Many of us suffer from migraines - the debilitating headache condition with symptoms that vary in severity from person to person.
The causes of migraines are also extremely diverse and range from
allergies to hormonal
imbalance, incorrect nutrition and, believe it or not, whether the sun is shining or if it is raining!
It is interesting to note that migraine attacks have been plaguing humanity for centuries. Documents were found in Egypt, dating from 1200 BC, recording
headaches with neuralgia.
Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, noted the visual disturbances that may occur before a
migraine attack and also described the relief that may be felt after
In 200 AD Aretaeus of Cappadocia diagnosed a one-sided headache associated with
vomiting and also described headache free intervals. This is reported to be the first record of an
exact diagnosis for the condition.
The word ‘migraine’ stems from the term ‘hemicrania’ (half-head), which was used by Galenus of Pergamon, who was a famous physician in the ancient world.
The weirdest treatments have been prescribed for migraines in the past, from application of a hot iron to the head, or the insertion of a garlic clove into an incision made in the temple and of course, the medieval answer to all ills - blood letting and spells against witchcraft.
Thankfully the situation has improved somewhat and modern doctors usually treat a migraine attack by prescribing medicines that affect the
vascular or neurogenic systems in the body, balanced exercise, revision of the diet and an exclusion of factors that may
trigger an attack.
A migraine is defined as a severe recurring
headache, usually affecting only one side of the head, characterized by sharp pain and often accompanied by
nausea, vomiting and visual
Migraines have been classified by the International Headache Society and there are quite a few different types, which we will discuss briefly.
Firstly, migraines may occur with an
aura, which is a sensory disturbance, such as blurred, shimmering vision or tingling in the arms and hands. The
aura usually occurs before the migraine and many sufferers recognize this symptom and can then take preventative measures to avoid the attack, as an aura may
precede the migraine by 5 minutes to an hour.
Migraines can also occur without an
aura, but a sufferer that does experience sensory disturbances will usually experience the same disturbance every time an attack occurs.
Migraines are classified into many different types, according to the symptoms presented and the severity of the
pain is also classified by numbers, with a “0” representing the least severe pain and a “3” representing the most severe and debilitating pain.
Signs and symptoms vary drastically from person to person, but four phases have been identified that do occur:
- Prodrome phase
- This usually occurs several hours or days before an attack and may include the following symptoms: Irritability, depression, euphoria, yawning, fatigue, craving for certain foods, stiff muscles, constipation or diarrhea.
- An observant patient or family member can detect these symptoms and take preventative measures.
- Aura phase
- If this phase does occur, it will occur before an attack, usually about 5 to 20 minutes before the attack and may last up to an hour before the headache or pain begins.
- Pain phase
- The pain usually occurs in one side of the head as a throbbing pain, which may be moderate to severe. The pain is usually reported to swell and subside and may travel from one side of the head to the other during the attack. An attack usually lasts from 4 to 72 hours in adults and 1 to 48 hours in children.
- In some migraines the pain manifests in other parts of the body, but a feeling of nausea usually accompanies the attack and vomiting also may occur.
- Postdrome phase
- After the attack the patient may feel tired, irritable and lethargic. Mood changes and difficulty to think are also reported, while some people feel euphoric and refreshed after an attack. Some light-headedness, minor headache, loss of appetite, light sensitivity and slight dizziness are also reported after an attack.
Migraines were originally thought to be caused by problems with the
blood vessels or constriction and expansion of the blood vessels. Currently the following theory is thought to be the most logical reason for migraines.
In this phenomenon, the activity of the nerves is depressed or reduced over an area of the
cortex ( the left and right hemispheres of the
brain). This leads to irritation of the nerves in the skull, which includes a nerve called the trigeminal nerve, which relays feeling to and from the face and a large part of the head.
Migraines are one of the most misdiagnosed illnesses to date. Many sufferers are not diagnosed correctly and many people show symptoms that are
confused with migraines.
The International Headache Society recommend certain pointers to be used when diagnosing a migraine without aura:
5 or more attacks 4 hours to 3 days in duration 2 or more of the following – a one sided headache, pulsating quality of pain, moderate to severe pain, aggravation by or avoidance of routine physical activity 1 or more accompanying symptom - nausea and/or vomiting, light-sensitivity, sound-sensitivity For migraine with aura, only two attacks are required to justify the diagnosis.
A great deal of specialized knowledge seems to be required to make an accurate diagnosis of migraines.
Many sufferers seem to be able to control or prevent the onset of pain by recognizing the symptoms preceding an attack and by avoiding
certain triggers which cause an attack.
Conventional treatment usually includes the exclusion of triggers, treating the symptoms and the prescription of
preventative drugs, which are usually very expensive.
Alternative treatments range from acupuncture, cold or hot compresses or showers and some people find that a cup of coffee may help!
The “Vasalver maneuver” (closing your nose and mouth and gently blowing air into the nose, to clear the ear ducts) is thought to help with weather related migraines, as regularly opening your ear ducts helps balance atmospheric pressure outside with the internal pressure in your head. Moving your jaw in a chewing motion is also said to be beneficial for the same reason.
Massage therapy, gentle regular exercise and physical therapy has also been found to help reduce the occurrence of attacks.
Have your eyes tested and find out if you are using the right type of spectacles, as certain types of spectacles or the incorrect prescription causes headaches – “prism” eye glasses are thought to cause headaches in some people.
Clinical trials have been done on the efficacy of certain herbs, such as butterbur (Petasites hybridus) rhizome extract. When taken at 50 mg or 75 mg per day, a significant percentage of the study group found a reduction in the occurrence of migraines.
The use of feverfew (Tanacetum
parthenium) for migraines is a known folk remedy and certain trials did show an improvement in the condition of sufferers when using this herb.
Supplementing the diet with magnesium citrate is also worth mentioning, as an experiment done on a group of sufferers taking 600 mg of trimagnesium dicitrate orally, per day, reported that the frequency of migraine attacks was reduced by 41.6% to that of the 15.8% of the placebo group.
Certain studies link the use of vitamin B2 with magnesium citrate for this purpose.
Our sister site, www.essentialoils.co.za, which sells a large selection of pure essential oils for personal use in aromatherapy, creams and massage therapy, suggests the use of the following oils for the relief of headaches:
For a headache use the following mixture:
It can be massaged into the base of the skull or around the temples.
For a tension or nervous headache use as above but use:
Some problems, like migraine, may react positively to vitamin and nutritional therapy and for this reason we suggest some nutrients that may be of benefit for this particular problem:
Migraines have been plaguing humanity for thousands of years and it seems that many of us will be suffering from migraines in the future. There are well documented trials and evidence on record that a correct lifestyle, including the avoidance of certain triggers, may be of great benefit to many sufferers of this disorder. Certain studies also mention the benefits of
herbal and vitamin supplementation and many sufferers find comfort and relief through the use of
certain essential oils.
- Healing cream
- To assist in wound healing while soothing skin complaints – such as eczema and psoriasis, acne and piles and moisturizing and protecting the skin. This product has shown its effectiveness over a wide range of problems and judging from sales over more than a decade – it is the trusted healing cream to help with all mishaps, allergic reactions, irritated, burning, itchy and uncomfortable skin conditions.
- Face wash
- This face wash will properly clean your face and remove all impurities and environmental pollutants, without drying the skin. It contains eight herbal extracts to help promote a clear, vital and healthy complexion and a younger looking skin.
- Moisturizing day cream
- This day cream is formulated to help fight the signs of aging on various fronts. It helps to reduce free radical damage which, if left unchecked, leads to premature aging. The herbal extracts help to promote cell rejuvenation and regeneration and provide moisture and hydration to the skin.
- Nourishing night cream
- This nourishing night cream penetrates the skin extremely well and does not make the skin feel oily. It contains a host of herbal extracts to help in the fight against premature aging and has added vitamin E as well. Apart from the moisturizing effect and the anti-aging properties it also softens and smoothes the skin.
- Eye gel
- An effective refreshing eye gel to help reduce puffiness and dark rings around the eyes, while fighting wrinkles and lines. This is a very clever combination of herbal extracts and the base formula has its roots in a clinically proven formula.
- Mud face mask
- With this skin treatment product we combined a special selection of herbs in a base of thermal mud with oligoelements. This recommended weekly treatment will boost circulation to the skin, help to fight wrinkles and lines, improve firmness while at the same time improving suppleness and elasticity of the skin.
- Shampoo with rosemary extract + 7 other herbals
- Our shampoo is in a class of its own – and granted – it is far more expensive than cheap supermarket shampoos, but no other shampoo has the active ingredients we have in our shampoo. The rosemary will boost the health of the hair and scalp, while the other seven herbal extracts will help strengthen the hair and make it shine, increase the volume and make it manageable.
- Rosemary hair treatment conditioner
- We have found that this hair conditioner should really be used as a conditioning treatment. This then removes the need to condition the hair every time you wash – and can be used once a month. It is a superb hair tonic and helps in the control of sebum secretion of the scalp. Although not formulated for dandruff – the ingredients will assist with this as well, while supporting the health of the scalp.
- Hand and body lotion
- When formulating this hand and body lotion we created a rich nourishing, protecting and reviving lotion, which will not leave the skin oily or tacky, but will create a well moisturized, hydrated and supple skin. After applying this lotion it will quickly be absorbed by the skin, leaving it silky soft, smooth and well moisturized.
- Stretch mark gel
- Although nothing can remove already formed stretch marks (only surgery can do that) – thousands of satisfied clients confirm that this gel improves the appearance of old stretch marks. The gel will help in PREVENTING stretch marks (a 92% success rate) and is used with great success by expectant mothers and body builders who may form marks when bulking-up. The formula of this gel is based on clinical studies done in France, to which we added other herbal extracts.
- Cellulite gel
- Fighting cellulite is easy with this herbal cellulite gel. It contains a patented extract of Bayberry (Myriceline) and nine other plant extracts and essential oils. The gel will help to get rid of cellulite (which has been clinically proven) and will also help to prevent cellulite from forming. So now it is easy to get your soft body contours back again.
- Apple cider vinegar (liquid) with Centella asiatica
- The health benefits of apple cider vinegar are combined with the therapeutic properties of Centella asiatica. This old folk remedy is still used with great effect by thousands of people daily.
- Digest capsules
- If your digestive system is under-par and you struggle with constipation or you simply need to boost the health of your digestive system then this capsule is for you. Fenugreek is a general digestive tonic and psyllium is a magical bulking agent that will help proper bowel movements, without using a laxative.
- Detox capsules
- Our modern day lifestyle exposes us to many unwanted additive and our diet also places stress on the body. To help the body get rid of toxins and waste materials naturally we combined fennel, basil, celery and parsley to help the body remove these toxins. It peps-up your metabolism and helps the bladder, kidneys and liver to do their work more effectively.
- Urinary and bladder health capsules
- Using an all natural approach, our capsules will help the discomfort and burning urine sensation of urinary tract infection and help clear up foul smelling urine. We combined cranberry, dandelion, uva ursi and vitamin C in a single capsule to effectively fight bladder infections and to stop the burning sensation when urinating.
- Tri- Mushroom blend capsules
- If you need an immune system boost then have a look at our combination of maitake, reishi and shiitake mushrooms. These mushrooms have showed to be a great help in boosting the immune system – and form a good nutritional supplement support for HIV/Aids patients and people receiving chemotherapy. Any person with even a slightly compromised immune system may benefit from this supplement.
- Olive leaf extract capsules
- This natural detoxifier helps with a variety of ailments and people with chronic fatigue syndrome, infections, glandular fever (Epstein Barr), and even candida and herpes have found it of value. Olive leaf extract helps to fight bacteria, viruses, retroviruses, and protozoa and yeast strains. Apart from fighting all of these problems it also helps to improve kidney function and fights free radicals.
- Sexual supplement (previously known as Vuka Nkuzi)
- Men normally don’t admit when they have a declining libido although it is a most common problem. We combine in this supplement seven different natural ingredients to boost sexual health – without any side effects often experienced with such medication. After more than a decade, and thousands of regular Vuka Nkuzi clients we still offer this well priced supplement to boost the libido.
- Jojoba oil
- This liquid golden ester not only moisturizes and penetrates the skin but also helps to fight wrinkles and lines while promoting a clear and unblemished skin. Jojoba does not clog the pores but helps to restore skin elasticity and smoothness. It will leave the skin supple and velvety soft without any oiliness and can be used neat on the skin.
- Almond oil
- This light and deeply moisturizing oil has a softening effect on the skin and can be used on the face and body. Almond oil has excellent emollient properties and helps to balance water and moisture loss in the skin. It can be used neat on the skin and also makes an excellent massage base.