According to the Global Burden of Disease Survey 2010, migraine is the 3rd most prevalent disorder and 7th highest specific cause of disability worldwide.  Migraine Action UK states that 1 in 7 people in the UK suffer from migraine affecting twice as many women as men. 

Yet despite these statistics, less than 50% of migraine patients are satisfied with their current treatment, with many not seeking medical help or reporting to self-medicate, using non-prescription medication or alternative therapies (All-Party Parliamentary Group on Primary Headache Disorders 2010).Prescription medications can help a migraine if used appropriately, however, as with all medications these have side effects and when used frequently can make migraines worse. This is sometimes called “medication overuse headache”.

 Prevention, therefore, has to be the preferred choice.

 Professor Peter Goadsby (2016) professor of neurology and Chair of the British Association for the Study of Headache, quotes:

The key is normality and avoiding anything that disrupts your physiological balance.
He believes “Migraineurs need to have regular sleep, regular meals, regular exercise – regularity in everything. And when you deviate from regularity – have some drinks, have a late night, skip a meal – that’s when you’re more likely to have an attack”.

massage for headachesThis sound easy, but first means you need to find your own natural balance and then maintain this with the resources available to you.  For some, finding and maintaining the balance may be more physical; using resources such as exercise to reduce stress and aid sleep in order to prevent migraines.  For other people, reducing musculoskeletal tension (which can contribute to migraine attacks) can be through treatments such as manual therapy and massage.

nutrition and migranes

However, finding equilibrium could be about finding hormonal, nutritional or emotional balance.  In these situations resources to prevent or reduce migraines might be relaxation classes, or supplementation and elimination through, for example, nutritional therapies or homeopathy.  It should be remembered however that all our systems are linked and often a combined approach or holistic medical systems such as Ayurveda or Chinese medicine could be more effective than only addressing the immediate and most obvious cause.  To read more about the treatment of migraines and headaches according to Ayurveda follow this link.

Migraine TriggersWhatever your migraine trigger Rowan House gives you access to a vast range of therapies to help address the 5 main triggers outlined.  Below are some of the approaches available at Rowan House and how these might help lessen or prevent your migraine attacks.  Follow the link to our therapies page or call 01603 813999.


Osteopathy in Migraine

Osteopathy can be extremely effective in the treatment of migraine headaches, particularly where the trigger is related to physical imbalance i.e. stress and tension.   An osteopath will consider all of factors that may contribute to a migraine, but in osteopathy the structural reasons for migraine headache is the first place to start in addressing the problem.

osteopathy and migraineImproper posture when standing and/or sitting can create increased muscle tension in the upper back and neck, which can develop into a migraine from tension referral to the head.  Osteopaths are expertly trained to feel tension changes in all body tissues, and correct postural strains that can produce these changes, with the use of gentle manipulation techniques.

Osteopaths take into consideration how the whole spine moves along with the pelvis, sacrum and cranial bones.  Dysfunction in the movement of any of these structures can produce headaches.  Osteopathy will increase the free motion of these structures and the surrounding organs and membranes to allow for healthy lymphatic motion and blood supply which will deliver oxygen and other nutrients to the whole body and allow the body to remove toxins and taking pressure off cranial nerves.

Kate Blanch Registered Osteopath

I would recommend that all migraine and chronic head ache sufferers should first seek advice from a GP to rule out any sinister cause. Then, especially for migraine sufferers, I would recommend a dietician, as many migraines are caused by an intolerance to foods such as wheat and dairy, processed foods, alcohol and additives such as glutamate, salt, sugar and caffeine, or lack of vitamins and minerals. Many people think that they have a reasonably balanced diet, but one stir-in sauce can contain an inordinate amount of salt and sugar.

However many headaches including migraine related to physical tension, originate from imbalance in the rest of the body. The position of your head is held by small muscles in the neck, designed for short term use, not to hold your head in position for a long time. Poor posture, long hours at a desk or in a car can lead to over use and injury of these muscles. Headaches are caused by the resulting inflammation, impinged nerves and reduced movement. Osteopathy is very effective for this type of headache and studies have shown that massage of the cranial and cervical (head and neck) muscles gives effective relief from chronic tension headaches and migraines that originate from tension.

 Emma Broom Registered Osteopath

Migraines and Massage Therapy

Massage therapy is known for helping migraine and headaches using many techniques and working on a treatment plan for each individual.  The idea behind massage and migraine is to calm and relax the body preventing triggering symptoms such as tension and stress and keeping the body in balance.  By using regular massage, pain patterns and stress levels can be influenced and can be an important part of a long term management plan.  If you feel a migraine coming on a relaxing full body massage is best again to calm the body and boost circulation.  Massage can also help reduce medication consumption, aid sleep and assist with the pain.

Remedial MassageIn short try to find what is causing your attacks. Chat to a nutritionist to see if you are intolerant to any foods that may be a trigger. Make sure you are well hydrated and try to balance your stress levels. It is often all about prevention so if we work on the aspects we can control and listen to our bodies we are well on our way to better health!

Clare Corcoran LMT


Homeopathy for Headaches and Migraines

Homeopathy is a holistic system of medicine which was developed 200 years ago and is used worldwide for all age groups. It is a safe and effective treatment: (see footnote for the report commissioned by the Swiss government).

Homeopaths use specially prepared remedies, given mainly in tablet or liquid form. Prescriptions are tailored to each individual patient, according to their specific symptoms. Homeopaths are consulted by patients suffering from a wide range of complaints, including headaches and migraines.

During the consultation the homeopath will ask for details of the headache or migraine. These include where the pain is, what the pain feels like, any visual disturbances and the nature of these; also what makes any pain feel better or worse e.g. heat or cold or movement. Homeopaths are also interested in what may have caused the headache or migraine and when the problem began. The causes can be, for example, hormonal issues, accidents, sensitivity to certain foods, or emotional shocks such as bereavement.

General health, the medical history, additional current health issues and lifestyle are also considered.

All this information is used to find the appropriate remedy.

Homeopathy is safe and effective (please refer to the research paper below).

Bornhoft, G and Matthiesson, PF, (Editors), 2011. “Homeopathy in Healthcare: Effectiveness, Appropriateness, Safety, Costs”. ISBN 978-3-642-20637-5.

Annie Whiteman BSc(Hons), LCH, IACH, RSHom

– All-Party Parliamentary Group on Primary Headache Disorders. 2010Headache Disorders – not respected, not resourced
– Professor Peter Goadsby (2016) How does food affect migraines? BBC goodfood