This isn’t a fun post – it’s pretty much just informational. Since it appears we have a few migraine sufferers here, I figured I’d share the things that work for me. I’m not a doctor, not suggesting everyone run out and do what I do. Just wanted to pass along the things that have helped me in the past.
For starters, I used to take a magnesium supplement, and now it appears I’d best get busy supplementing again. Magnesium deficiency is very common and can lead to muscle fibers remaining in a state of contraction. This can do a few things.
Tight muscles (especially the sub-occipital group) can pull on the membrane covering the brain and spinal cord. This can contribute to migraines and other headaches.
The smooth muscles lining the blood vessels can tighten and narrow the space through which your blood flows, raising your blood pressure. A narrowing of these vessels in the brain can contribute to both migraines and vascular headaches.
How best to supplement magnesium? Chelated varieties are generally better absorbed. These are the ones with “ate” on the ends, like Magnesium Citrate and Magnesium Gluconate. If you take a non-chelated version, like Magnesium Oxide, do not take it at the same time you take calcium. The body will be busy loading those ion channels with calcium, and the magnesium will not be absorbed well.
I’ll be taking 1000 mg/day of Magnesium Citrate. It’s relatively cheap, well absorbed, and effective. But a word of caution–it’s also a laxative. If you do decide to take it, work up to those 1000 mgs slowly.
In addition to supplementation, you can go after certain muscular issues directly. Find a massage therapist or other practitioner (acupuncturist, osteopath, chiropractor) who is well versed in techniques that can eliminate trigger points in the musculature of the neck. These areas of increased neurologic activity can refer symptoms to other parts of the body, causing headaches, vertigo, nausea—all the things you’d expect from your friendly neighborhood migraine.
If you sit or stand in a position in which your head is always tipped forward while flexed back, (you’re probably doing it right now), you will develop musculoskeletal issues that can contribute to migraines and other headaches. Not to mention the eventual formation of a dowager’s hump.
Lastly, watch the caffeine. It’s a vasoconstrictor. It narrows the vessels of the brain by causing the smooth muscles lining them to contract.
But, for some reason which makes absolutely no sense to me, if I catch a migraine in its infancy, caffeine can shut it down. I used to keep a can of caffeinated soda in the fridge for just such emergencies.