Some Other Treatments
The International Neuromodulation Society describes neuromodulation as… “technology that acts directly upon nerves. It is the alteration—or modulation—of nerve activity by delivering electrical or pharmaceutical agents directly to a target area”.There are several methods of neuromodulation or stimulation used in the treatment of migraine. They each target a different area and are used in different ways and they are mostly non-invasive. Please click on a link below to find out more about these neuromodulation treatments for migraine.
- Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)
- Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS)
- External Trigeminal Nerve Stimulation (eTNS)
- Vagus (Vagal) Nerve Stimulation (VNS)
Vitamins and Minerals
Esther Tomkins, Clinical Nurse specialist and Medical Advisor to the MAI
*Please note that people considering these options should discuss the matter first with their GP/neurologist and pharmacist. These doses are high and patients should speak to their practitioner about side effects.*
Some patients favour the use of complementary therapies to help to reduce the frequency and severity of their migraine attacks. An option often asked about is the use of minerals and vitamins.
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) has been shown to be helpful to reduce attack frequency, headache days and days with nausea. The recommended dose is 100mg three times a day.
Magnesium is recommended 400 – 600mg daily as an oral dose, and can be given under specialist supervision intravenously at 1000 – 2000mg (IV) for the management of acute attacks. Magnesium is thought to have an analgesic effect.
Riboflavin 200 – 400mg daily has also shown to be helpful to reduce attack frequency and improve the number of migraine days.
Mindfulness and Relaxation
What is Relaxation Practice?
Relaxation is not just about having a holiday or taking a break from our normal routine, although both of those things can lift our mood. Teaching ourselves to relax means learning ways to reduce our physical tension levels and the emotional worry that goes with being stressed. Our bodies are built to go through periods of tension and relaxation naturally, and developing a relaxation practice reminds us how to trigger this natural relaxation response.
Relaxation practice can be as simple as learning how to do relaxation breathing (sometimes called abdominal breathing) and practicing it regularly. We can also use tools such as imagery, when we actively imagine calming scenes, or progressive muscle relaxation, when we work at tensing and relaxing all of our muscle groups. The important thing is learning how to reduce tension.
If we are very stressed, a daily practice is recommended. In order to achieve a full relaxation response, our relaxation exercises should last between 15 to 20 minutes. The more we practice, the easier it becomes to reduce our levels of tension.
Why should I do it?
Research shows that people who have a regular relaxation practice reduce their physical experience of stress and tension significantly. This is associated with better health outcomes and a better quality of life.
Where can I find more information?
Beaumont Hospital has a free online resource with recordings of relaxation exercises you can try created by Beaumont Hospital employees. It also has explanations and suggestions for further reading.
Complementary therapies are defined as techniques that are not part of a medical school curriculum. Over the last ten to fifteen years, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of people using complementary techniques to treat migraine as the concept of integrated medicine has become more acceptable.
Many Irish migraine sufferers have gained at least some relief through therapies such as acupuncture,biofeedback, reflexology, meditation,mindfulness, CBT, yoga and a plethora of others.
The conventional medical profession has viewed this growth with some scepticism. However, MAI believes that if the individual can get some benefits from using complementary practices, then their use is to be supported for that individual.
Some doctors will have trained in complementary approaches and many more encourage their use. Scientific research continues in complementary medicine for migraine and it is now accepted that certain treatments may have at least some scientific benefits for some people e.g.
- Relaxation therapy
- Behavioural therapy
However, as of yet, most complementary practices have not yet been scientifically studied in enough detail to prove beyond doubt that they are safe, and more importantly effective. Another problem for people in Ireland interested in trying complementary therapies is the lack of regulation of the sector, although plans are in progress to introduce regulations.
All age groups suffer. Children as young as twelve months have been diagnosed. Three times more women than men suffer mainly due to hormonal changes. People who are subject to migraine come in a large variety of shapes, ages, temperaments and personalities. Migraine is hereditary in approximately 60% of cases.
The Migraine Diary is a simple but effective way of managing your migraine. A migraine diary can help you to establish certain patterns in your attacks. Perhaps you get most of your headaches at weekends or perhaps every time you are presented with deadlines at work or at home. These examples would be quite easy to notice but most people’s headaches are not as easy to predict.
Attacks may only be triggered by a certain combination of trigger factors, say when you miss a meal AND experience stress. Either factor on their own may not be enough to trigger an attack but when combined they do.
Using the migraine diary religiously for a period of time may establish some patterns to your headaches and may enable you to take action to prevent them or better manage them. It can also help you to feel more in control and this in itself can also reduce the frequency of the attacks.
The migraine diary will also demonstrate to your doctor the impact that migraine has upon your life. Whenever you visit your doctor you should bring your migraine diary along as it will help him/her to implement a specific treatment plan for you.
If you are a GP, pharmacist or other health professional and you would like to place a bulk order of diaries, you can do so through our sponsor GSK.
Alternatively you can Download a PDF of the Diary below:
Further Information and Treatments
If you are interested in obtaining further information on complementary treatments for migraine, there are a list of websites below on some of the self-regulatory bodies of each of the different treatment areas.
We would suggest that you try to match the therapy to the trigger. For example if stress is your trigger then relaxation therapy may help.
If you are attending a complementary practitioner, make sure that they are qualified and operating under the National or International Regulatory group for their area of expertise. You should also always inform your doctor. Some herbal preparations can negatively interact with certain medications.
Mindfulness Beaumont Hospital Mindfulness and Relaxation Centre
Yoga Yoga Therapy Ireland
Acupuncture Traditional Chinese Medical Council of Ireland
Physiotherapy Irish Society of Chartered Physiotherapists
Alexander Technique Irish Society of Teachers of the Alexander Technique
STAT UK – The UK Society of Teachers of the Alexander Technique
Chiropractic Chiropractic Association of Ireland
Kinesiology Association of Systematic Kinesiology in Ireland
Nutritional Therapy The Irish Institute of Nutritional Health
Osteopathy Irish Osteopathic Association – list of practitioners at
Reflexology Irish Reflexologists Institute