Migraine headache is a most common neurological disorder which is characterized by severe throbbing pain or a pulsing sensation, usually on one side of the head of varying intensity. It is often accompanied by nausea, vomiting and extreme sensitivity to sound and light. Migraine attacks can last for hours to days, affecting around one in every five women and one in every fifteen men. Migraine is considered as a chronic illness, not simply a headache due to its severity and irritability. Pain can be so severe that it interferes with your daily activities.
According to Ayurvedic Science, Migraine is understood as Ardhavabhedaka, one among the diseases of head causing severe pain the one half of the head, neck, eyebrow, forehead, ear and eye. Pain is similar to that produced by sharp objects, the attack occurs once in ten days, fifteen days or once in a month.
Symptoms of Migraine
For some people, a warning symptom known as an aura occurs before or with the headache. An aura can include visual disturbances, such as flashes of light or blind spots, or other disturbances, such as tingling on one side of the face or in an arm or leg and difficulty in speaking. Migraine, which often begins in childhood, adolescence or early adulthood, can progress through four stages: prodrome, aura, attack and post-drome. Not everyone who has migraines goes through all stages.
One or two days before a migraine, you might notice subtle changes that warn of an upcoming migraine, including:
- Mood changes, from depression to euphoria
- Food cravings
- Neck stiffness
- Increased thirst and urination
- Frequent yawning
For some people, aura might occur before or during migraines. Auras are reversible symptoms of the nervous system. They are usually visual, but can also include other disturbances. Each symptom usually begins gradually, builds up over several minutes and lasts for 20 to 60 minutes. Examples of migraine aura include:
- Visual phenomena, such as seeing various shapes, bright spots or flashes of light
- Vision loss
- Pins and needles sensations in an arm or leg
- Weakness and numbness in the face or one side of the body
- Difficulty speaking
- Hearing noises or music’s
- Uncontrollable jerking or other movement
A migraine usually lasts from four to 72 hours if untreated. Frequency of attack varies from person to person. During migraine you might have:
- Pain usually on one side of the head, but often on both sides
- Pain that throbs or pulses
- Sensitivity to light, sound and sometimes smell and touch
- Nausea and vomiting
After a migraine attack you might feel drained, confused and washed out for up to a day. Sudden head movement might bring on the pain again. Causes of Migraine Though migraine causes aren’t fully understood, genetics and environmental factors appear to play a role.
Causes of Migraine- Ardhavabhedaka in Ayurveda
- Suppression of natural body urges
- Exposure to loud noise
- Exposure to sun
- Excessive sexual indulgence
- Undesirable smell
- Excessive indulgence in physical activities/ exercises
- Exposureto dust, cold, smoke, breeze,fog/mist
- Change in food habits or locality
- Consumption of excessive food
There are a number of migraine triggers including:
- Hormonal changes in women:
Fluctuations in estrogen, such as before or during menstrual periods, pregnancy and menopause seem to trigger headache in many women.
Alcohol, especially wine and too much caffeine, such as coffee.
Stress at work or home can cause migraine.
- Sensory stimuli:
Bright light and sun glare can induce migraines, as can loud sounds. Strong smell - including that of perfume, paint thinner, smoke can also trigger migraine.
- Sleep changes:
Missing sleep, getting too much sleep can trigger migraine.
- Physical factors:
Intense physical exertion, including sexual activity, might provoke migraine.
- Weather changes:
A change in weather or barometric pressure can prompt migraine.
Oral contraceptives and vasodilators can aggravate migraine.
Aged cheeses and salty and processed foods might trigger migraines. So might skipping meals or fasting.
- Food additives:
These include the sweeteners and preservatives added in food.
Risk factors of Migraine
Several risk factors make you prone to have migraines, including:
- Family history:
If anyone in your family suffers with migraine, then you have a probable chance of developing the same
Migraine can occur in any age, though first often occurs in adolescence. Migraune tends to peak during 30s and gradually becomes less severe and less frequent in the following years.
Women are three times more likely to have migraine.
- Hormonal changes:
For women who have migraine, headache might begin just before or shortly after onset of menstruation. They might also change during pregnancy or menopause. Migraines generally improve after menopause.
Complications of Migraine
- Status Migrainosus:
A relentless attack that lasts for more than 3 days, leaves you feeling drained and disabled.
- Migrainous Infarction:
Rare complication that occurs in younger women. Blood vessels to brain can get narrowed and cutoff the oxygen supply, a migrainous stroke can hit suddenly, an emergency condition.
- Migraine-Triggered Seizure:
Epilepsy and migraine sometimes go together, this can happen during or soon after a migraine with aura.
- Depression and anxiety:
People who have migraine are more likely to have these both, or these can also lead to migraine headaches.
Vertigo makes you feel dizzy/ spinning and loss of balance, this can happens more often during migraine in people who are prone to motion sickness.
Modern perspective- management of Migraine
Migraine treatment is aimed at stopping symptoms and preventing future attacks.
- Medications for relief includes: Pain relievers (aspirin or ibuprofen), Triptans (sumatriptan,rizatriptan), Dihydroergotamines, Lasmiditan (Reyvow), Opioid medications, Anti-nausea drugs.
- Preventive medication: Blood pressure lowering medications (beta blockers, Calcium channel blockers), anti-depressants, Anti-seizure drugs, Botox injections, Calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) monoclonal antibodies.
Ayurvedic Treatment for Migraine
Migraine is understood as Ardhavabhedaka, meaning one/half-sided splitting/breaking pain. This is a type of vataja shirashoola /vata-kaphaja, if not treated properly will lead to problems of ear and eye.
Ayurvedic line of treatment aims at pacifying this vitiated vata dosa through both internal medication and external applications. Internal and external administration of sneha (oleation), ayurvedic panchakarama therapies like swedana (fomentation), virechana, shirodhara, shirovasti, shirolepanam, nasyam etc are carried out based on the severity and nature of the disease.
At Amala, we provide effective treatment for migraine, suggesting essential dietary modification and lifestyle changes thereby improving the quality of life.
Diet in Migraine
- Include more fiber in your diet
- Intake fresh fruits and vegetables
- Don’t skip meals
- Avoid food that triggers migraine
- Avoid oily, spicy, salty food
- Drink plenty of fluids
- Avoid highly flavored and processed food
Lifestyle in Migraine
- When symptoms of migraine start, try heading to dark room, close your eyes and take rest
- Put an ice pack or frozen gel pack or cool cloth over the forehead.
- Exercise regularly
- Maintain a healthy body weight
- Stay away from too much noise, light and smells
- Avoid beverages. Instead hydrate yourself with drink plenty of warm water.
- Take a break while using computers and mobile phones
- Stay stress free
- Have good sleep
- Practice relaxation yoga and breathing exercises.
Best Yoga poses for Migraine
Specific yoga poses can target tension and stress, which may be contributing to your migraines. Certain poses can help boost circulation and improve blood flow to your brain. It can bring calm and peace to your mind and body, as well as help with ailments such as anxiety, depression, and pain. Allows your body to recover after a stressful event, such as a migraineoses that may help relieve your symptoms and balance your physical, mental, and emotional states.
- Hand to Feet Pose (Padahastasana)
- Bridge pose (Setu Bandhasana)
- Seated forward bend pose (Paschimottanasana)
- Corpse pose (Savasana)
- Child pose (Shishuasana)
- Cat pose (Marjariasana)
- Downward dog pose(Adho-mukha-svanasana)