Migraine: Ayurvedic Perspective
- Migraine is a rare and severe type of headache which is generally caused by excessive stimulation of blood vessels. Some of the common triggers of this unbearable headache include stress, indigestion, anger, consumption of salty and spicy foods, alcohol intake, tension, loud noises, skipping of meals, insomnia, and excessive exposure to sunlight.
- According to Ayurveda, The headache appears in half of the head it is called Ardhavabhedaka. Ardhavabheda-type (migraine) headache which results from a vitiation of one or all of the three doshas (biological energies) of the body — Vata, Pitta, and Kapha.
- Usually, Ayurvedic experts believe that Migraine is mostly caused by Vata-Pitta vitiation. The Vata part of the condition is mainly related to pain which gets lodged in the nervous system due to stress, weak digestion, or lack of regular routine. An untreated Vata imbalance can further lead to Pitta imbalance, which is linked to dilation of blood vessels, heat, and inflammation of the nerves, and sensitivity to the sun.
- The treatment of Migraine with Ayurveda is an effective alternative therapy for patients who are unable to get relief from conventional therapy or are hesitant to use allopathic medications. From the Ayurvedic perspective, the treatment of Migraine comprises a ‘holistic’ approach which involves dietary and lifestyle modifications, stress management through relaxation techniques, and the use of herbal formulations.
How Ayurveda can Help in Treating Migraine
Ayurveda is an ancient medication system which aims at creating a ‘balanced physiology’ in patients, for healing the body and the mind so that illness is treated in a natural manner.
The approach followed by Ayurvedic experts for managing Migraine typically includes four aspects, namely:
- Eliminating toxins from the body and improving the gut functions to clear ‘Ama’
- Balancing the Vata and Pitta Doshas and restoring ‘Ojas’
- Ensuring the proper circulation of blood in the brain
- Strengthening the nervous system with the help of herbal products.
Hence, according to Ayurveda, people suffering from Migraine headaches can benefit from natural treatment which can remove the root cause of the condition. Some of the treatment modalities in Ayurveda for Migraine treatment have been discussed below.
1. Changes in Diet
- The Ayurvedic treatment of Migraine necessitates some dietary changes that should be made by the patients. Since Migraine results from a Vata-Pitta imbalance, the diet to combat Migraine should be Vata-pacifying and Pitta-pacifying, including more fruits and vegetables, and grains like barley, white rice, wheat, and oats.
- For resolving Vata imbalance, the diet should specifically include more cooked vegetables, along with fruits like melons, dates, grapes, apricot, figs, peaches, and grains. For resolving Pitta imbalance, the diet should comprise sweet/bitter vegetables, and fruits like berries, cherries, pineapple, papaya, and apricot.
- Along with the dosha-pacifying diet, it is also important to avoid the foods which can trigger a Migraine attack. These foods commonly include heavy and difficult-to-digest foods such as butter, cheese, milk, chocolate, yogurt, eggs, red meat, leftovers, as well as frozen, processed, and packaged foods. The intake of these foods can cause digestive disturbances which can lead to Migraine headache.
- Overall, the diet for treating Migraine should essentially be a ‘lacto-vegetarian’ diet comprising freshly-cooked, whole, organic foods, light dairy products, pulses, nuts, and seeds.
2. Lifestyle Changes
For the treatment of Migraine through Ayurveda, it is important for patients to follow a healthy lifestyle. A regular ‘eat, work and sleep’ routine can reduce the frequency and severity of Migraine attacks. Hence, lifestyle medications to treat Migraine include the following aspects:
- The proper daily morning routine of bath and elimination to empty the bowels
- A rhythmic ‘sleep and wake up’ pattern
- Adherence to ‘healthy eating’ guidelines, with at least three hours’ gap between meals
- Management of Stress with yoga and meditation
- Regular daily exercise.
3. Use of Massage Oils and Balms
According to Ayurveda, a Migraine headache can also be relieved with applying balms and massage oils on the forehead and temples. The balm or massage oils for treating Migraine should include a mixture of herbal essential oils like peppermint, rosemary, lavender, and jasmine essential oils.
Besides balms and massage oils, the use of home-made herbal pastes can also be very effective in treating Migraine. One such paste can be prepared by mixing one-fourth teaspoon of nutmeg powder to some water and applying it to the forehead for half an hour before rinsing. Another useful, cooling paste can be made by mixing a small amount of sandalwood powder with water and applying it for around 40-45 minutes before rinsing.
4. Use of Beneficial Herbs
Ayurveda also recommends the use of some beneficial herbs for managing Migraine in a natural way. The herbs recommended as a treatment of Migraine have proven antioxidant, immunomodulator, antidepressant, hepatoprotective, and anxiolytic properties.
The most important herbs capable of relieving Migraine headaches are: Yastimadhu (Glycyrrhiza glabra), Amalaki (Emblica officinalis), Sariva (Hemidesmus indicus), Bala (Sida cardifolia), Kumari (Aloe vera), Mallika (Jasminum officinarum), Giloy (Tinospora cordifolia), Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri), Punarnava (Boerhavia diffusa), and Shankhapushpi (Convolvulus pluricaulis).
Along with the above-discussed treatments, Ayurvedic experts also sometimes offer some general tips for relief from Migraine headache. Some of these tips can be listed as follows:
- Increase the intake of water, drink boiled and cooled water with fennel seeds (Indian Sarsaparilla)
- Avoid hot, spicy foods, fermented foods, white flour products, white sugar, and sour/citrus fruits
- Avoid excessive sugar or salt, tea, caffeine, alcohol, refined foods, and animal products (meats and dairy)
- Avoid direct exposure to the sun
- Do not skip meals
- Drink ginger tea
- Put 2-3 drops of ghee in each nostril, or use Sesame Oil as a nasal drop
- Rub an ice pack on the temples.
Ayurveda can help in treating Migraine naturally, without any unwanted side-effects, as it involves the use of holistic therapies. Ayurvedic treatment of Migraine can be customized according to the needs of individual patients, based on the dosha imbalance. The personalized treatments for the patients can treat the root cause of the doshic imbalances in accordance with their unique body constitution. However, the Ayurvedic remedies explained above can be extremely beneficial and effective in alleviating Migraine headaches, it is still advisable to consult an expert Ayurveda practitioner in order to derive the best results from the remedies for the long term.
Dr. Vikram Chauhan (MD-Ayurvedic Medicine) is an Expert Ayurveda Consultant in Chandigarh (India). He has vast experience of herbs and their applied uses. He has successfully treated numerous patients suffering from various ailments, throughout the world. He is CEO and Founder of Krishna Herbal Company and Planet Ayurveda in Chandigarh, India. He researched age old formulas from ancient Ayurvedic text books to restore health and save human beings from the worst side-effects of chemical-based treatments.