes. Late onset does not rule out migraine (only one third of senior headaches are due to secondary conditions) but it makes it less likely.

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Report 5

Applying Heat or Cold for Migraine Relief

Many migraineurs (people who suffer from migraine headaches) relieve the pain of a migraine with the judicious application of heat or cold. This type of pain abatement is particularly popular with people trying to minimize or avoid prescription medication use, especially among pediatric patients and their families.

Below are a few techniques that can help ease the pain of a migraine.

Not all techniques work for all patients. While some migraineurs find comfort in cold, at least as many are more uncomfortable in the presence of cold. The same is true of heat used for pain relief—for some it helps, for others it makes the pain worse.

Apply a compress, hot or cold, to point on the head where pain is most severe. This is frequently on the temple where a large artery runs, or in front of the ear, another arterial locale.

For patients who feel their migraine pain “stabbing into the back of the eye” a damp cloth (warm or cool) laid over the eyes often provides relief. As a side benefit, covering the eyes in this manner also eases the discomfort of photosensitivity for many patients.

Taking a hot or cold shower with the water directed at the head and neck is another method to try, as is taking a warm (neither hot nor cold) bath. The latter is further enhanced with the use of appropriate aromatherapy techniques.

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Some patients find relief in by alternating hot and cold cloths at the point where the migraine pain is most intense. Sometimes hot and cold used simultaneously can ease the pain. A migraineur may apply a cold compress on their forehead while at the same time soaking their feet in a container of warm water.

Rarely are patients simultaneously sensitive to both hot and cold, but it should be watched for.

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Report 6

Are You In or Out?

You have a migraine. You have a job. Now what do you do?

Deciding if you are able to go out when you have a migraine is a tough decision. You are in pain; you do not feel well, and more likely than not you are not thinking clearly. The ability to determine when you are okay to leave home when you have a migraine is a big part of learning to manage your condition. Here are a few things to take into consideration when deciding if you are in or out for the day.

How do you feel?

Yes, you have a migraine, but can you function? Only you know your personal headache pattern, is it likely to get better or worse from where it is now? What’s your mood? Are you sufficiently enthused about the day to be willing to function while in pain?

What did you take?

Stop and think about your pain relief for a minute. Did you take an over-the-counter remedy, or something a little stronger? If it was a prescription medication, go read the label and see what it says about driving and operating heavy machinery. If you aren’t supposed to do those things, it’s probably a good idea to hang out at home. This is not a hard and fast rule since only you know how you react to a medicine, particularly one you are familiar with. If you don’t think you’ll be impaired by your medications, great, but really think about it first.

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Why?

Why are you going out? Basically, you have to decide how important it is that you go out. Work is important, but not if you have a job where potentially impaired function can be dangerous. Errands can always be run later, the class play? That might be worth it, if you can handle it.

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Report 7

Aromatherapy and Migraines

Most physicians agree that aromatherapy makes an excellent complementary therapy for migraineurs. Aromatherapy has not been shown to eliminate migraine headaches, but when used to complement traditional therapy and medication it can reduce the frequency and severity of attacks.

Aromatherapy is a natural healing methodology that uses plant-derived essential oils to achieve a desired therapeutic effect. It is not known precisely how aromatherapy works, whether it is the scent or a chemical action of the essential oil itself that provides relief. Because of this unknown factor some doctor’s worry about potential essential oil interactions with standard drugs used in treating migraines.

When trying aromatherapy to relieve migraines, keep in mind a few safety precautions.

* Always talk to a doctor before trying anything new.

* Speak to an experienced aroma therapist, if possible.

* When combining aromatherapy with other medications, watch for adverse reactions and report them to a doctor immediately.

* Buy real plant-derived essential oils designed for aromatherapy.

Good ones will be sold in dark containers and stored away from direct sunlight.

* Use a carrier oil or aromatherapy diffuser. Essential oils can be powerful irritants and should not be applied directly to the skin.

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Essential oils can be used in a number of ways. They can be used in an aromatherapy diffuser and inhaled two or three times daily. Oils can added to a large bowl of hot water and the aroma inhaled with eyes closed. While essential oils can also be added to carrier bath, face, or massage oils and applied to the body or bath, this should only be done after consulting with a knowledgeable aroma therapist to make sure the oils used are safe for this purpose.

Some of the essential oils commonly recommended for migraine aromatherapy are lavender, peppermint, rosemary, eucalyptus, sandalwood, clary sage, ginger, ylang-ylang, basil, marjoram, and chamomile.

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Report 8

Balancing Chakras to Soothe Migraines

The word chakra is Sanskrit for wheel. The chakras are the seven primary distribution points for the energy in the body that run from the base of the spine to the crown of the head. They are also called the psychic centers of consciousness. Migraines may be a side effect of a blocked chakra or unbalanced chakras. Migraine can be eased, and possibly cured, without the aid of the prescription drugs by clearing and balancing the migraineurs chakras.

Each chakra is the energy focal point for a different part of the body or body system and affects the energy flow of both physical energy and emotions. The two chakras most concerned with migraines are, naturally, in the head.

Ajna, Sanskrit for command, is the sixth of the seven primary chakras.

It is also known as the brow chakra or the third eye. It is in the center of the forehead between the eyes. This chakra is linked to psychic ability as well as the more mundane pineal and pituitary glands.

Migraines are considered, by some, to be a sign of a weak or blocked Ajna chakra. When balanced the Ajna chakra is a deep indigo color.

Sahasrara, or the thousand-petalled lotus, is the seventh of the primary chakras. It is also known as the crown chakra since this chakra is on top of the head and includes the entire crown area. This chakra works with the root to balance energy throughout the body. Stress, fatigue, sleep problems and migraines are all associated with an unbalanced crown chakra. When balanced the Sahasrara is violet.

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Meditation, visualization, and color therapy are all excellent ways to balance the chakras of the head. Many people find crystals and semiprecious stones helpful in focusing and balancing their chakras.

Check your local library for more information about healing through chakra balance.

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Report 9

Basilar Migraines

Migraines can be more than just a pain in the head. Basilar migraines, once known as basilar artery migraines or BAMs, are an extraordinarily rare but potentially life-threatening variant of the classic migraine with aura.

Basilar migraine symptoms are caused by constriction of the basilar artery, which supplies blood to the brain stem. BAMs were originally thought to affect only young women and adolescent girls, but research shows that while they are primarily a problem for these groups they can occur in people of all ages and genders.

During the aura phase, basilar migraine symptoms may include loss of balance, double vision or partial vision loss, lack of coordination, numbness on one or both sides of the body, weakness, dizziness or confusion and severe vomiting. The symptoms typically last an hour or less and disappear when the headache begins, but may last as long as days after the headache pain has disappeared. Some basilar migraine sufferers pass out or lose consciousness during the aura phase as well.

In extremely rare cases, they may even slip into a coma that can last hours or days.

The danger of basilar migraines is that they can lead to a transient ischemic attack (TIA) or stroke. A transient ischemic attack is essentially a miniature stroke resulting from a temporary interruption of the flow of blood to the brain. Unlike strokes, TIAs have not been shown to cause permanent damage to the brain and most neurological problems that arise from them, like slurred speech or weakness on one side, clear up within twenty-four hours of the attack.

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The basilar artery is located at the back of head. The headache associated with basilar migraines is usually a severe throbbing ache on both sides of the back of the head, as opposed to the unilateral temple throbbing more commonly associated with migraines.

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Report 10

Butterbur for Migraines

Migraineurs would prefer not to have migraines at all. If headache cannot be eliminated, reducing the number of migraine episodes they experience would certainly be an improvement. It would be even better if it could be done without synthetic pharmacologicals.

Migraineurs, meet butterbur (Petasites hybridus). Butterbur is a shrub native to southwestern Asia, Europe, and northern Africa. It is not what’s above ground that makes it interesting though, it’s the root.

Several studies have shown that daily doses of extract of butterbur root reduced the frequency of migraine episodes by approximately 50% in almost 80% of the participants.

Butterbur is used in Europe and Asia, but only in the last decade have American doctors looked at it as a viable herbal preventative for migraineurs. Double blind, placebo-controlled studies conducted in 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004, and 2005 all confirmed the herb’s efficacy.

Migraine frequency reduction ranged from 37% - 62% among study participants, with almost no side effects. The only side effect reported was minor gastrointestinal upset, and that was in a small portion of both the herb and placebo groups. Butterbur is currently considered to be safe, as of this writing, to take with other migraine medications. A healthcare professional should always be included in the decision to add herbal products to any treatment regimen.

Crude butterbur contains pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs). These alkaloids are known to be toxic in humans, particularly to the liver.

When choosing butterbur, make sure the product is labeled PA-free.

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The amount of alkaloids in butterbur root is minimal, less than 0.01%

concentration. Most butterbur treatment regimens recommend taking the supplement for a maximum of four to six months. If migraine frequency increases, it is safe to take again for another 4-6 months, but at least a month needs to separate each course of treatment.

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Report 11

Chiropractic Care for Migraines

Chiropractic care is a safe, non-invasive way to relieve migraine suffering without the use of medication. Chiropractic migraine treatment is not for everyone, but it may be particularly useful for patients who cannot use prescription medication due to other risk factors.

Migraine headaches are idiopathic. This means that despite the last century’s advances in medical science their cause is still unknown. A number of theories exist to explain migraines. They include a possible serotonin deficiency in migraineurs, genetics malformations, and arterial swelling in the cranium.

A common chiropractic theory is that subluxations in the muscles at the base of the skull and the neck cause, or contribute to, the formation of migraine headaches. Subluxations are tense areas in the muscles adjoining the small bones of the upper spinal column. On an x-ray, the bones appear to be in the correct place and medical doctors often miss the tension in the muscles. A chiropractor gently manipulates the spine to relax these subluxations.

Chiropractors offer two varieties of care for migraine patients, straight chiropractic and mixed chiropractic. Straight chiropractic only involves manipulation of the spine and spinal subluxations. Mixed chiropractic care combines traditional manipulation with other complementary techniques. The focus in mixed chiropractic is to reduce overall neck strain and tension.

Researchers at Northwestern College of Chiropractic in Minnesota recently compared chiropractic care with drug therapies for migraines and chronic tension headaches. The study was published in the Discover The Secret To Completely Eliminating Your Migraine Pain Forever In The Next 48 Hours & Never Spend Another Dime On Expensive, Dangerous treatments!

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Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics. Two hundred eighteen headache patients were given either drug therapy or regular chiropractic care. Both groups reported a 40-50% reduction in headache pain at the end of the study.

Follow ups four weeks after discontinuing all care showed only the chiropractic group still enjoying the pain reduction the treatment initiated. Only 20-25% of the drug therapy patients were still benefiting from their treatment at this follow up.

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Report 12

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Migraines

Some migraineurs are fortunate enough to experience prodromal symptoms that let them know a migraine is coming. It isn’t much, but it allows them to plan for the down time they know they are about to enter into. A migraineur who has learned cognitive behavioral therapy can utilize the same prodromal symptoms to short circuit their migraine headache.

Cognitive behavioral therapy for migraineurs is aimed at recognizing at consciously manipulating the role that a patient’s behaviors play in the development of their headaches. Together the patient and therapist will determine how the patient behaves when they feel a headache coming, or when the pain starts for those who do not experience prodromal symptoms. They then develop alternative behaviors to try in the same situation in hopes that changing the behavior will change the migraine.

In cognitive behavioral therapy, the doctor or therapist works with the migraineur to:

* Identify the problem behavior to be modified. This is often done by having the patient maintain a headache diary.

* Establish a treatment goal. This is usually not the total elimination of the migraine, but a step along the way, such as learning to relax around potential migraine triggers.

* Create a new behavioral pattern to try to affect change.

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* Monitor the patient’s reaction to the new behavior and check for environmental factors that may be influencing the behavior.

Common behavioral therapy techniques include:

* Desensitization

* Positive Thinking

* Reframing

* Role-Playing and

* Self-Talk

Cognitive behavioral therapy can be helpful by itself, but is especially helpful to patients who are also on preventive drug therapies. A 1989

study found that clinic-based and minimal-therapist contact behavioral therapy had roughly equal success rates, both initially and upon follow-up six month later. Minimal contact therapy is therefore an effective, affordable treatment alternative for migraineurs.

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Common Migraine Food Triggers

No one knows for sure what causes migraine headaches. The most likely to answer to-date is that a serious of small irritations or reactions pile up until, finally, a migraine headache is triggered. Migraine triggers are different for each individual, but many migraineurs claim that a particular food or combination of foods will push them over the edge into a headache.

Keep in mind that most science disagrees with migraineurs when it comes to food triggers. There are no conclusive studies indicating a link between certain foods and migraine headaches, so all information is anecdotal. The thing is there is a lot, tons in fact, of anecdotal evidence for the link.

While a migraine trigger food can be, quite literally, anything, some foods come up on the trigger list for enough people to merit discussion.

Cheese

Cheese is a major trigger for many migraineurs. Particularly likely to cause an attack are hard or aged cheeses. Soft cheeses like cream cheese and new cheeses seem to be fine and unlikely to cause problems.

Processed Meats

Nitrates are believed by many to be a major migraine trigger. For most people, the most common source of nitrates is processed meat, items like hot dogs, sausage, bacon, processed lunchmeats, etc.

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Condiments

Salad dressings are a trigger for many. The reason is not known, but is probably tied to a combination of other triggers all coming together in one place.

Spices and Additives

Any spice can be a trigger. Spices as triggers may be tied, at least partially, to scent sensitivity, since many spices have a pungent odor.

Seasonings that seem to give migraineurs the most trouble include monosodium glutamate (MSG), common in Asian foods, artificial sweeteners, food dyes, and vinegar.

Migraineurs who suspect a food trigger should consider trying an elimination diet to pinpoint the trigger food(s).

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Exercise to Ease Migraines

The relationship between exercise and migraines is quixotic. Science says that exercise, by promoting the regular release of endorphins, the body’s natural pain controllers, should help ease the frequency and severity of migraines. Many migraineurs claim that their attacks are triggered by physical exertion. Who is right?

Like many other aspects of migraines, the answer is contradictory because both groups are correct. Strenuous exercise can cause migraines in people who are prone to them. Regular exercise can reduce the frequency and severity of migraine headaches as well as increasing overall health and wellness.

Regular exercise reduces the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases like high cholesterol and high blood pressure. It also helps improve sleep patterns and relieves stress. All of which can subtly affect the likelihood of migraines.

Migraineurs who gave up exercise as a headache trigger should try again. Common exercise migraine triggers are things like:

* Not eating properly before exercising and causing a dramatic drop in blood sugar to occur…

* Not taking in enough fluid and becoming dehydrated while exercising…

* Starting a new eating plan and a new exercise plan at the same time…

* Attempting strenuous exercise without warming up properly…

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To pinpoint exertion-related migraine triggers, migraineurs should keep an exercise log. It should include specific information:

* Time of day when exercising…

* Last meal prior to workout…

* Fluid intake…

* Medication details…

* Whether or not a headache occurred during or after the workout…

The best type of exercise for migraineurs is regular, moderate aerobic exercise, at least 30 minutes three times a week. Recommended activities include:

* Power Walking…

* Jogging…

* Cycling…

* Swimming…

* Dancing…

Any new exercise plan needs at least six weeks to discover if it has a beneficial effect on migraines.

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Report 15

Fewer Migraines with Feverfew

Migraineurs (people who suffer from chronic or episodic migraine headaches) are looking for headache relief that doesn’t come from a drug lab. All too often pharmaceutical migraine solutions have unpleasant side effects, including, ironically enough, headache.

Some migraine sufferers have found help from feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium), a common flower that grows all over Europe and North America. Feverfew plants resemble daisies. They have flat yellow centers with slender white petals on lightly furred stems and small yellow-green leaves. Medical texts going as far back as Ancient Rome list dried and crushed feverfew leaves as a palliative for headaches.

Feverfew is best used in a preventive program. Several clinical trials, all in the past decade, have shown that feverfew, taken two to three times a day, can reduce the frequency of migraine episodes by up to 50% for some people. Several study participants who experienced chronic daily headaches (CDH) plus migraine episodes reported that their daily headaches stopped completely after four weeks of feverfew treatment.

Feverfew, while helpful to some, has a significant amount of potential side effects. Few people experience them, but they can be serious. Any patient wanting to add feverfew to their migraine prevention regimen should consult with their doctor and a licensed herbalist.

Feverfew is available in many forms. It can be homegrown and the migraineur can chew two to three leaves from the plant each day. It is also available in tea, tablet, capsule, and tincture forms.

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Feverfew in any form can cause mouth ulcers, but they are most common among those that chew the leaves or drink the tea. If mouth sores develop, discontinue use immediately.

Pregnant or nursing women should take feverfew. Do not give feverfew to pediatric migraineurs without consulting a doctor.

Feverfew can trigger an allergic reaction in patients with common pollen allergies and should be used with caution.

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Finding a Migraine Doctor

You have severe, debilitating headaches that cause you to vomit and huddle in a dark room for hours waiting for them to go away. Chances are they are migraines. The only way to know for sure, and start on the path to managing your condition if they are migraines, is to be properly diagnosed.

The first step should always be your regular doctor. One out of every eight people suffers from migraines, so chances are good that your doctor has seen someone who has migraines before. If your regular doctor does not feel qualified to properly diagnose the source of your headaches or discounts your pain, it may be time for a specialist.

Ask your doctor for a referral to a headache specialist. If they do not know anyone, check with your insurance company to see if they have any specialists listed. If that doesn’t work (or even if it does), contact your local medical board. You can also try one of the major headache organizations for professionals, not patients, and ask for the name of three or four specialists in your area.

Check with friends and family. The odds are good you know someone with migraines and they may just have a doctor they love. Another good place to ask for a referral is at a local teaching hospital or university.

When you have a few names, call and find out more about the doctor.

Some good screening questions to ask the doctor are: Discover The Secret To Completely Eliminating Your Migraine Pain Forever In The Next 48 Hours & Never Spend Another Dime On Expensive, Dangerous treatments!

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* How long have you been specializing in headache treatment and how often do you treat headache patients?

* Are you certified in your specialty (for doctors in the U.S. and Canada)?

* Do you belong to any headache-oriented professional organizations?

* Do you participate in any kind of continuing education program to stay apprised of the latest research on headache diagnosis and treatment?

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Genetic Research into Migraines

Migraine headaches are a huge health problem. In a 2004 report, the World Health Organization (WHO) called migraines and headache disorders a global public health calamity. Migraines and other chronic headache conditions are disabling. In the same report, the WHO

ranked migraine as one of the top twenty conditions in the world to cause years of healthy life lost due to disability. Migraines and all other headache disorders combined rank in the top ten causes of disability. As a result of the increasing global recognition of migraine as a health threat, genetic research into the condition has multiplied exponentially in the last ten to fifteen years.

Doctors have long known that a child with two migraineur parent will likely have migraines. A 2000 Danish study using primarily twins indicated that migraine without aura (common migraine) is approximately sixty-one percent genetic. The other thirty-nine percent was attributed to genetic factors, making migraines a partially genetic disease. Family history studies and the Danish study both suggest that migraines are a multi-genomic condition, meaning that several genes or combinations of genes are required for the condition to be inherited.

In a study published in June 2003, Dutch doctors revealed that a particular sub-type of migraine, familial hemiplegic migraine, follows a conventional Mendelian inheritance pattern (simple inheritance) in seventy-five percent of all cases. The same study indicated that common migraine is considerably more complex. Several potential genetic loci have been looked at.

The Genomics Research Centre at Griffith University, Queensland, Australia, reports progress in locating genetic loci for migraines.

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within the same family for years. According to their website, the researchers have identified three different genetic regions on the chromosomes 1, 19, and X that harbor genes which increase migraine susceptibility. This type of research may eventually lead to a genetic treatment for migraines.

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Hemiplegic Migraine

There are a number of different types of migraine headaches, including both the classic and common migraine. One particularly rare type of migraine is the hemiplegic migraine.

Hemiplegic migraines are migraine headaches with very particular symptoms. They include:

* A sudden attack unilateral (one-sided) weakness and/or paralysis, typically during the aura phase of migraine.

* The weakness frequently involves a migraineur's face, arm, and leg.

* When the right side of the body is the affected side, the migraineur may be speech impaired.

* A mild head trauma can trigger a hemiplegic migraine.

* A migraine headache follows the paralysis.

* The paralysis lasts from an hour to days, but usually clears up within 24 hours.

* Dizziness, vertigo, double vision, and difficulty in walking or balancing may all be part of a hemiplegic migraine.

Hemiplegic migraines are predominantly genetic and sufferers usually have at least one first or second-degree relative (parent, sibling, aunt, uncle, first cousin) who also suffers from hemiplegic migraines.

Since many hemiplegic migraines are brought on by minor head trauma, people with a propensity for this type of migraine are encouraged to avoid contact sports. In families where the condition is common, onset frequently occurs in childhood, so the no-contact rule is particularly important for children in hemiplegic prone families.

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Several genetic markers have been identified for hemiplegic migraine specifically. It is not a condition that screening is normally offered for, but screening is available for it upon request.

This type of migraine is particularly disturbing because its symptoms so closely resemble a stroke. Fortunately, the stroke-like effects usually reverse completely within 24 hours. They are also problematic because hemiplegic migraines do not respond to most migraine medications and often have to be treated more like epilepsy with more dangerous medications than regular migraineurs take.

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Home for Headaches

When a migraine strikes, many migraineurs head for home and settle in to wait out the excruciating headache. This may be the problem.

While current genetic studies of rare migraines types show the condition to be about sixty percent inherited, the other forty is environmental. If someone already prone to migraines is exposed to an environmental trigger, fireworks, or at least a few prodromal symptoms, will ensue.

How can migraineurs make sure their homes aren’t giving them headaches? Clear out known offenders, one at a time. Things to look out for:

* Common household allergens, things like mold, mildew, and dust and dust mites. Changing the air filter and switching to cotton sheets both help with these household horrors.

* Tobacco smoke. Whether it’s a cigarette or a pipe, ask smokers to take it outside.

* Carbon monoxide. This odorless, colorless, and poisonous gas can come from poorly ventilated fireplaces, furnaces, gas appliances, or cars running in the garage. Installing carbon monoxide detectors near possible carbon monoxide sources and checking the batteries regularly may not only prevent migraines, it may save a life.

* Water-borne impurities. Eliminating potential chemical trouble from the faucet can be as simple as purchasing a small water filtering pitcher for drinking water. For extremely sensitive people a household filtration or softener system may be the answer.

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* Pesticides. No one wants to share their home with insects and rodents, but the chemicals used to repel them may be inviting in migraines. Temporarily eliminating pesticide use or switching to organic pest control may help.

* Pet dander. Migraineurs who are allergic to their pet may want to consider allergy treatment to help them live with the problem.

* Cleaning solutions. The number and variety of harsh chemicals found in cleansers is boggling. Switching to all-natural cleansers may clean up migraines.

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Hypnotic Migraine Relief

Hypnosis is not just an entertainer’s trick to please and amuse crowds.

Hypnotherapists are helping migraineurs ease their pain. Sometimes they are even able to relieve other migraine symptoms like vomiting and sensitivity to light and sound, too.

The hypnotist’s goal is to relax patients into a trancelike state in order to access their subconscious mind. A good therapist will then place gentle suggestions in the subconscious that will help migraineurs deal with their pain by changing how they perceive it.

Rather than focusing on pain perception, some hypnotherapists work with patients to learn to identify and avoid their personal migraine triggers. This can be doubly effective for migraineurs who smoke if it is one of their triggers. Hypnotherapy has been a recognized smoking cessation technique for decade.

Some patients enjoy this type of therapy so much, since it usually very relaxing, that they decide, either on their own or with the aid of a therapist, to learn self-hypnosis. Oxford Hypnotherapy has a free downloadable book and audio course available on their website for people who would like to learn more about self-hypnosis. You can find it at http://www.hypnos.info/pages/freeselfhypnosis.html.

Hypnotherapy is an excellent option for patients who do not respond to traditional migraine therapies. It is a great alternative for those who are either sensitive to migraine medications or are unable to take them for medical reasons. Hypnotherapy is highly recommended for migraineur women trying to avoid medications during a pregnancy or while breastfeeding.

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Hypnosis is not magic. Patients are not under a spell or in the thrall of the person who puts them into the trance. Hypnotherapy is an interactive process between therapist and patient.

Hypnotherapy should only be undertaken with a certified hypnotherapist. To find a good one, check with the American Association of Professional Hypnotherapist (online at www.aaph.org) or the National Board for Certified Clinical Hypnotherapists (www.natboard.com).

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Lifestyle Change for Natural Migraine Prevention Migraine sufferers are turning to non-pharmacological options to reduce the number of headaches they have. Prophylactic drugs aimed at migraine prevention can have many unpleasant side effects and do not work at all for some migraineurs (people who have chronic migraines).

A migraineur’s lifestyle impacts the severity and frequency of the attacks and lifestyle changes, like those mentioned below can prevent migraine recurrence.

Sleep:

Migraineurs need to learn how much sleep they need and make sure they do not get too little sleep or too much more than they need.

Patients who do not get enough sleep during the workweek who try to make up for it over the weekend may trigger a headache.

Exercise:

Physical exertion in moderation is good for everyone, including migraineurs. Establishing a regular exercise routine, at least 20-40

minutes of physical activity a minimum of three times a week, relieves stress that triggers headaches and exercise-induced endorphins are a natural analgesic.

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Stress Management:

Migraineurs are susceptible to attacks during periods of high stress. If stress is unavoidable, they should build time for stress relief into their routine to prevent a headache. Good stress management techniques for migraineurs are massage, exercise, adequate sleep and a healthy diet.

Eating:

Migraineurs should eat regular meals at roughly the same time daily and not skip a meal unless it is an emergency. A good, healthy breakfast goes a long way in preventing headaches.

The most important thing is to be consistent with any lifestyle change.

Migraineurs need regular behavior patterns and they must be applied on weekends and holidays, not just during the week. Getting out of sync two days a week by sleeping in, skipping meals, or staying up late defeats the purpose of lifestyle changes and upsets the balance created by having a pattern the rest of the week.

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Migraine Abortive Medications

Doctors prescribe two types of migraine medications. One type is designed to help stop a migraine that has already begun. This is called abortive therapy and these drugs work best when taken as soon as the headache begins. The other type is a daily medication designed to reduce the frequency of migraine attacks. This type of medication is called prophylactic or preventive therapy.

There are two common classes of migraine abortive prescriptions, triptans and ergots.

Triptans (sumatriptan, zolmitriptan, naratriptan, et al.) work by attaching to serotonin receptors on the blood vessels and nerves in the brain. By blocking these receptors, inflammation is reduced and the vessels are able to constrict. This effectively ends the migraine for many. Triptans are available as injections, tablets, and nasal sprays.

When used early enough triptans can abort up to 80% of migraine headaches within two hours of taking the medication.

Common triptan side effects are facial flushing, tightness in the chest and/or throat, and skin tingling. Less common, though still not considered serious, are dizziness, drowsiness, and fatigue. The biggest danger of triptans is heart attack or stroke in people with previously undiagnosed heart disease or risk factors like obesity and high blood pressure.

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Ergots (ergotamine or dihydroergotamine preparations), like triptans, abort migraines by constricting of blood vessels. Ergots are not as targeted as triptans, however, and cause constriction of vessels throughout the body, not just in the brain. They are not considered to be as safe as triptans and are generally only recommended for patients who are unable to find relief with safer alternatives.

Ergots cause prolonged contraction of the uterus and can cause a pregnant woman to miscarry. Ergots are also much more likely than triptans to cause nausea and vomiting. Ergot brand names include Cafergot, Wigraine, Migranal, and Ergomar.

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Report 23

Migraine Auras

A migraine aura is a specific type of prodrome, or premonition, that heralds a migraine. It is a symptom or series of symptoms that let migraineurs, people who suffer from chronic migraines, know in advance that a migraine headache is about to make itself felt.

Aura effects develop over about five minutes and generally occur from twenty minutes to an hour prior to the start of a headache. They are a symptom of what used to be called “classic migraine”. Recently, medical practitioners have moved to a more scientifically accurate term, migraine-with-aura. Only about 15-20% of migraineurs consistently experience any kind of aura before a headache begins.

Aura Effects

Most migraine auras are visual. These auras are called positive visual phenomena because, rather than their vision fading or going dark, people who experience them see things. Examples include:

-Auras or Haloes: a nimbus of light or haze surrounding objects, particularly light sources…

-Flashing or Floating Lights: colored or white (rarely dark) spots that appear to move…

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-Lightning Bolts: a jagged or zigzag line that sparkles and/or arcs over the field of vision; with the frequency or severity increasing over time until the person can no longer see (a whiteout); This effect usually stops with the onset of headache pain…

-Photophobia: an extreme sensitivity to light; this effect frequently lasts the duration of the headache…

Most auras last less than an hour. Migraineurs who experience auras that last more than an hour are said to suffer from migraines with prolonged aura. In some cases a migraineur may experience aura effects without a headache developing, but it is still considered to be a symptom of chronic migraines. At various times the same person may experience all three variations, migraine with aura, migraine with prolonged aura, or typical aura without headache.

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Migraine Criteria

The Classification Subcommittee of the International Headache Society (IHS) publishes and revises the “International Classification of Headache Disorders”, now in its second edition. This book offers specific diagnostic criteria for diagnosing migraines and is currently used worldwide.

According to IHS, a common migraine headache, also known as a migraine without aura, is defined by the specific criteria found below.

Frequency

The patient must have at least five of these headaches.

Duration

The headache, excluding attendant symptoms or prodromes, must last a minimum of four hours, up to seventy-two hours. Headaches that last over seventy-two hours generally require immediate medical attention in order to rule out other, more dangerous conditions.

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Pain Descriptors

In order to be classed as a migraine a headache must include at least two of four different qualities of pain:

1) The pain is one-sided; the headache is primarily on one side of the head.

2) The pain is not constant; it throbs, pounds, or pulsates.

3) The pain must be of moderate or severe intensity, to the point where the sufferer is inhibited in daily activity, potentially to the point of being temporarily disabled.

4) The pain is increased, sometimes only slightly, by routine physical activity like bending over, climbing stairs, or moving quickly.

Side Effects

Headache pain must be accompanied at least one of four common side effects:

1) Nausea

2) Vomiting

3) Photophobia – sensitivity to light

4) Phonophobia – sensitivity to sound

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Secondary Exclusions

Appropriate medical testing, such as a MRI or CAT scan, and/or a physician’s exam must be conducted to rule out other conditions that may have caused the headache.

These criteria have helped simplify the diagnosis of migraine for many.

However, because migraines are historically associated with extremely high levels of pain, people suffering from moderate migraine may not realize that is what they are experiencing.

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Migraine Myths

There are a number of commonly held beliefs about migraines that make it hard for sufferers to get proper diagnosis and treatment.

1) Migraines are not real (all in the head, an overreaction to a normal headache, etc.)…

Not true. Migraines are a biologic primary headache disorder. Even migraine pain is not confined to the head, though that is generally where it is worst.

2) Migraines have a known cause…

Sadly, no. There have been several interesting theories put forward in the last decade, but no single, definitive biological cause of migraines has been identified thus far.

3) All migraineurs have the same symptoms…

No, they don’t. This is one of the things that makes migraines so hard to diagnose, particularly if a patient’s doctor is only familiar with the most common symptoms.

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4) A doctor can tell if it’s a migraine or not…

Not always. The wide spectrum of symptoms that can accompany migraine can make it difficult to diagnose, more so if the patient is not forthcoming with their doctor about all their symptoms.

5) Migraines are curable…