Young woman with headache

Ayurvedic Treatment for Migraine Headaches

A migraine is a form of headache seen commonly.  Migraine is more likely to attack women than men. The hereditary factor also plays a major role in the occurrence of migraine. The intense pain is caused by tightening of the head and neck muscles causing reduced blood flow.

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Ayurveda and Migraine

Ayurveda considers migraine as the consequence of the vitiation of the three doshas called Tridoshas. The three doshas namely vata, pitta, and kapha constitute the body constitution of the person. Migraines are caused by all three doshas but pitta is found mainly responsible. Pitta affects the cardiovascular system and the blood vessels surrounding the brain causing them to dilate as it is hot in nature. This leads to increased pressure on the nerves which results in migraine.

The name given to Migraine in Ayurveda is ‘Ardhavabhedak’. Ayurvedic treatment generally involves a diet recommendation to pacify pitta, combined with herbal medicines and lifestyle changes.

The use of Triphala as a purgative is aimed at cleansing the digestive system.   The other treatments include Brahmi, Jatamansi herbs, and a hot oil head massage known as Shirodhara to calm the nerves.

Kapha-induced migraine is identified by fatigue, nausea, dull headache, vomiting, white or clear phlegm, excess salivation, or heaviness.  Often these symptoms are associated with respiratory disorders. Ayurveda uses Brahmi, Trikatu, and Tulsi tea for treatment, and inhaling eucalyptus oil is recommended in some cases. Forced vomiting, nasal snuff of ginger or pepper is sometimes used. The other recommendation is Shirodhara, the hot oil head massage.

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Migraine is caused by various factors like a weak constitution, low energy, overwork, allergy, lack of sleep, poor nutrition, an overdose of certain drugs, excessive drinking and smoking, etc.  Irregular eating habits and physical and emotional stress are other causes of migraine besides changes in weather or food.  Migraine is also a hereditary condition.

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Ayurveda Treatments for Migraine

1. Godanti Bhasma is an effective medication in powder form which is given to the patient in a dose of 1 gram three times a day with honey. The other oral medicines include Bhallatakasav, Tribhuvankriti, and Triphala Guggulu. Suvarna Sutashekhara is a medicine that is used commonly as it is both curative and preventive in nature.

2. Nadi Swedan is a local fomentation procedure using a decoction called Nirgundi. Medicated oil is applied on the forehead and around the temples and a stream of the medicated stream is directed on these areas.

3. Shirovirechan is a procedure in which medicated oil drops called nasya is used as nasal drops to induce sneezing to remove congestion. Another method called Avapidak nasya uses a paste made from herbs to be applied in the nostrils.

4. Anu Taila is medicated oil that provides instant relief to chronic and acute migraine. This oil is inhaled to produce forced sneezing so that blockages in the nasal passages are removed and to soothe the sinuses. This relieves the heaviness in the head and mental strain and induces sound sleep. This medicated oil contains 26 medicinal herbs boiled in milk and sesame oil.

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5.  If constipation is present patients are advised to take one teaspoon of Triphala powder with hot milk. This is to ease the bowel movements.

6.  Shirobasti: This is a procedure involving a cap made of a special cylindrical cap that is fixed on the patient’s head and sealed and medicated oil is poured into it. This procedure is repeated at regular intervals.

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Ayurveda Recommendations

Avoid excess intake of hot and spicy foods, fermented foods, citrus, and sour foods. Take plenty of vegetable and fruit juices and avoid stress and strain. Avoid exposure to direct sunrays. Certain yoga poses and breathing exercises called Pranayama are helpful in curing Migraine.

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