June 16, 2017

Here's how to keep pain at bay so it doesn't take over your life...

1. THE SUPPLEMENTS

“Migraine is associated with low magnesium levels, and supplements can reduce the frequency and severity of attacks - especially for migraine without aura”, says Dr Sarah Brewer. “Many people with migraine have underlying deficiencies of vitamin D, vitamin B2 and co-enzyme Q10. Adding vitamin D to anti-migraine treatments can reduce the number of attacks. Other studies suggest that vitamin B2 supplements may also help”, she adds.

A study of 130 people who experienced three or more migraines per month found that a combination of magnesium, vitamin B2 and co-enzyme Q10 reduced pain and the number of migraines experienced. A separate review of six trials, meanwhile, found that feverfew, a traditional herbal medicine licensed to treat migraine, was more effective than placebo.

2. THE THERAPIES

“There is no immediate cure for migraine, but there are options, including non-medicinal and complementary treatments. These treatments have helped sufferers take control of what is now thought to be a complex neurological condition, and helped to reduce its impact on daily life”, says Rebekah Aitchison, from Migraine Action (migraine.org.uk).

In 2015, NICE guidelines detailed the use of acupuncture for migraine - especially for sufferers who found drug treatments such as topiramate and propanolol unsuitable or ineffective.

“Some migraine sufferers find osteopathy or chiropractic treatments can also help reduce frequency of attacks, especially if neck pain has triggered attacks in the past”, comments Rebekah.

3. THE FOODS

“Experts used to think some foods – such as chocolate, cheese, citrus fruits, alcohol, and coffee - triggered migraines. However, it’s now thought that that a craving for such foods may be an early phase of migraine caused by changes in the appetite-control centre in the brain. Other research suggests an immune response to these foods may be a culprit,” says nutrition consultant Patsy Westcott.

A 2015 study found that, while there were no differences in eating patterns in women with and without migraine, those with migraine ate a poorer quality diet.

“Recent studies, meanwhile, have suggested that a low-fat, plant-rich, or vegan diet may reduce the severity and frequency of migraine attacks. Keeping a food diary could help”, she adds.

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