A paroxysmal disorder characterized by recurrent attacks of headache, with or without associated visual and
Allopathic medicine considers the underlying cause of migraine to be unknown.
The Phytotherapist, as with most holistically orientated therapies, can achieve excellent results through focusing on a number of factors which suggest causal links. Specific herbal remedies can prove exceptionally successful if used in the context of address the whole body and environment of the patient. About 8% of all headaches treated by the average physician are migraine or one of its variants with some 16-18 million Americans suffer from migraine. Attacks can occur in early childhood, but most patients first develop symptoms between the ages of 10 and 30. Many migraine patients have family histories of the problem.
The immediate causation appears to relate to spasms in the muscular walls of the blood vessels of the brain and scalp. In approximately 30% of all cases, migraine attacks are preceded by warning signs such as scintillating visual effects, blind spots, zigzag flashing lights, numbness in parts of the body, and distorted visual images. These signs of an imminent attack are probably due to intracerebral vasoconstriction, and the head pain to dilation of scalparteries.
All such symptoms may clear just before the onset of pain or merge into it. The pain my be unilateral or generalized but tend to follow the same pattern in particular person. Attacks may happen daily or only every several months. Untreated attacks may last for hours or days and often accompanied with nausea, vomiting and photophobia. The extremities are cold and the patient will seek seclusion.
Possible causes that should be considered include the range listed below. However they will rarely all be involved in any specific individual.
- Food sensitivity - this category can include anything, but the common triggers are:
- Dairy products, especially cheese
- Chocolate, Eggs
- Wheat & wheat products, Peanuts
- Citrus fruits, Tomatoes
- Red meat & Shell Fish, Alcohol (especially red wine and spirits)
- Stress & Fatigue - will undoubtedly compound the problem and maybe a clear trigger.
- General "Toxicity" - any tendency to constipation, liver problems or general `congestion' will be a marked trigger in some individuals.
- Hormone Levels - occasionally, changes of certain hormone levels may trigger an attack. This is usually related to menstrual cycles in some way. Drugs such as birth control pills, which contain estrogen mat be triggers.
- Structural - Cranial and spinal misalignments may be involved, as may posture, even when not associated with overt skeletal problems.
This will depend upon the diagnosis of factors involved in any specific patient.
Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium) is the only herb used in European Phytotherapy known to be specific for the treatment of migraine. It is also the best example of a remedy well known to medical herbalist's that has recently been accepted and used by allopathic medicine. It has been used throughout recorded medical history as a bitter tonic and remedy for severe headaches. Through wide media coverage in recent years, the herb has gained a well deserved reputation as a "cure" for migraine. Clinicians at the London Migraine Clinic observed that patients were reporting marked improvements when they took the herb. Thankfully, these doctors had the inquiring and open minds of the true scientist and so started their own investigations into the claims for Feverfew. Clinical observations were soon being reported in the journals.1,2