As many of you may know, acupuncture is part of the NICE guidelines for the management of migraine. Acupuncture is safe, cost effective and has a strong evidence base for use with migraine. However, it is still difficult for migraine sufferers to get treatment paid for by the NHS. Meanwhile we are told that treatments like botox, are effective in treating migraine.
Colleague and blogger, Mel Hopper Koppelman, writes a fascinating piece here about the politics involved in migraine treatments. Recommended reading for those with migraine and those with an interest in science or the politics of health care.
It’s been a few years since I mentioned this website online. Yesterday I went back into it to check a few things as I had a new male patient with a complicated medical history that I believed had contributed to his low motility. I was reminded of what a fantastic resource this is for men with fertility issues or men trying to conceive. There is very little support around tailored for men and men can feel particularly isolated. The men I see often want to support their partners and put their own feelings about trying to conceive to the background. It is hard for women to talk about fertility. It is almost impossible for men. This website offers clear information relating to fertility and an active online forum where men can ask and answer questions, seek advice and get support. Check it out here.
We love treating migraines and headaches! Not because we enjoy hearing how much pain people are in, but because we consistently see such fantastic results just after a few sessions.
Here is what Penny had to say about her acupuncture treatment.
Caitlin has helped me with migraine and chronic neck pain. After four months of treatment my headaches are much less frequent and rarely turn to migraine. The neck pain has eased considerably, and my energy levels are higher than they have been for many years. It is a painless relaxing treatment in a warm welcoming space.
Click on the amusing and funky video below to remind yourself why you should come to see us.
Migraine is both the common and medical name given to a particular type of severe headache, which affects around 1 in every 5 women and 1 in 15 men. It can be an extremely debilitating condition, with the headaches having specific characteristics, that mark it as being distinctly different, certainly to headaches, and even severe headaches, in that they are felt as a throbbing pain at the front and side of the head, and predominantly begin in early adulthood.
There are three main types of migraine
- one with aura, warning sign just prior to the headache, usually flashing lights,
- one without the aura, i.e. the headache only
- and one with an aura but no headache.
Some people will have several migraines per week, others only occasionally. and there are instances where several years go by without experiencing an attack.
The main symptoms manifest as an intense headache at the front or side of the head, with the throbbing sensation, that feels worse on movement and prevents a sufferer from carrying out their daily activities. Occasionally the pain will be on both sides of the head, with the face and neck becoming affected also. Some people suffer additional symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and increased sensitivity to light & sound. It is for this reason that people are advised to rest in a quiet and dark room. One in three of the people for whom regular migraines occur experience the symptoms of an aura or warning episode of a migraine attack. The aura occurs just before the onset of the headache, and manifest as visual problems, such as flashing lights or blinds spots, dizzy spells and loss of balance, very rarely loss of consciousness occurs. The aura stage develops over about 5 minutes and can last for up to 1 hour, with the headache stage beginning straight after.
The exact cause of migraine is unknown, but it is thought to be the result of abnormal brain activity which temporarily affects the nerve signals, chemicals and blood vessels in the brain. However it is not clear what the causes of these changes are; possibly they could be genetic.
There are various triggers for migraine attacks. They fall into 6 main categories – hormonal, emotional, physical, dietary, environmental and medical. These are all discussed in many literature sources on migraine, but the main ones are hormonal, which affect women just prior to the time of their period, probably caused by changes in hormone levels such as oestrogen; emotional triggers, especially stress and tension; and environmental factors, especially bright lights.
There is no specific test to diagnose migraine. The process that a GP must go through to make an accurate diagnosis of migraine involves identifying a pattern of recurring headaches along with the associated symptoms already described and discussed. This picture is often not clear because other symptoms occur along side, so obtaining an accurate diagnosis can take some time.
Find out more here.
Time for the Autumn Harvest
Autumn is upon us and as you enjoy the low autumn sun think of what is going on around you in nature. The sap is returning to the roots of plants and tress, leaves are turning colour, some into vibrant reds and oranges, and falling, seeds are drying out and the grass is becoming lighter in colour and drier. This is a time for harvest. Gather the food you want to take with you into winter, but also gather your thoughts and plans and dreams. Give thanks for all that has been bestowed upon you. Use this autumn as a time for transformation, a time for letting go for what is no longer serving you, a time to value and then reassess boundaries. What plans do you need to action now before the cold winter arrives and you need to hibernate and conserve your energies?
In Chinese Medicine, autumn relates to the Metal element and to the Lungs and Large Intestine. The dryness of autumn can affect the Lungs and Large Intestine causing sore throats and coughs and constipation. Dryness affects the skin and lips. The Lungs in Chinese Medicine are responsible for keeping our immunity strong. We need to be able to fight off those colds and infections quickly. Keep the lungs moistened with lots of warm drinks, especially liquorice, mint, lemon and ginger.
Move from raw foods, salads and fruit, to warming foods – stews, casseroles, compotes and soups. Try stir-frying, baking and roasting. Eat in season if you can and in particular include orange foods – sweet potatoes, squashes and pumpkin, carrots, and orange peppers. Add protective, purifying and pungent foods to the diet- onion, garlic, chive, turnip, ginger, radish, daikon root; dark leafy greens, such as kale, broccoli, chard, and spinach; seaweeds and fibre; oats, rice, amaranth, quinoa.
Try this delicious recipe for autumn butternut squash soup.
1 sweet onion, chopped
2 ribs celery
2 cloves garlic
1 large butternut squash, peeled, seeded and sliced
1 large green apple
2 tsp or so butter or coconut oil
3 cups (less for thicker soup) vegetable or chicken stock
In a large saucepan, melt butter or coconut oil and add onion, carrot, garlic and celery. Cook 5-10 minutes, until onions are slightly caramelized (add stock to prevent sticking if necessary). Add squash and apples and stock, cook till tender, about 15-20 minutes. Add spices to taste: salt, pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. Pour into blender and puree till smooth. Top with yogurt or toasted nuts if desired.
Exercise is another way to strengthen the lung energy. Consider exercise which focuses on the breathe – yoga or Tai chi. Bring your awareness to your breathe when walking or relaxing- just count the breaths as they move in and out of your body. Counting breaths can be used as a meditation tool and can calm the mind. Try it. When another thought pops into your head and takes you away from counting the breaths, start from 1 again. Even experienced Buddhists admit they seldom get past 5 or 6!
Check out this blog from an American colleague with other tips to enjoy a happy and healthy Autumn.
Qigong is a gentle form of Chinese exercise that moves the Qi or energy and works with the breath. It is widely practised as part of Chinese Medicine therapy and can help to combat health issues and brings a sense of wellbeing. Sue Dunham has been running these classes in Leeds for a number of years and a new term will start in September. She will be running classes in Horsforth on Thursday evenings and Roundhay on Wednesday evenings. Please contact Sue and look at her website more more information.