A Natural Approach to Migraines
Research has shown surprising links between migraines and food. Certain foods can cause migraines, while others can prevent or even treat them. Coffee, for example, can sometimes knock out a migraine and foods rich in magnesium, calcium, complex carbohydrates, and fiber have been used to cure migraines. Some reports suggest that ginger-the ordinary kitchen spice-may help prevent and treat migraines with none of the side-effects of drugs. The herb feverfew also effectively prevented migraines in placebo-controlled research studies.
A migraine is not just a bad headache. It has a characteristic pattern, usually involving just one side of your head. It is a throbbing pain rather than a dull, constant ache, often accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and sounds.
See your doctor to evaluate your headache, especially if headaches are new for you, are unusually severe or persistent, or are accompanied by any of these characteristics:
* a change in your strength, coordination, or senses
* neck or back pain
* a chronic run-down feeling with pain in your muscles or joints
* difficulty thinking or concentrating
* progressive worsening over time
* the headache awakens you from sleep
* the headache follows head trauma
Find Your Migraine Triggers
In 1983, researchers at the Hospital for Sick Children in London reported their results for 88 children with severe, frequent migraines who began an elimination diet. Of this group, 78 recovered completely, and 4 improved greatly. In addition, some children who also had seizures found that their seizures stopped. The researchers then reintroduced various foods and found that they sparked migraine recurrences in all but eight. In subsequent tests using disguised foods, the vast majority of children again became symptom-free when trigger foods were avoided. Migraines returned when trigger foods were added to the diet.1
In adults, anywhere between 20 and 50 percent have a reduction or elimination of their headaches when common trigger foods are avoided.
Pain-safe foods virtually never contribute to headaches or other painful conditions. These include:
* Rice, especially brown rice
* Cooked green vegetables, such as broccoli, spinach, Swiss chard, or collards
* Cooked orange vegetables, such as carrots or sweet potatoes
* Cooked yellow vegetables, such as summer squash
* Cooked or dried non-citrus fruits: cherries, cranberries, pears, prunes (but not citrus fruits, apples, bananas, peaches, or tomatoes)
* Water: Plain water or carbonated forms, such as Perrier, are fine. Other beverages-even herbal teas-can be triggers.
* Condiments: Modest amounts of salt, maple syrup, and vanilla extract are usually well-tolerated.
Common triggers often cause headaches in susceptible people. Just as some food sensitivities manifest as a rash on your skin, migraine sufferers have a reaction in the blood vessels and nerves. Here are...