Menstrual migraines are mainly caused by hormones (of course!), often progesterone deficiency which means there isn’t enough relaxation for blood vessels and low adrenal function because the adrenals need progesterone to produce cortisol. If menstrual migraine is plaguing you then perhaps some of the suggestions on this list might help.
Hydration – Ok so I can hear you all saying ‘yeah. yeah I know’ but we all are probably guilty of not drinking enough most of the time. But we really need to pay attention, especially in our pre-menstrual time if we are prone to migraine. Get that water on board! Add fruit to it, make herbal tea with it, but fluids, fluids, fluids!
Rest – Again, I can hear you saying ‘I wish!’ and I know it really isn’t easy to take a rest when you have a busy life or are a mum, but we owe it to ourselves in the last few days before we bleed and if possible the first couple of days of our bleed to slow down. Rest if you can, even if it means that food comes out of a packet occasionally or the kids watch a bit more TV than usual. If you feel a migraine coming on, grab a big glass of water and go lie down for half an hour (if you can) and see if you can head it off.
Magnesium – many of us a deficient in magnesium in general, and part of the reason we crave chocolate pre-menstrually is because it has magenesium in it. The problem is that most of the chocolate you buy only has teeny tiny amounts in it so you don’t get the magnesium hit and you get all the negative bits of eating to much sugar and fat! You can take Magnesium on board via supplements, but actually the best way is via salts of flakes in the bath or made up into a body spray. How about making up a bath salt mix – magnesium salts, borage, rose or jasmine. If you don’t have a bathtub then make a foot bath.
Raw Cacao – this will help with the magnesium fix and the chocolate craving all in one go!
Starflower/Borage Tea – Borage is an amazing herb with so many nutritional benefits but amongst some of its biggest ones are its levels of Iron and Magnesium, both really important in supporting the menstrual cycle. Iron has a direct impact on the oxygen carrying ability of our blood, so if we’re deficient then our brain isn’t going to be getting enough oxygen, a sure fire likelihood to cause headaches.
Gingko and Prickly Ash Bark – these herbs increase the flow of blood across the blood-brain barrier, ergo increasing the flow of oxygen and hopefully reducing the likelihood of migraine and headache.
Homeopathy – if you can its worth talking to a homeopath, whilst it is possible to take a generic choice of remedy it is always better to have one prescribed. A full consultation will explore whether there are other factors at play in terms of your health or your menstruation that are contributing to the migraines.
Womb Massage – there are a few different types of Womb Massage therapy available, but they all work on the basic principle of making sure that the womb is the right place. Many women have retroverted or mobile wombs and this can lead to a variety of menstrual health problems. In the case of migraine it may be due to it falling backwards and placing pressure on the back and spinal nerves.
Relaxants in the second half of your cycle – chamomile, skull cap, passionflower can be used during the second half of your cycle in the hope of reducing overall muscle tensions that may contribute to migraine and headache in the pre-menstrual phase.
Lavender – this is a great remedy to help treat a headache, often available in a headache balm that can be applied to the temples or the back of the neck, or equally a few drops of essential oil in a base oil can be used.
Acupuncture – anecdotally this can be hugely beneficial for treating menstrual migraine, but may require a course of treatment as opposed to just a single session.
Diet – try reducing sugar, caffiene and red meat, all of which are know migraine aggravators. Switch your coffee fix for herbal tea or super juices, go for raw chocolates when you need a treat and consider your choices around meat consumption and see if it makes a difference. It can be worth keeping a diary of your food and of your migraines and seeing if there is an obvious connection to a certain food substance.
What it all really boils down to is good Self Care! Good hydration, good nutrition and rest. We all know this, but its easy to forget and let things slip when we are busy or stressed – just the times when we need it most!
(c) Awen Clement – July 2015
*Please note we are not medical professionals and this post should not be taken as medical advice. If in doubt see your doctor or other health professional for advice before using any of these remedies.
With thanks to the community of Ask Aunt Flo for their contributions that formed the basis of this article