By John Salak –
Anyone who has ever had a migraine knows this is no run-of-the-mill headache that can be easily dispatched with a couple of Tylenols. Migraines are painfully sharp and blinding affairs that can incapacitate a sufferer. They are also unbelievably common.
Almost 40 million Americans and 1 billion people worldwide deal with migraines, making these headaches the third most prevalent illness in the world, according to the Migraine Research Foundation. They attack men, women and children, although women are two to three times more likely to get one than men. They are costly too. Every year, migraines cost the U.S. economy $36 billion in lost workers’ productivity and healthcare expenses.
What’s the relief to this painful problem? There are lots of options but they’re not all entirely successful. Botox, for example, has been known to help migraine sufferers. Prescription drugs are also available. Myofascial massage techniques along with other hands-on approaches have also helped, according to Til Luchau, a Certified Advanced Rolfer and the originator of the Advanced Myofascial Techniques approach.
Luchau told Massage Magazine of two studies that showed general massage and myofascial treatments can reduce the severity and frequency of migraines. This approach might work because it can be effective in dealing with commingled headaches where both tension and migraine elements are present and tension subsequently triggers migraines.
Migraine sufferers also increasingly are turning to cannabis and cannabinoids to help relieve the pain they experience. Medical marijuana, of course, has been used for years in states where possible to help offset the pain. But now cannabis and cannabinoids use is even more apparent as markets open up. In fact, a survey just released by Healint’s Migraine Buddy, a global migraine tracking app, discovered that 30 percent of U.S. migraine patients have used cannabis to relieve migraine pain and 82 percent of those who have tried it found it to be effective.
Another treatment option may now be available as well and it doesn’t involve needles, rubs or ingesting cannabis or prescriptions. The University of Arizona just reported that green light therapy significantly reduced the number of days and the severity pain migraine sufferers experienced.
The Arizona study focused on exposing episodic and chronic migraine patients to white light for one to two hours a day for 10 weeks and then after a two-week break they were exposed to green under the same pattern. The detailed surveys the participants filed after these 10-week sessions found that their number of headaches per month decreased by 60 percent on average.
Using the numeric scale, the participants also reported a 60-percent reduction in the severity of their migraines after being exposed to green light.
“This is the first clinical study to evaluate green light exposure as a potential preventive therapy for patients with migraine, ” reported Mohab Ibrahim, MD, PhD, lead author of the study. “As a physician, this is really exciting. Now I have another tool in my toolbox to treat one of the most difficult neurological conditions — migraine.”
Ibrahim also noted that all but one of that study’s participants opted to keep the green light apparatus after the research was concluded because it was so successful in helping them control the negative impact of migraines.
Co-author Amol Patwardhan, MD, PhD, acknowledged that treating migraines is still a challenge but that the green light therapy offers some amazing benefits. “The use of a nonpharmacological therapy such as green light can be of tremendous help to a variety of patients that either do not want to be on medications or do not respond to them,” Patwardhan said. “The beauty of this approach is the lack of associated side effects. If at all, it appears to improve sleep and other quality of life measures.”