(NaturalNews) If you are one of the 30 million Americans that suffers from occasional or frequent migraine headaches, then you already know how debilitating and excruciatingly painful this condition can be. But rather than simply manage the symptoms when they appear by taking powerful painkiller drugs, why not try to get to the root of the problem and prevent migraines from forming in the first place? Here are some helpful tips for not only treating migraines naturally, but also preventing them without the use of prescription drugs:
1) Avoid MSG, chemical flavor enhancers in food. Many processed foods contain chemical additives like monosodium glutamate (MSG), aspartame, nitrates, sulfites, and "natural" and artificial flavors that can act as chemical triggers in bringing on migraine headaches. For many people, simply cutting these additives from their diets is enough to greatly reduce the frequency and intensity of migraines, and perhaps even eliminate them altogether.
Since many people are becoming aware of the presence of such chemicals throughout the food supply, however, some processed food manufacturers are now disguising them under different names. MSG, for instance, is often veiled with names like "yeast extract" and "spice extractive." Other common food additives that contain potentially damaging free glutamic acid include carrageenan, maltodextrin, barley malt, brown rice syrup, milk powder, and textured vegetable protein (http://www.truthinlabeling.org/hiddensources.html).
2) Eat plenty of whole, nutrient-dense foods, and avoid allergens. After you have cut out all the potential trigger foods, it is important to replace them with whole, organically-grown foods that are rich in phytonutrients, enzymes, antioxidants, vitamins, and trace minerals. These foods will help realign your neurological system to prevent migraines from forming, and simultaneously enrich your body with the nutrients it needs for optimal health and well-being.
Since food allergies are also a common cause of migraines, be sure to pay close attention to the foods you eat and how they affect your body. If brain fog, fatigue, bloating, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), joint and muscle pain, or sinus congestion often accompany your migraines, you may have a food allergy. A good place to start in addressing a potential food allergy is to adopt an "elimination" diet, where you eliminate gluten, processed dairy, eggs, soy, yeast, corn, and various other common allergens one at a time to see if you feel any improvements.
3) Get your hormones checked. Many people remain largely unaware of how their hormone levels affect their physical health. With migraines, perpetual hormone imbalances could be the cause, but it is difficult to know for sure without a proper hormone test. Practicing physician Dr. Mark Hyman, M.D., recommends that women in particular get a blood or saliva hormone test to check for menopausal changes or the presence of too much estrogen, both of which can exacerbate migraine symptoms.
Even if you just think you might have a hormone imbalance but have not been officially tested for it, you can still adopt a diet and lifestyle that promotes proper hormone balance. This includes eating primarily whole foods with a low glycemic index and high phytonutrient content. This includes things likes raw nuts, cruciferous vegetables, grass-fed meats, legumes, beans, and quinoa.
4) Take more magnesium. Magnesium deficiency is widespread throughout modern society -- and the health effects of this deficiency can be disastrous, especially for those who are prone to migraines. This is why it is important to supplement daily with a high-quality magnesium supplement like Calm to get your levels up to par.
A 1996 study published in the journal Cephalalgia found that migraine patients who supplemented orally with 600 milligrams (mg) of magnesium every day saw a 42 percent reduction in migraine frequency after just three months (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8792038). If you experience other symptoms of magnesium deficiency such as constipation, anxiety, insomnia, irritability, muscle cramps or twitching, or sensitivity to loud noises, you may be magnesium deficient and require supplementation.
5) Drink pure, high-alkaline, fluoride-free water. Between all the coffee, sodas, juices, and other flavored beverages people typically drink throughout the day, few adults actually intake the amount of clean, chemical-free water they need every day to stay hydrated and nourished. Since water is the lifeblood of your cells, it is important that you drink plenty of it throughout the day to keep them clean and fueled.
Just be sure to always drink clean, high-alkaline water that is free of toxic fluoride and various other chemicals commonly found in tap water. Fluoride in particular has a tendency of embedding itself throughout the body and disrupting proper hormone production, which as previously mentioned is a common cause of migraines. Fluoride also depresses thyroid function, and takes the place of necessary iodine throughout the body, leading to chronic pain, neurological dysfunction, and other health problems (http://www.fluoridealert.org/issues/health/).