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Real Migraine Help


Photo courtesy of chrismaverick


Migraines are more than a painful inconvenience, they are a serious threat to your health and should be heeded as a warning of things to come.  The latest understanding of migraines is that they are, in fact, precursors to stroke.  Altered blood flow in your brain is what causes the pain.  Beyond drugs though, most people, including doctors, are at a loss as what to do about this.  But there is a lot that can and should be done.


So what can you do about it?  There are many factors that influence migraines but in my experience most migraine sufferers are in stress physiology and have hemispheric imbalance.  What on earth does that mean?


Stress physiology is when your nervous system is running at high RPMs even when you are not especially stressed.  You are, what we would call, in stress mode.  Your heart rate is higher, breathing shallower, hands and feet are chronically cold, bowel is sluggish, eyes can be more light sensitive, among other things.  As you can imagine, your body will work entirely different when you’re running from a bear than when are you are relaxing after dinner.  Life only requires you to be in stress mode about 5% of the time.  When you are chronically in this state, bad things happen, including migraines.


Relaxing is not enough to get you out of stress mode.  It’s become a habit that you must consciously break with specific activities.  Here are some tips:


  1. Relax on your feet – Do long duration, low intensity exercise.  Exercising with a lower heart rate (180-age) moves you toward low stress physiology.
  2. Breathe – Your breathing rate should be between 4-8 breaths per minute with your exhale lasting twice as long as your inhale.  Practice this!  Over time you’ll create a healthier breathing habit.
  3. Talk – Meaningful conversation activates important brain areas that calm your nervous system.


Hemispheric imbalance simply means that the two sides of your brain are out of balance.  Your left hemisphere is constantly activated by the details of the day and use of your right hand (typically).  Conversely, it’s easy to neglect the right hemisphere tasks of empathy and big picture thinking.  That combined with little use of your left hand can leave your right hemisphere rather under-activated.  If the difference is great enough, this can trigger migraines during times of stress.  What to do?


  1. Make it a point to use your left hand more.  Even go so far as switching your mouse to your left hand for a while each month.
  2. Hand grips – Buy a pair and squeeze them with your left hand 10-20 every couple hours or so.  This is strong activation for your right hemisphere.


None of this advice will replace a consultation with your chiropractor but it hopefully opens you to the possibility of a real solution.

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