MIGRAINE: Identify Your Triggers, Break Dependence on Medication, Take Back Your Life

Author: Sharron Murray, MS, RN, Dr. Mao Shing Ni
Publisher: Conari Press
Book Publication: 2013

An examination of the prevailing research on migraine (headaches) would reveal that it is a genetic, neurological disease with no current cure; affects approximately 14% of the world’s population; is recognized as a major cause of disability; and the cost is high and far-reaching in terms of quality of life, lost productivity, and medical expenses.

Migraines are debilitating and complex, manifesting in a combination of symptoms that vary from person to person, and can include excruciating head pain as well as other distinctive physical and emotional effects: nausea, vomiting, dizziness and depression. Yet, as ‘migraineur’ (people diagnosed with migraine disease) Sharron Murray, a nurse and former college professor, demonstrates in her book Migraine: Identify Your Triggers, Break Dependence on Medication, Take Back Your Life, it is also a disease that can be controlled, managed, and improved.

This book explains the possible causes of this disease, the things that might trigger an attack, treatment options, and contraindications.

Murray’s approach is a comprehensive one, pointing out that migraines involve not just our heads and stomachs but the mind and spirit as well; and that there are many safer, and more readily available, options than popping pills to help deal with migraines.
Murray begins by addressing how conventional Western medicine diagnoses and treats migraine disease. In this section, she discusses the many theories of the causes of migraines. This section also provides a detailed explanation of a number of the possible triggers (food and beverage, environmental, hormonal, and emotional), and how “[these] cause our bodies to respond in the crazy way they do.” Murray also takes an in-depth look at the various drug therapies to treat symptoms and prevent attacks, including their risks and side-effects.

Part two is devoted to how Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners view and treat migraines. This section is meant to help sufferers understand how techniques such as acupuncture/acupressure, meditation, and body/mind exercise like tai chi can help lessen the effects of stress and avert headaches. Included here is a segment on acupressure which features step by step directions on where and how you can apply pressure or massage using your own hands to help relieve migraine headaches at the onset.

Murray follows the TCM segment with a discussion of integrative therapies like chiropractic, physiotherapy, regular exercise, yoga, meditation, breathing techniques, biofeedback, cold therapy, massage, reflexology, Reiki, and healing touch that have all been shown to be beneficial in treating migraines. Murray still practices biofeedback exercises if she feels a migraine coming on. She explains, “Biofeedback is a body-mind connection geared toward helping people consciously control their pulse, blood flow, muscle tension, and oxygen intake to increase relaxation, reduce stress, and relieve pain. The redistribution of blood flow may help relieve the throbbing and pulsating pain associated with migraine attacks.” An exercise that migraine sufferers can use for themselves is also included.

Murray’s objective in Migraine is to offer a number of options which will empower the ‘migraineur’ to explore and combine to create their own personalized approach to their migraines. If you have been diagnosed as a ‘migraineur’, this book will prove to be extremely useful. It is clearly written and filled with helpful tips and insights. Murray’s advice is both logical and inspiring: “Take responsibility for your healing, discover and avoid as much as possible your own particular triggers, look beyond medication for ways to deal with your pain, and  reduce stress.”

By making the right choices for themselves, migraine sufferers will be able to tackle their disease, and hopefully have results similar to Murray’s own: “As long as I’ve stuck to my wellness plan, for the past six years, I’ve been ninety-eight percent free of any headache, including the dreaded migraine.”

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Susannah Kent is a Toronto area Fitness and Healthy Lifestyle Instructor.

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