Natural Ways to Prevent Migraines

Migraines are a pain to deal with and for those who experience them on a regular basis — life literally becomes a nightmare. Most people resort to taking medication to prevent migraine attacks or to reduce the frequency and severity of attacks. However, most preventive migraine medications have potential side effects, so only adults or children with at least one to two attacks per week should take them.


Both OTC and prescription medications can trigger or worsen migraine headaches. Cimetidine, estrogen, anti-histamine, nifedipine and nitroglycerin, can increase migraine frequency. You should avoid frequent or long-term use of NSAIDs — acetaminophen, triptans or ergotamines.


While some medications lessen the impact of migraines, they do not resolve the underlying causes. Half of all patients only experience a 50 percent reduction in migraines (at most).


Dr. Brian McNaull, Medical Director from Family Medical Practice suggests some alternative remedies on how to prevent migraines.


Watch your Diet


Up to 50 percent of people who have migraines are sensitive to certain foods. The following are some common dietary triggers to be aware of:


— Tyramine rich foods. e.g. cultured dairy products (aged cheese, sour cream, buttermilk), chocolate, and citrus fruits are believed to cause vasodilation, the widening of the blood vessels in certain people. Some migraines may be triggered by artificial sweeteners.


— Nitrates and nitrites. These vasodilating agents are found in preserved meats, processed meats, smoked fish, sausage, ham, beef jerky and bacon.


— Beverages: Alcoholic beverages (especially red wine) and an excess of or a withdrawal from caffeinated drinks such as coffee, tea, cocoa, or colas may trigger migraines.


— Monosodium glutamate (MSG): MSG is a flavour enhancer and vasodilator found in many processed foods. MSG sources include seasoning, baking mixtures, potato chips (potato, corn), roasted peanuts and soy sauce.


Be Aware of Your Surroundings


— Psychological: Make time for relaxation and surround yourself with things that make you happy as stress, anxiety, worry, depression and sadness can all trigger migraines.


— Physiological: Fever, illness and not getting adequate food, rest, or sleep can cause migraines. Stick to a routine with regular meal times and adequate sleep.


— Environmental: Fluorescent, bright or flickering lights, fatigue, high altitude, strong odours, computer screens, or rapid temperature changes can all cause migraines. Monitor your exposure to these elements to see if they are the cause of your migraines.


— Physical Activity: Participating in sports, being extremely active or even travelling (being in motion) can trigger migraines. Avoid over-exertion, take breaks and drink plenty of water when participating in any form of physical activity.


For more advice on any medical topics, visit Family Medical Practice on 298I Kim Ma, Ba Dinh, Hanoi, or on (04) 3843 0748 and FMP’s downtown Ho Chi Minh City’s branch is at Diamond Plaza, 34 Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 7848 

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