Migraines in Women:
Some Possible Relief

What starts off like a light thud behind one eye, often leads to retreating into a dark room away from people and noise and utterly ruining the day.  Nausea flows over like a gentle breeze before rapidly growing into a gale-force wind that whips through the core of the body. The light thud grows at pace into a monstrous jackhammer attempting to crack the skull and the lightest squeak sends a piercing jab in the center of the forehead.  Sounds like hell on earth? Well to many women, this form of torture is a semi-regular monthly occurrence. This hell is the cursed Migraine headache.

According to the World Health Organization, one in seven adults suffers from migraines.  It will come as no surprise to many as we all know of sufferers, even if we are lucky enough not to have to brave through them ourselves.  However, what is surprising is that women suffer from migraines three times as often as men. Recent research has shown that women’s sex hormones and particularly estrogen have a hand to play in this.  A study earlier in the summer of 2018 suggested that hormones such as estrogen directly affect the cells around the trigeminal nerve which is intrinsically involved in migraine pathophysiology. In simple terms, our hormones sensitize the key ‘migraine-inflicting’ nerve to external triggers.   

When asked what causes our migraines, we could offer up an unsure but hefty list of possible suspects – from a lack of sleep, periods, under-eating, over-eating, work stress, life stress, computer screens and so on.  Going to your doctor can sometimes feel like a helpless task, as notes are aimlessly jotted down and another prescription of painkillers is signed off. Friends and colleagues may offer up a more comprehensive list of solutions that have ranged from acupuncture, yoga to meditation – all viable solutions to different people, the problem are that what works for one doesn’t always work for the rest.

Till a cure is actually discovered, we continue to explore and in some cases stumble into possible solutions that may work for some but sadly cannot be guaranteed for all.  In aid of providing some relief we have compiled a list of research-backed solutions that have shown some promise and may well be worth trying if you have not already:

Lack of Protein: We all know food is the source of our wellbeing and in turn can also be the cause of ailments if we mismanage our diet.  The New England Journal of Medicine published a study that showed those who have low blood sugar levels suffer from worse migraines. By substituting a high carb diet with a high protein diet (protein is key to stabilizing blood sugar levels) research has shown a significant decrease in migraines.

Magnesium: Migraines are caused when the blood vessels in the head are not dilating as much as they should be. Magnesium helps with that dilation, so consider taking a daily magnesium oxide supplement.

Exercise: When we exercise, the body release endorphins that are the body’s natural version of a painkiller. Further, the American Migraine Foundation explains that exercise reduces our stress levels and encourage healthy sleep patterns. Along with obesity, a lack of sleep and high-stress levels are leading triggers of migraines. For those of us that suffer from migraines, always hydrate heavily before and after exercise.

Boswellia: a moderate to large branching tree found in the dry hilly areas of India. When the tree trunk is tapped, a gummy oleoresin is exuded. A purified extract of this resin is used in modern herbal preparations. Promising early studies have shown this tree resin naturally lowers inflammation and in turn, helps ease chronic pain.