Alternative Management Approaches for Headache Page      

This section is compiled by Frank M. Painter, D.C.
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The Role of Nutrients in the Pathogenesis
and Treatment of Migraine Headaches: Review

Biomed Pharmacother. 2018 (Jun); 102: 317325 ~ FULL TEXT

Migraine as a disabling neurovascular disease affects 6% of men and 18% of women worldwide. The deficiency of many nutrients including magnesium, niacin, riboflavin, cobalamin, coenzymes Q10, carnitine, α-lipoic acid and vitamin D is associated with migraine. Some researchers postulate that mitochondrial dysfunction and impaired antioxidant status can cause migraine. Also increase in homocysteine level can lead to migraine attacks; therefore, some Nutraceuticals play a vital role in migraine prevention. Thus, the aim of the current study was to review randomized controlled trials (RCT) assessing the effect of nutritional supplements on migraine patients.

Cannabis for Pain and Headaches: Primer
Curr Pain Headache Rep. 2017 (Apr); 21 (4): 19 ~ FULL TEXT

Synthetic cannabinoids are being developed and synthesized from the marijuana plant such as dronabinol and nabilone. The US Food and Drug Administration approved the use of dronabinol and nabilone for chemotherapy-associated nausea and vomiting and HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) wasting. Nabiximols is a cannabis extract that is approved for the treatment of spasticity and intractable pain in Canada and the UK. Further clinical trials are studying the effect of marijuana extracts for seizure disorders. Phytocannabinoids have been identified as key compounds involved in analgesia and anti-inflammatory effects. Other compounds found in cannabis such as flavonoids and terpenes are also being investigated as to their individual or synergistic effects. This article will review relevant literature regarding medical use of marijuana and cannabinoid pharmaceuticals with an emphasis on pain and headaches.

Alternative Headache Treatments:
Nutraceuticals, Behavioral and Physical Treatments

Headache. 2011 (Mar); 51 (3): 469-83 ~ FULL TEXT

There is a growing body of evidence supporting the efficacy of various complementary and alternative medicine approaches in the management of headache disorders. These treatment modalities include nutraceutical, physical and behavioral therapies. Nutraceutical options comprise vitamins and supplements (magnesium, riboflavin, coenzyme Q(10) , and alpha lipoic acid) and herbal preparations (feverfew, and butterbur). Although controversial, there are some reports demonstrating the benefit of recreational drugs such as marijuana, lysergic acid diethylamide and psilocybin in headache treatment. Behavioral treatments generally refer to cognitive behavioral therapy and biobehavioral training (biofeedback, relaxation training). Physical treatments in headache management are not as well defined but usually include acupuncture, oxygen therapy, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, occlusal adjustment, cervical manipulation, physical therapy, massage, chiropractic therapy, and osteopathic manipulation. In this review, the available evidence for all these treatments will be discussed.

Nutritional and Botanical Interventions to Assist
with the Adaptation to Stress

Alternative Medicine Review 1999 (Aug); 4 (4): 249265 ~ FULL TEXT

Prolonged stress, whether a result of mental/emotional upset or due to physical factors such as malnutrition, surgery, chemical exposure, excessive exercise, sleep deprivation, or a host of other environmental causes, results in predictable systemic effects. The systemic effects of stress include increased levels of stress hormones such as cortisol, a decline in certain aspects of immune system function such as natural killer cell cytotoxicity or secretory-IgA levels, and a disruption of gastrointestinal microflora balance. These systemic changes might be a substantial contributor to many of the stress-associated declines in health.

Neurolysis of the Greater Occipital Nerve in
Cervicogenic Headache: A Follow up Study

Headache 1992 (Apr); 32 (4): 175179

Entrapment of the greater occipital nerve (GON) in its peripheral course has been thought to be of possible pathogenic significance in cervicogenic headache. We have performed a "liberation" operation ("neurolysis") of the nerve in the nuchal musculature, with special attention to the trapezius insertion, and the follow-up results in 50 patients are presented. The immediate effect of the operation was quite good, but the pain gradually recurred in the majority (46/50) of the patients. The present study shows that other therapeutic approaches should be searched for in cervicogenic headache.

Can Magnesium Cure Migraines?
Nutrition Science News (March 2000)

Magnesium's role in the origins of migraine headaches has been demonstrated in a number of studies. It seems magnesium concentration affects serotonin receptors, nitric oxide synthesis and release, as well as other migraine-related receptors and neurotransmitters. In fact, evidence suggests some 50 percent of patients have low levels of ionized magnesium (IMg++) during an acute migraine attack. [1]

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