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Headache

Healing Migraines Naturally

13 years, 1 month ago

740  0
Posted on Jun 01, 2005, 10 a.m. By Bill Freeman

About 28 million people suffer from migraines in the United States. It breaks down to about 18 percent of women and about 6 percent of men. Migraines are characterized by a recurrent pain-pattern and a pattern of associated symptoms. The pain is usually on one side of the head, is throbbing or pulsing, and is usually not extremely severe. Routine activities like walking or climbing stairs worsens the pain.

About 28 million people suffer from migraines in the United States. It breaks down to about 18 percent of women and about 6 percent of men. Migraines are characterized by a recurrent pain-pattern and a pattern of associated symptoms. The pain is usually on one side of the head, is throbbing or pulsing, and is usually not extremely severe. Routine activities like walking or climbing stairs worsens the pain. Sometimes, people experience a visual display called an aura, where they see spots of light, or zigzag lines on one side of their visual world. That can be accompanied by nausea, or by unusual sensitivity to light or sound.

TREATMENT: Migraine treatment is divided into two categories. The first is acute treatment, which people take when they have an attack to relieve pain and restore their ability to function. The second is preventive treatment, which those with frequent migraines take to prevent attacks.

The most widely used drugs used for migraine prevention are beta-blockers, which were developed for treating high blood pressure; tricyclic antidepressants; and a category of drugs called neuromodulators.

According to Richard Lipton, M.D., a neurologist at the Montefiore Medical Center in New York, NY, the available preventive treatments don't work perfectly. He says a preventive treatment that decreases headache frequency by about 50 percent is considered successful. He says, "If someone has four migraine days a month and they go down to two days a month, that would be a good result, though occasionally, people do become completely free of headache."

BUTTERBUR: An extract of a plant root called butterbur has been used as folk remedy for migraines for hundreds of years. It is found widely in Europe -- especially Germany. Butterbur's extract is sold in health food stores and is available on the Internet. The root is known to have an anti-inflammatory action, and migraines are associated with changes in the brain that produce inflammation of blood vessels. It is believed the butterbur plant could help migraines through an anti-inflammatory mechanism that reduces pain by preventing blood vessels in the head from becoming inflamed.

THE STUDY: Dr. Lipton conducted a study involving an extract of butterbur called Petadolex. He wanted to determine if people suffering from migraines more than three or four times a month could experience fewer headaches by taking the extract daily. In the study, participants were treated with butterbur for four months and given a 75-milligram pill of Petadolex twice a day. Results showed 70 percent of study participants achieved researchers' "standard of success," defined by a 50-percent or greater reduction in headache frequency. Dr. Lipton says side effects were mild and uncommon. He says the only common side effect in the study was burping, which happened in about 10 percent of patients.

Dr. Lipton says other studies have examined butterbur for migraine treatment. One study involved lower doses than Dr. Lipton's study and showed positive results. He says another study showed butterbur could be effective for children with few side effects.

DOC ADVICE: Dr. Lipton says, "Before you take a medicine to prevent migraines, consumers should be pretty sure that they have migraines, and the best way to ensure that you have migraines is to get a diagnosis from a healthcare professional. Once a migraine is diagnosed, [butterbur extract] is intended as a self-treatment. It is available over-the-counter, without a prescription, and it's a treatment that many people initiate on their own. For people who are taking prescription medications, it is worth checking with a doctor, though, before starting a natural product, and it's important to remember that even though it is a natural product, it is a real drug, with real benefits but also the potential for real interactions with other medications."



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