Courtesy of the Migraine Research Foundation, here is a chilling statistic. Healthcare costs are 70% higher for a family with a migraine sufferer than a non-migraine affected family. Migraine is a tremendous burden on families, workplaces, and the economy. But it is still not well understood. Migraine sufferers have an array of treatments to try, and most of them are medications of one sort or another. But a lot of people are looking for ways to manage migraine without changing their body chemistry. That’s why I wanted to consider the possibility of infrared sauna for migraine.
Headache as Vascular Problem
For generations, headache researchers thought headaches, including migraine, were vascular phenomena. That is, they have to do with blood vessels. This idea seemed commonsensical, since headache is usually a throbbing sensation. You can almost feel the beat of your heart in the waxing and waning of the pain. Could it be that pressure in the vascular system (i.e., high blood pressure) creates the pain? Nearly all the sites that discuss how to control migraines suggest medications to lower blood pressure as an option. This page at the Mayo Clinic site is one example.
Infrared Sauna for Migraine
If you want to control your blood pressure, however, medication is not the only option. I wrote a blog post in 2019 describing research on how regular sauna use lowers blood pressure.
At Peak Recovery & Health Center, we offer infrared sauna, which we believe is superior to traditional sauna. A traditional sauna heats the air around you to about 200 degrees. Some people find it nearly impossible to breathe 200-degree air, and at the very least, most people find it uncomfortable. Infrared sauna, by contrast, uses radiant infrared panels to heat your body directly, rather than heating the air around you. It raises the temperature in your body quickly, even while the room remains in the temperature range of human habitation (100 to 150 degrees), reducing both risk and discomfort.
Sauna can help to control your blood pressure. Can it therefore help to control your migraines?
The Evidence is Obscure
The most compelling evidence that it can comes from a frustratingly ambiguous study. A 2016 article in the American Journal of Hypertension reported on a study of 1,914 people with high blood pressure. It found that headaches were a symptom (the researchers called them a “warning sign”) of high blood pressure. They also found that over 30 years, health outcomes were unaffected the presence or absence of headaches. People with headaches had a higher risk of dying from stroke, but a lower risk of dying from any other cause. In other words, if you have headaches, you likely have high blood pressure, but it may not affect your health over your lifetime.
Then again, if you’re suffering from migraine, you may not care about what’s going to happen in 30 years. You probably want relief now. Scientists may debate whether your headaches are caused by high blood pressure, but there is some evidence that reducing your blood pressure can help them. In any case, if you spend 30 to 40 minutes in our infrared sauna, you are likely to let go of your stress and tension and come out feeling relaxed. That counts for a lot. Book a session today.
Photo: “Headache” by Lel4nd is licensed under CC BY 2.0