Have you ever been around a loved one who had developed a migraine? It is hard to watch the searing pain, the incapacitation, the feeling of helplessness. Around 30 million Americans are migraine sufferers, 10 million of them being male, making it an extremely common condition. Almost all of us know several people suffering from these (literally) blinding headaches.
Of course, many migraine sufferers can recover from the early stages of a migraine with a simple medication such as Excedrin Migraine, which is essentially a combination of caffeine, aspirin and Tylenol. (We'll discuss why that works so well below.) However, that's not something most of us should do on a regular basis. First of all, even the low dose aspirin given for heart disease prevention results in about one out of ten patients with ulcers.  Regular Tylenol usage is risky as well, being notoriously hard on the liver and resulting in about half of all liver poisonings in the U.S. 
Again, the best path for any condition is prevention. Many experts agree that between half and 90% of all migraines can be eliminated and even cured by some of these simple strategies. Here are Ten Ways to Naturally Cure Migraines:
NEWS FLASH #1: What if I told you that there is a natural, very safe method for curing most migraines? Of course, when a migraine has begun, the last thing one thinks about is sex. However, researchers found that over two thirds of migraine sufferers actually experienced moderate to total relief from making love!  This rivals many pharmaceutical solutions! (Be careful, because some experienced worsening of symptoms.)
1) Testosterone and Other Hormones. As testosterone lowers - weight gain is the most common reason - another hormone, adiponectin, that controls inflammation and pain pathways rises. There is now significant research that correcting the low testosterone (in both men and women) can greatly improve migraine headaches. I cover this in detail on my page Low Testosterone and Migraines.
2) Eliminate Higher Fat Meals. Researchers have noted that as seratonin decreases and protasglandins (associated with inflammation) increase, the blood tends to "clump". This can lead to vasodilation, or expansion of the delicate blood vessels in the neck and brain.  Again, it is this relatively sudden vasodilation that is associated with migraines. A fatty meal, especially with significant saturated fat, is notorious for "sludging" up veins as blood cells tend to bunch together and this would often trigger a vasoconstrictive response in the brain. (See my link on Why Saturated Fat Can Be Bad For Men for more information.)
To test this theory, researchers put a group of migraine sufferers, women in this case, on a lower fat diet and eliminated the higher fat meals. A lower fat diet is associated with decreased inflammation and normalizes the "clumpiness" of blood vessels. What did they find? A lower fat diet (20-28 fat grams/day) was "associated with statistically significant decreases in headache frequency, intensity, duration, and medication intake [and] there was a significant positive correlation between baseline dietary fat intake and headache frequency. For more information, read my link The Many Benefits of a Low Fat Diet.
3) Avoid Excititoxins. Migraines seem to have several roots and one of them is overexcitation of neurons. Studies have found that the classic excitotoxin-related neurotransmitters, aspartate and glutamate, are higher in migraine sufferers.  Theoretically, you are largely protected by your blood-brain barrier from consumption of these excitotoxins, but as we have pointed out our link Excitotoxins and Testosterone, this is proving to be false and study after study is now showing the damage from their long term use.
Migraines appear to be yet another side effect that goes hand-in-hand with ingestion of excitotoxins. Glutamate is what actives the TRESK gene mentioned in the News Flash below and so the last thing you want to be doing is ingesting a bunch of free glutamine.  Avoid MSG, aspartame, diet drinks, almost all chewing gums, protein isolates, hyrdolyzed proteins, almost all commercial wheys, autolyzed yeast extract and the thousands of other processed and packaged foods that contain these neurologically toxic substances. NOTE: Migraine sufferers can often be overexcited by visual noise as well  and you should be aware that the non-excitotoxin artificial sweetener sucralose has been implicated as a migraine trigger as well. 
4) CoQ10. CoQ10 is your body's mitochondrial protector and, therefore, a metabolic booster. Three daily 100 mg doses decrease significantly "attack-frequency, headache-days and days-with-nausea in the third treatment month", i.e. CoQ10 protected almost all aspects of migraine pain.  Brain dopamine regulates blood flow and so it is not surprising that researchers have found a correlation between migraines and dopamine levels.  (Migraines occur when vessels dilate.)CoQ10's effectiveness against migraines may be due to its ability to protect dopamine and it has even been used in Parkinson's patients (where the brain's dopamine-producing cells have largely - about 90+% - been destroyed.
CAUTION: Don't overdo it with CoQ10. Some studies show a powerful anti-cancer affect. However, CoQ10 can affect apoptosis  and one recent study even showed that in post-menopausal women it led to an increased risk of breast cancer.  Still other studies show that high dose CoQ10 has nearly miraculous cancer-curative powers. 
5) Magnesium. 600 mg per day for 12 weeks reduced the number of migraines by an average of 40% in one study.  Make sure that your magnesium supplement has no excitotoxins in it, i.e. do not take ZMA and avoid a supplement with maltodextrin.
6) Hypoglycemia Avoidance. One prof, Rodolfo Low, claims a 90% success rate using a "hypoglycemic avoidance" strategy. It includes a few simple rules such as sugar avoidance, eating regularly and avoiding alcohol. His book is called Victory over Migraine: The Breakthrough Study. However, I could find no study to back this up.
7) Fish Oil (Omega-3's). Fish oil helps with just about everything else, so why not migraine, eh? 
8) Low Protein, High Carbohydrate Diet. One small study showed significant relief of symptoms to those who cut back on protein and increased carbohydrates.  This would tend to increase seratonin in the brain, as you can read about in my link on Food and Neurotransmitters, which could help according to no. 9 below.
9) Pycnogenol. Brain inflammatory levels appear to play a role in migraines and this likely explains why NSAIDs can provide some or total relief. Pycnogenol may be a nice alternative, as it lowers inflammation levels with virtually no side effects. (Again, see #9 below as to why this likely works.) One small study of long term migraine sufferers found that it significantly decreased the number and intensity of migraines.  Participants also took non-megadose amounts of Vitamins C and E as well.
10) Feverfew. This "herbal aspirin" also lowers brain inflammation levels and has been reported to prevent migraines and cure their formation.  Another study found that feelings of pain, nausea and light sensitivity were all reduced significantly.  It seems that feverfew has to be used on an ongoing basis to effectively work. However, it has centuries of usage and has been used in at least one study by patients for literally years. CAUTION: D Do a search on ""The efficacy and safety of feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium L.): an update of a systematic review" for safety information. Feverfew can affect clotting, so discuss with your doctor if you are undergoing surgery, have any clotting-related issues or have any medical conditions/medications.
As mentioned above, Excedrin Migraine helps many migraine sufferers. Note that two of its primary ingredients are ibuprofen, a prostaglandin and inflammation decreaser, and caffeine a vasoconstrictor (especially at higher doses). Okay, taking a pill is easier, but why not just consume a Low Fat Diet instead and actually cure the root cause of the problem? Besides, ibuprofen is associated with GI issues, Tylenol with potential liver overdosing and the 300 mg of caffeine can keep one up all night.
NEWS FLASH #2: Although controversial, migraines have been linked to a " hole in the heart by some researchers." Everyone has an opening between the two chambers of your heart at birth, but this hole closes in most people over time. Research has shown that 1) migraine sufferers much more frequently have this issue and 2) often have a larger opening than normal. Furthermore, a couple of studies show migraine sufferers receiving considerable relief from a procedure that closes this opening (although one did not).  Some researchers also believe that as many as one fourth of migraine sufferers could benefit from treatment that closes this hole, although that is controversial at this point. In addition, it is fairly common for migraine sufferers to have a "branched vein issue" at the base of their neck that can be corrected via surgery. Bottom line: talk to a neurologist and find out if you have a physical root cause involved. Again, this may point to the blood flow and blood cell issues mentioned in no. 9 above.
NOTE: A genetic mutation was recently discovered that has allowed scientists to identify the root cause of migraine headaches. A mutation in the KCNK18 gene leads to a malfunctioning TRESK protein and over-excitation of neuronal cells. TRESK is present in specific areas of the brain, such as the trigeminal and dorsal root ganglias, that are associated with migraine and further verifes this theory. 
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