Migraine Help

Disclaimer: this is my personal testimony – if you think this might work for you, please do research it and, if you’re already on doctor-prescribed medication, please do check with your GP.

I think “migraine” is thrown about quite a lot… everyone gets the odd headache, but I think only people that suffer from actual migraines understand the torment of it, and how different it is from a headache. So little is known about them – the cause; the cure. “Migrainers” (a term I refuse to adopt as a part of my identity) learn to know triggers but, for the most part, it’s still a mystery.

They present themselves differently for people, too. Mine always started with blind spotsmigraine

leading to “aura” – a wave of flashing lights in my vision that grows until my vision was all but blocked – like looking at the world through a kaleidoscope

ocular-migraine-auraoften ending with a pounding headache that felt like a physical crushing sensation.

Last Summer I had a nervous breakdown (I’ve been fairly open about that to some extent) and it led to a string of migraine attacks. They were so ferocious, I was referred to several consultants, who all agreed: just migraines. We’d also recently gone vegan (having been junk food addicts) and one consultant believed the hormone and stress changes due to the extreme diet change alone could have set them off; add in the breakdown and it was a melting pot of cortisol imbalance which was the cause.

They lasted for a couple of months, and just as I was beginning to become less afraid of them, they faded out.

Two weeks ago, out of the blue, 7 months after the last one, I had the worst migraine attack I’d ever had. In one day, I had 4 bouts of the blind spots and aura lights; nothing the next day, then 3 times again on 3 consecutive days. I went to the doctor again. I wasn’t scared of the cause any more, but it had become debilitating. We were spending all our time in blacked out rooms, I wasn’t eating, I wasn’t looking at the laptop, or tv screen or phone… we weren’t able to make anything, or do anything business-related, and that did scare me.

I was prescribed a migraine medication – I was so desperate, I would have tried anything. I really try not to take tablets… the idea of dulling my senses just doesn’t sit right with me, somehow. But I just needed this to stop, so we went to the pharmacy to get some.

We read the side effects and they were horrendous: tightening of the jaw; panic attacks; weakness in limbs… I think I cried when I read them as they sounded scarier than the migraines. We both hated the idea of me taking them so we chucked them away unopened.

We had reached a total low point – it was late at night, I was exhausted, hubby was worried about me. I’ve known people to be miraculously healed of things, and I was praying and still believing I was healed of this, but it was all so huge. The phone rang, and it was my dad. I should add, my dad and I aren’t close at all… in the 5 years I’ve been married, this was the second time he called us out of the blue; the only other time was 3 years ago to arrange a visit as he was in the Midlands meeting a business partner. He’s a nice man, my dad – we’re just not as close as some families.

Equally, my husband is a quiet, stoic, private man, and he doesn’t share private things ever. But I think maybe he needed to feel we weren’t alone, and he told my dad about the migraines. My dad didn’t know about the stuff last Summer – we don’t speak often and, when we do, it’s always about business stuff.

Without a moment’s hesitation he said, “Has she tried feverfew?”

It brought back memories of my parents giving me a little feverfew from the garden as a child when I got a headache (and of rubbing comfrey on my leg when I ran into a bush of stinging nettles), but we were skeptical because, after all, headaches aren’t the same as migraines.

He also said he’d send us a box of it as he was growing it in his herb garden. I felt hope absolutely bloom. I had thrown the prescribed medication away in disgust, and this felt like an answer to prayer.

It arrived a couple of days later, and we picked all the leaves and put them in a small tupperware tub for safe-keeping.

IMG_9350I know it doesn’t look very appetising… it tastes much worse than it looks.

We started looking into it and discovered that feverfew tablets are a known preventative for migraines… there are myriad brands, so we chose the one that would arrive soonest, and am on one tablet a day.

Last Monday (5 days ago, the day before I started taking the tablets) the blind spots re-appeared. This was a slow-burn migraine – the aura lights were slow to come and where they normally last about 20 minutes, they were gradually, gradually, gradually increasing and I could tell this one was gonna be BAD. I took some of the feverfew my dad had sent and chewed it. It tasted awful, but within minutes, the aura started to fade away; it retreated back into blind spots (it’s never done that before) almost like it was undoing itself, and then disappeared, with no trace of a headache.

This, for me, is astonishing. It felt like it was literally stopped in its tracks and undone. As I said, I’ve been taking the feverfew tablets once a day now, too, but I am still in absolute awe over what happened when I chewed the real herb.

We started calling all our local garden centres and one of them had 2 small plants in stock. We reserved them and went to pick them up. (We also bought compost, new pots so they can grow, and a lot of stuff to feed the birds… double win!)

IMG_9346While we were there, we got chatting to the owner and, oddly, she and her husband both suffer from migraines. She has experienced the aura thing, but her husband’s presents itself as a “pins and needles feeling in his eye”…. just thinking about it gave me cold shivers.

He is taking the tablets, but had never tried the fresh herb, so I told her what it did for me, and it made me realise: maybe not everyone knows about this. It made me want to talk about it, in case anyone can be helped.

I want to stress that some people experience side effects taking the tablets – they can cause bloating and indigestion, for example, but I’ve not experienced any of that (meanwhile, aspirin and Ibuprofen cause me dreadful, dreadful indigestion). Also, the Migraine Trust absolutely advocate the use of feverfew – but they don’t mention that chewing the fresh herb can halt a migraine even once it’s started. Or, at least, it did for me. Equally, it seems some people experience mouth ulcers when they chew the fresh herb but, again, I didn’t experience that at all.

The other thing about migraines is the way they leave you feeling – someone that’s had an appalling migraine will often be left feeling lethargic, listless and profoundly depressed for anything up to a week. For me, discovering feverfew has honestly given me my life back.

When we went to the doctor, I asked him about it, and he had no knowledge whatsoever… I guess GPs don’t really know about herbs, and they’ve a vested interest in prescribing pharmaceutical medications. For the record, am not against them in any way shape, or form. Our house has a medicine cabinet like everyone else’s – but this isn’t help that my doctor could have given me.

I’m not sure if this will be helpful… I so hope it will because I wouldn’t wish the torment of migraines on anyone. But if this is something you’re dealing with, and perhaps you’ve having this read to you because you can’t look at a laptop screen, I would like you to know that there is real hope. Please do research it for yourself first and if you’re currently on any medication, please do check with your GP – I’d hate for anyone to have an adverse reaction to it. But as far as I’m concerned, feverfew is a miracle cure for migraines… and it’s related to the daisy which, everyone knows, is the friendliest flower.

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39 thoughts on “Migraine Help

  1. Although I am fortunate to not have migraines regularly when they do come it is as you say, debilitating. It starts slowly from a headache and then progresses to becoming more and more painful until the pounding thud of my head is making it feel it is pulsing forward…awful. It culminates in vomitting which when finished it feels as if the air has been lifted and it slowly subsides. I have heard about feverfew before as I am interested in what plants can do naturally for health and have read that to make it more palatable you should make it into a sandwich! Unfortunately, due to the sickness element of my migranes it doesn’t help me but it may you xx

    1. Alison, that sounds horrid. I really, really hope there’s an answer for you… it’s such a curse, migraines. I don’t think any of us are meant to live with such a thing.

  2. My Mum has alwYs suffered from migraines although as she’s got older they’ve waned, I remember her growing feverfew and eating it in a sandwich to make it taste better!

    1. Hi, Joc. Aye, lots of people have mentioned having it in a sandwich, specifically with butter. I wonder if there’s something in butter that neutralises the bitterness.

  3. Wow thanks for that. I have only recently begun to have them, Im 25 and they started in my last year of uni when i was 22. I get sparkles in the corners of my eyes and it can be awful when I’m teaching and I just have to get on with it. Will def be trying this! Xxx

    1. Goodness, Tash, how do you manage to get on with it?? It made me grind to an absolute halt… half from the panic of it. Do yours ever develop into an actual headache, or is it just the visual aura?

  4. Very glad you’ve found something that helps. As a doctor I am curious why you think doctors have a vested interest in prescribing pharmaceutical medications? Sounds like you think we get money for prescribing drugs! The main principle is that treatment is is evidence based. I get auras for 20 minutes just like you describe but have been very fortunate in never having had a headache after it.

    1. Hi πŸ™‚ No, I don’t think doctors here are paid. They are in the States, for example, but I don’t think the relationship between medicine and pharmaceuticals is as incestuous here, thankfully! Vested inasmuch as, not trained to… I’ve never had a doctor prescribe me anything herbal, or natural; for that I’d go to a herbalist (and they’re generally seen as wingnuts, which is probably fair in some cases.) Doctors aren’t trained to seek out cures naturally… the whole system seems dependent on manufactured remedies… it’s almost self-sustaining. The crazy thing is, we are more aware of health issues than ever before, but people are just getting sicker and sicker. I apologise if I sound evangelical about this… I think this is just something am now super, super passionate about. Thank you for commenting, I really appreciate it. (I hope your aura disappears soon… that’s sometimes the worst part of it all as it’s so frightening.)

      1. You’re right we don’t get training in herbal remedies, but some things are routinely recommended like ginger, peppermint, linseed, St John’s wort, cranberry juice- stuff there is evidence for (none of those being for migraine!). The problem is who is going to pay for trials of everything, and just because its herbal doesn’t mean it can’t be dangerous- so we need to know about what we’re recommending! Definitely agree the fewer drugs (of whatever sort) the better. I’m amazed at what you’ve done creatively and business-wise in the last couple of years when you’ve been struggling with this at times.

      2. Thank you ever so much πŸ™‚ Oddly, I’ve never spoken about the migraines publicly before, and now that I have, we’re receiving hundreds of emails and comments from people who are going through the exact same thing… I honestly had no idea migraines were so common? Funnily enough, I think if I would have known that, it would have made it all seem much, much less scary.

  5. Wish I had known about this when I was at school! During 5th year I had a six month bout of migraines – usually one a week. It would start with the blind spot (but much bigger than the example photo!) followed by the crushing head ache. It wouldn’t stop until I was sick. Making myself sick didn’t work it had to run its own course. The school nurse didn’t believe me the first few times as I had left her office before being sick. She believed me the third time though! I’m now 37 and only had one migraine since – I would not wish it on my worst enemy so I feel your pain!

  6. My daughter just started to have migraines. She was telling me her eyes were ‘fuzzy’ then after a half hour or so she had a pain down one side of her head and I knew immediately what it was. She’s only 10! I had my first migraine 4 years ago and have had only another 3 since then thank goodness. But always with aura which is like a kind of warning isn’t it. Your post is very interesting to read, thank you x

    1. Goodness, 10 is very young for a migraine – you must have been so worried. I really hope she doesn’t (and you don’t) have another one, lovely.

  7. Hey Anna… I too suffered from migraines for YEARS. About 15 years ago I read a book called”Our Body’s Many Cries for Water” – can’t remember who wrote it but he is/was an Iranian Doctor. he basically said that the western world has spent so long yo-yo dieting that the signals our brain sends to our stomachs have become blocked and that we are mistaking the “thirst” signal for the “hunger” signal – and as a result have become chronically dehydrated. I was initially quite sceptical – and also struggled initially to drink two to three litres of water a day – I spent most of my time on the loo! But it DOES work – I still get the occasional headache but its usually because I am stressed and have been drinking too much tea and not enough plain water. I try to drink green or herbal tea and I ration my coffee to one or two lovely Costa lattes per week. Another of his tips was for insomnia – a glass of water and a banana if you can’t sleep – that works as well! Maybe its a placebo – but who cares so long as it works? Incidentally I did try feverfew but I couldn’t stomach the tablets and found the herb itself very bitter – although it did help if it was in a sandwich!

    1. Have heard that before, Karen! About our bodies mistaking thirst for hunger. So you drink actually drink 2l – 3l a day? We really try (and hubby does it every day) but I find it incredibly hard… which is silly, cos how hard is it to drink more water, really. But if you’re not thirsty, drinking water is the last thing you want to do!

  8. Glad you’ve found something to help you. I have had some migraines, though they’ve never been regular. I also get blind spots and strangely heightened sense of smell and e,enhanced colour perception… Then the headache! I’ve discovered that if I can get to sleep during the first symptoms, the headache never gets going, but I’d prefer never to have any. A friend actually had an attack that made her temporarily blind – terrifying!
    And I had heard of feverfew as a migraine preventer, but not as an actual “used-in-anger” treatment. Very interesting… So glad it works for you.

    1. Thanks, Lizzie. Oddly, through hearing other people’s experiences, it sounds like mine were relatively tame in some ways… some of the things people have experienced sounds truly frightening. She lost her vision for a while?! Ugh. I sometimes wonder if all that frenetic activity isn’t bad for the brain long term. I agree with you – I want it prevented rather than managed.

  9. thankyou for sharing this info as I have been blighted with painful migraines for many years and sadly my oldest daughter as well! I get intense pain behind my left eye! ( I call it my terminator eye!) as it is so painful! I’m totally drained with them! I will definitely take your advice in to consideration as only a migraine sufferer will understand how desperate you become when painkillers don’t make it go away!

    1. Also, painkillers don’t FIX anything, they just mask the symptoms (sometimes)… I just wanted this done and dusted permanently and I think feverfew is the key. If you decide to give it a go, I really, really hope it helps you, Michelle.

  10. I get the blind spot and aura for 20 minutes, but no headache after. I do suffer from sleeping problem’s ever since I went to the Dentist over 3 year’s ago.

  11. Thanks for sharing your experiences. I’ve suffered from migraines since I was a teenager and stopped eating chocolate and coffee around that time as I discovered it was a trigger for my Migraines. The migraines start very similar to yours except I then feel sick most times and only after vomiting (yuck) does the headache start to abate. Everything you’ve written is so familiar, that panic when you got your cluster headaches, the anxiety you felt. I feel like I could go on and on about my own experiences but you summed up pretty much how I have felt over the last 20 years! The only things I have learnt (because although I cut out brown chocolate I have been able to introduce white chocolate back into my diet in the last five years); mine have no pattern, they have lessened over the years though. I can get them when I’m stressed or over tired, the pill implant made me have the worst bout of Migraines I’ve ever had (whilst dealing with a three year old and a three month old at home, not good, not good!) and finally I don’t hate them and let them rule my life as I used to when I was younger. Someone once told me it was a way of my body getting rid of toxins and grounding itself again. In an odd way it made me feel calmer about them πŸ™‚

    Finally, I too don’t take any medication. I do however take vitamin B which is supposed to re-energise you and have in the last two months started taking 2x magnesium tablets a day. Read an article stating that it was supposed to help. Too early to say at the moment as I tend to get a migraine attack every four months but will let you know if it does help. Just off out though to find some feverfew plants …. πŸ™‚

    1. Hi, thanks for your comment… I hate hearing how many people are suffering through this. And most people aren’t talking about it, somehow. Do you know, I think something you said is key: the fear component. Being scared of them seems to make them worse. There are the practical issues, like the odd vision and light sensitivity after, and the lethargy, but the actual fear and panic just makes them so much more unbearable. Thank you for the information on Vitamin B and Magnesium. I’ll have a read about them and see about ordering some πŸ™‚

  12. I’ glad you found feverfew helpful. Unfortunately it has no effect for many sufferers including myself. When you’ve had migraines as long as I have (over 50 years, chronic for 17 years) you eventually run out of possible remedies.

    I’m fortunate that I seldom become nauseous during migraines, and pain level is less than it was when I was younger, but the migraines cause stroke-like symptoms such as weakness on one side of the body, loss of balance and coordination, inability to speak or understand words, extreme sensitivity to light, sound, and smell, fugue-like states, and occasionally unconsciousness.

  13. I’ve found your article fascinating and I’m so pleased this plant has worked for you and I shall be looking into giving it a try. Obviously will crush and try a skin blot test first.

    1. Yes, absolutely! I knew I wasn’t allergic as I recall being given feverfew as a child, but for first-time users, being safe is so, so important. I hope, though, that is helps you. Am amazed at how many people are living with migraines.

  14. I’ve suffered since I was 10 and had a horse riding accident where I was kicked in the face (I have plastic plates in my cheek) my migranes are much like having a stroke, I get the vision disturbances but I also get numbness it often starts in my hands and leg but always affects the left side of my face, my lip and eye drop and I slur my speech. For a few hours after wards I talk rubbish as my brain knows what I want to say but often something totally different comes out. I used to get so embarrassed when they come on and if I get numbness in both hands it’s scary. The pain I can cope with but the numbers scares me sometimes. The doctors say its “just” migrane but I’m exhausted for days afterwards. I’m going to give this a try and see if it helps as I’ve tried other medications but they make me more sick or give me heat palpitations. Thanks for writing this I’m glad I’m not the only one who suffers and feels a bit helpless ☺️ x

    1. No, it’s incredible how many people are going living with migraines! All to varying degrees with slightly different symptoms, but all finding them so hard to live with. One lady mentioned that she used to have feverfew in salad and it made the migraines stop for her. But please, please check with your GP, Caroline. If your migraines are that severe, I’d hate for feverfew to have any adverse side effects for you. Big love and best hopes. x

  15. Hi sweetie, so happy to hear that you have found some help/relief from your migraines. Hate to think of you suffering. Big hugs hun xxx

  16. I had my first migraine shortly after having my first baby 26 years ago. It was triggered by sunlight shining through the glass in our front door – the glass was opaque and moulded into vertical lines, possibly acting like a prism. I remember squinting at the bright light and looking away, discovering that I had a blind spot in my vision, followed by what I can only describe as a kaleidoscopic pattern emerging as a central cluster that gradually opened out before finally dispersing. I had no idea what was happening to me as I hadn’t experienced this before and hadn’t known anyone in my family or circle of friends having had this happen to them. I took paracetamol at the start of the attack and instinctively sat in a dark room as I couldn’t tolerate the daylight. It took about an hour before my vision returned to normal and I felt drained and had a slight headache. Fortunately I don’t have the nausea. I wondered if it was hormone related after having a baby.
    I have the odd attack since then, once while driving, again due to sunlight through glass. I was parked at some traffic lights, looked out of the side window and when I looked away to drive off I had the aura. I had to pull over as I couldn’t see well enough to continue driving. Fortunately, I had some paracetamol with me and a pair of sunglasses (which, upon reflection – no pun intended – I should have been wearing to start with) and the attack passed after twenty minutes or so.
    Another trigger for me is if I am rushing about and haven’t eaten anything or am stressed about something.
    I shall try the feverfew remedy next time rather than the painkillers, but hopefully that won’t be any time soon. I have learnt to wear sunglasses when the sunlight is too bright to bear and to always have breakfast before rushing about, although I tend to go at a slower pace these days and do things ‘drekkly’ as they say in Cornwall.

    1. Hi, Kate – it’s interesting what you say about light – I think that was a trigger for mine, too. Sometimes after a migraine, too, reading was difficult was a few days; like I wasn’t able to focus on the words. Squinting helped, and wearing sunglasses helped, but it wasn’t nice. Am glad they’re not a common thing for you… they are horrible, horrible things.

  17. Firstly I want to say thank you for sharing this as I suffer from chronic migraines and when they are are at their worst they can last up to 10 days! Having spoken with my doctor he seen no reason why I couldn’t try feverfew, and I am astounded by how effectively it works. Thanks so much for this it’s hugely helped me πŸ™‚

  18. Hiya, I just wanted to say I never forgot about this article from you. I’ve recently found some feverfew capsule in a main stream health supplement shop and decided to start taking them as my migraines have returned with a vengeance and were ruining every weekend or exciting event for me and my friends and family. I’ve been taking them for two weeks now and not had an attack since. I have felt the beginnings of them but a couple of paracetamol or some neck stretches and they have gone. Never before has anything like that saved me from 8 to 24 hours of hell. I wanted to thank you for sharing this article and giving me some of my life back. Thank you. ☺

    1. Lynda, I’m so, so pleased. I’ve been meaning to do another blog entry on this, actually – I also recommend taking a magnesium supplement every day. Magnesium works on the nervous system, which is where they’re beginning to believe migraines stem from. Am completely migraine-free (I believe permanently) and it’s a mixure of prayer, feverfew, magenisum and drinking at least 2 litres of water every day, (500ml with raw apple cider vinegar and 500ml with barley grass.) Am so glad you’re 2 weeks into not having them any more! x

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