If you’re not sure if you’ve ever had a migraine headache, you probably haven’t. If you did, you surely would have remembered the experience. A real-life nightmare accompanied by symptoms that typically include some or all of the following: throbbing pain (usually on one side of the head), sensitivity to light or sound, blurred vision or visual changes known as an ‘aura,’ nausea, and vomiting.
Migraines Can Be Disabling
As you might have guessed, migraines can bring sufferers to their knees, literally. When you have a migraine, the only thing you can focus on is getting rid of it and gaining relief. It’s not like a regular headache, which, by comparison, is ‘merely’ aggravating and annoying, and with which you can still at least carry on a conversation, get some work done, or do your homework. Not so with migraines.
“Although there are thousands of types of headaches, migraine accounts for 94 percent of headaches that are disabling,” says Dr. Mark W. Green, M.D., a professor of neurology, anesthesiology, and rehabilitation medicine quoted at healthline.com. In rare cases, severe headaches can be the sign of a brain tumor. It’s best to immediately go to your doctor or an urgent clinic to get checked out and perhaps get some prescription medication, although those often come with unwanted side effects of their own.
What Causes Migraines?
That’s a difficult question to answer because health experts don’t have all the answers themselves; at least, none sufficient to zero in on any one or two causes with any degree of certainty. It is believed that there is a genetic component, and environmental factors also appear to play a part, per healthline.com.
Per healthline.com, here are some factors commonly linked to migraines:
- Certain foods.
- Food additives.
- Hormonal changes.
Tennis star Serena Williams once lost a tournament match because of an intense headache, learning that her pain was likely linked to her menstrual cycle. Per webmd.com, about 60 percent of women who have migraines say it gets worse during their periods, suggesting that hormones might be involved. Actor Ben Affleck also has reportedly suffered from migraines, including one that sent him to the hospital while he was directing a movie in 2006. Affleck admitted he had gotten to the point working on the film where he was hardly sleeping. Following a regular sleep pattern has been shown to help ward off migraines, per webmd.com, which also points out that most migraine sufferers are female, with about 6 percent of men reporting them as well.
Vitamins and Supplements to Combat Migraines
Once you get a migraine, it’s probably too late for a nutritional supplement to be much help. However, adding certain supplements to your daily diet regimen – under the guidance of a healthcare professional – work as a preventative against the occurrence or reoccurrence of migraines. Here are some worth your consideration, in alphabetical order:
- Alpha Lipoic Acid. A shortage of energy production by your cells has been associated with migraines, per migrainesavvy.com. Alpha lipoic acid lends a hand to healthy glucose and carbohydrate metabolism, and it turns glucose into energy.
- B-complex vitamins. Studies have shown that several B-complex vitamins, such as B3 (riboflavin) and B12, can contribute to a reduction in the occurrence of migraines. Vitamin B12, for instance, can help boost energy production in cells, with overloaded nerve cells often mentioned as a factor linked to migraines, per prevention.com.
- Butterbur. This root extract has shown a lot of potential for dealing with migraines as evidenced in studies, per migrainesavvy.com. One four-month study using 235 subjects revealed that the frequency of migraine attacks was reduced by 68 percent for those sufferers who were given 75 milligrams of butterbur twice a day, compared to those given a placebo.
- Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10). Numerous studies, per migrainesavvy.com, have found that about half of migraine sufferers treated for three months with three 300-milligram doses of CoQ10 a day experienced fewer attacks and less nausea than control groups. Every bit helps.
- Vitamin D. A deficiency of vitamin D is usually due to insufficient exposure to the sun – the most abundant source of D. While its effect on migraines, if any, is unknown, vitamin D does play a helpful role in how you perceive pain.
- Vitamin E. E can improve your blood circulation, and good circulation is a known deterrent to any kind of headache.
- Feverfew (tanacetum parthenium). Feverfew has shown success in treating headaches, and its active ingredient – parthenolide – can stop blood vessel constriction while thwarting the body’s inflammatory process. That in turn can ward off migraine attacks, per migrainesavvy.com.
- Fish oil. Known for its properties in helping to keep our cardiovascular system in good operating order, fish oil has shown an ability to help us sleep in a world where lack of zzz’s can contribute to migraines.
- Magnesium. It has been shown that headaches can be caused solely by a deficiency of magnesium, the second-most-abundant mineral in your body and known for its assistance in producing energy and in detoxification.
- Quercetin. Per migrainesavvy,com, this bioflavonoid can enhance vascular tone; translated, that means it can strengthen the veins in your neck and head, making them likely to become overly dilated with blood.
- Turmeric. Pain relief is one of its many potent attributes.
- Tyrosine. Reduces the effects and symptoms relative to stress.