Migraine – Comparison of Modern (Allopathic) and Ayurvedic Herbal Treatment

Migraine – Comparison of Modern (Allopathic) and Ayurvedic Herbal Treatment

Migraine is a medical condition which affects mainly women and can prove incapacitating in nature, with symptoms such as severe headache, nausea, vomiting and light sensitivity which may last from four to seventy-two hours. The onset is usually between ten and forty years of age; it may be aggravated with menstruation and may – in a few affected individuals – improve or disappear by the age of fifty. Nearly one billion people worldwide are estimated to be suffering from this condition, and it is believed to be more common than diabetes, epilepsy and asthma combined.

Migraine may be inherited, and triggered or aggravated by certain foods, caffeine, weather changes, bright light, menstruation, fatigue, stress, and irregular sleep and meals. While the exact mechanism of the disease is as yet not clear, it is believed that the triggers stimulate the trigeminal nerve and cause increase swelling in the blood vessels lining the brain. This in turn releases neurotransmitters which cause pain and inflammation. Typically, this condition severely disrupts the quality of life of affected patients; in a few individuals, there may be additional symptoms related to the eyes and brain which may be severe enough to warrant hospital admission and intensive care.

A diagnosis of migraine is usually made from the typical clinical history, and after ruling out other possible causes of the symptoms; migraine patients usually have normal blood and imaging reports, with the exception of those suffering from comorbid conditions. The severity and frequency can be reduced by avoiding known trigger factors, reducing stress, practicing relaxation techniques, and adopting a regular meal and moderate exercise schedule. The conservative management of this condition is usually with medications, biofeedback, and transcranial magnetic stimulation. Medications include over-the-counter pain killers, CGRP inhibitors (to prevent nerve pain and inflammation), and medicines to control nausea and vomiting, blood pressure, convulsions, and depression.

The Ayurvedic management of people with migraine involves taking a detailed medical history; including severity and frequency of symptoms, trigger factors, diet and lifestyle. Lifestyle and dietary modifications are suggested since these are considered very important in making and breaking the disease cycle. Clinical experience with migraine patients suggests that the treatment of hyperacidity, indigestion, constipation, and stress, plays a major role in mitigating the severity and frequency of migraine, as also the treatment of cranial blood vessel inflammation. If possible, patients are advised to look at modifiable occupational and environmental trigger factors. It is also equally important to give concurrent symptomatic treatment in order to reduce suffering at the earliest.

Patients who do not respond satisfactorily to oral herbal treatment are advised specialized Panchkarma procedures; these include nasal drops, medicated enemas, a type of cranial local treatment known as Shirobasti, blood-letting, and purgation. These procedures may be used singly or in combination, depending upon the individual requirements of each patient. Different types of nasal drops can be used both for the treatment of acute episodes as well as for preventing further attacks.

Migraine is a chronic disease which significantly affects the quality of life of affected individuals, and is a public health issue, with serious health and economic consequences. While modern medicine can reduce the severity and frequency of migraine episodes, it currently does not offer a cure. Ayurvedic herbal treatment can help provide significant improvement in patients with migraine, and can bring about a cure for most affected people.

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