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How the herb Feverfew could help reduce your migraines by up to 40%

According to new research by MigraHerb, more than 11.3 million UK adults say they have experienced a migraine headache at some time.

Of those migraine sufferers, 47% say that it is usually triggered by stress, 38% tiredness and 28% simply don’t know why they suddenly get a migraine attack.

Migraine is globally thought to be as the third most common disorder to affect individuals and the seventh highest cause of disability.

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In the EU, it has been estimated that the average annual direct and indirect cost of migraine per person to be €1,222 – and a total annual cost for the €111 billion for adults aged 18 to 65 years. In the US, the annual cost per person is estimated to be $1,757 for episodic migraine and $7,750 for chronic migraine.

But what is a migraine?

“Migraines are more than just a headache and range from being moderate to severe,” says clinical pharmacist Mike Wakeman. “They tend to last longer than a normal headache, with the average time being between two and 72 hours.

“As well as a pounding pain in the head, migraine symptoms include sensitivity to light, a feeling of nausea or actual vomiting, and experiencing ‘flashing lights’ before the eyes. Always unpleasant, bad migraines can be really debilitating.”

What causes a migraine?

“Unfortunately, there is no definitive answer and no reliable diagnostic test to predict if you will become a migraine sufferer or when an attack might strike, says Dr Wakeman.  “Sadly, there is no current cure either.

“Research into the causes however, has identified a number of migraine triggers which can vary from person to person.

“There are several triggers, some more common than others. However, they can be broadly split into the following categories:

  • Environmental factors – “Bright lights or ones that flicker and flash are common triggers, as are loud environments or la lot of noise.  Intense, penetrating smells or smoke-filled rooms are other triggers.  Many sufferers also report that changes in climate or a change in humidity and temperature due to unsettled weather can bring on an attack. This is thought to be due to a sensitivity in sufferers to the change in pressure.”
  • Emotional imbalance/stress – “Migraine sufferers often report getting a migraine in stressful times when they are worried or tense or feeling particularly angry. Conversely, excitement can also lead to a migraine attack.”
  • Foods – “Many migraine sufferers find specific foods can trigger an attack.  The most common foods are cheese, chocolate and coffee. However, there are several others including citrus fruits, onions, seafood and wheat.”
  • Physical stress – “This is most often associated with over-tiredness from late nights, a change in sleeping patterns, or over-exertion. Many sufferers report migraines when travelling which is not surprising as long-haul travel often involves the other symptoms mentioned!”
  • Hormonal matters – “PMS and menstruation increase the risk of an attack in sufferers as do other hormonal changes that occur during puberty, pregnancy and menopause.”

“Other more isolated migraine triggers include toothache, sinusitis and eye strain.”

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Are there any self-help measures for migraine?

“The simple answer is yes.  The first thing to do is to keep a diary to find out if there are any recurring triggers.  Note down what you eat, your feelings, how well you are sleeping, the weather, where you are in your menstrual cycle (if relevant), skipped meals, travel, how tired you are and so on.  If the same triggers crop up before each attack you will know what to avoid.  You should also keep stress levels under control, get plenty of sleep and make time for relaxation.

“There is also a natural remedy that may help keep migraine attacks at bay. The herb Feverfew has been used for headaches since at least the 17th Century when the famous herbalist Nicholas Culpepper wrote how ‘it’s is very effectual for all pains in the head’ and it’s said to provide ‘mild and transient’ benefits resulting in fewer migraine headaches per month. Feverfew also appears to block the release of histamine and helps widen blood vessels, helping to reduce the severity of migraine attacks.

“There are now more than 70 studies evaluating the efficacy of Feverfew, with the most recent reporting a 40% reduction rate in migraine frequency each month. This formed part of a recent review that evaluated nearly 600 patients which concluded that the use of feverfew appears to be well tolerated and no major safety issues have been reported. A licensed version of Feverfew is available on the high street in the form of MigraHerb Migraine Relief  – containing 100 mg of Feverfew herb per daily capsule.”

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Feverfew
Health

Think you’re suffering from IBS? Don’t ignore the symptoms

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) affects around 20% of people in the UK (maybe more, given the wide range of symptoms associated with the condition and taboos about talking about them). It can be painful, causing frequent tummy discomfort, wind, bloating, and constipation, alternating with bouts of diarrhoea.  The condition can impact a person’s quality of life, leading to anxiety and affecting their daily activities.

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What’s more, new research* published by the makers of Alflorex on 2 April at the start of IBS Awareness Month revealed that Brits are burying their heads in the sand when it comes to gut health, with more than 1 in 6 (18%) of the 2,000+ people surveyed, admitting they have never visited a doctor despite suffering with a bowel issue. The results also show that only 46% of Brits actually know all the symptoms of IBS.

According to Precision Biotics, our refusal to seek professional medical advice immediately to help ease the symptoms of IBS has resulted in nearly 3 in 10 Brits (28%) soiling themselves in public, nearly a quarter (23%) passing wind in a meeting, nearly 1 in 5 Brits have passed wind during sex (19%) and 17% of Brits having to carry two sets of clothing because of soiling or bloating.

In fact, nearly half of those surveyed (48%) revealed that they put off going to the doctor if they suspect they have IBS or a gut problem, with 48% hoping that the issue would stop naturally, and more than 3 in 10 (31%) feeling too embarrassed to go.  Over 70% of 35-44-year olds regularly suffer some form of bowel issue.  An under-whelming 16% of Brits would go to the doctors after experiencing symptoms.

Sitting on the problem

Bowel conditions and the symptoms of constipation, diarrhoea, flatulence, and other activities that take place in the ‘private’ realm of the toilets remain heavily taboo topics in Britain. Therefore, embarrassment is a continual theme surrounding gut health, the Alflorex research revealed that even if their gut was causing them severe pain, nearly 4 in 10 Brits (38%) would feel uncomfortable discussing bowel issues with their boss, and a further 37% would be uncomfortable talking to their colleagues about it.basic-1239215_1920

The research reveals that stress is the biggest trigger of IBS/gut problems (41%), followed by diet (29%).  Those suffering with IBS/gut problems have had to make a series of adaptions in order to feel comfortable.  1 in 5 Brits have had to research public toilets before leaving the house, and a further 40% have had to carry spare toilet roll and carry spare underwear.

Over half of Brits surveyed (52%) have found themselves needing the toilet while in public and unable to find one, meaning that over 6 in 10 Brits (66%) have had to go into a pub/restaurant to use their facilities, nearly half (49%) have pretended to be a customer to use a toilet and 18% have had to run in public trying to find toilet. Distressingly 35% of adults admit to being caught short while needing the toilet in public.

In the quest for a remedy, 84% of the public have tried a probiotic treatment, and over half of those suffering from IBS (53%) believe the most important benefits for a treatment of IBS/gut problems are that it treats the cause not just the symptoms. Product_Capsules_UK_672x535px

According to Precision Biotics, Alflorex does just that.  The supplement is said to be the result of more than 17 years of clinical research and is clinically proven to address the root cause of the condition and alleviate the symptoms associated with IBS – bloating, abdominal pain and unpredictable bowel movements like diarrhoea and constipation.

The 35624 culture in Alflorex is the only bacterial strain to have shown reduction of symptoms in two well-controlled clinical trials led by scientists and gastroenterologists in the UK and Europe.   As a result, it is the number one recommended probiotic by US gastroenterologists and was winner of the Best Natural Product and Best GI Product in the Irish Pharmacy News OTC Awards for 2016-17.

Pamela Spence MNIMH
Pamela Spence, medical herbalist and Holistic Scotland Magazine columnist

For more advice on coping with IBS, including natural remedies, see our May issue in which our columnist and medical herbalist Pamela Spence will be talking about some of the herbs we can incorporate into our daily lives to help reduce the symptoms. Did you know, for example, that fennel is the top remedy when it comes to IBS-induced bloating and wind?

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Fennel