Recently, the International Headache Society published a study that found "overuse" of over the counter medicines as a major contributing factor to frequent migraine headache attacks.
"Overuse has less to do with how many pills you take to relieve a single headache than with how often you take them," explains Dr. Robert Kunkel, a headache specialist at the Cleveland Clinic Headache Center. "If you get more than two headaches a week and take pain pills for them, you're at risk."
Studies showed that pain relievers with caffeine, like Excedrin, were some of the worst culprits for exacerbating proclivity to migraines.
Traditional Chinese medicine has been around for nearly five thousand years, offering natural remedies for migraine sufferers. Things such as Chinese acupuncture, Chinese massage and herbal supplements can be much more enjoyable than popping an Excedrin or simply waiting it out.
It is often difficult to pin down exactly what causes a migraine because it varies from person to person. The basic idea, many Chinese doctors say, is that your body is telling you something is blocking your natural homeostasis. Ideally, rectifying this requires a combination of procedures, environmental shifts and a little bit of philosophical meandering.
Chinese acupuncture involves inserting thin, disposable needles into several pressure or "acupuncture points" to release natural endorphins, improve circulation and encourage the body's natural defenses. One reason why the procedure works for migraine headache sufferers is that it diverts blood flow from the brain and to other parts of the body.
Needles may sound horrifying at first, but the needles are not inserted too deep, so you will probably not even feel them. Some patients report that they felt a dull ache around the needles the first session, and doctors say that this is because the body is in a state of discordance. However, the healthier the lifestyle they lead, the less they feel over time. "I know I'm cured when the needles just go right in and come out, without me realizing, and I walk out of the clinic floating on air," said Matt, an acupuncture patient from Rochester, New York.
Another natural way to prevent a migraine headache is to simply examine your eating habits. Are you starving yourself from morning until afternoon? Try munching on smaller meals every few hours throughout the day and be sure you are getting the vitamins you need. Doctors find that many chronic migraine sufferers have triggers of which they are not even aware. Your breakfast may have tasted excellent, but it could lead to a migraine if you have food allergies! Common triggers include cashews, milk, wheat, barley, eggs, soy, almonds, fish and oranges, so check with your doctor to get an allergy test to see what your body can and cannot handle.