Migraine is a many-headed monster, with symptoms ranging from tummyache to a strange emotional aura, from odd visual disturbances to the full-blown ‘classic’ one-sided headache. You can have it without knowing you’ve got it, or you can be felled by it every weekend.
If the symptoms are varied, the list of ‘causes’ is just as long. Vasoconstriction is the one that Feverfew works on. Eating cheese, chocolate and other tyrosine-rich foods is another one; having a period; strobe lights, oversleeping (or staying up late), not eating enough or at the right time, and of course, stress or the sudden let-down from stress. When you’ve got that many causes to choose from, it gets difficult to avoid them without giving up on life altogether.
Besides, a lot of people notice that they can get away with taking risks sometimes, and not at others; and there’s a clue in that. Migraine activates (or is activated by) a centre in the brain that’s very close to epilepsy. Just after an attack, you can often do whatever you like, and you’ll be fine; but over time the tension builds, like electricity before a thunderstorm, until the slightest trigger will set you off. And if your nervous system is that trigger-happy, it points to an underlying depletion, a lack of ‘ballast’ if you like, so that it fails to cope with stimuli that you wouldn’t even notice if you were stronger.
This is where the nourishing, stabilising qualities of herbs come into their own: not so much the symptomatic remedies like feverfew, but ‘feeders’ like Verbena officinalis, Withania somniferum or Stachys officinalis. They do calm anxiety, even out blood sugar, and help you sleep or deal better with stress, but at a deeper level they feed your nervous system, helping to loosen stress responses that have often been laid down in childhood. One of these is migraine; so if it doesn’t respond to symptomatic treatment, it’s worth digging deeper.


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