How can you get rid of migraines?

by DavalosMcCormack on June 18, 2008

Kevin and I have a lot of fun looking for new studies, better remedies, interesting ways to stay healthy and happy and we try to make it simple too! So when we find information that we want to share with you we always toss it around with each other first to see if it has enough merit to bring to the blog. I have to admit, I’m the one that likes to discover quirky things that deal with the brain. So last week a friend of mine sent me some information about brain music therapy.

It’s an alternative approach for treating migraine headaches. I was excited because one of my friends suffers from migraines so badly that she becomes nauseated and can’t work. So I was discussing the therapy with Kevin and his journalistic hackles rose. That doesn’t mean it’s flakey, but it does mean do the research. So I did.

First of all migraines are caused by the swelling of blood vessels in the brain which seems to be caused partly by changes in the levels of serotonin. Serotonin is a hormone manufactured in the brain. It’s the chemical that helps maintain a “happy feeling” and keeps our moods under control by regulating sleep and anxiety and combating depression.

When there is a lack of serotonin the blood vessels in your brain dilate causing swelling and pain. So just increase the serotonin level right? Not so fast, because many carbohydrate rich foods which increase serotonin levels also trigger migraines in some people.

Our body chemistry is so complex that it is extremely hard to figure out how to manipulate the food intake that will increase levels of serotonin without triggering an attack. That’s why people who suffer from migraines should keep a food diary in order to assess what foods may be responsible for the onset of a migraine. And that’s another thing, there are so many foods that may cause a migraine that it’s hard to figure exactly what you are allergic to in order to change the pattern.

More than 29 million Americans suffer from migraines, and women are affected three times more often than men. Whew, 29 million! That can really have an effect on the daily lives, productivity, and general mood of the population.

So, there are over the counter drugs, perscriptions, and alternative treatments that can help. I found advice for migraine sufferers to take hot showers, cold showers, lie down in a dark room with an ice pack or even massage the temples with a vibrater turned on high! There are alternative treatments, bio-feedback, yoga, meditation and my personal favorite, self-hypnosis.

But wait a minute, I was going to tell you about Brain Music Therapy. Well, it’s a newish technique that is practiced by Dr. Galina Mindlin who is a clinical professor of psychiatry at Columbia University, in New York . She has been providing this treatment for 3 years, and claims to have an 80 – 85% success rate. However, very few studies have been done on this technique to back up Dr. Mindlin’s claims of the technique’s effectiveness.

She uses EEG equipment to record key brain wave patterns and translates them digitally with, what she calls, a very complex algorithm into musical frequencies to create a peronalized recording for patients, which sounds like piano music.

One of Dr. Mindlin’s patients said that after listening to this specialized music for 2 weeks she found relief from her headaches.  Interesting, no?  The cost?  For a complete treatment, which includes a brief medical evaluation and personalized music file, the cost is $550.  

Without independent studies to show whether it really works it’s hard to say if it’s worthwhile. However, for some people who suffer from severe migraines and haven’t been able to get relief through medications or anything else, it might be worth a try. It certainly can’t hurt. In the meantime I’ll keep looking into this to see if it really is producing results. I’ll keep you posted.

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