Posts Tagged ‘butterbur’

“No!  Ooooh no you don’t!” Five minutes before I had to walk out the door to attend a music practice I started yelling at my own brain. “Don’t you even think about it!”  A shining, electric splotch of quicksilver began to form on the left side of my visual field.  Like an oil slick, it began to spread its way towards my right eye, bleeding television static snow all over the entire universe.  Forget whatever else was on the schedule for the day.  It was time to hunker down, and wait for this migraine to pass.

Being chemically sensitive, I have relatively few options to combat the lightning storm in my head.  After a couple post brain-battering hours, I scoured the internet for some natural alternatives to prescription migraine medicines.  Here are a few of the most promising remedies:

1.  Butterbur- This plant, found growing in Northern Asia, Europe and areas of North America, can be taken as a tea, extract or capsule.  Studies have shown that 50-75 mg of butterbur extract twice a day decreased the occurrence of chronic migraines.  Side effects were generally mild digestive complaints.  Since the plant is in the ragweed family, those with grass allergies should avoid the drug.  Anyone with kidney and liver disease should seek an alternative remedy.

2.  Feverfew- This European herb has been used as a healer for headaches, arthritis, and fever for centuries.  In the 980’s, it began to be used as a therapy for migraines.  Feverfew should not be taken with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) because of its blood-thinning properties.  Due to some of its side effects (gas, diarrhea, vomiting, nervousness) and its close relation to chamomile, ragweed and yarrow, sufferers should consult their doctors concerning any allergies or sensitivities before taking the supplement.

3.  Magnesium- This element is found naturally in green vegetables and helps to regulate blood sugar, as well being essential to muscle and nerve function.  Around 300-600mg each day may reduce the frequency and severity of migraine attacks.  Magnesium citrate may be the most effective form, and it is not recommended taking a magnesium/calcium blend for headaches.

4.  5-HTP- 5 Hydroxytryptophan is a form of amino acid created in the body and used in the production of the neurotransmitter seratonin and the hormone melatonin.  It can be bought as a supplement derived from plant seeds.  At a dose of 600mg a day, 5-HTP may reduce the number of severe headaches.

5.  Niacin-  AKA Vitamin B3, taken right as the headache starts can relieve a good deal of the migraine’s vice-like grip.

6.  Mangosteen-  This fruit has pain-easing and anti-inflammatory properties and can help with dulling sensitivity to stimuli.  Extract or smoothie should do the trick.

7.  Acupuncture-  For those who are not leery of needles, a visit to the acupuncturist could possibly manipulate the body’s electrical signals enough to decrease the number and intensity of headaches.

8.  Aromatherapy- Essential oils are quick and inexpensive ways to combat pain and stress.  Chamomile, rosemary, lavender and peppermint have been noted as some of the most effective for migraines.  The oils can be placed in a diffuser, or applied directly to the temples, head and neck.  Coupled with a cool washcloth, the oils should provide relief from pain and nausea within fifteen minutes.

9.  Biofeedback- Through biofeedback, a person can learn to control and reduce the reactions that are triggered by severe headaches.  By noticing certain bodily fluctuations such as pulse, temperature and tension, a sufferer can bring these under conscious awareness and eventually identify and alter the patterns that appear during a migraine.  Devices that monitor the body’s changes can be used at first in order to make the sensations available to be observed by the brain.  Eventually, biofeedback will aid the patient in preventing the headaches before they start and help lessen the pain through relaxation techniques.  Levels of stress hormones and seratonin have been lowered through biofeedback, affecting the rate and intensity of migraines.

 

 

In honor of San Luis Obispo’s upcoming Native Plant Week (April  17-23), Spring, and the heaps of pollen swirling on the breeze, Bambu Batu presents the top 8 natural ways to beat allergies this season.

1.  Native honey-  Eating locally farmed honey helps to inoculate the immune system by letting the body get used to very small doses of pollen.  For best results, eat 2-3 spoonfuls of native, unfiltered honey each day for for several months prior to the height of allergy season.  Browse your farmer’s market for some sweet relief!

2.  Neti pot- When your head feels like its been stuffed with enough cotton to soak up the Atlantic, drain your sinuses with a saline solution using a Neti pot.  The little ceramic container helps to flush out nasal passages, relieve pressure, and soothe irritation.  The salt rinse works by allowing the small hairs (cilia) in your sinuses to better remove mucus, bacteria and allergens.  Sure, inserting the spout of what looks vaguely like a magic lamp up your nose may take some getting used to, but its a great alternative to taking medications and leaves your head feeling clean and clear.

3.  Spring cleaning- Give your home a good wipe-down and and allow air to circulate.  Dust is composed of a myriad of elements that can cause coughing, sneezing and inflammation.  Some of these appetizing ingredients  include pet dander, mite feces, molds and fungi.  To curb the growth of irritants, maintain a constant low humidity in living spaces, run fans, and vacuum regularly.  While a little tidying can do a lot of good, be careful not to go too overboard!  Vigorous cleaning may eliminate the small amount of allergens on which our immune systems practice.  Some household chemicals may also increase immune reactions, so play it safe by using “green” or environmentally friendly products that easily biodegrade and contain less caustic substances

4.  Quercetin- This plant-derived compound helps to stabilize cells in the respiratory system that trigger the release of histamines and cause allergy attacks.  Quercetin is commonly found in citrus, tea, onions, apples, parsley, lettuce, onions, and wine and can also be bought in supplement form.  Sufferers should take about 1,000 mg each day between meals and start about six weeks before allergy season reaches full bloom.

5.  Allergy-fighting foods-  Recent studies have shown that people with diets rich in Omega 3 fatty acids, (found in fish, walnuts, flaxseed, grass-fed meats and eggs), were less likely to suffer from allergies.  For decongestion, add spicy foods like horseradish, chili or mustard to meals.

6.  Stinging nettle-  As a natural antihistamine, nettle prevents the immune system from over-reacting to environmental irritants.  You can avoid the pain of touching this common weed and find its freeze-dried extract in capsules at your local health foods store.  This supplement does not cause drowsiness or dry mouth like most proscription medications and 300mg a day should provide relief for several hours.

7.  Butterbur- This European plant derivative has been shown to be as effective in fighting symptoms as cetirizine, the active ingredient in the Zyrtec.  Four doses of 32mg each day should alleviate discomfort.  However, Butterbur is in the same family as ragweed, so those sensitive to these plants should show caution before considering this remedy.

8.  Apple cider vinegar-  Good for more than just salad dressings, 1-3 doses of 1/8 cup of vinegar throughout the day can prevent attacks and keep the itching and watery eyes at bay.  Either dilute the vinegar in 16oz of water to form a tonic, or if you are feeling brave, take a shot from the bottle.  Add a a little local honey to buffer the tangy flavor and boost the allergy fighting power!

 

 

 

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