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Relief from Migraine

by Mary Martin(more info)

listed in headaches, originally published in issue 113 - July 2005

Migraine affects about ten percent of the UK population. There are two types, common migraine and classical migraine. Classical migraine is preceded by an aura that may last for half-an-hour. Both types involve violent headaches, usually one-sided, accompanied by nausea, vomiting, distorted vision or photophobia. People may also experience tingling and numbness around the mouth or a limb.

The causes are multi-factorial – sensitivity to certain foods, low blood sugar, stress, hormonal factors or injuries to the head or neck. There can be hereditary tendencies. Research suggests that migraines are triggered by chemical changes affecting blood vessels in the head.

Case Examples

Claire, who I wrote about in Issue 84, is the best example involving hormonal factors. She had a daughter, but also experienced two miscarriages at 25 weeks. During these pregnancies she was plagued by migraines and vomited 20 or 30 times during an attack. On becoming pregnant again I treated her throughout this pregnancy, during which time she was completely free of migraines and had normal labour. Half of women who experience migraines relate them to the menstrual cycle. They usually respond to reflexology, but it is more difficult where hereditary factors are involved.

Sheila (aged 45) was stressed because of difficult neighbours. Unfortunately she was unable to move house, and experienced migraines on a regular basis for 13 years. During her first four weekly treatments she was free of migraines. In the fifth week she had a very bad headache. With the cumulative effects of reflexology, she became extremely relaxed and also philosophical about her situation. Apart from the occasional headache she has been free of migraines.

David (aged 50) experienced migraines from the age of 11. In recent years his attacks occurred two or three times weekly, leaving him debilitated. For four years he also had cervical spondylitis that caused pain and restricted his movement. This condition contributed to the increased frequency of his migraines. He could only attend fortnightly. After his first treatment he experienced two severe headaches during the following fortnight. After his second treatment he experienced a less intensive migraine of shorter duration. Gradually his migraines disappeared. His neck became more mobile and less painful. He gets an occasional headache now, but no migraines.

Natalie (aged 26) usually experienced three migraines a week for a year, because of a car accident. This caused whiplash and fluid build-up in her neck area. Natalie's sleep pattern was badly disturbed and she felt depressed. After her third weekly treatment she experienced a less intense migraine and was sleeping normally. From her sixth weekly treatment her migraines disappeared and she was no longer depressed.

Michael (aged 8) was waiting for a scan to be carried out after suffering from migraines most of his young life. Michael's home life was stressful. His single mother found it difficult to cope. His diet consisted mainly of junk food and his head was congested with mucus. He missed a lot of schooling. His mother was open to suggestions about making dietary changes, and subsequently the family's diet improved. Michael's catarrh cleared, enabling him to sleep better. He became far more relaxed and lost his pallid complexion. He has had no migraines since his fourth treatment. Children usually respond well.


During my 22 years as a practitioner, because of a lack of serious research, I have justified my practice by results. There has been much criticism levelled at the lack of credible research into reflexology

A holistic therapy requires a holistic approach to research. Every aspect of treatment influences results and needs taking account of. These include the impact of the therapeutic relationship that may involve non-specific counselling. Both psychological and physical effects require evaluation. Regarding the technique, an increasing variety of techniques are now being employed that could make evaluation difficult.

Furthermore, the nature of this therapy involves a highly individualized approach. Large-scale clinical trials look at results for large groups of people – individual differences are not taken into account.

The Doctor's Dilemma

David was extremely ill with ME and unable to work for most of the year. He responded very well to reflexology and went to see his GP to be signed off the sick list and return to work. His GP, looking surprised, said "you do look well". David explained that he had been having reflexology. "Well if you think it helps…," said the GP, sarcastically. He had failed to alleviate David's condition, which probably accounts for his prejudiced reply.

Most doctors disregard the large amount of valid research into complementary medicine. What cannot be disregarded are the millions of people enjoying improved health and wellbeing due to the therapeutic success of complementary medicine.


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About Mary Martin

A qualified teacher, Mary Martin established her School of Reflexology in 1987. She founded the Association of Reflexologists in 1984 and is an Honorary Life Member. Previously she practised as a Gerson therapist. Mary belongs to a network of therapists attached to the cancer centre at Mount Vernon Hospital. She has had a busy practice in Ruislip since 1983. She may be contacted on Tel: 01895 635621;

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