Headaches and Migraines
The Answers are in the Neck, Stress, and Circulation
How has your head been feeling? The brain is an incredibly complex, sensitive, and often overworked part of the body. It can be affected by heat, toxins, hormones, lack of fluid, pressure, and many other factors. In fact, headaches are one of the most common health problems, with almost 90% of the population experiencing them occasionally. Symptoms can range from mild discomfort, to feeling like someone is putting an axe through your skull, and having to lock yourself in a dark room all day.
There are over 200 different causes of headaches, however over 85% of the cases that we see at the clinic involve stress and/ or neck problems. Other causes can include dehydration, toxic overload, high blood pressure, sinus, inflammation, medications, and food sensitivities. Most of the time a good massage will get rid of the headache and treat the neck problem or stress that caused it. However, if this doesn’t help, if they keep coming back, or if you suspect something else may be causing your headaches, please book in for a free Health Assessment at our clinic.
Some migraines can be completely debilitating. They usually show up as an intense, throbbing or pounding pain around one temple. (Sometimes the pain is located in the forehead, around the eye, or at the back of the head.) Some people experience visual disturbances before an attack, known as an ‘aura’. When the migraine occurs, the sufferer may also experience nausea, vomiting, or sensitivity to light and sound, so they may want to lie in a quiet, dark room during an attack. A typical migraine lasts between 4 and 72 hours.
A migraine is caused by the vasodilation (expansion of blood vessels) in the brain. The enlargement of these blood vessels stretches the nerves that coil around them, and causes the nerves to release chemicals. These chemicals cause inflammation, pain, and further enlargement of the artery, making the pain even worse.
As with any condition, it is important to treat what is causing the problem.
- Identify any triggers for the migraines. Many of our migraine clients were found to have had food sensitivities. Exposure to chemicals (especially perfumes or petrol smells), alcohol, flashing lights, MSG, and many other factors can also trigger migraines.
- Treat the way the body responds to these triggers. For example, food intolerance testing and treatments may be necessary for some people. If chemicals, alcohol, smells, caffeine or smoking are triggers, a thorough detox (especially of the liver) is needed.
- Stress is normally an important factor, and most migraine sufferers will have an excess of adrenaline in their system, causing various muscles to be too tight. Massage, acupuncture, or specific natural supplements can be used to calm and relax the nervous system.
- Check and treat the circulation to the head and brain. As migraines are caused by swollen blood vessels in the brain, it is crucial to check the circulation in the head. We carefully look for
- any puffy or ‘spongy’ areas at the top of the head
- any ‘leathery’ feeling in the skin at the back of the neck
- tightness on the side of the neck, just above the hollow above the collar bone
- any puffy, swollen feeling at the base of the back of the skull
- tiny, congested blood vessels at the back of the ears
Any of these can indicate pressure in the blood vessels inside the head. This can be caused by a) the constriction of the arteries to the head, or b) a build-up inside the walls of the blood vessels.
a) With migraines (and most headaches) there is virtually always a problem with the muscles or alignment of the neck. Usually the top vertebrae in the neck is twisted, which ‘kinks’ the Basilar artery into the back of the head. The compression of the artery increases the pressure in the blood vessels, causing them to expand and press on the nerves in the brain. Because the Basilar artery supplies blood to the vision area of the brain, this can also cause the visual disturbances many people get with a migraine.
(Illustration from ‘Clinical Strategies’ by Kiiko Matsumoto and David Euler.)
Japanese acupuncture can be used to correct the alignment of this vertebrae long-term, instead of just temporarily.
b) It is also important to make sure that there is no build-up on the walls of the blood vessels (arteriosclerosis), such as cholesterol or calcium deposits. (Japanese acupuncture treatments and various herbs can be used to improve the blood flow in these cases.)
Improving the blood flow to and in the head is particularly important for women who get headaches or migraines before their period. There is a natural increase in the volume of blood in a woman’s body prior to her period, which puts extra pressure on any areas in her body where the blood flow is restricted.
Because this circulation disturbance causes less oxygen and nutrients to the brain, and a build-up of toxins in the head, the person may also experience anxiety, depression, or foggy thinking.
(Migraines are caused by pressure in the head, and a common migraine personality type is a very responsible person who put too much pressure on themselves.)
If you suffer from regular headaches or from migraines, we can help. A Comprehensive Health Assessment will uncover what is causing the problem, and how it can be fixed. (The normal value of an Assessment is $120, but we are offering them free of charge for a limited period.) To find out how good you can really feel, please call us on 3376 6911, and ask for your free 1 hour Health Assessment soon.