I’ve been getting migraines for the last 15 years (since a few years before menarche) and have taken dozens of different medications to treat and prevent them; few of which have actually worked.
Up until several years ago I was taking prescriptions for my migraines – intense meds that were taxing my system. As I transitioned to a more natural lifestyle, I quit taking all of my prescriptions and sought out natural means of treating my migraines.
I DO have the MTHFR gene mutation, which puts me a pre-disposition to getting migraines, and I have been low in magnesium likely for most of my life. I have so many symptoms of low magnesium (one being migraines, of course, but a huge one being having had pre-eclampsia with my first and only pregnancy, that which resulted in a premature birth) and so magnesium is a huge part of my treatment.
I started taking magnesium about 8 months ago and I have noticed huge differences. It has helped tremendously with my mood and extended post-partum depression. Additionally, it has helped to reduce the number of migraines I do get. Initially, I quit having migraines at all during the first 6 months that I was taking magnesium, but they returned and I don’t exactly know why.
Prior to my pregnancy (during which I didn’t get any migraines, go figure!) I had migraines during the week before and during my period. Now, after pregnancy, I get migraines before and during ovulation. I cannot fully wrap my brain around why, but I read this fabulous article on migraines during one’s cycle and it was very informative.
Another thing I have done in the last year to help my migraines has been to go gluten-free. We have been paleo, we’ve done GAPS, grain free, etc… but we could never keep up with it for longer than a month. This year, we decided to simply go gluten free and get that solid before moving on to more restriction in our diet. I really though that going gluten free would help my migraines because I had heard plenty of anecdotal evidence that it would, but that hasn’t been my experience. I have’t had a spec of gluten in 90 days and we were 90% gluten free before that, yet I have had four migraines in the last 3 weeks.
So, while I don’t have all the answers to why I am still getting migraines, I DO have a great system that helps me to live through them when they do come on.
Before adopting a more natural lifestyle, I would take prescription medication for my headaches or Excederine Migraine Relief. I usually had to take 6 Excederine for it to even touch my migraine, though, and that was very taxing on my liver!
Here’s what I do…
- To attempt to prevent migraines, I take magnesium nightly. You have to try different doses to see what you need/can handle – if you take too much it has a laxative affect and that can be troublesome, too. I take 2 teaspoons of my powdered magnesium each night before bed. It helps with falling asleep, too!
- Gluten Free Diet. All organic diet. Grass fed meats.
- No processed sugar. We only eat honey and fruit as our sweeteners.
- Low toxins in environment. We don’t use chemicals in our house and buy all organic food as well as clothing/bedding/mattresses. I don’t wear make-up and I use organic shampoo/conditioner.
Once I get aura (pre-migraine snake-like light in my vision) I do the following:
- Take a full magnesium dose (2 tsp) in water with:
- 1 dose of feverfew tincture (1 tsp or so depending on tincture strength)
- 1 dose of White Willow Bark tincture (1 tsp or so depending on tincture strength)
- If I can, I drink 1 cup of strong peppermint tea to help with nausea
- Then, I smear my whole forehead, temples and base of the neck with Tigerbalm. White or red formulas are fine. Red is more potent.
- Then, if I can, I take a nap. With a two year old that doesn’t always happen, though!
If I can fall asleep, more often than not I feel quite a bit better when I wake up. If I cannot sleep, I take more feverfew and WWB tinctures every 3-4 hours.
The Tigerbalm is VERY powerful so do be careful not to touch your eyes or nose or mouth or your baby or anything until you’ve washed your hands really well twice. You can ‘re-activate’ it by placing a damp washcloth over your forehead to re-wet the Tigerbalm.
I hope this helps another migraine sufferer. I’d love to hear what other people do to prevent or treat their migraines.
ETA: January 2014 I started a ketogenic diet (low carb high fat) and I haven’t had a single migraine since then. There is a lot of research on this and how ketogenic diets can help a plethora of other diseases (autism, epilepsy, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and depression). Here’s some info on those studies: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2898565/