Ayurveda Treatment For Migraine
Ayurveda promotes mind-body medicine in a comprehensive manner and thus influences physiological processes including autonomic modulation to control the disease. Ayurvedic treatment for migraine headaches involves the elimination of vitiated Kapha Dosha which in turn helps to prevent the forthcoming Kapha disorders and associated Pitta disorders.
What is migraine?
Is migraine headache making your life miserable and unproductive? Migraine is a complex neurological disorder, which is prevalent across the world and getting rid of it permanently can be a difficult situation to achieve through conventional medicines. This is because there is no such medicine designed particularly for treating your migraine headache. This is the reason why people are more open towards alternative medicine like Ayurveda, acupuncture and herbal medicines.
Migraine headache is characterized as one of the most common primary headache disorder, where a person experiences a pulsatile throbbing sensation in the head on the unilateral side. Migraine headaches can affect a person’s life by hindering the productivity of an individual. It is often associated with comorbidities causing a greater degree of disability.
Migraine pain can be triggered by a number of psychological and physiological stressors. Various researches have shown that psychological stress, sleep deprivation, lack of physical exercise, fasting, and change in weather conditions can trigger migraine headaches. The intensity and frequency of migraine headaches vary between individuals and the symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light and visual disturbances.
Conventional therapies for migraine are often associated with side effects, due to which most of the migraine patients are reluctant to take these medicines and prefer complementary and alternative medicines (CAM). Migraine is among common forms of a headache that continues to pose a big challenge to the medical world due to its incompletely understood etiology and unpredictable nature. This is more so when over the years an episodic migraine in some persons progresses to chronic, refractory or medication overuse headache.
Migraine is a complex disorder characterized by a recurrent episode of a severe headache which is most often unilaterally (only one side) and may be associated with visual or sensory symptoms which are known as an "AURA" that occurs before the head pain or it may also occur during or after. Migraine is the most common form of a headache largely affecting the urban population. About 15-17% of women and 5-7% of men are affected by this disorder. Though a migraine may occur in all age groups, it is highly prevalent in the age group of 18-45 years. Migraine attacks are characterized by recurrent headaches with a unilateral or bilateral location, pulsating nature and moderate to severe intensity causing significant debility. World Health Organization has ranked migraine 6th among disability causing diseases.
There is no established cause and cure for a migraine. Though diverse theories have been brought forward from time to time by experts, none of these are able to provide long-term prophylactic treatment. On the contrary, the prolonged use of painkillers further triggers Medication Overuse Headache (MOH) and other side effects.
How Ayurveda Views Migraine
Ayurveda and Yoga therapy are two ancient Indian systems of medicine whose integration offers a holistic approach. Migraine treatment in Ayurveda is mentioned as Ardhavabedhaka that describes one-sided pain which is intense and piercing in nature. It also states that Ardhavabhedaka is attributed to various causes, such as daytime sleeping, fasting, and fear, intake of dry food items, stress, alcohol, weeping, anxiety, and grief.
Ayurveda promotes mind-body medicine in a comprehensive manner and thus influences physiological processes including autonomic modulation to control the disease. Ayurvedic treatment for migraine headaches involves the elimination of vitiated Kapha Dosha which in turn helps to prevent the forthcoming Kapha disorders and associated Pitta disorders. This can be achieved through the administration of samshodhana (Panchakarma-Bio-purificatory techniques, kaya virechana (therapeutic purgation), Pathya ahara (wholesome regulated diet) and vihara (wholesome regulated lifestyle). All of which help maintain homeostasis balance between all dosha for prevention and treatment of diseases.
According to the vaidyas, conventional ayurvedic practitioners, the treatment works on the principle that migraine occurs whenever the acid-alkaline balance in the stomach is disturbed. This, according to them, results in greater pitta, a step used in Ayurveda to look at an individual's health utilizing the pulse and affects body functions. The treatment that is prescribed is designed to restore the balance.
The cure is also dependent on the change in the lifestyle of these patients. Though considered genetic in nature, a number of environmental factors trigger migraines such as anxiety, change in the meals consumed, and other environmental factors. An external stimulus such as excessive noise, light, stress, and tension all contribute to increasing migraine pains. Weak digestion is also a contributing factor that increases ama within the human body and prevents proper blood flow in the body and brain. Ayurveda and allopathy cite irregular eating habits like long intervals between meals as triggers for migraines as well.
See: Ayurvedic Diet
Migraine Treatment in Ayurveda
In Ayurveda "Ardhavbhedaka" is described by Charaka Samhita in siddhi sthana (9/74-78).
Charaka explains Ardhavbhedaka as cutting and churning type of pain in the half part of the head, ears, eyes, and forehead. So we can compare Ardhavbhedaka with a Migraine. Charaka also mentioned that if a headache is very severe than it may diminish the power of vision and hearing. The treatment course is decided by evaluating the history of patients and according to the individual's Prakriti.
A migraine is caused by mainly Pitta and Vata Dosha. Some classics describe it as Tridoshaja. In a research paper by Vd Prerak Shah, CLINICAL STUDY OF ‘MIG-17’ NASAL DROPS IN THE MANAGEMENT OF ARDHAVABHEDAKA W.S.R. TO MIGRAINE, ‘Mig-17’ Nasal Drop was shown to have success and that it is capable of breaking the Samprapti (Pathogenesis) of a Migraine. The drugs used in ‘Mig-17’ are indicated for Urdhvajatrugata Vikara in classics. Amalaki due to its Sheeta Potency lowers the aggravated Pitta. Yastimadhu removes excessive Kapha. Sunthi due to its hot property pacifies Vata and Kapha and increases the penetration power of the formulation. In addition to Sunthi is also recognized by modern science and they have done research showing its effectiveness in Migraine. Aritha is described as Urdhva shodhana in classics, so it has the potency to clear the blocked channels (Strotoshodhana). Urdhvajatrugata Rogas (Diseases of the supraclavicular region) and their management have a special place in Ayurveda. Shirah (Head) being the prime seat of knowledge and also the prime controller of the entire body has been termed as Uttamanga (superlative organ). Hence, the diseases occurring in the Urdhvajatru have been very clearly highlighted in the Ayurvedic classics along with their management. Nasa (nose) has been considered as the gateway to Shirah. Nasya karma is indicated to uproot the deep-seated diseases of the head.
Vaidya Gaurang Joshi describes it as follows: According to Ayurveda, Migraine is Tridoshaj Vyadhi and among Tridosha Vata and Pitta are predominant factors. Vata controls the nervous system and the activities of the brain and imbalance in Vata trigger the disease. We can consider all the Vata prakopak (aggravating) Ahaar(diet) and Vihar(lifeStyle) like sleeplessness, stress, extreme cool condition, Irregular food habits. Pitta is also considered as one of the cause so Pitta aggravated diet like spicy food, junk food, beverages, stress is also the important causes of a Migraine.
As per Ayurveda, if a Migraine dominated with Vata dosha patient may have dryness of skin and the pain is very acute.
If it is dominated by Pitta patient may feel Redness and Burning sensation in the eyes.
If it is dominated by Kapha than the patient may experience fatigue, depression, and headache with a dull throbbing pain.
Vaidya Balendu Prakash has developed Ayurveda Treatment Protocols and treats patients using the age-old Ayurvedic concept of aahar (diet), vihaar (lifestyle) and aushadh (medicines). Using in-house prepared Ayurvedic formulations, coupled with a regulated diet and lifestyle, the treatment brings complete and sustainable relief from migraines. During the treatment period of four months, this protocol works to eliminate the root cause of Migraine, restore the metabolic balance of the body and restores fitness and health.
Management of Migraine
There are a number of ways that Ayurveda can bring balance to life and treat the root cause of migraines. In addition to specific research-based treatment options listed above, other integrative therapies help manage migraine headaches.
1. Diet therapy
a. Dosha specific nutrition: Depending on the dosha(s) involved in headache and also the patient’s constitution, the patient must be instructed to eat a diet that pacifies the aggravated dosha.
b. Avoiding or minimizing migraine trigger foods: Migraine trigger foods can be different in every individual and finding these trigger foods can help to minimize migraine headaches
2. Lifestyle modification
Migraine (Ardhavabhedaka) can be prevented by following a healthy lifestyle. Maintaining a regular sleep schedule, eating routine and working habits and avoiding migraine triggers can reduce the frequency and severity of migraine headaches. Some of these healthy lifestyles include a good diet and exercise routine, night's sleep, a morning routine, & a low-stress lifestyle.
3. Massage Therapy
Massage therapy and stretching exercises can also help minimize the severity and frequency of migraine headaches. It is very important that migraineurs get the proper amount of sleep.
4. Yoga therapy
Since stress is an important factor in creating both migraine and tension headaches, yoga can without a doubt help in preventing these types of headaches. Yoga can also help with tension in the muscles of the neck, back and head which contribute to headaches. Yoga helps to release tight muscles and improve blood circulation in that region. Yoga helps relax the mind as well.
5. Meditation therapy
Stress is a major contributor to both tension and migraine headaches. Reciting mantras and doing breath meditation can reduce stress. In this meditation, sit in a comfortable position. There are many types of meditations available.
6. Herbal therapy
A mixture of herbal essential oils can help to alleviate the headache. Peppermint essential oil in massage oils and balm can with help with migraines.
Essential oils can enter the body through the skin, nasal passages, bronchioles, lungs, and gastrointestinal tract.
Different types of breathing exercises have different effects on the body, mind, and spirit. Breathing practices purify nadis (subtle channels that carry prana through the field of mind). If the headache is due to Vata vitiation, one can benefit from alternate nostril breathing (Anuloma Viloma). If the headache is due to pitta vitiation, doing lunar and shitali pranayama can help and if due to Kapha dosha vitiation, solar and kapalabhati pranayama can be beneficial.
9. Soothing nose drops (Nasya):
Putting about 5 drops of Brahmi ghee in each nostril can alleviate the pain of migraine headaches. In Vata type headaches, placing 3-5 drops of warm ghee in each nostril can help to calm down the headache.
Many of these integrative therapies help and are effective but should be taken with the advice of the expert or Ayurveda Physician.
Ayurvedic protocols for migraine
Ayurvedic Treatments Protocols and Formulations commonly used for Migraine:
Shiroshuladi vajra rasa
Ardha narishwar rasa
Maha lakshmivilas rasa
Herbs used in Migraine:
Shirisha (Albizia lebbeck)
Yastimadhu (Glycyrrhiza glabra)
Vidanga (Embelia ribes)
Tilam (Sesamum indicum)
Research on Migraine Treatment in Ayurveda
1. In a research study named Response to Ayurvedic therapy in the treatment of migraine without aura.. 406 migraine patients were offered specially designed Ayurvedic Treatment Protocol. However, only 204 patients could complete the study. The ayurvedic treatment protocol comprised of five ayurvedic medicines namely Narikel Lavan, Sootshekhar Rasa, Sitopaladi Churna, Rason Vati and Godanti Mishran in a combined dose of 7.3 gm. /day. The duration of the ayurvedic treatment was followed for 90 days along with regulated diet and lifestyle modifications that included a minimum 8 h sleep, morning or evening walk for 30-60 min and refraining from smoking/drinking. The outcome measures included identifying the frequency and intensity of headache at 30, 60, 90 days.
The results showed a marked reduction in migraine frequency and pain intensity among 70.5% (144) of the individuals who followed the ayurvedic treatment protocol, showing its effectiveness in treating migraine.
2. Another pilot study is on the Clinical efficacy of Agnikarma and Pathyadi decoction (an Ayurvedic formulation) in the management of Ardhavabhedaka (migraine)..
15 patients were selected who fulfilled the inclusion criteria for Ardhavabhedaka (migraine). The treatment protocol included administration of heat through Agnikarma (small equipment made up of 5 metals - copper, iron, lead, silver, and Zinc) and Pathyadi decoction (an Ayurvedic formulation). Agnikarma procedure was carried out 4 times at an interval of 7 days.
During the procedure of Agnikarma, the patient was asked to lie down on the lateral side facing the affected part upward.
Agnikarma Shalaka was preheated on a gas stove till red hot. A small dot type of burn about 2-3mm was applied on the tenderest point superficially, which was previously marked on the temporal side of the face.
Immediately after applying the dot, a mixture containing unequal parts of honey and ghrita was applied at the surface and was asked to continue the application 2 times a day for 7 days.
Along with this, the patient was given pathyadi decoction at a dose of 40 ml twice a day on an empty stomach for 30 days.
The clinical efficacy of the treatment was carried out where the patients reported 72.2% relief from headache and 100% relief from all the other symptoms like Hrillasa (nausea), Chhardi (vomiting), Bhrama (Vertigo), Shabda Asahishnuta (phonophobia), Prakasha Asahishnuta (photophobia).
Nasya in Migraine:
Classical Nasya formulations:
Powder of Yastimadhu (Glycyrrhiza glabra) with honey.
Juice of Root and fruit of Shirisha(Albizia lebbeck).
An equal quantity of vidanga (Embelia ribes) and tilam (Sesamum indicum) is crushed with water and used as nasya.
Juice of Bhrungraj(Eclipta alba) mixed with goat milk.
Ayurveda Treatment Protocol as developed by Vaidya Balendu Prakash
Ayurvedic treatment is based on research and clinical trials done by Vaidya Balendu Prakash called AyTP or Ayurvedic Treatment Protocol. AyTp is based on five Ayurvedic medicines, Narikel Lavan, Sootshekhar Rasa, Sitopaladi Churna, Rason Vati and Godanti Mishran.
In addition to Ayurvedic medication, the protocol calls for a regulated diet along with lifestyle modifications such as 8 hours of minimum sleep and minimum 30-60 minutes of exercise such as a walk. The protocol also calls complete abstention from alcohol intake and smoking. The trial was done on 206 patients for a period of 90 days. Positive outcomes such as no headaches were observed after completion of the program.
In the mid-80s a middle-aged lady suffering from a chronic migraine was examined by Vaidya Balendu Prakash and found to have pitta related issues. A correlation was made between Sleshma Pitta & Migraine and an Ayurvedic Treatment Protocol (ATP) was developed by Vaidya Prakash. ATP comprises of Aahar (diet), Vihaar (lifestyle) and Aushadh (Ayurvedic formulations - AYFs). This treatment protocol showed sustainable results in the patient and, subsequently, in many more patients. The results of this innovative treatment have since then been documented and presented at various national and international platforms in the form of posters, presentations and scientific papers.
Safety and pharmacological studies conducted on AYFs indicate that they are safe up to ten times the dose prescribed for humans and that they do not act on any of the symptoms characteristic of a migraine.
A randomized controlled clinical trial has also been carried out on 154 migraine patients of refractory/a chronic migraine at the Department of Neurology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi to validate the said ATP. The outcome of the study shows that ATP brings sustainable and significant improvement in migraine patients as compared to conventional treatment, further substantiating the efficacy of Ayurveda treatment protocol for migraine relief.
Real world outcomes from Migraine patients
Are there any success stories from real patients who experienced ayurveda a success therapy to combat cancer illness?
Case study published in AYURVEDIC MANAGEMENT OF MIGRAINE- A CASE STUDY.. A 35-year-old male patient suffering from Chronic migraine was treated with ayurvedic formulation along with Panchakarma. The patient was previously taking Allopathic medicine, Tab. Sumatriptan but couldn’t find the desired effect and came to seek for ayurvedic treatment. Upon investigation, all the systemic observation were found to be normal. However, the patient was found to be addicted to smoking, has mental tension and was suffering from insomnia and also used to sleep late during nights.
The patient was treated with Godanti Bhasma 250mg OD, Sutashekhar Ras 250mg BD, Shirshuladivajra Ras 250mg BD, Pathyadi kadha 20ml BD taken after food for 7 days with an equal amount of normal water. On first follow up after 7 days same medicine was asked to be repeated along with Panchakarma therapy that involved Virechana(therapeutic purgation), Snehana (oleation therapy) along with Panchtikta Ghrit in increasing dose for 7 days. On 8th and 9th day Abhyanga(whole body oil massage) and Swedana(steam) was given followed by Abhyanga, Swedana, Virechana along with Icchabhedi Ras 2 Tablet empty stomach in morning on the 10th day.
After Virechana patient was advised to follow Sansarjanakrama (dietary regimen) with the same Ayurvedic medicine for next 15 days and treatment was stopped after that. After one month of treatment, the patient had reported 95% relief from his headache and also do not have a long episode of headache which increased his work productivity.
Ayurvedic home remedies for migraine
Dealing with migraine pain can never be easy. Home remedies for migraines can help you get rid of that pesky headache naturally without visiting a doctor or a drug store. It is proposed that the administration of ginger tea can help abort the prophylactic effects of migraines and provide relief from its symptoms.
Other remedies may include applying a hot pack or cold pack and easing the pressure on the scalp by wearing goggles, hat, or headband. The patients with migraine are photophobic, in this case, they can try to dim the lights of their computer screen while working for late hours, use dark curtains to avoid excessive lights in their house, head massage, yoga, exercise, and meditation can also provide relief from migraine symptoms.
Suppressing migraine pain with conventional medicines provides only short-term relief and the pain can recur anytime. Also depending upon these medications, can decrease the body’s natural pain relief mechanism causing damage to the vital organs. Ayurveda understands the root cause of the disease and provides a treatment that can heal you from depth. Ayurveda restores the ojas by eliminating the harmful toxins from the body and aims to strengthen the nerves by nourishing them deeply through proper blood circulation. Ayurvedic remedy for migraine along with yoga, meditation, dietary changes, and good lifestyle habits can do wonders in treating the disease and gives you new birth.
1. Vaidya PB1, Vaidya BS, Vaidya SK. Response to Ayurvedic therapy in the treatment of migraine without aura. Int J Ayurveda Res. 2010 Jan;1(1):30-6.
2. Brinda Kanakhara, Varsha ChaudhariA pilot study on clinical efficacy of Agnikarma and Pathyadi decoction (an Ayurvedic formulation) in the management of Ardhavabhedaka (migraine)
3. Shambharkar Nitesh. AYURVEDIC MANAGEMENT OF MIGRAINE- A CASE STUDY . International Journal of Applied Ayurved Research.
See: Migraine diet