butterbur (Petasites hybridus) in flower

With all the frustrations of the hectic paced lifestyles and financial instability, less than optimum nutrition, and deprived sleep routines, it is no wonder more and more of my patients complain of having headaches. Did you know that about 90 percent of the populace gets at least 1 headache annually? That’s a good deal of headaches!


In addition about 16-17 percent of individuals receive a certain kind of headache, a migraine, or vascular, headache at least once in their lifetime. They generally affect women more than men due to hormonal differences, but guys certainly do get them. Some folks get them as often as once a month and may be so intense that they can’t do their regular activities!

If you’re among the men and women who suffer with migraines often, or even sometimes, I’d love to speak with you about what a migraine is and the many causes so as to assist you prevent them. Then I want to share with you a few useful, nonaddicting, natural remedies for them.

What’s a Migraine Headache?

Simply stated, a migraine headache is a vascular headache. The expression’migraine’ comes from an old French word, megrim, which describes a syndrome of nausea, head pain, and nausea. It eventually became known as ‘migraine” and people who get them are known as migraineurs.

It’s thought that a migraine headache occurs because of an outside trigger that leads to nerve spasms within the mind or the sheath covering the brain. This strain constricts the blood vessels and generates the migraine “air”, or lights, that we often experience.

Next, the blood vessels relax allowing an excessive amount of blood flow to the brain. This causes pressure to construct and pain to happen. Migraines can last for a few hours or, in some individuals, a couple of days! In a nutshell, migraines can be brief and intense in length or miserable and protracted.

What Causes A Migraine Headache?

Recent studies have identified a couple of neurochemical associations with migraines, namely dopamine and dopamine. Both of these important substances are”feel good” chemicals. When they become significantly imbalanced it’s believed that this change brings on a migraine headache. There are lots of causes, or triggers, that may cause these chemical imbalances. They include:

    • Smoking: Decreases oxygen and introduces compounds into the bloodstream.
    • Certain Foods: Chocolate, monosodium glutamate (MSG), alcohol, nuts, cheese, are known irritants to migraine-sensitive men and women.
    • Erratic Meals: Eating on the run, missing meals, going without food for extended periods of time can result in a change in these brain chemicals.
    • Dehydration: Your brain is about 80% water. Dehydration can trigger a migraine.
    • Erratic Sleep Patterns: Not sleeping enough, or too much, can disrupt brain chemicals.
    • Hormone Fluctuations: Monthly hormonal changes of estrogen and progesterone in women can cause brain chemical imbalances.
    • Stress: Especially if chronic, may result in all types of chemical imbalances in the body which may have a domino effect, i.e., one causes the other.
    • Sensory, Environmental Stimulants: Bright sun, bright colors, blinking lights, strong unpleasant smells, loud, pounding beat music, elevation and weather fluctuations.
    • Certain Illnesses: Epilepsy, abnormal cholesterol levels, depression/anxiety, Tourette syndrome, hereditary tumors, stroke, certain eye diseases, internal ear/balance issues.


Although a lot of my patients complain of occasional headaches, not all them are migraines. Migraine headache shares many features of the frequent headache but are generally a lot more intense. Every person who gets a migraine may also have their own specific symptoms, but these are the characteristic signs of a migraine headache:

    • Prodrome – a pre-headache period where you feel out of sorts and spacey.
    • Nausea – severe pain can trigger nausea.
    • Inability to tolerate light or sound – like a dark, quiet room.
    • Irritability and exhaustion – individual wishes to be left alone and to sleep.

What Helps?

There are lots of prescription medications on the market called triptans that work to relieve migraine headache pain. However, did you know there are lots of natural, alternative treatments that could cure a migraine headache? Here they are:

    • Magnesium – many individuals who get migraines have calcium deficiencies that may cause the nerve and muscle spasms that cause the migraine. 400-600 mg per day.
    • Feverfew – this herb has been used since early times as a headache remedy and is popular in Europe as an alternative migraine treatment. If you are allergic to ragweed, chamomile or yarrow, or if you take blood thinners for any reason, don’t take feverfew.
    • Butterbur – an herb proven effective in double blind studies at 75 mg twice per day to prevent migraines. Again, if you are allergic to ragweed, do not take butterbur.
    • Acupuncture/acupressure massage – stimulates certain meridians on the human body and has proven effective in relieving tension and migraine pain.
    • Biofeedback – helps reduce anxiety if that’s a cause for you.
    • Chiropractic – an evaluation by a chiropractor can discover whether there’s a musculoskeletal/nerve element to your migraine. Nerves trapped between your neck or upper back vertebra of your spine may be triggering the pain.


As I tell my patients, headaches, particularly migraines, can be miserable. I prefer to have them try natural remedies , possibly a mixture of these, before we turn to prescription medication. Moreover, I like to concentrate on prevention as much as you can. Try a few of the tips here to prevent a migraine from happening and stop it if it does. Keep a log of under what conditions your migraines happen and try to prevent these circumstances as best you can in the future.