The term migraine comes from the Greek hemikrania, meaning "half the head," because, as anyone who has ever had one will tell you, the classical migraine affects one side only. Migraines are also, unfortunately, amongst the most debilitating of illnesses while being highly resistant to cure or even understanding. They are also different from other headaches because they are usually more severe and sometimes accompanied by symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, or sensitivity to light, know as 'with aura'. Most people who have migraines have the classical one where the intense throbbing pain is felt on one side of the head only.
A migraine is triggered by stress, food, or some other factor causing abnormal brain activity. It involves various nerve pathways and chemicals and the exact chain of events is still largely unknown - except that blood flow in and through the surrounding brain membranes is effected. The pain from a migraine is thought to be from a combination of increased pain sensitivity from tissue and blood vessel inflammation.
Migraines also come in two categories; "with aura" and "without aura." An aura is a group of neurological symptoms, usually visual disturbances that serve as warning sign. Patients who get auras typically see flashes of brightly coloured or blinking lights shortly before the onset of the headache proper. It is thought that the aura seen before and during a migraine may be related to constriction in the blood vessels dilated by the headache phase. However, most people with migraines do not have these visual warning signs. It is still not known exactly what triggers a migraine, nor why individual migraine sufferers are affected by particular triggers when others are not - or why women are three times as susceptible to them as men! And there is still no real cure for the common migraine. All that can be done is to control the symptoms to prevent further attacks – and the main symptoms seems to be stress and here is where hypnotherapy comes in.
'Hypnotherapy gives no dramatic results but repeated sessions have shown steady but significant long term improvement when tested under controlled scientific groups against other forms of treatment and control groups' (see (J.A.Anderson 1975, Olness 1987, L.C.Schuletter 1980 and Gutfield & Rao 1992). Unfortunately an abundance of urban myths and misconceptions regarding hypnosis and hypnotherapy prevent many sufferers from trying what is probably the most effective control there is for migraines - simple drugless hypnotherapy...