Thursday, March 24, 2011

Migraine as a Spiritual Ailment? Please

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I receive Google email alerts when the word "migraine" pops up in the news. When I received an alert about an author giving a talk on living with migraines at a small college I wanted to know more.

By doing a quick search I discovered the lecturer has written a book about migraines as a spiritual ailment. I will fully admit I rolled my eyes and thought about how much I'd love to trash such a book on this blog. After all, what a silly notion. In fairness, though, I thought I should see the book before I eviscerated it, so I went to the page where it's being sold and downloaded the free preview.

I started reading through and most of the information seemed accurate enough. Maybe my initial impression had been unfair. After all, I use meditation to cope with migraine disease. Perhaps she was advocating something similar. You know, aside from that business about migraine being a spiritual phenomenon.

Unfortunately she describes migraine as a vascular condition. This is an old fashioned, out of date perspective on migraine. It's a neurological condition. The blood vessels do in fact expand and contract during a migraine attack, but this is no longer thought to be the root cause of migraine. Instead, it's a process that occurs as part of the migraine attack. She also talks about cures, which is a huge pet peeve of mine. Migraine is managed, not cured. Though we can greatly reduce the number of attacks someone experiences, there is no cure for migraines. To be perfectly honest it reeks of quackery when someone suggests otherwise.

I think we owe it to ourselves to explore any and all avenues for coping with and treating our migraine disease, but I don't think being accurate about the scientific aspects of migraine is optional. I do believe mindfulness can help us cope, but it's not a cure and migraine isn't a spiritual condition. It's important to be accurate about what we know about migraine disease even if we're taking a less than mainstream approach to living with it. Anything less is an insult to the entire community.

Since I think it's probably unfair to write about the book and not tell you the name, here is a link to the page where it's being sold: Migraine: Pain of the Body, Cry of the Spirit.

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DISCLAIMER: Nothing on this site constitutes medical or legal advice. I am a patient who is engaged and educated and enjoys sharing my experiences and news about migraines, pain and depression. Please consult your own health care providers for advice on your unique situation.