This month we are talking about headaches and migraines. If you suffer from these like I do, you know that they can be very debilitating. What is a headache? What is a migraine? Are they just a different word to describe the same thing? Let’s find out together.
A headache is very common and is experienced by pain or pressure in the forehead, around the eyes, temples and is sometimes accompanied by neck pain.
A person experiencing a migraine will feel throbbing on one or both sides of the head, sensitivity to light and sound, nausea and vomiting, changes in speech, vision, memory loss or brain fog.
Types of Migraines include, with and without aura, migraines without headache, migraine with brainstem aura, retinal migraine, hemiplegic migraine and status migrainosus.
Migraine with aura also called the classic migraine will usually have warning signs within an hour of the headache and lasts about an hour. Symptoms include blind spots, shimmering spots, flashes of lights or stars and other visual disturbances as well as sensitivity to light and sound. Other less common symptoms include numbness or tingling, muscle weakness and confusion.
Migraine without aura also called the common migrainecan last 4-72 hours and can occur a few times a year to a few times a week. Migraine without aura is the most common and affects 60%-70% of the population and often runs in families. This is usually a pulsating headache, and sometimes is accompanied by nausea and vomiting and a sensitivity to light and sound.
Migraine without headache often times has an aura, nausea, vomiting and constipation but without the headache pain associated with other type of migraines.
Migraine with brainstem aura affects children and adolescents, it originates from the brain stem but without motor weakness. It’s more common in girls and appears around the time of their menstrual cycles. Symptoms include dizziness, poor muscle coordination, tinnitus, slurred speech, fainting and double vision.
Retinal migraine is rare and has visual symptoms usually affecting one eye, they can last up to 60 minutes, causing temporary blindness and is usually associated with headache pain.
Hemiplegic migraine is also rare and can cause temporary paralysis on one side of the body lasting up to several days prior to or during the headache. Some triggers for a headache are feeling nervous, stressed, tension, being tired, or depressed, sleeping or sitting in an uncomfortable position, reading, concentrating on close up tasks, clenching your jaw, or grinding your teeth during sleep, and chewing gum. These can lead to muscle tension which can also lead to tension headache. Fasting can also lead to headaches or migraines as well as consuming certain foods.
Lisa Bouchard, owner of MassageCraft and longtime acupuncturist shares her perspective on migraines.
“Chronic jaw tension brought on by clenching and grinding of the teeth can be a strong contributing factor to migraines. Chronic jaw tension and Temporo-mandibular joint disorder, TMJD, are linked to migraines that occur during the night or upon waking and especially migraines that occur around the temples. It can also be at the root of chronic sinusitis that is unresponsive to repeated rounds of antibiotics. Wearing down of teeth, receding gums, and fractured teeth are evidence of clenching and grinding.
Here are some things you can do to mitigate the effects of clenching:
If you are fortunate enough to be aware of clenching during the day you can gently place the tip of your tongue on the roof of your mouth just behind the front teeth and allow the rest of your tongue to fill the roof of your mouth. This will relax your jaw muscles. Gently close your lips and breath through your nose if possible.
Clenching or grinding while sleeping is a little trickier to manage even with a mouth guard. The best advice I can give is to find a self-hypnosis recording and play it before falling asleep to allow your body and mind to go to a restful place. Clenching is less likely to occur when you are relaxed.”
Migraine food swaps
Try swapping out aged cheeses for fresh cheese, have a hamburger instead of a hot dog and eliminate soy based condiments and use fresh herbs instead. Have raw veggies instead of pickles and stay away from sugar.
What you can do to avoid headaches and migraines.
Avoid sugar cravings and eat every few hours. Have 5-6 small meals and snacks throughout the day. Combine carbs with fat and protein and make sure that your carbs make up a ¼ or less of your meal. Have a healthy diet, exercise and get plenty of rest at least 6-8 hours a night.
We found recipes for the Mango Lassi without Yogurt and the Snap Pea Radish Slaw and we’ve prepared them for this month’s blog post. The links and recipes are below if you’d like to try making them at home. There’s a lot of great recipes on this website so it’s definitely worth checking out.
Mango Lassi (without yogurt)
- ¾ cup frozen mango chunks
- ⅓ cup cottage cheese
- ¼ cup milk of choice
- pinch of cardamom
- seed granola or buckwheat granola
1. In a blender, add cottage cheese and milk and blend on high till smooth and frothy. You want all the little chunks of cottage cheese to be gone. Add frozen mango and blend till creamy and smooth.
2.This is more of a thick smoothie bowl texture so you may need to use a tamper through the top of the blender to mash the mango down into the mixture and get everything combined. If you’d like to have a thinner, drinkable texture, add milk until thinned out to the consistency you desire. Top
- Daisy brand is recommended for cottage cheese.
- I used oat milk for my personal bowl, but regular milk is fine.
- The granola used in the pictures is the grain free seed granola.
Snap Pea Radish Slaw
- 12 ounces sugar snap peas, trimmed and julienned
- 6 ounces radishes, trimmed and julienned
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons non-dairy mayonnaise , or extra virgin olive oil
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 3/4 teaspoon celery seed
- 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1. In a large bowl, combine julienned snap peas and radishes.
2. In a measuring cup or small bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients for dressing.
3. Pour dressing into bowl with snap peas and radishes. Stir to combine. Taste test to see if you prefer more salt or would like to add sweetener. Serve immediately and enjoy!
Recipe is best served the day it is made. If you would like to prep ahead you can chop the veggies and whisk together the dressing then store them in separate containers. The radishes may need a bit of water in the container to keep them from drying out. Add the dressing to the veggies an hour or two prior to serving.
For more recipes check out this site
So, besides eating a healthy diet and getting proper rest what else can you do to prevent migraines?
There are so many options, see a doctor and find out exactly what type of migraine you have, take medications to lessen the frequency and severity.
What if you want a more natural approach or to supplement the care you are getting from your doctor? Research shows that doing yoga for an hour 3 times a week and after 2-3 months increasing to 5 times a week saw a 50% reduction in migraine frequency and a 50% reduction in the need for rescue medications.
Massage therapy can also be beneficial in relieving muscle tension.
Acupuncture can also help by inserting needles into different pressure points, usually near nerves in the body. The insertion of needles near the nerves in the body stimulates the release of a hormone called endorphins which is a “feel good” chemical and some would say it’s the body’s natural pain reliever.
As a migraine sufferer for many years, I tried many things to get relief from migraines. I tried over the counter medications, prescription drugs, mouth guard and had numerous tests to see what might be
A friend mentioned acupuncture and it was life changing! I had minimal relief on my first visit but with each visit I experienced greater relief. I had significantly less pain and for longer periods of time with every visit. I had 6 visits in 5 weeks and after my last visit my migraines were gone, I didn’t even have so much as a headache for years! I do go back for acupuncture treatment when I feel they are coming back. I’m thankful for that friend and her suggestion, because of her I have my life back.
If you are a migraine sufferer, or knows someone who suffers, please check out these links. They are a great source of information.
You don’t have to suffer with chronic headaches or migraines, get some help and get your life back. You’ll be so glad you did.