13 July 2005

Help for migraine sufferers

Migraine is a complex issue that cannot be fully addressed via e-mail. I recommend that you visit a medical doctor trained in complementary or alternative medicine.

Migraine is a complex issue that cannot be fully addressed via e-mail. I recommend that you visit a medical doctor trained in complementary or alternative medicine. Contact the SA Complementary Medical Association (SACMA) for a practitioner near you - Tel (021) 531 5766.

Stress tips

Stress issues, as well as constant neck muscle spasm from sitting in front of a computer, or doing work where you spend long hours in one position, have to be addressed. A few simple tips could go a long way in alleviating headache and neck pain:

  • Take mini breaks;
  • Stretch your body and flex the neck muscles from time to time;
  • Make ergonomic adaptations such as changing the height of your chair, changing the distance between the desk and your chair and getting better back support.

There are many yoga positions that you can do at any time of day to alleviate muscle tension and feelings of anxiety and stress. Read one of the many books available on basic yoga techniques, or join a beginner's class. Biofeedback and relaxation techniques are very effective in the treatment and prevention of migraine headaches.

Try to avoid caffeine containing drinks (coffee, black tea, cola drinks and soft drinks), as well as chocolate, beer, wine and cheese, for three weeks. Cut these foods from your diet one at a time to see if their absence has a positive effect on your migraines.

Supplements and other treatments

An amino acid available from health shops, 5-hydroxy tryptophane (100-200mg) taken three times a day, is a very effective, natural way to prevent migraine headaches.

Calcium (400mg) and magnesium (200mg) supplements taken three times a day can also be suggested. Feverfew and ginger extracts can help prevent attacks. B-complex vitamins (25-50mg B1, 2, 3, 5, 6 taken three times a day), and essential fatty acids may be very useful.

Chiropractic manipulation might help for neck vertebrae misalignment, while acupuncture and trancutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) is useful in the treatment of migraine.

Dr Arien van der Merwe

Read more:
MSG does not cause headaches
Warm weather can trigger migraines
What are the common symptoms of a migraine?


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Headache expert

Dr Elliot Shevel is a South African migraine surgery pioneer and the founder and medical director of The Headache Clinic in Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town, South Africa. The Headache Clinic is a multidisciplinary practice dedicated to the diagnosis and treatment of Primary Headaches and Migraines. Dr Shevel is also the main author of all scientific publications generated by his team. He recently won a high level science debate in which he was able to prove that the current migraine diagnosis and classification is not based on data. Tertiary Education - Dr Shevel holds both Dental and Medical degrees, and practises as a specialist Maxillo-facial and Oral Surgeon. Follow the Headache Clinic on Twitter@HeadacheClinic.

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