A migraine episode is a debilitating combination of a severe headache and other neurologically related symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, visual disturbances, numbness or tingling in the face or extremities, and extreme sensitivity to light, sound, and smell. Migraines are no small problem either – an estimated 1 billion people worldwide suffer from this prevalent neurological condition. This means that it’s hard to meet someone whose life remains unbothered by migraines.
What Causes Migraines?
If you or someone you are close with suffers from migraines, you may ask what the cause of the problem is. Despite constant research, migraines still remain somewhat of a mystery. However, researchers have pinpointed likely causes and contributing factors. They happen in people with a more sensitive nervous system. Nerve cells in the brain are stimulated easier, producing abnormal electrical activity. This causes disturbances in various functions – vision, balance, speech, coordination, etc. Overstimulation of the trigeminal nerve (the 5th cranial nerve) explains the crippling headache that impacts many migraineurs. The trigeminal nerve can cause pain behind the eyes, in the scalp and forehead, the mouth, and the jaw. Additionally, when the nerve is overstimulated, it can release substances that lead to painful inflammation of the blood vessels in the brain and the delicate covering of the nerves and brain tissue (the meninges).
Something else you may have noticed is that migraines are more common among women. Estrogen, the hormone that is dominant in females, may explain why women may be more susceptible to experiencing migraines right before, during, or just after their menstrual cycle.
Commonly Used Migraine Treatments
When it comes to migraine treatment, there are usually two schools of thought:
- Using medication and other options to try and prevent the onset of an episode
- Using medication and other options to lessen or halt an episode that has already started
Most of the standard migraine treatment options are symptom-based, meaning that they aim to diminish a particular symptom of a migraine attack. For example, some medications are designed to reduce headache pain and others help to mitigate nausea. In many cases, a combination of drugs is used in order to address any symptoms you may be having. This combination may include over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen, aspirin, acetaminophen, and caffeine, as well as other drugs prescribed by your physician, such as triptans, beta-blockers, antidepressants, and anticonvulsants.
Does Himalayan Salt Work to Treat Migraines?
If you suffer from migraines and have looked into non-pharmaceutical options for treatment, you may have come across information that suggests that drinking salt water made with Himalayan salt (along with lemon juice according to some sources) can help with migraines. A big reason that this might be effective boils down to one very prevalent migraine trigger: dehydration.
As most people with migraines know, their symptoms can be intimately related to diet, both what you choose to eat and drink and what you avoid. Inadequate water intake, combined with the fact that a migraine episode can cause a loss of appetite and vomiting, can mean that you’re low on fluids and electrolytes, including sodium. If you’ve ever needed an emergency room visit due to a migraine, you’ll know that the first thing that often happens is the administration of IV fluids – a combination of water, salt, and glucose (sugar).
Himalayan sea salt differs from regular table salt because of its purity and mineral content. It is rich in calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, and other minerals. If dehydration is a factor in the development of your migraine episodes, then the simple trick of preparing a mixture of fresh water, Himalayan sea salt crystals, and fresh lemon juice may help you to feel better.
Upper Cervical Chiropractic Care Addresses the Root Cause of Migraines
When it comes to trying to address the underlying cause of migraines, upper cervical chiropractic care has helped many people to regain their quality of life. A misalignment of the uppermost vertebra in the neck, the atlas, can contribute to the development of migraine attacks. It can do so in several ways:
- An atlas misalignment can hinder normal neurological function. This is particularly relevant to migraineurs due to the location of the origin of the trigeminal nerve on the brainstem. The atlas forms a protective ring around the brainstem. However, when misaligned, it can begin to irritate the nerves and cause inflammation and subsequent pain.
- An atlas misalignment may restrict blood flow. The blood vessels that carry blood between the head and neck pass through and around the atlas. A misalignment left in place for long enough can begin to cause migraine symptoms.
- When the atlas misaligns, it can impede the normal drainage and flow of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). CSF occurs in the brain and is responsible for providing nutrition for the tissues of the central nervous system.
Upper cervical chiropractic focuses on the precise and gentle correction of the atlas. Because of the uniqueness and complexity of this area, it takes an accurate adjustment to restore normal alignment. Once that is successful, your body’s natural healing abilities can take place more effectively, leading to fewer and less severe migraine episodes. Many patients under upper cervical chiropractic care even report a complete resolution of their symptoms. To learn more about upper cervical chiropractic care, browse our website, take some time to read some of our other blog posts, and schedule a consultation with a provider near you.