What Are Migraines?
Migraines are a common primary headache disorder characterized by recurrent episodes of headaches often associated with nausea, vomiting, photophobia, and phonophobia. Let’s take a look at migraines and some Ayurvedic remedies for migraine relief.
Previous World Health Organization estimates showed that there are 3000 migraine attacks occurring daily for each million of the general population.1
Migraines can last for hours to days, and the pain can be so severe that it interferes with your daily activities.
For some people, a warning symptom known as a migraine aura occurs before or with the headache in four different phases.
Prodrome Phase: Constipation, mood changes, food craving, stiff neck, thirst.
Aura Phase: Bright spots or flashes of light, vision loss, pins, and needles sensations, tingling on one side of the face or in an arm or leg, weakness or numbness in the body, difficulty speaking, hearing noises.
Attack Phase: Pain on one side or both sides of your head, throbbing or pulsing pain, sensitivity to light, sounds, nausea and vomiting, blurred vision, lightheadedness.
Postdrome Phase: Confusion, moodiness, dizziness, weakness, light sensitivity and sound.
Migraines can be clinically correlated with the Ayurvedic condition ardhavabhedakam which is explained in shirorog (head disorders/diseases).
It is also important to reduce the common causes of Vata and Pitta imbalances while handling migraines.
Ayurveda offers a classical strategy in the management of migraines, which includes medicines, ghee, milk boiled with herbs and tonics.
Likewise, some Ayurvedic therapies and treatment plans can also be effective using the right oils and at the right phase.
According to the Ayurvedic scholar Vaghbata, the etiological factors for shirorog are smoking, swimming, night awakening, daytime sleep, excessive sweating, mental stress, and excessive alcohol consumption.2
Moreover, migraines can often be triggered by certain food items consumed in the past 24 hours.
Many people have an adverse reaction to consuming dairy products or foods containing sulfites and nitrites like meat, caffeine, or red wine. So try to avoid these diets if you are prone to migraines.
The right medicines, combined with self-help remedies and lifestyle changes, might help to reduce the frequency and intensity of migraines.
Remedies For Migraine Relief
- Drinking ginger tea helps in coping with the symptoms of migraine like nausea.
- Ginger root is known to block prostaglandins, compounds that stimulate muscle contractions and cause a headache.
- Stress can be a trigger for migraine headache application of lavender oil over the forehead works as a mild sedative that helps to calm down.
- Rosemary oil helps in treating hormonal imbalances which is one of the major causes of migraines in women.
- You can use Ayurvedic oils for massaging the forehead or 3 drops of oil dipped in warm water and inhale the fragrance.
- Freshly brewed peppermint tea or even massage your temples with peppermint oil and leave it on for at least half an hour.
- Water boiled and cooled with fennel seeds or Indian Sarsaparilla can be used for drinking.
- Application of nutmeg paste or sandalwood paste on the forehead and temples can help ease the ache and discomfort.
- Ensure you get at least 7-8 hours of sleep every night.
- Avoid or reduce over intake of spicy, sour, salty, bitter and astringent tastes, exposure to extreme cold/hot and dry conditions.
- Avoid excess exertions, keeping awake at nights, suppression of hunger and urges, stress, alcohol intake, smoking, exposure to strong smells.
- Some Yoga asanas (poses) can be effective. For example, hastapadasana (standing forward bend), setu bandhasana (bridge pose), balasana (child pose), marjariasana (cat stretch), Paschimottanasana (two-legged forward bend), adho mukha svanasana (downward facing dog pose), padmasana (lotus pose) and shavasana (corpse pose).
- Brahmri Pranayam or the honey bee pose is one of the best exercises to treat a headache. It is essentially a breathing technique where the humming sound vibrations (of a mantra) tend to soothe nerves around the brain and forehead.
If you’d like to learn more about Ayurveda and how it can help with common health conditions and general well being, check out Lissa Coffey’s course below.
More Remedies For Relief
Migraines and headaches are often associated with magnesium deficiencies. Studies show magnesium oxide supplementation helps prevent migraines with aura.
It may also prevent menstrual-related migraines. Magnesium-rich foods include:
- Almonds, Brazil nuts, and cashews.
- Sesame seeds and sunflower seeds.
- Peanut butter.
Healthy changes to diet and lifestyle can give considerable relief during migraine attacks. Therefore it is clear that it has a perfect relation with the body and emotional strategies.
Please consult a qualified Ayurvedic practitioner before trying the above-mentioned remedies for migraines.
- Samaan, Zainab, et al. “Diagnosing Migraine in Research and Clinical Settings: the Validation of the Structured Migraine Interview (SMI).” BMC Neurology, BioMed Central, 14 Jan. 2010, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2824671/.
- Sartha Vagbhata, Garde G K, Chaukhamba Surbharati Prakashana, Varanasi, 2015, Uttartantra 23/1-2