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Anyone that has suffered from a migraine knows the warning signs: nausea (may include vomiting), visual disturbances (blurred vision, double vision or poor vision), sensitivity to light and smell, the infamous ‘aura’, loss of appetite and the progressive throbbing of one side of the head. Absolutely debilitating!

The challenge of treating migraines is that there are so many potential causes. Simple things such as food or chemical allergy are relatively easy to treat, as the culprit is more obvious. For example some people can experience a migraine after consuming red wine, chocolate, citrus fruits or aged cheese due to the amine content within these foods. Other interesting food triggers include processed meats, caffeine, MSG (‘Chinese restaurant syndrome’, commonly listed as 621 or food enhancer on food labels), and other preservatives/colourings/additives. Often people will be able to determine these triggers on their own quite easily and once avoided the migraines vanish.

Other causes include hormonal influences, emotional triggers, muscular or postural causes, medications, too much or too little sleep, humidity changes, dehydration and excessive alcohol consumption.

As a starting point a few useful strategies include:

  • Keep a food diary and track everything that passes your lips (food and beverages) for at least one month and correlate migraine incidence. Remember that migraines that are food triggered can take as long as 48 hours to develop.
  • Nutrients such as Magnesium and B vitamins
  • Herbal medicines such as Feverfew which is best taken for a few months to properly reap the benefits
  • Lifestyle strategies: Essential oils such as lavender, peppermint, and lemon; hot or cold applications (depending on your type of migraine), regular stress relieving activities
  • Other: See a qualified osteopath or chiropractor to assess if you have any postural concerns. Encourage regular massage and relaxation to relieve back and neck tension or spasm. Make sure your eyesight has been checked recently.