Ayurvedic Migraine Headache Advice

According to the science of Ayurveda all of creation is made up of five elements: earth, water, fire, air and ether. Each individual is born with a unique combination of these elements that form the Vata, Pitta and Kapha doshas determined at the moment of conception.

This unique constitution or genetically determined blueprint (prakruti or "first creation" in Sanskrit) reveals innate tendencies, gifts, challenges, lessons, functional habits and hidden potential and determines how one experiences life. This also includes the specific foods that will be more healing or more harmful overall.

According to Ayurveda medicine, taste has a specific and powerful effect on the body. Our physiologies are healthier when they have a balanced experience of tastes each day. Americans tend to overeat sweet and salty foods, which is why our population is so obese. Taste directly affects our nervous system and sets our vital fluids in motion, stimulating gastric fire and the power of digestion. It's better to taste rather than avoid even a bitter herb, because the taste will signal the brain to secret specific digestive enzymes into the digestive track just right for that food. With medicines and supplements, the taste of the medicine is thought to contribute to its therapeutic effect, improving the absorption of the medicine. Therefore, tasting and chewing your vitamins or herbal pills a little first can increase their efficacy.

Specific foods are not good or bad for everyone; an individual's blueprint or constitution must be considered to make optimal food choices. It doesn't matter what we eat. It matters what we can digest because everyone digests at different rates and degrees with unique sensitivities. This can be determined by self-exploration and observation, including trial and error. Begin by eliminating certain foods to see what changes happen in the body or adding certain foods to notice the effects. This practice will develop your intuition as well. You might also want to seek out the professional services of an Ayurvedic counselor who is trained to read the pulse, observe the tongue, eyes, body, mannerism, speech, hair, nails, astrology chart (Jyotish) and so on.

Let's use an example of someone who has been struggling with migraine headaches. According to Vedic medical literature, people who are constantly overthinking, compulsive, Type-A personalities, overachievers, perfectionists and people who are hyper focused on striving for fame and fortune are most prone to migraines, especially women. The pain usually begins in the aura of the eye, then spreads. Some people report flashes of light in the periphery of the eyes at the onset of a migraine, almost as a warning to "chill out" and rest. If pain and light sensitivity are present, it will become worse if the eyes are not still. This is why it feels so good to turn the lights off and close your eyes at the onset of a headache.

Some triggers of migraine headache include sour foods, such as pickles; citrus fruits, including tomatoes; soft drinks, coffee and chocolate, insomnia, disturbed emotions, food allergies, genetic predisposition, karma.

Remedial Tips for Acute Migraines

  • Avoid allergic foods such as wheat, gluten, dairy, corn, GMOs or others
  • Avoid spicy, sour tastes
  • Use the sweet and salty taste sparingly
  • Add the bitter taste in moderation, such as arugula
  • Increase magnesium with supplements or foods such as oats, barley, pumpkin seeds, green leafy veggies
  • Avoid artificial sweeteners, MSG, smoking and alcohol
  • Meditate, rest, read and relax for 20-30 minutes between 10am-2pm and again around 6pm
  • Get enough deep, restorative sleep
  • Exercise briskly (walking, biking, yoga) between 6am-10am
  • Use sacred nasya oil (drops in the nostrils) twice daily
  • Rub coconut oil on the feet and top of the head before sleep
  • Receive sacred shirodhara therapy (oil flowing over forehead)

Karyn Chabot, D.Ay, MS, LMT, is a 1997 graduate from The Ayurvedic Institute, Universal Massage Therapeutics, has her bachelor's degree from Goddard College in Health & Wellness and her master's degree in Ayurveda. She is the founder of Sacred Stone Academy of Metaphysics and Ayurveda in Newport, RI. Email support@sacredstonehealing.com or call 401-680-3934.