This debilitating headache can destroy a person’s quality of life. It usually starts with an aura – jagged visions, unusual light, sounds or even smells and other unusual sensations. This is then followed by a severe thumping headache, often with nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light. Some things like chocolate, cheese or red wine can precipitate a migraine. In women it may be premenstrual.

Doctors can

• Investigations. These are usually unnecessary because the history gives the diagnosis.
• Treatments. There are a number of drugs which can be tried as preventatives: beta blockers, clonidine, pizotifen. Note that these do have side effects and it is best to try more “natural therapies” first. In the past, injections of ergotamine were given to treat migraine, but today, a newer drug (sumatryptan, also known as Imigran) orally or by injection can be very effective.

Every time you have a migraine, look back on what you have done, eaten or drunk in the preceding 24 hours and see if you can find a common cause. If you do, then avoid this in future if possible. Avoid bright lights or flashing light areas.

Nutritional supplements

These can make a real difference in the treatment of migraine and it is hard to see why more people are not given this information.

• Magnesium helps the arteries to relax, and reduces the spasm, which creates the “aura”. It takes some months for the full effect to occur, but over time 800-1,000mg taken daily may eliminate migraine completely.
• Some doctors give an intravenous injection of magnesium when the migraine occurs which can stop it. Once gram is given over 15 minutes.
• A good multivitamin/multimineral ensures that the arteries have all the nutrients and minerals required to function optimally.
• Omega 3 fish oils, 1-2 grams daily. These, when incorporated into the artery walls and the brain tissue, can help in the prevention of migraine.
• Grape seed extract (proanthocyanidins) is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory which can help in the prevention of migraine.
• Sometimes hormonal changes cause migraine attacks and the use of some hormones (especially natural progesterone) can be helpful.

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