Migraine

Migraine is a type of headache that occurs as a throbbing pain in one side of the head. It is usually accompanied by nausea, vomiting, sound & light sensitivity. It manifests as attacks or episodes that last even up to many days. It also affects daily activities.

In some cases, individuals experience a phase of aura, that includes visual disturbances, flashes of light, & speaking difficulties. Lifestyle modifications along with proper medical intervention can bring better relief.

Migraine occurs through 4 stages in children, adults, or adolescents, it includes the prodroma stage, aura stage, attack stage & postdrome stage.

In the prodrome stage there are symptoms like constipation, mood swings, neck stiffness, frequent urination, cravings, yawning

In some people, the aura stage occurs either before a migraine attack or during a migraine. It is characterized by visual disturbances & other sensory disturbances. This stage may last up to 1 hour. Visual loss, numbness &tingling sensation also occurs

During the attack phase, the symptoms last for about 3 days but vary in every individual. The pain is usually on one side, sometimes shifting to both sides, nausea, vomiting, & visual sensitivity are the main symptoms.

In the postdrome stage, there is generalized fatigue &tiredness. The person feels exhausted & experiences pain in moving or turning the head.

Causes

The actual causes are unknown, however genetic as well as environmental factors contribute to the occurrence. Brain stem changes, neurotransmitters, & changes in other brain chemicals play a major role.

Triggers

Hormonal changes, especially the estrogen level fluctuations, premenstrual phase, menopausal phase & oral contraceptives make it worse. Alcoholic beverages, wine & coffee worsen migraines. Stress particularly at work is a contributing factor. Sensitive smell, sounds, bright lights, some food habits, changes in sleep patterns, & climatic changes also exacerbate migraine attacks.

Ayurveda perspective

Migraine is classified as Ardhavabhedaka, which means throbbing pain on one side of the head. It is classified under the 11 head diseases. It mainly occurs due to the vitiation of Vata & Vata-Kapha doshas. Due to improper food, excessive physical activity & stress, Vata gets vitiated along with Kapha. It causes Agni Mandya, affects the digestive fire, thus creates ama or toxins that accumulate in the body. These toxins obstruct the body’s channels. It reaches the head region & causes pain.

Treatment

It involves internal as well as external medical therapies by understanding the chronicity, constitution & strength of the patient.

Internal purification therapies include shodhana, elimination therapy & palliative therapy. The elimination therapy involves Vamana, Vasti, Nasya, & Virechana.

Nasya is the recommended internal therapy for migraines, Nasya with ksheerabala pacifies the Vata -Kapha doshas. The accumulated doshas in the upper segment of the body are eliminated through Nasya karma. This clears the channels & boosts the circulation to the upper body segment. Brahmi ghritam or warm ghee is used for the same.

Virechana in mild form is recommended. Internal oil therapy with herbs is advised,Eranda taila can be used. External oil massage using Narayana taila can be used. Shiro abhyanga or head massage is very effective to enable normal blood flow. Shiro Basti is also very effective. Also, an oil enema or anuvasana basti is indicated to pacify the vitiated Vata dosha. The emesis therapy helps to eliminate the accumulated toxins from the body channels. Classically cauterization or Agni karma & bloodletting therapy is indicated.

Yoga & pranayama

Shirshasana, Surya namaskara, Paschimottanasana are very effective in migraine attacks. Pranayama is very useful in regulating the flow of Vata. It helps to expel the excess mucous accumulated in the sinuses.

Ayurvedic treatment for Migraine:

Medicines

Vata -Kapha pacifying medicines are recommended for migraines. Varanadi kashayam, Asanadi gana kashayam, arogyavardhini vati, Abhayarishtam, dhanwantharam gulika are some of the popular formulations.