Migraines are common and usually begin in early adulthood. Some people experience them occasionally, while for others it’s more frequent.
Alongside throbbing pain on one side of the head, people with a migraine can also experience symptoms such as nausea, vomiting and increased sensitivity to light or sound.
Like with a headache, painkillers are recommended for those who have migraines – paracetamol, aspirin and ibuprofen can help reduce their symptoms.
But some health experts recommend taking a supplement for relief – magnesium.
Take a magnesium supplement
Being deficient in the mineral magnesium has been linked to headaches and migraines. To get more from your diet, rich sources include Brazil nuts, almonds, sesame seeds, white fish, eggs, milk, oats.
Studies have shown supplementing with it could reduce migraines with aura and also menstrual-related attacks.
Take it as a supplement in capsule form and/or add it to your bath in the form of Epsom salts in a bath.
A warm bath will help to relax tense muscles and adding magnesium flakes to the water will provide more of a muscle relaxant effect.
Food can play a role in the onset of migraines for some people, according to Rob Hobson, Healthspan head of nutrition.
The most common triggers are chocolate and caffeine, as well as red wine (all of these contain high amounts of the amino acid tyramine).
Rob said: “So you could start by removing these foods and drinks from your diet to see if helps.’
Other foods or compounds of them that are often mentioned by migraine sufferers include monosodium glutamate (MSG, a flavour enhancer often used in Chinese food), nitrates found in processed meats like salami, sausages and bacon and aspartame used as a sweetener in low calorie foods and drinks.
“Rob also recommends you eat regularly as skipping meals is often a trigger and get enough foods rich in vitamin B2, also known as Riboflavin (such as fish, eggs and dark green vegetables) which have been shown to help some migraine sufferers. Plus get enough magnesium-rich foods.”
In clinical studies dried Feverfew leaf has been shown to reduce both the frequency and intensity of migraines.
Dr Dick Middleton, director of the British Health Medical Association, said: “The results are not instantaneous however it is important to take the dried herb continuously for several months to see maximum benefit.”
Feverfew, part of the daisy family, was known as ‘medieval aspirin’ and in clinical trials has been shown to have anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving effects. Try Healthspan’s Feverfew Migraine Relief.
Bend, stretch and breath
A 2015 study published in Advanced Biomedical Research shows yoga could be beneficial for those susceptible to migraines.
The study split two groups of female migraine sufferers into one given medication only and another given medication and three sessions of Hatha yoga (a more gentler form as opposed to more strenuous varieties like ‘hot’ Bikram or Ashtanga) over 12 weeks.
The study concluded yoga could help relieve the frequency, length and intensity of an attack. The breathing, meditation and mindfulness involved in yoga can help to reduce stress and there is some evidence it can lead to an improved tolerance of pain.
At the first sign of an attack grab yourself a coffee or tea – in small amounts caffeine can help head off an attack. But don’t overdo it – or you risk getting a ‘comedown’ caffeine withdrawal headache later.
Then if you can, apply a cold compress to your forehead (ice cubes wrapped in a tea towel or even a bag of frozen vegetables will do the trick) for around 15 minutes.
This should have a numbing effect which can help dull the sensation of pain. In a study 77 per cent of those who used a cold compress during a migraine found it effective.
Get scent to help
Inhaling lavender essential oil appears to significantly ease migraine pain for some according to research published in the journal European Neurology in 2012. Those who inhaled lavender oil for 15 minutes during an attack recovered faster than those using a placebo. Try Puressentiel Rest & Relax Organic Massage Oil from Boots.
It can be inhaled by sprinkling a few drops on a tissue and breathing in deeply and/or you can massage a few drops onto the temples.
The menthol in peppermint essential oil might also stop a migraine from developing according to a small 2010 study published in the International Journal of Clinical Practice.
It was also found to alleviate nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light associated with migraine. The participants applied it to their forehead and temples to relieve symptoms.
Help cope with the fact that migraines can make you ultra-sensitive to light by shutting it out as soon as possible. Turn out the lights if you can and lie in a darkened room if that is possible. If this isn’t practical, some people say something as simple as wearing sunglasses indoors at the first sign of an attack can help them head off a more full blown one.
Having an anti-glare computer screen is also a helpful preventative measure.