By Dana Ullman MPH


(Excepted from The One Minute or So Healer, North Atlantic/Random House)

This book does not primarily focus on how to use homeopathic medicines but instead provides information on various natural health strategies to treat common ailments.

WARNING: This book is a lighthearted practical health guide. Laughter may be a side effect.

  • It is accurate to tell a person with a migraine that the pain is all in their head. Considering that a migraine sufferer’s head usually feels like it is the size of a city block, that’s a lot of pain.
  • During a migraine headache, blood vessels first become overly constricted, then abnormally widened. You usually experience this pain on one side of the head, which can make you feel lopsided.
  • Migraines are often triggered by psychological stress, but unlike tension headaches, migraines tend to begin after a stressed person is finally able to relax; then that “relaxing” weekend or vacation becomes relaxation hell.
  • Other triggers of migraines are sleeping too long, bright lights, too much time between eating, and fluctuations in hormone levels (some women get migraines during menstruation or during ovulation). Certain foods, drinks, and drugs can also set off a migraine.
  • When a migraine is triggered, your head can seem to explode. It feels like there’s an alien being in there trying to get out through your eyes. It feels like there’s someone knocking at a door inside the head, and no one is home to answer, so the knocking just goes on. These are but some of the exciting experiences inside the torture chamber of a migraine sufferer’s heads.

Some migraine sufferers experience symptoms that warn them of an impending headache. Most commonly, these warning symptoms are disturbances of vision, slurred speech, dizziness, floating visual images, or weakness or numbness of one side of the body. If you are having a headache or any of these warning symptoms (and it’s not from drinking alcohol), consider these strategies.

Strategy #1: Loosen up. Family therapist Virginia Satir once said, “If you have a stiff body, it’s no wonder you’re numb upstairs.” Loosen your body. Try to move every joint in your body, one joint at a time, through its full range of motion. If you have access to a pool, do it in water.

Strategy #2: Around your head in a couple of minutes. While sitting up, relax your head and allow it to be as limp as possible, letting your chin touch, or almost touch, your upper chest. Slowly rotate the head clockwise several times and then counterclockwise the same number of times.

Strategy #3: Exercise to exorcize your migraine. Exercise can be effective in preventing a migraine. When you feel a headache coming on, exercise it out of you. If it hurts to move too much, try gentle motion exercise such as yoga, tai chi, or slow swimming.

Strategy #4: Headache-few with feverfew. New research published in The Lancet has shown that the herb feverfew is very helpful for vascular headaches. Scientists have proven that feverfew stops the blood platelets from releasing an excessive amount of serotonin, which seems to be one of the causes of migraines. Make an herbal tea of it, or simply take a feverfew capsules.

Strategy #5: Headache food. Certain foods can trigger a vascular headache. No food will cause EVERYBODY’S headache, but many migraine sufferers recognize that there are foods that do aggravate their problem. The most common offenders are nuts, chocolate, coffee, sauerkraut, wheat, cheese and other dairy products, hot dogs, luncheon meats that contain nitrites, citrus, MSG, and alcohol (especially red wine).

Strategy #6: As above, so below. The congestion you feel in your head may be connected, in part, to the congestion you feel in your gut. Read the constipation section.

Strategy #7: As below, so above. Stand on your head or shoulders or hang upside down. Remember to breathe regularly. This exercise stimulates circulation and helps to break up head congestion. Do this for a minute, and then with practice, try to extend it. Don’t do it if you have back problems or if it makes your head hurt too much.

Strategy #8: Hot bathing and cold water torture. Fill a bathtub with hot water and add several teaspoons of Epsom salts. Soak in the tub for 10-20 minutes; melt and relax in this comfort. Dry off, drain the water, get back in the tub, and take a cold shower for about three minutes. Dry off, dress in warm bedclothes, and relax in bed. This strategy is not for everyone; some people are hypersensitive during headaches to heat or cold. If you can stand to do this hot and cold bathing, you’ll receive the benefits of improved circulation and reduced head congestion and head pain.

Strategy #9: Learn to circulate. With the aid of biofeedback, you can learn to directly affect blood circulation in your body, including the head congestion of a migraine headache. Courses in biofeedback are often available at community colleges, hospitals, and health centers.

Strategy #10: Magnesium magic. Magnesium relaxes the constriction of blood vessels and helps to lower blood Some studies have shown that 200 mg. of magnesium helps relieve migraines. Try taking this dose three times a day with meals.

Strategy #11: Have sex! Although some people use headaches as an excuse for not having sex, a researcher at Southern Illinois University has found that sex may actually provide some relief for migraine sufferers. The researcher found that the more intense the orgasm, the more intense the relief.

Strategy #12: Read and try some of the strategies for Tension Headaches too.

Strategy #13: One useless idea. Two-thirds of all people who suffer from migraines come from a family of fellow sufferers. Because changing one’s parents is not a one minute strategy, it is best to consider the previous strategies.