Migraine headaches are well-treated using naturopathic medicine.
Migraine headaches are debilitating headaches that can occur as often as several times monthly, and may last for hours or days. They may start without warning or be preceded by an “aura” of visual and other symptoms. Some persons notice changes in their general well-being in the days before a migraine headache, including increased thirst, food cravings or depression.
The cause of migraine headaches is not known, but they may be triggered by hormonal changes, foods or food additives, alcohol or carbonated beverages, stress, changes in sleep patterns, physical exertion, environmental changes and sensory stimuli and medications.
Seek professional healthcare if you regularly experience migraine headache symptoms.
Seek emergency medical care if your headache:
- Has a sudden onset, and is severe
- Is accompanied by fever, stiff neck, mental confusion, seizures, double vision, weakness, numbness or trouble speaking
- Follows a head injury, especially if the headache increases in intensity
- Is chronic headache and is worse after coughing, exertion, straining or a sudden movement
- Has a new type of pain if you’re older than 50 years of age
Migraine Headache Symptoms
Migraine headaches may have four stages. Possible symptoms of the four stages of a migraine headache are:
Pro-drome (beginning one to two days before head pain begins):
- Neck stiffness
- Food cravings
- Uncontrollable yawning
Aura (occurring before or during head pain):
- Visual phenomena (e.g., seeing various shapes, bright spots or flashes of light)
- Vision loss
- Speech or language problems
- Pins and needles sensations in an arm or leg
- Limb weakness (hemiplegic migraine)
Headache (lasting 4 to 72 hours):
- Pain on one side or both sides of head
- Pulsating or throbbing pain
- Sensitivity to light, sounds and sometimes smells
- Nausea and vomiting
- Blurred vision
- Lightheadedness, sometimes followed by fainting
Treatment of Migraine Headaches at Toronto Centre for Naturopathic Medicine
At Toronto Centre for Naturopathic Medicine, the goal of migraine headache treatment is to reduce pain and intensity of headache episodes, and reduce and (if possible) eliminate recurrence.
Conventional treatment for migraine headaches may include a variety of medications, including antidepressants, beta blockers, anti-seizure medications, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and opiates. These treatments may have short- or long-term side effects.
For this reason, you may choose to try natural treatment to possibly avoid use of conventional medications, or together with conventional medications in order to decrease dosages of conventional medications required to manage your migraine headache symptoms.
Naturopathic treatment of any chronic health concern must be recognized as a process that involves:
- Identifying specific treatment goals
- Development by your naturopathic doctor, of a thorough understanding of all factors affecting your health, including physical, psychological, emotional and lifestyle factors
- Development of a comprehensive treatment plan
- Implementation and maintenance of that plan through periodic monitoring and adjustment
At Toronto Centre for Naturopathic Medicine, a typical approach to treating migraine headaches may be to
- Identify and address underlying factors in your lifestyle (e.g., stress, food sensitivities, sedentary lifestyle, sleep disruptions, use of estrogen-containing medications) that may be contributing to your migraine headache symptoms
- Decrease headache pain using acupuncture, Bowen Therapy or Suikodo™
- Prevent headache recurrence using relaxation (meditation) training; metabolic detoxification protocols; and acupuncture, Bowen Therapy or Suikodo™ maintenance protocols
Where appropriate, a number of therapeutic options are available, to be used alone, or more often in a complementary fashion, including:
- Nutritional counseling
- Nutritional supplements
- Metabolic detoxification protocols
- Botanical (herbal) medicines
- Bowen Therapy
- Exercise prescription
- Relaxation (meditation) training
- Lifestyle medicine and counseling
- Registered massage therapy
Treatments provided by naturopathic doctors and registered massage therapists are covered by most extended healthcare plans.
Migraine [Internet]. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; [cited 2009 Feb 18]. Available from: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/migraine-headache/DS00120.
Migraine with aura [Internet]. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; [cited 2009 Feb 18]. Available from: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/migraine-with-aura/DS00908.
Migraine [Internet]. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; [cited 2015 Mar 28]. Available from: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/migraine-headache/basics/symptoms/con-20026358.