If you suffer from migraines, you’re no stranger to that gnawing pain in your head. Rather than reaching for that over the counter analgesic, next time you get a migraine, think about the causes and culprits of it. A migraine is like a fire alarm. It is a signal that something is wrong, that there’s an underlying imbalance that needs correcting.
According to Ayurveda, there are two types of migraines. The first type of migraine accounts for excess Vata in the system. This tends to happen as the weather turns cold and dry. Some of the reasons include: increase in cold temperature, dry, and rainy season; intensity increases due to exertion, stress, late nights, insufficient sleep, worry, sadness, hunger, fear and trauma.
Symptoms include: throbbing pain, unable to move head without feeling the unbearable pain.
Remedies include: Hot oil massage; eat vata reducing and nutritive diet like rice, wheat, sesame, warm milk, butter, ghee, onion, sweet fruits, coriander, asafoetida, cumin, cardamom, garlic, saffron, goat meat, jaggery, and green gram, (also known as mung beans), and rice. In general, your food should be warm and unctuous. For example, people who are dominated by Vata dosha can find plain steamed vegetables too drying. They will feel better when their vegetables and lentils are cooked with a healthy fat such as ghee or olive oil. Further, to keep Vata balanced, include light squashes in your diet. Take fibrous foods. Eating pomegranate soothes Vata, too.
Avoid: Cold and dry weather as well as emotions that increases vata.
Ayurvedic Remedies include: Take 1 tsp castor oil at bedtime with warm water; massage your head with warm oil or have shirodhara or get a panchakarma treatment.
The second type of migraine is due to excess Pitta. Your pitta can get irritated by too many deadlines, rushed meals, being a perfectionist, irritations and people who aggravate you. Some get migraine headaches when in the bright sun, hot weather, bright light or heat. Another contributing factor is disturbed digestion.
Symptoms include: Migraine increases in the afternoon. The head feels very hot and burns, and headaches increases with acidity.
Reasons include: Excessive exposure to sun and heat, working near fire and heat, hot weather, too much spicy and fermented foods (which increase pitta), too many antibiotics and drugs, and hypertension.
Ayurvedic Remedies include: Follow a Pitta-pacifying diet. Favor sweet, bitter, astringent, cool, heavy and dry foods. Reduce or avoid foods that are pungent, sour, salty, hot, light and oily. Eat more sweet fruits and cooling spices like cumin, coriander, and fennel. In grains, eat rice, mung beans and millet.Don’t skip meals. Before bed, drink cool milk (after boiling) blended with a couple of dates. Don’t overwork. Take enough rest and leisure time. Avoid the hot sun and hot temperatures. Stay cool. If choosing a spa treatment consider a relaxing massage followed by a Thakradhara, a flow of a cooling herbal milky infusion over your forehead.
If you want a deeper consultation, find an Ayurvedic Specialist who can provide cooling herbs like guduchi, shatavari, yastimadhu.