A migraine is a syndrome of vascular spasms in cranial blood vessels. The symptoms include sonophotophobia (increased sensitivity to light and sound), nausea, loss of vision in one eye or tunnel vision or auras, blind spots, vomiting, difficulty in speech, and throbbing or pulsating pain mostly on one side of the brain. These symptoms last for about few hours or in severe condition for several days.
There are different types of a treatment protocol for a migraine, contemporary science comprises of non-pharmacological treatment, namely, meditation, identification of triggers, relaxation therapy, etc. Allopathy medicine taken for a migraine includes Aspirin, Paracetamol, Diclofenac, Ibuprofen, etc. There are a variety of efficacy procedures mentioned in Ayurveda with no drawbacks and side effects.
In order to treat a migraine, one needs to first avoid the triggers for migraines. Few things that one can follow to avoid the triggers are listed below:
- Avoid intake of caffeine. Too much caffeine can lead to a migraine.
- Avoid consumption of too much of Aspartame (artificial sweetener), as it is also considered as a trigger for a horrendous
- Cutting down smoking, including passive smoking
- Develop a habit of a regular pattern of sleep (7-8 hrs of sleep) including weekends too will help in treating migraine.
- Bright lights are a trigger for migraine, hence change your lighting around you.
- People suffering from migraine should stay away from cheese, chocolates
- Exercise regularly to keep migraine attack away. Exercising will help to increase your cardiovascular capacities and improve the blood flow and thus recurrent migraine attacks can be controlled.
- Avoid stress in your life. It is one of the most common triggers for migraine.
- Avoid fasting or skipping of meals to avoid migraine attacks.
The alternative therapies such as Ayurveda are necessary to explore in order to treat migraine as other treatment methods have multiple side effects and are unable to completely cure migraine headaches.
Ayurvedic treatments for migraine headaches:
- Vata-type headache treatment (Vataja sirasula chikitsa): According to Vaghabhata’s Astanga Hrdayam, the treatment consists of –
- Applying of ghee on the head and should be ingested with warm water.
- Pouring of boiled warm milk with dashmula and other drugs that are used to reduce vata dosha over the head.
- Varanadi gana herbs boiled in water and milk (50:50), until only milk remains. The butter is then churned out from this mixture and the ghee obtained after cooking sweet taste herbs can be used as nasya (best way of alleviating any headache condition affecting above the neck). This ghee can be consumed with milk and sugar.
- Certain herbs such as karpasamajja, musta, tvak and buds Sumana can be steeped in hot water and can be instilled in the nose.
- Also, use of anuvasana basti helps to nourish the patient with chronic headaches.
- You can make an herbal paste by mixing cinnamon, ginger, and garlic and apply this paste to the forehead, temples, and
- Shirodhara that is, gently pouring of medicated oil or milk over the head can be done.
- Shirobasti is holding of medicated oil over the top of the head in the leather cap for some time in a way that there is no leakage of oil, can be employed.
- Pitta-type headache treatment (Pitta sirasula chikitsa) or Home Remedies for Pitta Headache: The treatment for pitta induced headaches can be done through oleation and then venesection.
- The patient suffering from migraine can apply the cold compress to the face and then wash the head, not with hot water.
- Purifying enema therapy is also beneficial.
- Medicated milk or ghee mixed with jivaniya gana herbs are useful in treating migraine either internally or through the nose.
- Nasya therapy can be done using medicated ghee with chrysanthemum and Brahmi.
- Medicated oil prepared with sandalwood and Brahmi can be used in Shirodhara or Shirobasti, an Ayurvedic massage.
- Kapha type headache treatment (Kaphaja sirasula chikitsa): Clearing the sinuses from any kind of congestion and stuffiness is an important part of treatment.
- For treating migraine, oleation therapy can be done, i.e. drinking old ghee and then one can induce vomiting.
- Applying herbs having hot, dry and penetrating qualities on the nose and avoiding fast is beneficial in treating migraine.
- Fomentation or sweating and applying herbal pastes are recommended for treating migraine.
- An herbal paste made up of cinnamon, clove and garlic can be applied to the head which will help blood circulation and relief from congestion.
- A decoction made of herbs (ginger and honey in water) can be administered through the rectum, known as niruha basti.
- Other Ayurvedic treatments for Migraine include:
- Massage the neck, manipulation of the spine and doing yoga is beneficial in migraine treatment.
- Herbs used for the treatment of a migraine include:
- For Kapha type – Vacha, trikatu, cinnamon, camphor oil. Eucalyptus oil and Guggulu.
- For Vata type – tagarah, nutmeg and jatamamsi.
- For Pitta type – aloe vera, Brahmi, chrysanthemum, and bhringaraja.
Let us discuss some of the home remedies to treat migraine.
- Use hot or cold packs to reduce headaches.
- Get relaxing massage done which will be beneficial to deal with migraines.
- You can apply peppermint oil or even rub basil oil on the forehead.
- Drinking of chamomile tea is also helpful. The polyphenols and flavonoids are known to have anti-inflammatory properties. You can even apply chamomile essential oil for relief.
- Chewing on a piece of ginger can also decrease the severity of migraine attack within 2 hours of its use.
- You can have soaked 5 to 6 raisins and almonds.
- Fish oil containing omega-3 fatty acids has been found to help reduce the symptoms of migraine.
- Breathing exercises also help to relax muscles and ease tension which will relieve the pain of migraine. Meditation is also a relaxation technique that will alleviate pain.
Therefore, you can use Ayurvedic treatments or home remedies to deal with the chronic condition and stay happy, healthy and fit. For accurate diagnosis and effective treatment, one should consult a trained Ayurvedic doctor.
- Agarwal, R., Agarwal, N., Raj, A. and Madan, S. Clinical Studies on Migraine. (Ayurveda.hu>doc>Ayurveda_treatments_in_migraine.pdf).
- Dahooei, MA. Ayurvedic approaches to the treatment of migraine (http://www.ayurvedacollege.com/articles/students/Migraineheadache.
- Shree Vidya P., Shantaaram K.S., Gajanana Hegde, Mythrey RC. (2013) Management of Ardhavabhedaka vis-à-vis migraine: An observational clinical study. Int. J. Res. Ayurveda harm. 4(6): 825-830.