Alternative Migraine Treatments

  • scionguy

    Posts: 33

    Oct 30, 2009 9:54 AM GMT
    I have been dealing with severe migraines for over 6 years now and have worked with multiple neurologists / migraine specialists. I have also tried almost every FDA approved (and some "off-label") treatment regiments with little long term success. I have also done the elimination diet and avoid known triggers as much as possible. I exercise as regularly as possible and try to keep my sleeping pattern as consistent as possible.

    These attacks are so severe that there are times when I can barely get out of bed for several days, much less do stuff around the house, workout or enjoy time with my partner (who I have to say is a saint for sticking by my side in all of this). I can't take Triptans (Imitrex, Amerge, etc.) due to a high stroke risk from an earlier TIA. I really hate having to resort to narcotic pain meds, but as it currently stands it is about the only thing I can do to help make things somewhat bearable.

    I was wondering if anyone else has had a similar problem or if they know of a non-pharmaceutical means of keeping the pain, nausea and other symptoms in check. I have tried massage with little success, but maybe there is a specific type that works better than others. Acupuncture actually brought on attacks for me, but it may have been the practitioner. Not really sure what to look for there either.

    One of the few things I have found useful is peppermint essential oil to help reduce the nausea. Other than that, I am at a loss.

    As it currently stands, I would be happy if I could just get the severity to decrease and hopefully in time the frequency will subside as well.

    I thank you in advance for reading and welcome ANY suggestions or ideas.
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    Oct 30, 2009 2:26 PM GMT
    I feel your pain icon_biggrin.gif

    Maxalt works well for me

    As well, a daily magnesium pill seems to work

    Eating at regular times and avoiding stress seems to help a lot as well

    Also, once I feel one coming on- I don't wait for it to set in. I go for the pain meds immediately. Heading it off at the pass as it were
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    Oct 30, 2009 5:11 PM GMT
    ginger --> "food your miracle medicine" great book
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    Oct 30, 2009 5:22 PM GMT
    I was prescribed oxygen treatments (which I declined), verapamil as a preventative med (blocks calcium ion transfers in the brain) and a subcutaneous shot that my roommate has to drive into my leg at the onset.

    All that really seems to work is the verapamil which turns the migraines into pestering headaches for 30 minutes. Oxygen treatment works but I feel the results are skewed since it is over 30 minutes, sitting up, and one tends to dose off.

    To prevent them, I just try to NOT change my sleep patterns, I don't drink, and I don't look at a computer screen for more than 2 hours straight. I unfortunately know of no non-pharm treatments unless you go the homeopathic route.

    All my best (I literally feel for you here),
  • Celticmusl

    Posts: 4330

    Oct 30, 2009 5:34 PM GMT
    I understand where you are coming from as well. in 2006 I started getting severe migraines and I would have then daily or every other day. Within the last year they have decreased in occurrence substantially.

    When I had them I would take butternut bur and CoQ10 as well as magnesium and potassium. These herbals would not get rid of the migraines but seemed to decrease the number of episodes as well as the severity of the migraine. You have to take them daily as a preventative measure.
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    Oct 30, 2009 5:36 PM GMT
    extract of feverfew
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    Oct 30, 2009 6:45 PM GMT
    From your post, it is obvious that you know a lot about migraines and the various treatments.

    Yoga and biofeedback helps some individuals with migraines. There are lot of articles on the net about these two topics.

    Maxalt is a triptan so you would not be able to use this drug.

    Pinny mentioned oxygen therapy. Oxygen therapy has been used successfully to treat cluster headaches. Cluster headaches is a vascular headache that occurs in males that frequently smoke and use alcohol. Oxygen therapy may not work as well for migraines. Some neurologists do try oxygen therapy. One neurologist made a claim that 50% of his migraine patients responded to oxygen.

    Be careful with the narcotics. I had a friend that suffered from intractable headaches. He eventually became hooked on Demerol.

    You said that you had a TIA. The risk for a TIA is increased in individuals suffering from migraines with auras.

    This Mayo Clinic article discusses alternative treatments for migraines.

    Good luck
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    Oct 30, 2009 6:50 PM GMT
    mine stopped when I started practicing qigong (standing meditation).
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    Oct 30, 2009 8:19 PM GMT
    PA-C here.... suggestions that follow are just that... not medical advice ;-) and sorry... they're not 'alternative'.

    in my experience, migraines are most effectively treated with short, mid- and long-term therapies. not all migraines need all treatments and not all people respond to each treatment equally.

    1. short-term therapies are 'abortives' meant to stop the pain/process as quickly as possible. triptans are in this class, but since you can't take them, other 'pain meds' may be appropriate.... Fioricet with Codeine or other non-triptan abortives should be considered. take at first sign of onset.

    2. mid-term therapies involve treating a presumed inflammatory and vasodilatory process that is underway in almost all migraines. prednisone is good therapy for those tolerant of it. although it is a 'steroid', it gets a bad rap. taking a relatively small dose for less than 7 days doesn't typically require a taper or much coordination and reduces the inflammation that is likely contributing to the rapid onset of pain. this reduces the chance the headache will linger or recur in the mid-term.

    3. long-term therapies are typically reserved for those who have frequent migraines unresponsive to therapy. we successfully use beta-blockers as prophylactic therapy in those who are very frustrated with recurrent headaches. atenolol is a good choice as it can be taken once a day, although propanolol and nadolol are classically used as well.

    discuss these options and this approach with your physician. healthcare providers have strong opinions about migraines and whole conferences are devoted to the subject.
  • scionguy

    Posts: 33

    Nov 02, 2009 6:16 AM GMT
    Thank you all for your insights. I have been dealing with this condition for over 6 years now and it has progressively gotten worse. I have always been very proactive in my health care.

    I have used every Triptan (Maxalt, Amerge, Relpax, Imitrex, Zomig, etc) and can't use them anymore due to the stroke risk. As a side note,to anyone using the SQ ones (Imitrex StatDose) pinch the skin on your thigh and shoot into that, it hurts a lot less and makes it easier to give it to yourself (granted you still have to deal with the other side effects).

    I am on daily prophylactic meds and have failed them when it comes to long term effectiveness. Beta and Calcium Channel Blockers were the first ones and they had NO effect. Currently we are using Keppra (an anti-seizure medication) and Wellbutrin as prophylactic medications. I have also tried Topiramate, Gabapentin and Nortryptline in the past, but they quit working and had to be discontinued.

    I do take Magnesium, CoQ10 supplements, Vitamin D (supposedly people who suffer from chronic pain conditions have low levels in their systems) and other supplements, but currently am not having much change. I only started that a little over a month ago, so I know it can take up to 3 to actually have any effect. I have also been taking Green Super Food, which if nothing else has resulted in much better toxicity levels on my liver panels. I had not really heard much about Feverfew, but am more than willing to add that to the list and see how that works, so thank you for that one.

    The biggest reason I want to find natural treatments is that I don't want to become addicted or reliant on narcotics like so many of the others I know. I also don't like how they make me feel. Also, being allergic to Codeine makes the list of medications I could use limited. I have found that Xanax can help, but again, I don't like the idea of that kind of "rescue" medication.

    I do use biofeedback and meditation to help manage stress and have found it can help during mild attacks. Problem is that they are not really helpful for the bad attacks. I like the ideas of the additional meditative options, so I will be looking for a teacher ASAP.

    I have been using Botox for the last 3 years and find it works pretty well for about a month, but it can only be administered every 3 months. The theory is that is helps to paralyze the muscles and nerves involved and relieve some of the intercranial pressure. One option that has been thrown around is burning certain nerves, but I am not ready for something like that just yet.

    Thanks again to everyone who has shared their insights and I look forward to hearing anything else people have to share.

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    Nov 02, 2009 6:24 AM GMT
    I hate imitrex.
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    Nov 02, 2009 6:51 AM GMT
    I'm going to tell you my story with migraines and maybe it will give you some hope.

    I started getting migraines when I was 6 and by the time I was 10 a migraine meant hours of vomiting and paralysis down one side of body. By the time I was 20 I'd moved on from the anti-nausea drugs with pain killers to some anti-inflammatory for period-pain, starting with 3 tablets, but I was up to 5 tablets when the triptans came along.

    I used several different triptans, increasing the dosage until it got to the point where I just couldn't afford it any more, and then I tried something that I'd never tried before and that was mouth-soluble aspirin. My doctor said that anything up to 2000mg of aspirin was ok for a migraine treatment.

    As soon as the aura started, I would take 3 mouth-soluble aspirin, and it would abort the migraine. And it was $3 for 2 months worth of medication, and I could afford it.

    I'm 32 now, so I had a very long time with migraines, and two years ago - they just stopped. No Yoga, no change in the gym, no change in diet, not affected by sleeping patterns. I do believe that I learnt to handle stress better - not by doing a course, but by asking myself if worrying about shit was actually going to help.

    I'm fixed, I hope you can be fixed too.