While mainstream medicine can be an effective option for America's 45 million headache sufferers, an increasing number of these individuals are exploring alternative therapy options.
According to a recent online survey conducted by the National Headache Foundation (www.headaches.org), 58 percent of headache sufferers have tried an alternative therapy.
Fifty-five percent of survey respondents began using alternative therapies because they felt that their medications were not effective, while 49 percent were concerned about the side effects of their medication. Some of the more popular alternative therapies used by the online respondents include:
• Massage – Good for general relaxation and to relieve stress buildup in the muscle tissue. Studies suggest that massage can decrease headache frequency and increase body awareness. Personal preference is the best way to choose what type of massage to use. A whopping 69 percent of respondents have utilized massage.
• Acupuncture/acupressure – These ancient treatments for pain relief appear to work by stimulating the release of endorphins, the body's natural pain killing substance. Relief from both pain and nausea, a decrease in the frequency of migraine and a reduced need for treatment medication have been shown to result from these methods. Forty-one percent of survey respondents have tried acupuncture/acupressure.
• Magnesium – Magnesium has a relaxant effect on smooth muscles, such as in blood vessels. Those suffering from frequent or daily headaches usually have a low magnesium level.
Daily supplementation of 500 mg to 750 mg increases the body's magnesium level. Magnesium has demonstrated a preventive benefit in menstrually related migraine. Some 43 percent of survey respondents have tried magnesium.
• Riboflavin (Vitamin B2) – This vitamin assists nerve cells in the production of ATP, an energy-producing substance, and is essential for many chemical reactions to occur in the body. High doses of riboflavin (400 mg is recommended) can reverse cells' "energy crisis" during migraine attacks and decrease the frequency of migraine in some people. Thirty-eight percent of respondents have used riboflavin.
• Feverfew – A chemical in feverfew helps the body utilize serotonin more effectively. Serotonin is an important brain chemical, which helps prevent migraine or assist with resolution when it occurs. Typical dosage is one capsule three times a day. Beware of inconsistent potency with this product. A reported 33 percent of respondents have used feverfew.
For more information on headache causes and treatments, visit: www.headaches. org or call 1-888-NHF-5552.