New Help for Migraines
By Brenda Briscoe, LMT
Have you ever had a throbbing headache that took you out for the day? One that amplified every slight sound and brightened every light beyond what you could bear? If not, you are one of the lucky ones. But almost all of us know someone who suffers like this.
Some people get headaches so severe that they become nauseous and even incoherent in their thinking. Some see auras, which could be dots, wavy lines, flashing lights, blind spots or colors. Others have difficulty with speech, sensation, or movement. Any of these symptoms are typical of migraine headaches.
What triggers these symptoms in the brain? Researchers don’t understand it exactly, but they do know that certain foods, changes in weather, lack of sleep and, of course, stress can be a major factor in bringing on a migraine attack in one out of 200 people. That, however, doesn’t explain why these variables do not cause other people to react in this way to the same stimuli.
Neuroscientists have been studying migraines for years and now believe these attacks to be firstly a disturbance in nerve function, rather than a disorder of the brain’s blood vessels. It seems that a wave of electrical activity passing through the trigeminal nerve sends signals to the face and releases chemicals that cause inflammation. This inflammation makes the nerves more sensitive to pain and causes blood vessels near the brain to expand and irritate the centrally located nerves in the brain. In addition, lymphatic fluid coming to the rescue also increases pressure on the nerves.
This wave of electrical activity, which begins in the trigeminal nerve on the side of the face enters the brain and ripples across the surface of the brain. In fact, researchers have linked this wave to the experience of ‘aura’ particularly as it spreads across the visual part of the brain.
With a couple of new therapies, there is no need to know the exact cause of the migraine. Bowen Therapy, as well as LED light therapy, seem to successfully address a migraine, reducing the inflammation, no matter the origin. For the first 20 minutes of the session, the migraine sufferer wears a simple LED “head harness,” which induces relaxation. This device consists of 20% red and 80% near-infrared therapeutic grade LED lights. The near-infrared lights drain the excess fluid from the brain so that there is less pressure on the central nerves, thereby calming the inflammation.
After this LED phototherapy is completed, a hands-on manipulation of the fascia and nerves, called Bowen Therapy, is applied. From the very beginning of a Bowen session, the heightened and highly sensitive nervous system is down-regulated from the fight-or-flight (sympathetic) to the rest-and-relaxation (parasympathetic) response phase of the autonomic nervous system. In this modality, the nervous system is given brand new signals which modulate the brain’s activity, so that the pain/spasm/pain cycle is interrupted and the body and brain can return to normal.
In over 18 years of experience with migraine sufferers, I have learned of a few conditions that seem to be fairly common and will explain a couple of them. One seems to be related to a woman’s monthly cycle. Sometimes the pituitary gland becomes unbalanced and stimulates the release of chemicals in the brain that cause inflammation to occur (as described above). A Bowen “move” on the coccyx (tailbone) at the base of the spine can emit a signal to the pituitary gland to come back into balance.
Another common source of migraine can be a malfunctioning stellate ganglion, located at the base of the neck at C7. Once this glitch happens, it impairs blow flow in the brain. Specifically, blood is delivered to the brain, but the same amount of blood is not allowed to return to the heart. Blood pressure increases behind the optic nerve, causing pain. A Bowen “shoulder move” is administered, which tweaks the stellate ganglion and makes just the right adjustment for it to normalize.
There are many origins of a migraine headache, too many to address here. But the majority of cases presented in my clinic have resolved either permanently or at least long-term with one or two sessions, sometimes with the needed assistance of dietary changes to reduce inflammation and eliminate migraine “triggers.”
If you suffer from migraines and have reached the end of your rope, these effective therapies may be worth a try.
Brenda Briscoe is a licensed massage therapist with 17 years of experience with an emphasis on pain recovery using Bowen Therapy and LED Light Therapy. She is one of very few practitioners in the DFW metroplex using both of these therapies together. Call Brenda at 972-930-0260 to discover how these amazing modalities can change your life.