A news that a large share of attention has been given the last week the FDA decision to approve Botox for the treatment of chronic migraine. This was good news for the estimated 12% of the U.S. population living with this debilitating form of headache. But as with all medications, symptom relief often comes at a price. The treatment itself requires 31 injections focused on seven specific points in the head and neck. In addition, a number of adverse events reported in relation to onabotulinumtoxin A. documented side effects include the possibility of blurred vision, difficulty breathing, difficulty swallowing, muscle cramps or weakness and neck pain. A recent interview with actress Dana Delany in Prevention magazine tells the story of her own negative experiences with cosmetic Botox resulting in a “huge hematoma” and subsequent muscle and nerve damage in the eye region. (1,2)
I hope that the thousands of migraine sufferers who will likely try Botox in the coming years will benefit and to prevent any of the previously mentioned hazards. But many factors, including costs and personal preferences will make this pharmaceutical option is not suitable for many consumer healthcare. For them, I would like some up-to-date information on a number of natural alternatives for presenting recurrent migraine.
Acupuncture - A publication in the June 2010 issue of The Journal of Neurological Sciences describes the effectiveness of ear acupuncture in the management of unilateral migraine pain. Inserting needles into points on the registration of the antero-internal part of the antitragus and the front part of the ear resulted in symptom reduction of up to 300%. Other types of acupuncture also seem to help migraine sufferers. However, the benefits are inconsistent. To this problem, Chinese researchers have begun offering detailed guidance on how the success of treatment to increase. A recent evaluation of the authors conclude that “the optimal frequency of treatment twice a week with a week of rest between the first 10 and last 10 sessions. In addition, the duration of a treatment session should be 30 minutes, while it is recommended to use about 20 needles in one session. The total duration of an acupuncture treatment at least 10 weeks. ” (3,4,5)
Biofeedback and Neurofeedback - Various forms of biofeedback, including EEG, neurobiofeedback, thermal warming hand and “traditional peripheral” biofeedback have shown that the benefits in the arena of non-pharmacological treatment of migraine. A recent study of 37 migraine patients showed that biofeedback reduced headache frequency by 50% or more in 70% of those treated. Moreover, benefits were increased, on average, for 14.5 months after biofeedback treatment stopped. Not all studies agree that biofeedback is more effective than other forms of stress management. However, some studies confirm that biofeedback not only reduces headache symptoms, but can also be a number of the underlying psychological triggers, such as anxiety. (6,7,8)
Ginkolide B complex - Two recent Italian studies report that a mix of ginkgo biloba extract and select nutrients can significantly reduce frequency of migraine in children in a safe manner. Both the open-label trials took place over a period of 3 months and use of a regimen of “Ginkgolide B 80 mg, 20 mg coenzyme Q10, vitamin B2 1.6 mg, 300 mg and magnesium in the oral administration twice per day – in the morning and evening with meals. ” Not surprising that the young patients requires smaller amounts of analgesic medication during the use of Ginkgo-based dietary supplement. Previous experiments have identified plausible ways in which Ginkgolide B activity can relieve pain from exercise. What is now required that these carefully controlled studies comparing natural cure compared with a placebo. (9,10,11)
Biofeedback can reduce Migraine RelapseSource: Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine July 2010 vol. 77 (link)
There is hardly a shortage of alternative and complementary therapies are available for migraine relief. A series of scientific abstracts from June 2010 to offer the following list of possible options: dietary and lifestyle changes, herbs (feverfew and butterbur), nutritional supplements (alpha lipoic acid, coenzyme Q10, magnesium and riboflavin) and relaxation training. The majority of studies on natural remedies have investigated specific practices or supplements. But one of the more interesting studies to examine the late effects of a combined approach. The recorded Ayurvedic (traditional Indian) “drugs” along with a “regulated diet and lifestyle modifications, such as a minimum of 8 hours of sleep, 30-60 minutes in the morning or evening walk and refrain from smoking / drinking.” The conclusion of the 90 day surgery found that a complete disappearance of headache pain and other symptoms of migraine in 32.5% of the participants. Altogether a total of 70.5% of the study volunteers saw a marked decrease in migraine frequency and severity of the pain. (12,13,14,15)
There are several factors you should consider when selecting a therapeutic approach. Do you prefer to pop a daily pill or a procedure done periodically? Or would you consider again the effort to more substantial changes in lifestyle that can lead to better overall health and thereby improve your symptoms? There are also economic considerations. Your insurance may be wholly or partly related to a pharmaceutical approach to your “dis-ease” to address. But that is probably not the case if you opt for an alternative or complementary approaches, such as a food supplement or acupuncture. It is also important to remember that just as conventional medical treatments, alternatives with different price tags. By that I not only mean how much money they will be out of your budget. I think it is vital that all the benefits and costs of each option grant roads. Think in terms of effort, finances, possible side effects, durability and time considerations. I am convinced that artistic planning your own path to wellness is always thinking ahead in the end worth it.