I’m going to tell you how to avoid getting a full blown migraine when you feel one coming on and you’re going to think I’m crazy. But I know it works. I haven’t taken anything for a migraine since November. And that’s not because I haven’t had the opportunity more than once. I’ve actually had several moments when I thought, ok, today is the day I’m going to have to take Advil, but then I didn’t have to because I know what to do to stop a migraine in its tracks.
So what’s the secret cure? Vigorous exercise. I need to run at least a half mile. Or climb five flights of stairs. Or ride a mile and a half on my bike. Yes it’s true. Vigorous exercise stops a migraine cold.
Now before you unfollow me permanently because you think I’m nuts, because when you have a migraine coming on the last thing you want to do is walk up five flights of stairs or run a half mile, hear me out. You have nothing to lose because you’ve never been able to get rid of them before. You’ve only gotten them to abate for a while until they come roaring back and you have to medicate again. I know. I’ve suffered with migraines for 45 years.
A few months ago, when I turned my researching prowess onto curing migraines, I came up with many theories. One theory,about brain hypoxia in particular, lead me to create an essential oil blend I thought would work based on that theory of what a migraine is. In a nutshell, the theory is that the brain is having a kind of electrical storm because of a lack of oxygen. Based on that research, the essential oil blend I came up with is meant to raise blood pressure and help oxygenate the blood in order to stop the storm.
So there I was, sitting on the couch on an evening I usually run, having a migraine, thinking, well, if I think the essential oil blend works because it raises blood pressure and oxygenates the blood, then running should really get rid of a migraine. I dragged myself up, got changed, and went out to run two miles.
I have to tell you those first few steps almost put me out! The throbbing with every step was pretty bad. But pretty quickly the throbbing stopped. I still had a migraine, but I could keep running. And then, about a quarter of a mile in, the pain started to lift, and by the time I reached a half mile, the migraine was gone. And I do mean gone. Not just hiding like when you medicate and it goes away until it comes back, but really gone.
I tried this again and again and I can tell you it works. I was at school one day with what I call a “hot head.” It’s a feeling that my whole head is on fire and it is the precursor to a major migraine. But instead of resorting to Advil, I quickly walked up five flights of stairs in the parking garage. By the time I was sitting in the car, the headache was gone.
Riding my bike for about two miles yields the same results. And in a pinch, when I can’t get out, I find a quiet spot and do a minute and a half of a plank pose from yoga. That will make a headache go away, but it might still come back because it’s not prolonged enough. But a second one later will usually work.
So why does exercise work? Because you are doing three things that impact that electrical brain storm: you are raising your blood pressure, raising your heart rate, and oxygenating your blood.
I’m sure my theory flies in the face of everything you’ve ever done to get rid of a migraine. It did for me. If you’ve learned how to deal with migraine like your mother did (this is how I learned) then you probably start medicating the minute you feel it coming on and then sit or lay down in a dark room and wait for it to go away. And it never does. It recedes into the background so you can be semi-functional, but it comes back, again and again for the next four days.
There is one more interesting thing that makes me sure I am on the right track. I do believe that high histamine is a trigger. When I was trying to get rid of a migraine by trying to lower my histamine level, I tried using olive leaf extract, one of my favorite rescues. But it didn’t work at all. It actually seemed to make the headache worse. I’ve recently done more research into olive leaf and discovered that one of the things it does is lower blood pressure. So based on my theory of brain hypoxia, olive leaf would make the headache worse because it’s doing the opposite of what you need it to do.
You don’t have to take my word for it. You can try it for yourself. I can only tell you that it works. I had a big nasty rum mixed drink when I was out with the girls Friday night (it’s true I never learn) and felt like crap within an hour of having it and woke with a migraine the next day. I thought, well this will be the day I’ll need to take something, but I dragged my raggedy butt out the door and road my bike down to the bay. Two miles in on my ten mile jaunt, the headache was gone! I still felt like crap from the histamine horror overload, but I didn’t have a headache.
So the next time you are on the verge of a migraine, instead of pulling out the Advil, pull out the bike and get going. You do not have to live with migraines. Whatever your fitness level, find that threshold when your blood pressure and heart rate rises enough to oxygenate that stormy brain and get rid of that headache!