The earlier a migraine can be recognized the more likely we will be able to abort or lessen an attack.
In this article we will be talking about 3 urgent tools that you need to use ASAP for full effectiveness.
Recognizing your migraines prodrome will be your key to it.
What is a prodrome? / Migraine prodrome definition
The very first signs of a migraine, long before the attack phase, (or with migraine with aura) even the aural phase, is the migraine prodrome.
These are thought of as premonitory symptoms because they are slight and give you the “premonition” that something is off or wrong.
The International Headache Society defines a prodrome as:
“Prodrome: A symptomatic phase, lasting up to 48 hours, occurring before the onset of pain in migraine without aura or before the aura in migraine with aura. Among the common prodromal symptoms are fatigue, elated or depressed mood, unusual hunger and cravings for certain foods.”
A prodrome does not happen in everyone but is estimated to occur between 30% to 80% of migraine sufferers.
Migraine prodrome symptoms
It’s interesting to note that migraine prodrome symptoms are very similar to the regular ups and downs of the day that most people experience such as food cravings so we may actually be going in and out of the premonitory migraine phase regularly with it only actually resulting in a migraine occasionally.
There are many symptoms that the migraine is coming and many of them are the result of the damage done to the brain that cause migraines and the subsequent migraines effort to repair and protect the brain from damage.
The most common symptoms are:
– Difficulty concentrating
– Neck or muscle stiffness
– Sensitivity to light, sound and smell(photophobia, phonophobia, hyperosmia)
– Blurred vision
– Becoming pale
– Frequent urination
– Loss of words/difficulty speaking(aphasia)
It’s easy to see how some of these symptoms can simply be brushed off and thought of as nothing more than a regular occurrence.
Warning: We can often end up blaming lights, smells and sounds for our migraine attacks when in reality it was the prodromal phase that increased our sensitivity to the smells and we mistakenly thought the sensitivity was a trigger.
This isn’t always the case but using methods to prevent sensitivities like removing bad foods can go a long way to prevent environmental sensitivities.
How long does a migraine prodrome last?
A migraine prodrome usually lasts from an hour or two to one or two days and this can include the entire variety of symptoms but separate from any distinct aural symptoms like a scintillating scotoma.
But let’s be honest, the 4 categories of a migraine:
Prodrome => Aura => Attack => Postdrome
Are only arbitrary rules we created to understand migraine and in reality these often all blend together.
Migraine prodrome without headache
Because there are no “rules” when it comes to migraines, we can commonly end up with a prodrome that never leads to a headache.
Or a prodrome that progresses into an aura only to have the aura disappear and a headache to never appear.
Or even to have the entire three other phases with a prodrome, aura and postdrome… But with no headache.
It’s completely reasonable and as you get better at learning your body’s signals and knowing exactly what it needs from reading our blogs, you will get better at stopping the progression in its tracks.
The standard migraine prodrome treatment approach is to take your abortive medication as soon as you think a migraine may be coming on.
But this is tricky because what if your prodrome would’ve never turned into a full on attack… What a waste.
Plus, the side effects of the medication might incapacitate you even longer than the migraine would’ve.
This is why we use natural techniques that are safe, effective and will only benefit you.
If it turns into a full blown migraine or not.
3 Urgent tools for migraine prodrome that you have to use ASAP
We have to change our thinking and understand migraine as a protective, helpful mechanism for our bodies.
Migraine doesn’t seem to be what is damaging the migraine sufferers brain.
In reality and according to this study it may actually be protecting our brains.
And it makes sense…
Just like our pain reflex.
When something causes us pain, it brings our attention to it and triggers our reflex to get out of harm’s way.
We can think of migraines this way too.
If our brain is getting hurt by something like oxidative stress, excitotoxicity, mitochondrial dysfunction or inflammation…
Then a migraine is the perfect way for our body to get our attention and make us stop doing what we’re doing.
Does a migraine make you stop doing what you’re doing?
But this is a very primal and old reflex so we have to be the smart detectives and figure out what’s going on.
In the meantime, while we are healing, we need to be on top of a progressing migraine and stop it as soon as possible.
Here are three ways to stop some contributors to migraines that you have to try in the prodromal phase ASAP.
1. The antiinflammatory 1-2 punch
Oxidation, inflammation and chemical stress is a big and bad problem for the brain.
Utilizing turmeric and ginger together, as soon as you feel a prodrome is an awesome way to give your body an anti inflammatory and pain relieving boost.
Some even report ginger aborts their migraines.
But you want to make sure you get enough of each, and an easy way is to take capsule versions of turmeric curcumin and dried ginger powder.
Usually I get reports that 250mg-500mg of dried ginger powder is a great place to start and this study found 250mg of ginger was “just as effective as sumatriptan.”
Turmeric is used in many studies for other conditions between 400-600 mg in a dried powder.
It’s important to get turmeric as well as its active ingredient turmeric curcumin and piperene which makes it absorb and function much better. A combination of these three makes a great turmeric supplement in capsule form.
But everyone is different and dosage will widely vary based on your individuality. Always check with your doctor before making any changes and look for interactions with medications.
2. The pattern breaker
We all have a pattern.
Call this our migraine pattern.
Whether it be a food pattern, stress pattern, emotional pattern, movement pattern etc…
And this pattern is triggering our migraines.
We have to find it and stop it.
But we can’t always be introspective and objective on our own lives so we need a way to break free from ourselves.
This is where the pattern breaker comes in.(Plus its golden for killing stress hormones)
It goes like this:
Sit down in a quiet dim lit space that’s comfortable and helps you hold good posture.
Stop all your thoughts and bring your focus to yourself.
Breathe slow, deep diaphragmatic breaths that are 4-6 seconds inhaling and 4-6 seconds exhaling.
Once you have your breathing pattern practised and on auto then transition into the next step but continue the breathing throughout.
Nice and slow.
Start at your feet.
Relax your feet, loosen any tension and lightly shake them out.
Then move on to your calves, relax them, let go and release any tension.
Then your thighs
Then your butt
Then your lower back
Then upper back
Then start from your hands
Work to your arms and finally into your shoulders
Focus on your shoulders, neck and head, continue breathing and relax them.
Purposely focus on relaxing , loosening and letting go of any built up stress in them.
Breathe and reconnect yourself, you got this.
Remember who you are and sit in your power.
Relax and let go, if only for right now and for yourself.
Continue breathing until you can honestly say you’ve dropped the stress you’re holding on to and can take a look at what you are doing, objectively.
If you can do this as soon as you feel anything prodromal, you have a great chance to recognize and break the pattern.
3. The hot and the cold
This one’s tough and not for the faint of heart. If you’ve never done a cold plunge then do not use full cold unless you are comfortable with it.
But it should be slightly uncomfortable because this switching between temperatures will cause your heart rate to speed up and your brain to fire altogether, helping to build new and stronger pathways that aren’t pain pathways.
Start with a fairly warm shower.
Work your way up and make sure your whole body is feeling nice and warm so that your blood vessels are dilating.
Then flip it to cold. But use a preset cold that you know you can deal with.
This has to be quite cool and will cause a change in the way blood is circulating through your body called the hunters reflex.
This will cause your lymphatic system to drain, your heart to pump more nutrients to your brain, your breathing to increase and bring in more oxygen, your blood vessels to dilate to warm you up and your brain to fire simultaneously to get your body’s functioning up to par with the situation.
It’s not easy, but it’s an easy way to combat the overly comfortable, air conditioned, sedentary lives we live and help counter some of the inflammation running rampant in the regular migraine brain.
Then finish off with some warm again.
As always, this is not medical advice and you should consult your doctor before making any changes to your lifestyle.
These techniques are amazing ways to implement natural solutions into a world that’s become so unnatural and caused half of all people to have a chronic health condition and over 1 billion people to suffer from migraine worldwide.
Join us on the journey to migraine freedom by becoming a part of the Migraine Professional community here.
How do you experience your prodrome? What do you do for it?
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Holistic Health PractitionerMark Canadic is a writer, speaker, holistic health practitioner and migraine community leader. Read Mark’s inspiring comeback story, “My Burnout and Brain Fires that Lead me to the Root.” Feel free to send Mark a message here.