Migraine is a very common form of headache, seen in nearly 15 % of the population. Women are more likely to suffer from migraine, than men, and usually there is a hereditary component seen among sufferers.
Migraine is known as “Ardhavabhedak” in Ayurveda. Ayurvedic treatment of migraine consists of the following procedures:
(i) “Swedan” (local fomentation)
(ii) “Nasya” (medicated nasal drops)
(iii) “Basti” (Medicated enema)
(iv) “Shirobasti” (scalp treatment with medicated milk or oil)
(v) “Dahan” (local heat branding ) and
(vi) “Shaman” ( symptomatic oral treatment).
Local fomentation is done by a procedure called “Naadi swedan”. In this procedure, a jet of medicated steam is directed at the forehead and around the temple area, usually after local application of some medicated oil. A decoction of Nirgundi (Vitex negundo) is usually used for this procedure.
Nasya or medicated oil drops used for the treatment of migraine is of two types. The first is called “Shirovirechan”, in which strong, irritant medicines are instilled as nasal drops, which induce sneezing and watery discharge. The second is called as “Avapidak nasya’ in which a paste is prepared of a herb or several herbs, and the liquid is inserted in the nostrils. Usually, herbs like Vacha (Acorus calamus) and Pippali ( Piper longum) are used along with honey. Both procedures are aimed at removing the cause of the headache and the pain.
The medicated enema used in migraine is called as “Anuvasan Basti”. Small quantities of medicated oils, usually about 50 ml. are given at regular intervals, on an outpatient basis. Oil of Sesame and Mahanarayan oil (containing mainly Asparagus racemosus) are usually used for this purpose.
Shirobasti is a special procedure in which a special cylindrical cap is fitted on the shaved head and sealed all round to prevent leakage of medicine. Medicated oils and milk are poured into this cap, so that the medicine remains in contact with the scalp for a specific time. This is done at regular intervals till improvement is seen.
Those who do not respond to standard treatment are given heat branding at the site of the temple on the affected side.
Oral medications include Tribhuvankirti, Bhallatakasav, Triphala Guggulu and Godanti Bhasma. Several single and compound herbal medicines are used to treat the presenting symptom of headache as also treatment of blood impurity and reduction of stress and anxiety. However, a detailed history for the symptoms and a detailed study of the constitutional framework of the patient is essential in deciding the ideal combination of medicines for each patient, so as to get maximum results. Overall, with oral medications, and sometimes accompanied by some simple nasal drops, the majority of patients suffering from mild to moderate migraine get significant improvement in 1 – 3 months of treatment. Severe migraine sufferers may require more prolonged treatment.
Some patients may require repeat courses of medicines to completely prevent or stop recurrence.
It is advisable to avoid known trigger factors, irregularity in meals, and physical and emotional stress.