Seven Techniques for Overcoming Migraine Headaches
By Rich Stacel, citizen journalist
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(NaturalNews) Migraine headaches have become all too common in our fast paced high stress world. With the hectic pace of our lives and the fear that is too often associated with the modern lifestyle including wars, terrorism, the economy, family and work, and poor quality processed foods and more, it's little wonder that more and more people are suffering from mild and severe migraines at an increasing rate.
Migraines are very painful headaches that often occur on one side of the head, which is the basic meaning of the word migraine. These headaches are sometimes accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and changes in vision. They usually begin on only one side of the head and may become worse with exposure to light.
The severity of migraine pain can be anywhere from very slight to debilitating. Sometimes the pain from migraines can become so severe that the person is literally incapacitated and unable to do anything but lie in bed. More women suffer from migraine headaches than men by about a 4 to 1 ratio. Some women report that migraines disappear during pregnancy in a fairly large number of sufferers.
Wikipedia says this about migraine headaches;
The typical migraine headache is one-sided and pulsating, lasting 4 to 72 hours. Accompanying complaints are nausea and vomiting, and a heightened sensitivity to bright lights (photophobia) and noise (hyperacusis). Approximately one third of people who experience migraines get a preceding aura, in which a patient may sense a strange light or unpleasant smell. ….Other symptoms of the aura phase can include auditory or olfactory hallucinations, temporary dysphasia, vertigo, tingling or numbness of the face and extremities, and hypersensitivity to touch.
Migraine headaches have been documented as far back as 1200BC by the Egyptians who described it as a "headache with neuralgia." In 400 BC Hippocrates described the visual aura that can precede the migraine headache and the relief which can occur through vomiting. Aretaeus of Cappadocia is credited as the "discoverer" of migraines because of his description in the second century of the symptoms of a unilateral headache associated with vomiting.
Throughout the millennia hundreds of theories and ideas have been proposed to explain the causes of migraine. Treatments included everything from the somewhat reasonable to downright ludicrous in an attempt to alleviate the pain.
For relief of migraine, Andalusian-born physician Abulcasis, suggested application of a hot iron to the head or insertion of garlic into an incision made in the temple. In the Medieval Ages migraine was recognized as a discrete medical disorder with treatment ranging from hot irons to blood letting and even witchcraft.
The exact causes of migraines in western medicine are unknown even today. The most widespread theory is that it is a disorder of the serotonergic control system. Recent PET scans have demonstrated the aura to coincide with spreading cortical depression after an episode of greatly increased blood flow (up to 300 per cent higher than normal).
There are many triggers of migraines including; environmental, stress of either a physical or emotional nature, nutritional deficiencies, allergic reactions, bright lights, loud noises, and certain odors or perfumes, changes in sleeping patterns, smoking or smoke exposure, skipping meals, alcohol, menstrual cycle fluctuations, birth control pills, hormone fluctuations during the menopause, foods containing tyramine (red wine, aged cheese, smoked fish, chicken livers, figs, and some beans), monosodium glutamate (MSG) or nitrates (like bacon, hot dogs, and salami).
Some people who suffer from migraines also react to salt and eliminating salt can be helpful for some of these people. Lactose-intolerant individuals may benefit from avoiding milk and ice cream. Tryptophan, an amino acid found in protein-rich foods, is converted to serotonin, a substance that might worsen some migraines. As a result, low-protein diets have been used with some success to reduce migraine attacks.
Chinese Medicine and Migraines
While western medicine still struggles to understand the true nature of disease in the human body, Chinese medicine is thousands of years ahead in understanding and offers many simple and effective remedies into the cause and treatments of migraines.
In Chinese medicine it is your chi or bio-energy that is responsible for everything that occurs in the body. Western medicine has dismissed this idea as far too simplistic, always opting to choose the extremely complex over the simple. But this is really a very dangerous mindset because you can be just as blinded to the truth if your mindset is always looking for complex answers. The same holds true when only looking for simple answers too.
In Chinese medicine, anytime you experience;
These are characteristics of "ascending fire chi" rising up to the head. Recall from above that "Recent PET scans have demonstrated the aura to coincide with spreading cortical depression after an episode of greatly increased blood flow (up to 300 per cent higher than normal)." In Chinese medicine there is an old axiom that states "chi is the commander of blood, but blood is the mother of chi. This means that wherever chi goes, the blood will follow." There have been many experiments done that show that if a person thinks about their feet; blood flow to the feet actually increases. If they think about their head, the blood flow to the head also increases.
Naturally such studies are rarely if ever are published in the western media since western medicine really doesn't want people to know that they can use their mind and thoughts to help alleviate their chronic illnesses that bring in so much revenue for doctors and drug companies alike.
This ascending fire chi is the true cause of serious headaches such as migraines and many other associated illnesses of excess fire energy that are so common today in the western world. Recall that nausea, dizziness (vertigo) and vomiting are also a main symptoms reported by many migraine sufferers over the centuries. This is in perfect accord with ancient Chinese medical theory of "ascending fire chi." When chi rises to the head, the blood naturally follows. Often this intensifies the symptoms due to the expansion of blood vessels in the brain caused by the presence of increased blood flow.
So what is causing this "ascending fire chi" to rise up to the head? There can be many causes but they all have one thing in common; they are all reflective in one or more of the four main characteristics of chi, those are the:
These are the four main chi characteristics in the body. When anyone or more of these "chi symptoms" are present, symptoms and disease will be manifest in the body to some degree. Energy may be in disharmony for weeks, months, or years before any physical manifestations of symptoms arise. Chinese pulse diagnosis is fantastic at detecting these energy deficiencies and imbalances sometimes decades in advance when done by a skilled master healer. This is something else that is also laughed at in western medical circles.
Chemicals in foods such as MSG, hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup, various preservatives, artificial sweeteners and just about anything else artificial can causes excess fire chi to be generated in the body. If the kidneys (which control water functions of the body) are not strong enough or compromised in some way, they will not be able to balance out this excess fire chi, and this energy can then ascend to the head uncontrollably. Where this chi goes, the blood will follow often resulting in the physical manifestation of the main migraine symptoms of pain, nausea, dizziness, and vomiting, sometimes accompanied by "aura."
Excess fire chi rising to the head would certainly cause this "aura" about which patients describe preceding an attack. This aura can take place sometimes up to an hour or more before an attack of migraine. Visual aura is the most common of the neurological events. There is a disturbance of vision consisting usually of unformed flashes of white and/or black or rarely of multicolored lights (photopsia) or formations of dazzling zigzag lines. Sometimes auditory or olfactory hallucinations occur during this aura phase too.
These are all signs and symptoms of the ascending fire chi rising to the head, overloading the various senses and the brain itself, resulting in the various hallucinations and other symptoms that are regularly reported by migraine sufferers.
In advanced Chinese meditation, these same signs often accompany someone who is on the verge of attaining what's called a "Major breakthrough" in the meditative practice. In this case the symptoms are not a cause for alarm but celebration. That's because in this case they are a major sign that the practitioner has succeeded in leading huge amounts of chi to the brain, thus energizing the brain to a far higher level which is a major factor in enlightenment, increased mental power, wisdom, and longevity. There is no pain or discomfort in a person who attains this level, but amazing joy, peace, happiness and significantly increased physical strength, endurance, immunity, and longevity.
Methods to Cool the Fire
The triggers listed above can lead to a weakening of the kidneys and thus an associated increase in fire chi in the body. The heart is the fire organ of the body and even in western medicine it is known that the kidneys often play a role in people who suffer from various severe heart conditions, though they do not understand the exact mechanism behind this because they reject the Chinese explanations of chi and chi theory.
Any illness severe enough to cause major symptoms in the body will always have part or all of its root cause in the kidneys and kidney chi. The kidneys are your main organs that determine overall life force, sexual health, energy, and longevity. This is why Chinese medicine places such great emphasis on strengthening the kidneys. This is not only a factor in prevention of disease but in curing as well.
Here are several methods that are known to help cool down the fire chi in the body and greatly help reduce the frequency, severity or totally eliminate migraine headaches from occurring in the future.
1)Avoid fire inducing foods; Foods such as red meat, pork, processed foods, spices, alcohol, soda, refined sodium and sugars and all other refined foods should all be greatly cut down or eliminated from the diet as much as possible. These foods are very common in the western world and it is no coincidence that the majority of diseases we are seeing in the west are diseases of excess fire energy and energy deficiency too. Processed foods are virtually dead in terms of their life energies.
2)Eat cooling (yin) foods from nature such as vegetables, fruits, wild fish, organic meats, whole grain breads and all other foods that are as minimally processed as possible; This also includes reading those labels to make sure that there are no chemicals in those foods at all.
3)Practice meditation 20-30 minutes per day to calm the mind and help cool down the fire energies of the body; Chinese meditations which focus on the "dan tien" area just below the navel are particularly helpful as that are is the seat of "water energies" in the body and can greatly help to not only cool the fire energies down, but strengthen the kidneys themselves.
4)Practice deep abdominal breathing several times per day; Breathing is another method that is used in Chinese medicine and martial arts to help not only cool down the fire during training or a battle, but to help increase endurance, health and longevity too. Breathing is one of the fastest and most effective methods of cooling down the fire. Practicing breath holding for 3-5 seconds every few breaths can go a long way to keeping the fire energies of the body in check.
5)Take herbs such as Ginger, Feverfew, and Ginkgo Biloba; One case report suggested success using 4–6 grams per day of powdered ginger for migraines and the nausea that accompanies them. Ginger may also be taken as a tincture in the amount of 1.5–3 ml three times daily. Ginkgo biloba extract may also help because it reduces the formation of a substance known as platelet-activating factor which may contribute to migraines. Although Ginger is classified as a warming herb, in this case it helps to strengthen the water energies of the kidneys. The kidneys then have increased water energies to cool the fire of the body. This is a classic example of the "mother-son" law of Chinese medicine at work. Ginger is also excellent for the dizziness that often accompanies migraine headaches as well.
6)Use acupuncture and acupressure points to help balance chi flow; Acupressure points such as connecting valleys which is located on the webbing between the thumb and forefinger of both hands is known to be effective at relieving mild to moderate headaches and migraines. Press on this point with moderate pressure for 30-60 seconds of each hand. There are also points at the base of the back of the skull where the bone goes into the softer tissue of the neck that can be extremely effective at not only alleviating migraine attacks, but have been known to cure some cases of chronic migraines with only one application.
The exact location of these points is difficult to describe in words, but a general massaging of the lower part of the skull where the two thick chords of the neck disappear into the skull while looking down at the ground can often be just as effective as acupressure at relieving headache pain in many cases.
7)Drink more water; Chronic dehydration is another major cause of headaches, and in fact many other major illnesses we see today. Soda and coffee and even many teas do not count as drinking water. Water itself is pure, helps to ease the strain on the kidneys which, again, increases the strength of their control over the fire energies of the body. Not to mention water physically helps to purify the bloodstream, flushes out toxins and can help keep the blood thinner and flowing more smoothly throughout the system. This results in less strain on the heart and since the heart is the fire organ of the body that means less fire energies will be generated.
Also be sure to clean up your diet adding as much natural raw or at least lightly cooked foods to your diet as possible, avoiding chemicals and chemical triggers, reducing stress and exercising as much as possible as well as getting a good night's sleep. Slow motion exercises like Tai Chi and "The eight pieces of brocade" can strengthen the overall energy of the body and have a strong calming effect on all the organs of the body. This is especially true of the mind and can greatly help to reduce or eliminate migraine headaches.
The Journal of History - Fall 2009 Copyright © 2009 by News Source, Inc.