From ayurveda perspective, migraine headaches are due to a disorder in tridosha - the mind-body constitution. Although it is possible to get headaches from disorders in vata, pitta, or kapha, migraines frequently occur when systemic pitta moves into the cardiovascular system, circulates, and affects the blood vessels around the brain. The blood vessels dilate due to the hot, sharp quality of pitta. This, in turn, creates pressure on the nerves, resulting in migraines. Pitta disorders are characterized by the red complexion and eyes, light sensitivity, burning sensation, anger, irritability, and nose bleeds. Liver and blood toxicity are often associated with these symptoms.
So, the treatment involves following the recommendations for pitta pacifying foods, herbs and lifestyle.
Avoid hot, spicy foods, fermented foods, and sour or citrus fruits. A pitta-soothing diet is effective both for migraine relief and as a preventive measure.
If you are one of those individuals who get migraines at midday, which then subside later in the evening, there is a preventive approach available from ayurveda. It is simple, but effective. (Recommended by Vasant Lad, an ayurvedia doctor.)
First thing in the morning, take 1 ripe banana. Peel it, chop it into pieces, and add 1 teaspoon warm ghee, 1 teaspoon date sugar, and a pinch of cardamom on top. This is delicious, and it will help to reduce pitta and prevent a headache from arising.
The following herbal compound is beneficial in managing migraine.
Prepare this mixture, and take 1/2 teaspoon twice a day, morning and evening, after breakfast and dinner, with a little lukewarm water. This formula is designed to pacify the aggravated pitta and help relieve migraine headaches.
Purgatives (such as aloe vera gel, rhubarb, and fennel), liver cleansers (such as bhamiamalaki and brahmi), sandalwood oil on the third eye, temples, heart, and under the nose, medicated oils or ghee, using gudachi, bala, and ashwagandha; fomentation, and saturating snuff are also advised.
Long-term healing includes chyavan prash, brahmi, and ashwagandha.
Avoid Direct Sun.
Because migraine headaches are predominantly a pitta disorder, they are affected by the hot sun. When the sun rises, its hot, sharp, penetrating rays increase pitta in the cardiovascular system and cause the dilation of the blood vessels in the brain, which results in the painful headaches. So avoid direct exposure to the sun. If you have to go out, use an umbrella or wear a hat or other protection from the sun.
Walks in the full moon and by water; and flower gardening reduce Pitta causes of migraines.
Soothing Nose Drops.
Once a headache has developed, putting about 5 drops of warm brahmi ghee in each nostril will help relieve the pain.
Shiro dhara (hot oil head massage) is also beneficial.
Recommended Yoga Postures.
Moon Salutation is especially good for migraines. Yoga postures such as the Hidden Lotus, Boat pose, Bow pose, Spinal Twist, Palm Tree pose, and Standing on the Toes are also good to combat migraines.
A Cooling Pranayama.
Do a cooling breathing exercise such as shitali. To do it, curl your tongue into a tube. Inhale slowly through the curled tongue, swallow, and then exhale normally through the nose, keeping the mouth closed. You will feet the incoming air cool your saliva, your tongue, and the oral mucous membranes.
This breathing exercise will lower the body temperature, and make the saliva cool. It also helps to quench thirst, and improves digestion, absorption, and assimilation.
If you can't curl your tongue into a tube, an alternative way to perform shitali is with your teeth lightly clenched together and your tongue pressed up against the teeth. The air is then inhaled through the teeth.
Some people feel pain when coot air is drawn through the teeth; keeping your tongue against your teeth will provide warmth and prevent this discomfort.
A Healing Yawn.
When you have a migraine, gently squeeze your earlobes, pulling the ear down, and do the act of yawning. This will relieve the pressure on the blood vessels and help to pacify the headache.
Migraines from Vata Imbalance:
As mentioned migraines can also originate due to imbalance in vata dosha. The symptoms of vata imbalance are: anxiety, depression, dry skin, constipation, and extreme pain. The recommended treatment is: triphata as a purgative, jatamanshi, brahmi, and rest. Shiro dhara (hot oil head massage) is also recommended.
Migraines from Kapha Imbalance:
This condition is characterized by dull headache, heaviness, fatigue, nausea, white or clear phlegm, vomiting, and excess salivation. Respiratory disorders are often associated with these symptoms. The recommended treatment is: trikatu, brahmi, tulsi tea, inhaling eucalyptus oil, vomiting, exercise, nasal snuff of ginger or pepper. Shiro dhara (hot oil head massage) is also recommended.
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