Migraine is an ancient and formidable malady. It bothered such distinguished persons as Caesar and Freud. It has assumed alarming proportions under modem conditions of living and is now believed to afflict about 10 per cent of the world`s population.
Migraine can be defined as a paroxysmal affection, accompanied by severe headache, generally on one side of the head and associated with disorders of the digestion, the liver and the vision. It usually occurs when a person is under great mental tension or has suddenly got over that state.
Migraine is also known as "sick headache" because nausea and vomiting occasionally accompany the excruciating pain, which lasts for as long as three days. Migraine usually gives warning before it strikes: black spots or a brilliant zig-zag line appear before the eyes or the patient has blurring of vision or has part of his vision blanked out. When the headache occurs, the patient may feel tingling, numbness, or weakness in an arm or leg.
Migraine sufferers have what is known as a "migrainous personality". They are compulsive workers and perfectionists, who feel that they have to do everything right away. When they complete a task, they are suddenly let down from a state of temporary tension to a feeling of utmost relief. Then comes the migraine. It is a purely physiological process. The head and neck muscles, reacting to continuous stress, become over-worked. The tightened muscles squeeze the arteries and reduce blood flow. When a person relaxes suddenly, the constricted muscles expand, stretching the walls of the blood-vessel. With every heart beat, the blood being pushed through these vessels expands them further and causes incredible pain.
When a headache strikes, one should stay on one`s feet in the daytime and do simple chores which do not require too much concentration, or walk, move around and get some fresh air.
The best remedy to prevent headaches is to build up physical resistance through proper nutrition, exercise and constructive thinking. As a first step, the patient should undertake a short fast. During the fast, citrus fruit juices diluted with water may be taken six times daily. By taking the load off the digestion the patient will at once save nervous energy which can be utilised for more important purposes. The blood and lymph will also be relieved of a great burden. After a short fast, the diet should be fixed in such a way as to put the least possible strain on the digestion. Breakfast should consist of fruits, both fresh and dried. Lunch should consist largely of protein foods. Starchy foods such as whole wheat bread, cereals, rice, or potatoes should be taken at dinner along with raw salads. Spices, tomatoes, sour buttermilk and oily foodstuffs should be avoided. Drinking a glass of water (warm water in winter and cool water in summer) mixed with a teaspoonful of honey the first thing in the morning, is also a good remedy.
Water Treatment: There are certain water applications which help relieve headaches. Copious drinking of water can help, as do the cleansing enema with water temperature at 98.6F, the hot foot bath, a cold throat pack, frequent applications of towels wrung out from very hot water to the back of the neck, a cold compress at 40 to 60 F applied to the head and face or an alternate spinal compress. Hot fomentations over the abdorninal region just before retiring relieve headaches due to stomach and liver upsets.
Yogic kriyas like jalneti and kunjal, pranayamas like anuloma-viloma, shitali and sitkari and asanas such as uttanpadasana, sarvangasana, paschimottanasana, halasana and shavasana are useful in the treatment of headaches.