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Migraine can be defined as a paroxysmal ailment, accompanied by a severe headache, generally on one side of the head, and associated with disorders of the digestion, the liver and the vision.
The head and neck muscles, reacting from continuous stress, become overworked. The tight muscles squeeze the arteries and reduce the blood flow. Then when the person relaxes suddenly the constricted muscles expand, stretching the walls of the blood vessels. With each heartbeat, the blood pushes through these vessels and expands them further, causing intense pain.
Migraine headaches tend to first appear between the ages of 10 and 45. Sometimes they may begin later in life. Migraines are known to occur more often in women than men, and may run in families.
Alcohol, stress and anxiety, certain odours or perfumes, loud noises or bright lights, and smoking may trigger a migraine. Migraine attacks may also be triggered by:
• Caffeine withdrawal
• Changes in hormone levels during a woman's menstrual cycle or with the use of birth control pills
• Changes in sleep patterns
• Exercise or other physical stress
• Missed meals
• Smoking or exposure to smoke
From Ayurveda perspective, migraine headaches are due to a disorder in tridosha -the mind-body constitution. Although it is possible to get headaches from disorders in vata, pitta, or kapha, migraines frequently occur when systemic Pitta moves into the cardiovascular system, circulates, and affects the blood vessels around the brain. The blood vessels dilate due to the hot, sharp quality of pitta. This, in turn, creates pressure on the nerves, resulting in migraines. Pitta disorders are characterized by the red complexion and eyes, photo sensitivity (light sensitivity), burning sensation, anger, irritability, and nose bleeds. Liver and blood toxicity are often associated with these symptoms.
As mentioned migraines can also originate due to imbalance in vata dosha and are known to exhibit symptoms like: anxiety, depression, dry skin, constipation, and extreme pain. Migraine arising due to imbalance in kapha dosha is characterized by dull headache, heaviness, fatigue, nausea, white or clear phlegm, vomiting, and excess salivation. Respiratory disorders are often associated with these symptoms.