The 3 Top Alternative Remedies For Menstrual Attacks
- NSAIDS – Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Over the counter pain relievers like ibuprofen or naproxen can help prevent menstrual migraines or make them less severe. “You typically take them twice a day starting 2 to 3 days before your period begins, and then for another 3 to 5 days after it arrives.”
- Bio-identical Estrogen Cream . Sometimes you can prevent the onset by taking a steady dose of estrogen throughout your menstrual cycle. If you’re already on birth control, you can consider switching to a continuous dose. So this means that you would take the estrogen pills during the days when you’d normally skip pills or take inactive ones. ** If you have migraine with aura, talk to your doctor before you start taking estrogen as it may raise your odds for a stroke.**
- Magnesium. Its good to keep your magnesium levels up to help prevent a menstrual migraine from occurring. Start taking magnesium on the 15th day of your cycle and keep taking it until you get your period. I’ve written more about it here – Which Magnesium Is Best For Migraines?
Daily Magnesium Has A Preventive Effect
I really like magnesium as a natural supplement to take every day to help prevent menstrual migraine, says Hindiyeh. There is evidence to support using magnesium, though the mechanism of action, or the why behind how it improves migraine, is not totally understood, she says. It could be stabilizing cells or decreasing hyperexcitability or neuronal firing, but thats all theoretical at this point, she adds.
You can learn more about the various types of magnesium supplements on the website Migraine Again, and remember that its always a good idea to talk with your doctor about any supplements you are taking or are interested in taking.
Stop What Has Already Started
Once the aura has already started it can get tricky.
If our brain is creating a migraine because it is trying to protect itself, then stopping its protective mechanism may make matters worse.
It may even be responsible for why so many abortive medications leave migraine sufferers in hangover states for days.
But if we can go with the body, instead of against it
And if we can help it do what its trying to do with a migraine which is:
Grab a big bottle of water, give it a sprinkle of sea salt, some raw honey and the squeeze of a citrus like lemon. Close the bottle and give it a good shake. This water will be much more hydrating, absorb into your body easier and provide way more nutrition than just toxic tap or bottled water.
Bonus: If you have magnesium supplements like most migraine sufferers should, add it to the water. Magnesium is like a fire fighter for your brain cells, it helps cool any fires going on.
Kill stimuli: Environmental stimuli are completely normal for the average person but once the brain has become fragile enough to get migraines, all stimuli can aggravate the brain. This means we want to have a blacked out room using black out blinds or garbage bags and tape over windows and doors. Cut out all sounds with ear plugs or muffs as well as any odours
Understand what you can do for migraine aura by learning the 3 truths of frequent ocular migraines here.
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Regular Exercise Can Help Prevent Menstrual Migraine
When we consider all the strategies to prevent migraine attacks, I love it when people choose to make lifestyle modifications that can make a real difference, says Hindiyeh.
There’s lots of evidence to suggest regular aerobic exercise can work as a preventive medication all on its own, and there are some studies to suggest that yoga and HIIT can be helpful as well, says Hindiyeh.
Not only can regular exercise help prevent migraine attacks for some people, but also, if the headache is mild, a short bout of exercise can actually help relieve that headache that’s happening, according to Hindiyeh.
On the other hand, overexerting yourself can be a trigger for migraine, especially if you are already having a migraine attack, she says.
One of the cardinal definitions and features of migraine is that normal activity can make you feel worse. If you’re already in the middle of a severe migraine attack, moving around excessively is going to make things worse for you its probably not the best time to go for a jog or do some aerobic activity, says Hindiyeh.
Menstrual Migraine Is Tough To Treat
Menstrual and menstrually related migraine can be the hardest kind of migraine to treat. can be pretty severe, they can last several days, and they can be quite debilitating, she says.
Even if you have migraine attacks only around the time of your period, for many women that may still mean five days or more a month, says Hindiyeh. In that case, its really time to talk to your doctor about daily preventive treatment options for migraine, she says.
Generally speaking, there are many treatment options for the prevention of migraine and menstrual migraine, says Hindiyeh. Heres a rundown of top medications and lifestyle modifications that can help reduce the frequency and severity of menstrual and menstrually related migraine attacks.
What Causes Period Migraines
Changes in estrogen levels can trigger migraines. For some, increases in estrogen around ovulation can tip off head pain, but usually, it’s the decrease in estrogen during menses that prompts a migraine, Dr. O’Neal says.
Migraines also may become more frequent during other times of hormonal change. These include your first trimester of pregnancy, when estrogen quickly rises during the postpartum period, when hormones are shifting back to prepregnancy status and during menopause, when estrogen is decreasing.
How To Prevent Hormonal Migraines
Many women have found success with starting a menstrual diary, recording when the migraine appeared during the last three cycles.
Once you have a better understanding of when the migraine appears during your menstrual cycle, the better prepared you will be to treat it. Youd be amazed on what you can figure out just by regular, diligent tracking.
It also helps to make note of any other symptoms you have along with the migraine, such as aura or visual disturbances.
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Migraine Trigger: Hormonal Changes
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Hormones are powerful chemicals the body uses to control many functions. Hormones also play a large role in women with migraine. In fact, more than 8 out of 10 people with chronic migraine are women.1
Women have hormonal changes that may trigger migraine when they:2
- Begin menstruating
- At the start of their monthly menstrual cycle
- At the end their monthly menstrual cycle
- Use birth control pills, patches, shots, etc.
- Soon after pregnancy
- During perimenopause and menopause
- Use hormone replacement therapy
Why You Get Migraines During Your Period And How To Prevent Them
Nobody will tell you premenstrual syndrome is breeze. As if PMS wasn’t unpleasant enough, you may also deal with migraines during your menstrual cycle. “Migraines are often a hereditary disorder, and there’s a major hormonal influence on them,” says Mary O’Neal, MD, director of the women’s neurology program at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.
In essence, a migraine is a pain disorder related to abnormal connectivity in the brain. It all starts, experts think, via “an abnormal electrical discharge in the brain that triggers downstream effects to activate the trigeminal vasculature,” she says. In other words, nerves from the brain stem activate blood vessels around the brain, which in turn cause blood vessel changes and trigger a type of inflammation not associated with infection. The end result: you feel a whole lot of pain.
Several different migraine triggers may start this process, including poor sleep habits, caffeine use, certain foods, and weather changes. Hormonal fluctuations associated with menstruation is among those possible causes. And it’s a very common one. In fact, 60 percent of women who get migraines have menstrual migraines, according to the National Headache Foundation.
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Hormonal Migraine
They’re essentially the same as migraine in general. What is in the literature, interestingly, is that menstrual migraine, for example, may have less aura associated with it than migraine outside of the menstrual period but that’s not uniformly the case.
The signs and symptoms of migraine attacks that are modulated by hormones are the same as those for migraine attacks in general. Some studies suggest that attacks that occur around menses may be more severe, longer in duration, or more resistant to acute treatment
Identifying And Avoiding Triggers
One of the best ways of preventing migraines is recognising the things that trigger an attack and trying to avoid them.
You may find you tend to have a migraine after eating certain foods or when you’re stressed, and by avoiding this trigger you can prevent a migraine.
Keeping a migraine diary can help you identify possible triggers and monitor how well any medicine you’re taking is working.
In your migraine diary, try to record:
- the date of the attack
- the time of day the attack began
- any warning signs
- when the attack ended
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Treatment Of Hormonal Migraine
1) Mini prophylaxis or prevention
If the periods are regular in their timing related to the period, you can use treatments in a way that we call mini-prophylaxis or mini prevention.
A long acting treatment such as a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication Naproxen or triptan Naratriptan or Zolmitriptan, can be started on the day before you reliably wake up with an established, untreatable, menstrual migraine, and continued regularly for the duration of that high risk time.
Starting before the expected onset of menstrual migraine:
Level A evidence
- Naratriptan twice a day
- Zolmitriptan 2.5mg twice a day for 6 days
Level B evidence
- Naproxen 550mg, twice a day taken for 7-14 days, starting during the week before expected onset of menstruation.
Note: there is a risk of a withdrawal headache on the day after stopping.
As you can see, this means that some people might be using 5 to 7 days of naratriptan, which for anyone who is wanting to avoid medication overuse gets tricky if they have more than 3 other days of migraine the rest of the month as well. It is therefore worth noting that this strategy is for a very specific subgroup with severe menstrual migraine.
2) Continuous low-dose estrogen
The second, and probably the most useful thing to do if there are no contraindications, is to use a continuous low-dose estrogen combination pill to suppress ovarian function and the estrogen changes.
International Classification Of Headache Disorders Iii
A1.1.1 Pure menstrual migraine without aura
A. Attacks, in a menstruating woman, fulfilling criteria for 1.1 Migraine without aura and criterion B below B. Occurring exclusively on day 1 ± 2 of menstruation in at least two out of three menstrual cycles and at no other times of the cycle
A1.1.2 Menstrually related migraine without aura
A. Attacks, in a menstruating woman, fulfilling criteria for 1.1 Migraine without aura and criterion B below B. Occurring on day 1 ± 2 of menstruation in at least two out of three menstrual cycles, and additionally at other times of the cycle
A220.127.116.11 Pure menstrual migraine with aura
A. Attacks, in a menstruating woman, fulfilling criteria for 1.2 Migraine with aura and criterion B below B. Occurring exclusively on day 1 ± 2 of menstruation in at least two out of three menstrual cycles and at no other times of the cycle
A18.104.22.168 Menstrually related migraine with aura
A. Attacks, in a menstruating woman, fulfilling criteria for 1.2 Migraine with aura and criterion B below B. Occurring on day 1 ± 2 of menstruation in at least two out of three menstrual cycles, and additionally at other times of the cycle
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My Experience With Hormonal Migraines
Its been years now that I am off all the hormones. I had been on them for over 10 years. My migraines remained at 20 days per month until menopause recently. So basically nothing I tried worked.
My experience with progesterone cream and hormonal migraines is that it’s effective in the short-term but not long-term nor does it have lasting results. It is NOT a cure! But it might help you reduce frequency and severity.
ANY gain is good.
I highly recommend getting tested every couple of years, if you choose to have bio-identical hormone support, as at certain ages our hormones change yet again.
What Is A Migraine Aura
A migraine aura is a series of symptoms that happen before the migraine head pain begins.
The aura phase is after the prodrome phase of the 4 phases of a migraine.
The 4 phases of a migraine go:
Prodrome => Aura => Head Pain Attack => Postdrome
A migraine aura can come with a number of symptoms including:
Seeing zigzags or squiggly lines
The migraine aura is a sign that a migraine has begun and the body is now going into protective mode.
The body will actually use a migraine to protect it from damage that is being done to the brain.
Starting a migraine is the bodys way of revving up the system and increasing the flow of blood and delivery of nutrients to the brain.
See the video below for a quick representation of a migraine aura.
It also causes us to stop what we are doing, in case what we are doing is causing the damage to the brain.
We want to support this process by increasing the available nutrients in our body, stopping what we are doing that may be causing damage to brain cells and giving our body and brain-specific tools to heal the damage.
Also see our incredible herbal drink for migraines and headaches here.
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Supplement For The Brain
Migraines are a long time in the making.
Usually, it is just a big life trigger that puts our body over the edge and into regular migraines.
Some common straws that break the camels back are:
Illnesses and infections
Because it takes so long to build up to creating the migraine brain and we are often unaware until its too late, it can take more than just dietary and lifestyle changes to reverse the brains fragility.
This is where getting a high quality holistic healthcare practitioner like myself, NUCCA chiropractors, CHEK practitioners, naturopaths, functional medicine practitioners etc can make a world of difference.
But we can boost the brains functioning ourselves if we just know where to look.
This review suggests that magnesium should be tried in every migraine patient because as much as half of all migraine patients may be magnesium deficient.
This placebo controlled study of vitamin B2 riboflavin found that it significantly decreased frequency and duration of migraines.
This study found that:
The results from this study indicate that folate intake in the form of FA may influence migraine frequency in female MA sufferers.
This study found that pyridoxine supplementation:
Led to a significant decrease in headache severity and duration of migraine with aura attacks compared to placebo
So magnesium as well as vitamins B2, B6 and B9 have all been found to be effective in some studys and many including migraine with aura.
How The Menstrual Cycle Can Cause Migraine
Women who experience menstrual migraine may be sensitive to hormonal fluctuations experienced just prior to the onset of menstruation. Just before menstruation there is a natural drop in progesterone levels.
The two important females hormones involved are progesterone and estrogen.
Progesterone is a natural steroid hormone involved in the female menstrual cycle that stimulates the uterus to prepare for pregnancy. It is a naturally occurring hormone in the female body that helps a healthy female function normally.
Estrogens or oestrogens , are a group of compounds that are important in the menstrual and reproductive cycles. They are also naturally occurring steroid hormones in women that promote the development and maintenance of female features of the body.
It is important to note that estrogens are used as part of some oral contraceptives and in estrogen replacement therapy for some postmenopausal women.
Throughout the natural menstrual cycle the levels of these hormones fluctuate. During the cycle, the levels of progesterone and estrogens also change in relation to each other. See the image below for how these levels change throughout the cycle.
These fluctuations are normal and part of being a healthy and fertile woman.
Several research studies confirm that migraine is significantly more likely to occur in association with falling estrogen in the late luteal/early follicular phase of the menstrual cycle.
Is estrogen withdrawal the sole trigger for menstrual migraine?
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What Is A Period Headache
Everyone experiences a headache now and then. There are many known causes of headaches, ranging from dietary triggers, genetics, and even seasonal changes. Many women, though, experience chronic headaches during their periods that are caused by the fluctuating hormone levels in the body. These chronic headaches caused due to hormonal fluctuations are also known as period migraine or period headache. It is not necessary that a woman gets a headache during the period only. It is also possible for many women to experience an ovulation headache, which is also caused by varying levels of hormones in the body during ovulation.
It is estimated that over 50 percent of all women suffer from menstrual migraines. This means that these women experience a chronic headache during the period, and at other times of the month, during which there are hormonal fluctuations, such as ovulation. Migraine during a period is usually accompanied by more severe symptoms and is also more challenging to treat. A period migraine is also likely to reoccur despite being on preventive medications for migraines. There are many ways to treat and even prevent period migraine attacks. In order to understand how to prevent these hormonal headaches, it is first necessary to understand the cause behind period migraines.