We are no strangers to headaches and migraines
I’d like to take a moment to thank headaches and migraines for bringing SO MANY PEOPLE in to our clinic. Okay, I know, head pain is no laughing matter.
Often, folks suffering from these debilitating syndromes end up at The Village as a last resort. They’ve already been to doctor after doctor, after naturopath, after you-name-it, in an attempt to get relief, but nothing has worked.
We don’t care how you got here, we’re just glad you did, because we can help. We are no strangers to headaches and migraines. Keep reading to learn about our clinical takeaways.
I cut my teeth on headaches and migraines when I first started my practice. I’ll never forget my first migraine patient. I still see her to this day, almost 12 years later, not for migraines any more, but for maintenance. She came to me reluctantly, after I’d been treating her husband for a few months. He asked me one day if I could treat headaches and migraines. Being a newbie to the profession, I thought to myself … YES, say yes, Sara. And that’s when the migraine train started to roll in.
All of a sudden my patient roster was 90% headache-based. I encountered headaches and migraines of all sorts, but what I really cut my teeth on was barometric and hormonal headaches. This is a real thing when you live in a rainforest with a climate that brings sudden and unexpected weather changes. I learned the nuances of the weather, and could almost predict the days I’d be treating mostly headaches and migraines. And throw in hormonal nuances too, given that I know where all of my patients are in their cycles.
Headaches and migraines really are no laughing matter. They can stop you in your tracks with life-altering pain, and they require a toolkit of interventions. No two of my patients present with the same things, and what works for one doesn’t always work for the other.
Here’s what I keep in my toolkit for headache and migraine patients:
- Acupuncture — Always, obvi. Timing will play a key role here. Some of my patients find it best to get in when they are through the worst and are in the headache/migraine “hangover.” Others come in as soon as the aura or common trigger onsets to nip it in the bud.
- Food — Eliminating food triggers is sometimes the fastest way to curve a headache. For example, I have many patients who get relief from following a strict low-tyramine diet.
- CoQ10 — This can be a game changer for migraine sufferers. While there’s plenty of research on the efficacy of this supplement, check with your doctor or nurse practitioner to see if it’s a good fit for you. A recent recommendation from a patient that combines all the right supplements is Migraine Guard.
- Cycle syncing — For people with female physiology (or peeps with periods), it’s critical to know where you are in your cycle. Our hormones play a crucial role in how our body reacts to change and stress. Knowing your cycle can help you navigate and predict changes you’ll see in a month. Cycle syncing is my jam. If you’re wondering how to live according to your cycle, hit me up, I’m full of tips and tricks.
- Behavioral Optometrist — This is new news to me but might be just what you need. A patient of mine has recently unearthed vision therapy and is finally walking away with hope that her migraines and headaches will take a backseat.
- Sleep — My good friend sleep. You can circle back to last month’s issue where we all dive deep into sleep health.
Above all, check with your healthcare provider. They too have toolkits that will help navigate your headaches and/or migraines.
Migraine disorder can be absolutely debilitating. The pain, nausea, light and sound sensitivity, and mood changes can deeply affect quality of life. There are both external and internal factors, including stress, food, hormones, screentime, hydration and the weather, that may contribute to or trigger migraine, which makes them difficult to work on.
Migraine can be stubborn and frustrating but with consistent acupuncture treatments, I have seen improvement — less frequency, shorter duration and less intensity of pain.
In addition to acupuncture, I have patients who swear by the following products:
- Magic Gel Headache and Migraine Relief Cap. If your migraine reacts well to cold, give this hat you keep in the freezer a try! (sorry for the amazon link)
- Saje Peppermint Halo essential oil roller
- Again with magnesium! But this time magnesium oxide as a preventative treatment as recommended by The American Migraine Society.
In my personal experience with migraine, I find that everything helps a little, which cumulatively can make a big difference.
“Headache”…the word doesn’t usually conjure up the vast affect that one can have on your day. “Migraines” can seem a little more serious. But let me tell you, BOTH can knock you out brutally for days, or weeks!
Most of my patients come in due to hormonal migraine, some for stress related or the lovely “unknown” cause.
Thankfully, I’ve seen a lot of success with Balance Acupuncture treatment for headache. Whether you come in right when you get your first sign or just after you feel functional again, it works! I have patients who report less frequent, shorter or less intense bouts.
Your individual situation will vary of course, so come in for a personalized treatment plan. Like always, consistency of treatment is key.
For tension or stress related headaches I often like to recommend Medistik for home care. But there’s no substitute for the great relaxing acu-nap you get in clinic!
Shanie Rechner (pronounced Shaw-nee)
We’ve all been there at some point or another, whether you wake up first thing and your head is throbbing or it comes on later in the day. Headaches are a common physical complaint experienced by nearly everyone and as such bring many people through our doors seeking relief.
Headaches are a whisper (or a shout) from our body of a bigger issue plaguing your body. Have we been staring at a screen for too long? Are we on top of both water and food intake? Are we close to, just finished or on our menses? Maybe we have been denying the accumulating stress in our week, month, year. Sometimes it is as simple as having gone outside with wet hair and no toque or hat to protect us from the outside elements.
My point is, headaches can be linked to many differing causes, especially if it’s not just a one off. So how can we know what the bigger issue is? “Location, Location, Location” turns out it’s not just all the rage in real estate. Given all the tools already shared by the rest of the team, my contribution for how you can best defend against headaches is knowing where exactly you’re feeling them. It will give us the best chance at hearing what your body is trying to communicate and thus provide you with an effective treatment and corresponding recommendations to maintain lesser occurrences or reduced severity if not help rid you of them all together.