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Migraine

The most severe form of headache is migraine. Symptoms include incapacitating, throbbing pain, usually on one side of the head, visual disturbances and occasionally nausea, vomiting or diarrhea.

A migraine is caused by alternating con striction and dilation of veins in the head and can be triggered by factors as diverse as hormonal changes, stress, overexertion, food intolerance, bright lights and loud noises. An attack can last from two hours to two days, or longer.

The conventional treatment for migraine is painkillers. Herbalism, homeopathy and reflexology are natural alternatives.

Herbalism
Feverfew is an established herbal remedy for reducing the frequency and intensity of migraine attacks. You can either drink it as an infusion or take it in tablet form.

Homeopathy
Spigelia For severe pain - usually on the left side of the face - and pain that is made worse by cigarette smoke and accompanied by watery eyes.

Sanguinaria For pain that spreads from the base of the skull to the right eye and is accompanied by hot flushes.

Kali bicbromicum For migraine preceded by visual disturbances.

Reflexology
Sensitive spots on your feet may point to the underlying cause of your migraine. A problem in the colon, for example, may cause headache and a reflexologist will treat the problem by massaging the area of your foot that corresponds to the colon.

ALSO

The warning: flashes of light, dizziness and nausea. The affliction: an intense, throbbing pain on one side of your head.

If you sense the warning stage, take any medicine you have and drink a cup of hot coffee (not decaffeinated).

When pain strikes, pour cold water over your head, take a cold shower or use an ice or cold pack.

Lie down in a dark, quiet place and imagine a beautiful scene. Listen to soothing music. (To develop a 'relaxation response,' do this for 30 minutes twice a week for 5 weeks, whether you have a headache or not.)

Give yourself (or ask someone to give you) a gentle scalp, neck and shoulder massage.

Prevention Try to discover and eliminate the cause of your migraines by keeping a diary. Common culprits are red wine, hot dogs, bacon, pork, salami, yeast, chocolate, cheese and cigarettes.

Maintain a routine: get up at the same time each day, eat regular meals and exercise daily.

Wear sunglasses in the sun and avoid looking directly at bright lights. See your doctor for preventive treatment if migraine is frequent or severe.