Migraines are a burning health problem and afflicts as many as 1 in 10 people. Officially named Migraine Syndrome, it is described as a one-sided, throbbing headache. Unfortunately, it also often comes along with nausea and sensitivity to light and sound. Many people experience blind spots, blurred vision, bright or zig zag lights in the eyes right before a migraine comes on. Some people may also start yawning excessively and experience mild confusion.
In Ayurveda, migraine is a condition known as Suryavarta. Surya means “the sun” and avarta means “affliction or blockage”. In Ayurvedic texts, it’s described as a headache that starts around sunrise. The intensity increases until mid-day and naturally subsides near sunset.
Suryavarta is discussed in Caraka Samhita Siddhi Sthana chapter 9, which deals with disorders in three vital organs: the heart, head, and bladder. According to Caraka, Suryavarta is mainly caused from withholding natural urges (such as bowel movements) and indigestion, which leads to the vitiation of rakta and vata in the region of the head.
Causes of Suryavarta
- Suppression of natural urges (such as bowel movements)
- Eating poor-quality foods
- Prolonged exposure to the sun
- Excessively eating oily or spicy foods
- Anger, jealousy, grief, stress, etc.
- Excessively eating dry, pungent or salty foods
Management of Migraines
Ayurveda recommends shodana to eliminate the morbid dosa when treating chronic migraines, followed by pacification of the dosas. Caraka states the following therapies are best for managing Suryavarta.
- Ghritam after meals or post-prandial
- Shiro Vireka purificatory nasya to increase the production of mucus and sneezing
- Kaya Vireka emesis and purgation of the body
- Shiro Pichu a cotton soaked in herbal oil held over the top of the head
- Shiro Basti is given with three types of fat, oil, ghee, and muscle fat
- Upanaha a hot poultice made from jangala mamsa (meat of animals from dry climate).
- Affusions made from ghee and milk are poured over the head
- Navana (unctuous errhines) made from ghritam processed from lava (birds that live on land), and processed with eight parts milk and jeevaniya (life enhancing group of herbs).
Many of the jeevaniya group of herbs are no longer available and the following substitutions have been made in Bhavaprakasa Nighantu.
- Vidarikanda (Pueraria tuberosa) for jeevaka and rshabhaka
- Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) for kakoli and kshirakakoli
- Varahikanda (Dioscorea bulbifera) for riddhi and vriddhi
- Shatavari (Asparagus racemosus) for meda and mahameda
As Suryavarta is purely a vata-dominant disorder, all treatments such as ghrita pana, ghrita nasya, shiro pichu and shirobasti are beneficial. If the condition is associated with Raktavrita vata, then shiravyadha is the most beneficial. This condition may possibly be correlated with Trigeminal neuralgia, based on the location of the pain. Shiravyadha at the temporal area is of utmost benefit in neuralgic headaches.
Sneha nasya is administered for vata aggravation and ruksha nasya is administered for kaphaja aggravation. If this indication is ignored then complications may occur.
Types of Nasya
Navana (unctuous errhines)
- snehana (oleation), shodhana (purificatory)
Aavapida (expressed errhines)
- shodhana (purificatory), stambhana (astringent)
Dhmapana (powder errhines)
- cleanses the body passages
Dhuma (smoke inhalation)
- shamana - palliative, oleating and purificatory
Pratimarsha (low dose unctuous errhines)
- both oleation and purification
Kottakkal Products for Managing Suryavarta (Migraine)
Shatavaryadi Ghritam is an Ayurvedic ghee effective for many disorders afflicting vata and pitta. This product is useful for managing Suryavarta and is best when taken after meals. The main ingredients are Cow's ghee, Satavari, and Svadamstra.
Kshirabala (101) is an Ayurvedic oil indicated for vata disorders that cause neuromuscular pain. This product is recommended for Suryavarta and can be used daily as Pratimarsha nasya. The ingredients are Tila taila, Bala, and Cow’s milk.
Balahatadi Oil is an Ayurvedic head oil used externally for relieving chronic migraines. This product balances both vata and pitta dosa, with its powerful anti-inflammatory properties and helps reduce headaches caused by tension and stress, dizziness, and insomnia. The main ingredients are Tila taila, Bala, Hatha, Amrita, Mudga, and Masha.
Kadaliphaladi Oil is an Ayurvedic head oil used externally for supporting the relief of chronic migraines, headaches, stress, and insomnia. This herbal oil is an effective cooling relaxant and balances pitta dosa. The main ingredients are Tailam, Kadaliphaladi, Masha, Cow milk, and Sasi.
Pathyakshadhatryadi Kashayam is an Ayurvedic product that relieves headaches of various causes, tooth aches, eye disorders including shortsightedness, night blindness and cataract. The main ingredients are Pathya, Aksha, Dhathri, Bhunimba, Nisa, Nimba, and Amrita.
Migrakot Tablet is a powerful anti-emetic, analgesic, vaso-relaxation with cooling properties that helps relieve migraines. This product supports the nervous system, strengthens the senses, and balances all three dosas, especially pitta. The main ingredients are Pathya, Aksha, Dhathri, Bhunimba, Nisa, Nimba, and Amrita (same as Pathyakshadhatryadi Kashyam).
Migrakot Oil is an Ayurvedic herbal oil specially formulated for immediate use as a non-greasy and non-sticky application. This product helps reduce migraine and headaches and is balancing for both vata and kapha dosa. The main ingredients are Bala, Hatha, Amrita, Mudga, Masha, Chandana, Yashti, Rasna, and Tila taila.
Kumarya Asavam is an Ayurvedic supplement that supports pitta and rakta dosa, liver disorders, menstrual cycle and menopause, and anemia. The main ingredients are Guda, Makshika honey, Kumari rasa, and Loham.
Ayurvedic Home Remedies
- Tender leaves of jasmine or pomegranate crushed along with a pinch of salt to obtain fresh juice should be taken early in the morning on an empty stomach. Place 2-3 drops of the fresh juice into each nostril. Repeat again in the evening (6-7 pm). This reduces the severity of migraines.
- Take 1 teaspoon of coriander seed powder and mix with 1 cup of water, let it sit overnight and drink the next morning on an empty stomach.
- Soak 5 raisins and 5 almonds (peeled) in water over night and eat them the next morning.
Lifestyle Tips to Help Prevent Migraines
- Don’t take too many OTC pain meds, as they are known to increase frequency.
- Identify and avoid all foods that trigger your migraines
- Make sure to sleep and eat at regular intervals.
- Make sure to sleep at least 7 hours at night.
- Do not fast or skip meals, it increases pitta and vata which worsens migraine.
- Wear sunglasses and protect your head from the sun, avoid the midday sun.
- Use only natural scented products, no chemical.
- Refrain from smoking and drinking alcohol.
- Gradually reduce coffee and tea (ruksha).
- Avoid public places with loud music or bright lights.
- Make sure to have proper ventilation, and do not use a/c for long periods of time.
- Early morning walks for 10 minutes in the fresh air helps immensely.
- Weekly Abhyanga with Maha Narayana Taila followed by a warm bath.
- No consumption of chiles, use cinnamon, cardamom, clove, ginger, and black pepper.
- Minimize strong emotions of anger or control.
- Lower computer / TV screen brightness.
- Do not bathe with water that is too hot or cold.
Suryavarta is a common troubling complaint for many people. It is thought for some people it may be hereditary, for others it is from poor quality foods and/or irregular eating habits. Stress plays a significant role, as well as staying awake at night, traveling, chemicals and synthetic scents, smoking and alcohol. A well-disciplined lifestyle is recommended to help keep Suryavarta from reoccurring.
Original source: Dr JV Hebbar, EasyAyurveda.com
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