Why Black Cohosh Is A Great Natural Remedy For Your Menstrual Migraines
Black cohosh has an ancient history of use among Native American women for menstruation and menopausal health issues. Western research has yet to conclude if black cohosh is effective in the use of treating symptoms of menopause such as hot flashes and vaginal dryness. But there is evidence that black cohosh is effective in treating issues related to Premenstrual Syndrome .
It is the root of Black Cohosh that is used medicinally and it has been reported to regulate estrogen. At times, estrogen can overstimulate the tissue of the uterus, leading to pain and swelling. Black Cohosh counteracts this overstimulation by acting as an anti-inflammatory and an antispasmodic reducing pain, swelling, and cramping.
Because of its ability to even out estrogen levels, it can mitigate the drop in estrogen that triggers period migraines.
Drink Caffeinated Tea Or Coffee
Sipping on beverages that contain caffeine, such as tea or coffee, may provide relief when you are experiencing a headache.
Caffeine improves mood, increases alertness and constricts blood vessels, all of which can have a positive effect on headache symptoms .
It also helps increase the effectiveness of common medications used to treat headaches, such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen .
However, caffeine withdrawal has also been shown to cause headaches if a person regularly consumes large amounts of caffeine and suddenly stops.
Therefore, people who get frequent headaches should be mindful of their caffeine intake .
Certain herbs including feverfew and butterbur may reduce headache symptoms.
Feverfew is a flowering plant that has anti-inflammatory properties.
Some studies suggest that taking feverfew supplements in doses of 50150 mg per day may reduce headache frequency. However, other studies have failed to find a benefit .
Butterbur root comes from a perennial shrub native to Germany and, like feverfew, has anti-inflammatory effects.
Several studies have shown that taking butterbur extract in doses of 50150 mg reduces headache symptoms in both adults and children .
Feverfew is generally considered safe if taken in recommended amounts. However, butterbur should be treated with caution, as unpurified forms can cause liver damage, and the effects of its long-term use are unknown (
Foods containing them have been shown to trigger headaches in some people.
What Can I Do To Treat Headaches
If the above prevention methods don’t work and you develop a headache anyway, there are still ways to alleviate the symptoms.
Herbal medicines, such as chamomile tea, are simple ways to help alleviate a migraine. Some women also find over-the-counter pain medication – such as ibuprofen – helpful enough.
Women with severe migraines during menstruation can also talk to their doctors about stronger pain medications. However, these treatments are not for everyone, so it’s best to exhaust lifestyle changes and other less invasive methods before resorting to this.
If you are suffering from severe migraines due to menopause, treatments like hormone replacement therapy are an option, but you should talk to your doctor about the risks associated with this treatment.
If your headaches are caused by your contraceptive pill, talk to your doctor about changing dosages or switching pills.
To learn more about migraines, follow the link.
- Better Health Channel. . Headaches and Hormones. Retrieved July 15, 2015, from http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Headache_and_hormones?open
- National Health Service UK. . Hormone Headaches. Retrieved July 15, 2015, from http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/headaches/Pages/Hormonalheadaches.aspx
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Natural Treatment Of Menstrual Migraines
According to a Lancet review paper, menstrual migraines are more severe than migraines at other times of the cycle.
Possible drivers of menstrual migraines include estrogen withdrawal at the end of the cycle plus an estrogen-dependent release of prostaglandins and histamine. Body-identical progesterone may help to shelter the brain from estrogen withdrawal and reduce the frequency and intensity of menstrual migraines.
What Triggers Migraines In Women
In addition to a drop in estrogen, birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy for menopause can change the frequency or severity of migraines. If you notice your migraine headache getting worse after starting one of these medications, it may be worthwhile to ask your healthcare provider for a medication that contains a lower dose of estrogen, or ask for a change from an interrupted dosing regimen to a continuous one.
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Thoughts On Natural Treatment Of Menstrual Migraines
Hi Lara,I have tried prometrium 100mg over two cycles, taken in the two weeks leading into the period. Also taking mag/taur and iron. I had the severest migraine Id ever had so I stopped the prometrium, and the severity now fluctuates, but they seem to be getting worse over all. Im 39. Do you have any suggestions for altering the dose of prometrium or taking it during a different phase of the cycle? Thanks, Jess
Hi Lara. I still suffer from regular migraines even though I am around 7 years post menopause. At a guess they come around every 3 weeks and last around 3-5 days I do take bioidentical estrogen and progesterone in a hormonal troche . Would appreciate your insight. I have also Hashimotos and recently diagnosed sjogrens. Thanks Barb Lees
Hi Lara! After my pregnancy and the return of my menstrual cycle, I have migraines during ovulation time. Any experiences or recommendations? Are these kind of migraines also menstrual migraines with the same recommendations for supplements as written in your blog? Before my pregnancy I used to have migraines when my period started. Thank you for advice!
I´m still struggling with headaches on between days 4 to 6. I take progesterone and fish oil to successfully control the other migranes at other times.
These migranes are debilitating. I´m not iron deficient. Could it be something to do with a rise in FSH at this time? I´m 50.
Thanks to anyone who can contribute.
Ok thank you, that sounds good. I will!
Acupressure May Help Relieve Tense Muscles
Acupressure is used in traditional Chinese medicine and can improve tightness and tension in the neck and shoulder muscles, which can sometimes trigger or worsen a migraine attack or headache.
According to UCLA Integrative Medicine, acupressure sends a signal to the body to turn on self-healing or regulatory mechanisms. Its performed by applying firm pressure to stimulate each pressure point. You can do acupressure to yourself or have someone else do it.
A few common pressure points for treating headache include:
- Gallbladder 20 , also called feng chi, is located by feeling the mastoid bone and following the groove back to where your neck muscles connect to the skull.
- Triple Energizer 3, or zhong zhu, is found in the groove formed by the tendons of the fourth and fifth fingers, behind the knuckles
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When To Seek Medical Help:
You need to seek medical help from a healthcare professional if you experience any of these symptoms along with your headache.
- Continuous vomiting
- A severe or sudden headache
- Neck stiffness, vomiting and light hurts your eyes
- Drowsiness or confusion
Contact your healthcare provider if you are getting headaches regularly.2
You must not rely on home remedies alone to treat headaches. Instead, you should consult a qualified doctor for advice on your condition if the symptoms do not improve with home remedies.
When Do Hormonal Headaches Hit
Hormonal headaches often hit women who are sensitive to hormonal variability just before the onset of menses, when progesterone levels drop naturally. But these headaches can happen at other times too. They can happen at ovulation, when there is a rise in estrogen or other hormones, and even during menses, when estrogen and progesterone have hit their lowest point.
In perimenopause or at menopause, these hormonal headaches can begin abruptly, or be hard to predict, due to big shifts in a womans hormones. Thats why women who have never had a headache problem can suddenly find themselves battling head pain on a regular basis. One woman I know had debilitating headaches at menarche, but then went forty years with no issues. Then her headaches came back full force during her initial year of menopause. Every woman is unique your body will tell you best when you need to seek natural treatment or prevention methods.
One of the first steps in dealing with headache pain is to pay close attention to when the pain begins. It definitely helps to better tune into the signals your body is sending you. I suggest using a journal to help you find triggers and patterns. If you are still menstruating, its helpful to also track the days of your period. All of this information can give you a better indication of how your own hormones rise and fall each month, and how they might connect to your headache pain.
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Vitamin B12 Levels May Be Associated With Migraine Risk
Evidence links low levels of vitamin B12 with migraine. A study published in October 2019 in the journal Headache compared vitamin B12 levels in 70 people with migraine and 70 healthy people of similar demographics. Investigators found that serum levels of B12 were significantly lower in people with migraine compared with participants without migraine. People with the lowest levels of the vitamin were five times more likely to have migraine than those with the highest levels of B12.
Researchers have also tested the effects of daily vitamin supplements containing folic acid , vitamin B6, and vitamin B12 on migraine. In a study published in 2016 in the Journal of Headache and Pain, it was found that 1 milligram of folic acid in combination with vitamin B6 and B12 was less effective in reducing symptoms associated with migraine compared with a dose previously tested by the same researchers, namely 2 mg folic acid in combination with 25 mg of vitamin B6 and 400 micrograms of vitamin B12.
Why Does Menopause Cause Headaches
The exact connection between the menopause and headaches is somewhat unclear. However, much of the blame can be placed upon the hormonal changes that the body goes through during the menopause. The hormones that are affected the most during the menopause are oestrogen and progesterone.
Oestrogen is thought to cause blood vessels to dilate, while progesterone causes them to tighten. As the level of these hormones fluctuates, the blood vessels are constantly expanding and contracting. This can cause pressure changes in the head and result in the headaches you are experiencing.
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Symptoms Of Hormonal Headache
According to the American Migraine Foundation , a menstrual migraine is any migraine that starts between 2 days before a period, to 3 days after the period begins.
When a hormonal migraine occurs, it typically presents as a migraine without aura. However, an aura can occur before the migraine begins. The headache pain will often be severe, throbbing, and start on one side or the other.
Other symptoms may accompany the headache, including:
- sensitivity to light
PMS headaches occur before the period and have different symptoms compared to those of a menstrual migraine. A PMS headache will occur before the period and accompany the following symptoms:
Apply A Cold Compress
Applying a cold compress to the back of your neck or over the areas you’re experiencing the headache can help reduce inflammation, constrict blood vessels and slow your nerves from firing pain signals.
Cold compresses are excellent for many types of headaches, including migraines, and can provide instant migraine relief at home.
You can make an icepack, soak a washcloth in ice water or throw a bag of frozen vegetables over the area. Be sure to use a towel between your skin and the cold pack and avoid applying for more than 20 minutes at a time. Brain freeze is real.
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Can Estrogen Levels Cause Headaches
Estrogen dominance is the most common cause of hormonal headaches. This can occur when there is an excess amount of estrogen in your system either because you are making too much, not eliminating it effectively, or are being over exposed to xenoestrogens.
It can also happen if you’re not ovulating or not making sufficient progesterone.
Estrogen dominance is referred to as estrogen excess in medicine and is a diagnosable condition. Sometimes doctors will say they do not believe in estrogen dominance, but this is often because they are not testing correctly or familiar with the diagnosis .
But other hormones can also cause headaches, like your adrenals and thyroid, as well as nutrient deficiencies such as magnesium.
Working with a hormone expert can help you identify the source of your headaches and support you in relieving them for good.
Finding your root cause is important to understand if something bigger is at play.
Ok, so finding the root cause is important and sure Ibuprofen and Tylenol are bad, but when theres pain, whats a girl to do?
How Period Migraines Are Traditionally Treated
Once a month, I could look forward to losing an afternoon or even a full day to my period migraine. And even though my doctor told me that being on the Pill would lessen the severity of the migraines, that wasnt the case. In fact, sometimes they would worsen while I was using the Pill.
It would have been great if my doctor had told me that each womans body is different and that the levels of estrogen within birth control pills vary. So while a woman like me might find that being on the Pill made my menstrual migraines worse, another woman might find that they helped her migraines diminish.
The lesson: listen to and know your own body and what works for you.
A visit to a traditional western doctor about your menstrual migraines may result in one of these three approaches:
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Can You Prevent These Headaches
There are a few methods your doctor might suggest.
Hormonal:Birth control pills or estrogen patches and vaginal rings may help lower the number of menstrual migraines you have or make them less severe. But they donât work for everyone. In some cases, they could make your migraines worse.
Your doctor might tell you to stay on birth control for 3 to 6 months without taking any placebo pills. This will prevent you from having a period and may stop your headaches.
If you get migraines with auras, using birth control that contains estrogen and progesterone isnât a safe option. Taking it could make you more likely to have a stroke. Other reasons your doctor may not want you to take birth control for your menstrual migraines:
- A history of smoking
Medicines that prevent migraines: If you donât respond to other treatments and you have 4 or more migraine days a month, your doctor may suggest preventive medicines. You can take these regularly to make the headaches less severe or less frequent. These could include:
- Blood pressure medicines , and some antidepressants.
- CGRP inhibitors
Devices: Four devices may bring relief.
How Are Menstrual Migraines Treated What Medicines Can I Use
A menstrual migraine is usually treated with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications . The NSAIDs most often used for menstrual migraine include:
These drugs should also be started two to three days before your period starts. Continue taking them throughout your menstrual flow.
Because fluid retention often occurs at the same time as your menses, diuretics have been used to prevent menstrual migraines. Some healthcare providers may recommend that you follow a low-salt diet immediately before the start of your menses.
Leuprolide is a medication that affects your hormone levels. Its used only when all other treatment methods have been tried and havent worked.
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Hormones You Win Again
Being female, youre on a hormonal roller-coaster ride most of your life. The ups can be thrilling, , but the downs can cause imbalance to the chemicals and systems of the brain, resulting in headache.
The estrogen/progesterone balance plays a pivotal role in whether you regularly experience hormonal-related headaches. Many women are prone to getting headaches just before they start their periods a time when estrogen levels take a dive. And if youre one of thousands of women who experience menstrual migraines severely painful headaches that occur usually before or during menstruation you probably dont need me to reiterate just how disruptive and excruciating they are.
What do you normally do when a headache strikes?
The conventional remedy is usually a strong dose of acetaminophen, ibuprofen or aspirin, the ingredients found in over-the-counter painkillers. And while theres nothing harmful about these pills , there are natural ways to rebalance your hormones to avoid needing headache medicine in the first place.
Fats For Progesterone Support
Progesterone is a key hormone that both men and women need which has a large regulation role. It keeps estrogen and testosterone in balance. Some of the best foods to support progesterone are fatty fish such as salmon, sardines and mackerel, cruciferous vegetables and sulfur containing foods like the onion family and mushrooms, shellfish, oysters and other mollusks, high vitamin C foods like camu camu, sweet potato, strawberries, kiwi, papaya, pumpkin and orange, and super foods like liver.
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