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Articles by Tamara Der-Ohanian, DSHM

Homeopathy for Migraines; Treating the Cause

As published in the March 2003 issue of Vitality Magazine

Patient: “Every time I take the medication my headache disappears, but only to return the next day”.
Doctor: “What happens the next day?”
Patient: “My boss drives me crazy, so I hit my head against the wall!”

Is your migraine headache a result of self-destructive behaviour? As humans, we have the capacity to create our own pain. Often, people knowingly sabotage their health and well-being; carrying on with unhealthy relationships, staying in jobs that do not provide fulfillment, eating foods that cause them indigestion, continuing with self destructive habits like smoking, drinking and “recreational” drugs. They continue this vicious cycle in spite of their despair for recovery and the attainment of the ever-illusive “happiness”. We are all familiar with the phrases “I will be happy when I meet my soul-mate, pay off my debts, have breast enlargement surgery or win the lottery.” In an attempt to avoid pain and discomfort, people learn to become comfortably attached to theses dependable companions known as destructive behaviours and habits. Are you ready and willing to let go of your pain? Let homeopathy gently guide you through this transition.

One out of every 12 Canadians suffer from migraines, of which two thirds are women. While most migraines are a result of stressful and unhappy lifestyles, some are also hormonal and environmental in nature.

Physical triggers of migraines include over-exertion, fatigue and alignment problems, while psychological ones are stress, worry, shock and anxiety. Some dietary triggers can include consumption of certain foods, alcohol, or missing meals. Medical reasons may consist of blood pressure and dental problems. The hormonal reasons can include menstruation, menopause or the contraceptive pill, and finally the environmental ones can be changes in weather and barometric pressure.

I call these triggers – not causes, since in homeopathy the causes of ill-health stem from our organisms’ inability to deal with outside influences such as physical and environmental stresses. The answer? Work on strengthening yourself (your constitution) and the pain will take care of itself. This is how homeopathy works.

In homeopathy there are no medicines for migraines. As a matter of fact, there are no medicines for Arthritis, Insomnia, Bell’s Palsy, Epstein-Barr Syndrome, Facioscapulohumeral Dystrophy, or any other label you can conjure up. However there are treatments for people; people who suffer from many conditions. It is you that needs the treatment, not the disease.

Just as no two fingerprints are alike, no two migraine headaches are felt or expressed the same way. One patient suffering from migraines may have visual disturbances and nausea, while another may experience numbness. Some headaches are “stabbing” while others are “throbbing”. Some start on the occiput and travel upwards, settling over the right eye, while others start around the sinuses then shoot down one shoulder. In order to help you, a homeopath needs to know how you are different; the triggering cause, the location and quality of your pain, the direction it travels in, the sensations felt, symptoms that accompany your migraine, what makes the headache better or worse, your moods, appetite and sleep patterns, and many more details about who you are.

In homeopathic medicine, treatment of migraines is constitutional, as is the treatment of any other chronic ailment. This means that your homeopath will find one remedy that is exclusive to you and your unique expression of your headaches. Aside from the myriad of questions regarding the specifics of the migraines, you will be asked questions that seem irrelevant to the condition; questions such as your favourite position to sleep in, your fears and phobias, how you express anger, or whether you like consolation when you’re upset. There is a method to the madness. By combining all your unique symptoms, feelings, phobias, circumstances and behaviours, your homeopath will come up with the one substance, one homeopathic remedy, that can help cure your migraine headache.

Actually, it is not the homeopathic remedy that provides the cure. The remedy simply acts as the catalyst to kick-start your body’s own healing powers. Then the body takes care of the rest. Symptoms of a given disease are not the disease, but rather manifestations of the body’s attempt to heal itself and restore its balance. It’s the body’s cry for help. However due to stresses in life (self-inflicted or otherwise) the body is often unable to heal itself and requires a gentle push, from time to time, to overcome the obstacles in its way. Homeopathic remedies provide this gentle push.

Case History

A thirty-six year old man consulted me regarding his “debilitating migraines” two years ago. Nausea preceded his weekly episodes and at times resulted in vomiting. The pain would start in the occipital region and move upward and forward settling over his right eye. Ringing in the ears was another common feature accompanying his migraines. He described the paid as sharp and stabbing, which was relieved by walking in fresh air or vomiting. Being somewhat of a workaholic, he would continue with his regular duties and ignore the pain. He had a huge and undiscriminating appetite with regular cravings for sour foods. His digestive disturbances included bloatedness after meals and a lot of belching. The most striking feature to me was his idealistic attitude; he was somewhat of a dreamer. Disappointed with his past relationship failures, he was longing for the perfect woman. His artistic abilities included painting on a regular basis and writing the occasional poem. “Let me guess. Love poems?” I inquired. “Yes” he smiled. The totality of his physical and emotional symptoms led me to prescribe Antimonium Crudum 1M. Four weeks of migraine-free life was the result of the first dose of this remedy. During his second visit, I learned that his migraines were less frequent and less severe; once every 4 – 6 weeks with no vomiting or ringing in the ears. After eight months of continued treatment this patient was totally free of migraines, and has been for over a year now.

The obvious cause of migraine headaches is constriction then swelling of the arteries supplying the brain, but why the arteries behave this way is a bit of a mystery. It is thought that a chemical substance is released into the bloodstream, which may affect them. Homeopaths believe that all causes of illness stem from a central disturbance in the person’s energy field, or vital force. This disturbance manifests in various illnesses and conditions, according to each individual’s inherent physical and psychological weaknesses. Thus the “target organ” expresses the disease when we are under stress.

While counteracting, or suppressing symptoms with medications may provide temporary relief of pain and suffering, it is not the most effective means of treating an illness. Here is my favourite analogy on suppressing symptoms:

“Suppression (of symptoms) is like smashing a beeping smoke alarm instead of putting out the fire. The smoke alarm is a sign that something is wrong and needs to be attended to. Attending to the superficial warning fixes the immediate problem of annoying beeps, but will not repair the underlying problem, which will only lead to greater problems later on.” From the book “Healing Homeopathic Remedies” by Nancy Bruning and Corey Weinstein, M.D.

Homeopathic remedies, like modern medicines, can also provide palliation. There are remedies that can be used as first aid to relieve the pain of a migraine headache. Remedies such as Iris 12C, Sanguinaria 12C and Natrum Muiriaticum 12C (taken sublingually every 5 minutes during the attack) may help relieve the pain.

Incidentally, the remedy that will ultimately cure your migraine, will also positively impact your emotional well-being. This often motivates people to relinquish destructive and self-sabotaging patterns and start creating a more fulfilling life. One patient, who initially came to me seeking help with her severe PMS symptoms, was pleasantly surprised when her overall physical and emotional health also improved. “I got more than I bargained for” she said to me. Her menstrual problems disappeared along with her migraine headaches, her sex drive improved and she described herself as being a “happier person”.

For a permanent solution to your migraine headaches, a constitutional assessment and prescribing is required. If you’re ready and willing to let go of your pain, homeopathy can help you make this transition.

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Tamara Der-Ohanian, DSHM, is a Homeopathic Physician practicing in Toronto. She can be reached at (416) 385-1001, or visit her web site at www.tamarader-ohanian.com

Winner! 2012 Best of Canada natural health awards