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Gifts for People with Migraine or Other Chronic Pain

It’s not as difficult to buy gifts for someone with migraine or other chronic pain as some you might imagine. Think “comfort” instead of “cure” for neurological disorders and you’ll have a better time finding gifts that anyone would appreciate. After the onset of neuropathic facial pain (formerly called atypical trigeminal neuralgia) three years ago, and an intractable migraine that’s lasted almost 20 months, I’ve been looking for additional products that might bring me comfort or help relieve the pain. I’ve found several that have become my constant companions, so to speak. Here are my favorite products to relieve pain and comfort someone with migraine or other chronic pain.

Essential Oil Aromatherapy Roll-Ons

Essential oil aromatherapy roll-ons, which come in a variety of scents, are portable, cost only about $10-13 each, and have been a life-saving product for me the last several months. My favorites are Migrastil Migraine Stick (therapeutic grade spearmint, peppermint, and lavender essential oils in a base of fractionated coconut oil), Aromata’s Headache Be Gone (lavender, peppermint, and wild-grown frankincense essential oils in almond oil), and Lavender Calm (organic essential oil of lavender in almond oil).

Some people may have sensitivities to lavender, so they might like the lavender-free Prime Natural Headache Relief (peppermint, Spanish sage, cardamom, ginger, and fennel essential oils in grapeseed oil). I like these roll-ons so much that I bought a second set to carry in my purse (the Aromata brands come in a small bag, so I store a few roll-ons in one of those pretty bags and toss it into my purse.) I swipe the essential oil roll-ons along the trigeminal nerve, from my temples to the spot in front of my ear, on both sides of my head (even though I only have pain on one side), on both sides of my collarbone, on the back of my neck down the center and on the back of the neck from the center outward at the hairline. These roll-ons immediately reduce pain, and though the scents only last about half an hour, they are not overpowering.

Essential Oil Aromatherapy Balms

Since someone else wearing perfume or other odorous products can trigger attacks, I try to be extremely conscientious with fragrances in public spaces, even if the fragrances are therapeutic ones. For people who need more subtle or short-lasting essential oil aromatherapy products, I recommend Badger Balm’s Headache Soother and Stress Soother, which are under $10 for a single balm or under $15 for a two-pack.

Headache Soother contains the following certified organic ingredients: Extra Virgn Olive Fruit Oil, Beeswax, Castor Seed Oil, Lavender Flower Oil, Menthol, Peppermint Leaf Oil, Sunflower Vitamin E, Eucalyptus Leaf Oil, Mandarin Peel  Oil, Sandalwood Oil, Calendula Flower Extract, Rosehip Fruid Extract.
Stress Soother contains the following certified organic ingredients: Extra Virgin Olive Fruit Oil,  Beeswax, Tangerine Peel Oil, Lavender Flower Oil, Rosemary Leaf Oil, Cedar Wood Oil, Sunflower Vitamin E Oil, Spearmint Leaf Oil, Damascene Rose Flower Oil, Calendula Flower Extract, Rosehip Fruit Extract, Roman Chamomile Flower Oil.

Since Badger Balms have more ingredients than any of the roll-ons listed above, I was initially hesitant to try these pain relief products. However, I’d used Badger’s Muscle Balm with great success, so I decided to try some of their other Soothers, which are more portable than their balms in a tin and don’t require you to dip your fingers into the balm to apply it to your skin.

All of these essential oil aromatherapy products, roll-ons and balm sticks, are portable and can be applied directly to the skin (barring absence of any allergies to the individual ingredients). Because these products contain essential oils, already diluted for application to the skin, and because they are portable, they would be weelcome additions to any chronic pain or migraine warrior’s self-care bag.

Heating & Cooling Sacks

SacksyThyme All Natural Premium Herbal Heating and Cooling Sacks are filled with organic flaxseed, or a combination of organic flaxseed and cherry pits, in a woven 100% cotton cover, and cost $30-40 each. The Sack can be put in the microwave for 90 seconds for warmth, misted with a little water before heating for moist heat, or placed in a sealed plastic bag in the freezer for 2 hours for chilled relief (and then stored in the sealed bag in freezer for instant comfort). I bought a Medium Unscented (13″ x 7.5″) one, which has no odor at all from the cloth or the filling; they also have an XL Unscented (16″ x 13″), covered with woven cotton on one side and cotton fleece on the other. The Sack comes in various sizes (L is 22″ x 7.5″), colors (blue, green, black, grey, etc), and prints (paisley, houndstooooth, plaid, leaves, bubbles, etc.). SacksyThyme also offers the same organic flaxseed or cherry pit filling with a proprietary blend of essential oils (lavender, cherry, eucalyptus, and lemon verbena). SacksyThyme makes an Unscented XLong Neck Wrap, filled with organic flaxseed, that can be heated in the microwave and won’t fall off your neck (22″ x 6″, and available in charcoal, hot pink, or dark red).

All SacksyThyme’s heating/cooling pads come with a one-year warranty.

Guided Meditations & Self-Hypnosis

Guided Meditations or Self-Hypnosis can reduce pain, and I’m a big fan of Belleruth Naparstek and have used her guided meditations since the early 90s (when they came on cassette tapes only). I regularly use her Meditation to Ease Pain and Meditation to Help Relieve Headaches, which features a guided meditation for relief of headache pain as well as a meditation designed to help prevent future head pain. Health Journeys has guided meditations specifically for the pain from TMJ, and Naparstek, one of the founders of Health Journeys, has meditations for traumatic brain injury, migraine, to increase healthful sleep, to promote general wellness, and more. These audio guided meditations are available in MP3 or CD format ($11.98 or $17.98, respectively) and are also available to stream from Health Journeys app for Android and iOS, which features a 7-day free trial. Though I still have the original cassettes with these guided mediations, I prefer the MP3 versions since I was able to make a playlist out of all the Belleruth Naparstek guided meditations: I put the volume on Low, put in my wireless earphones, and play the meditations on Repeat all day long to relieve pain.

Health Journeys sponsors a large library of guided meditations, with many of them devoted to pain relief and healing. Health Journeys also has other items for pain relief and healing, including guided meditations by Dr. Andrew Weil, one of the leaders in holistic medicine (CDs only), essential oils, books, pillows, lotions, etc. Health Journeys has gift cards ($15-$100) so that recipients can choose their own gifts. Health Journey’s catalogue is available online or by mail. If you or your give receipients have any questions about Health Journey’s Guided Meditations or other products, founder Belleruth Naparstek is available via email to answer questions.

It doesn’t take a great deal of money to comfort people with chronic pain and migraine. Most of us have to spend a great deal of time at home, and virtually all of us with migraine or other chronic pain have to invest a great deal of time taking care of themselves. Gifts developed specifically for people with chronic pain make holiday gift-buying easier. Everyone with migraine or other chronic pain will appreciate receiving gifts that will help with their self-care.


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For more of my articles on migraine or chronic pain,
see my Migraine & Chronic Pain page.

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The Best Natural Nausea Relief

The Best Natural Nausea Relief

Updated: 25 August 2019 We've all been nauseous. Whether from pregnancy's morning-sickness or medication side-effects, from the annual flu bug or a migraine attack, from ...
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The Best Natural Nausea Relief

Updated: 25 August 2019

We’ve all been nauseous. Whether from pregnancy’s morning-sickness or medication side-effects, from the annual flu bug or a migraine attack, from anxiety or dehydration, or from eating a bit too much of that delicious holiday dinner, we can find nausea an unwelcome companion. Prescription anti-emetics can do an excellent job of preventing vomiting, but they can also make you dizzy or incontinent. Worse, since these powerful medications are to prevent vomiting, they don’t necessarily eliminate nausea. Over the last several years, I’ve come to rely more on natural remedies to relieve nausea, no matter its cause, and I’ve learned to keep many of these items in my pantry year round. Ginger is the best natural nausea antidote, and it’s generally regarded as safe to eat regularly.* I always have plenty of ginger in the house, whether as fresh root, crystallized, or as a major ingredient in some very yummy products. Fresh ginger root or crystallized ginger, which is made from the root, more effectively relieves nausea than culinary powdered ginger or herbal capsules containing powdered ginger.

Though I always have plenty of fresh ginger root (sliced, then frozen to maintain freshness) for baking and stir-fry dishes, crystallized ginger is now one of my kitchen staples. Years ago, I saw ginger listed in an herbal anti-nausea supplement, so I bought some crystallized ginger at a health food store. The next time I got nauseous, I opened the bag and popped a slice into my mouth. It was delicious. Even better, two slices later, my nausea had completely disappeared. Since that time, I keep an airtight glass container on the counter filled with crystallized ginger. When I have the flu, am getting a migraine, or have nausea for any reason, I eat a few slices of crystallized ginger. It immediately relieves nausea, and if the upset stomach returns later, I simply eat another piece.

Once we moved to Big Rock Candy Mountain, however, I couldn’t find crystallized ginger in the local grocery, and the closest health food stores are over two hours away. At first, I decided to make my own. It’s not difficult: you just slice fresh, firm, dry ginger root, add sugar and water, and boil until the ginger is tender and the water turns into syrup. Then you strain and cool the ginger slices before rolling them in sugar. Time-consuming, but, honestly, easy-peasy. In addition to eating the crystallized ginger, I put a couple slices into my iced tea, water, seltzer, carbonated water, lemonade, smoothies, and even iced coffee. I love the taste, but when I’m nauseous, I’m usually also dehydrated or having a migraine attack, so putting the crystallized ginger into my beverages helps all the nasty symptoms I may be experiencing. At the rate I was eating my homemade crystallized ginger, I soon found it more convenient to purchase it online rather than drive to the big city every week.

Since I have severe allergies and migraine whose attacks can be triggered by many different foods additives or preservatives, I have to be very careful about which ginger products I buy. I can only have ginger root that has not been exposed to sulfites, artificial sweeteners, artificial colors, or preservatives. I also prefer non-GMO and organic ginger. All of these products meet my stringent migraine and allergy requirements. I’ve listed each product’s ingredients based on its packaging in the most recent version I’ve bought rather than on any online listings since item’s actual ingredient list sometimes contain known allergens or migraine triggers. Here are a few of my favorite crystallized ginger products to relieve nausea.**

Caveat
Eating crystallized ginger or adding it to your beverages takes away your appetite along with your nausea. In fact, ginger root is such a strong appetite suppressant that it’s almost always one of the ingredients in herbal diet supplements. Fresh or crystallized ginger is a more powerful anorectic than any herbal diet pills, so if you have difficulty keeping weight on, you may want to monitor your intake of ginger.

Best Crystallized Ginger

Best Ginger For Beverages
No matter what kind of tea I having — black, green, rooibos, or herbal — I drop a couple slices of crystallized ginger into the bottom of the cup before I add the boiling water. If I have cold tea, I drop some slices into my glass before adding the ice. I don’t like too much sugar in my tea, and 2-4 crystallized ginger slices make it sweet enough for me. For my tea, whether hot or cold, I prefer NOW Foods Crystallized Ginger Slices, which contains ginger root, evaporated cane syrup, and cane sugar. NOW ginger is certified organic and verified non-GMO. NOW Foods brand is not dried out to the point of being hard, and it’s not too sugary. These slices give Perrier a very slight ginger ale flavor and are also excellent added to lemonade, limeade, or orange juice.

Best Ginger For Baking and For Smoothies
I’ve heard of people eating gingersnaps for nausea, but store-bought brands, even those with a strong ginger flavor, simply don’t have enough ginger to alleviate the fierce nausea that accompanies a migraine attack. Sometimes I make my own gingersnaps, and for that, I prefer NOW Food Brands Crystallized Ginger Dices, also certified organic and verified non-GMO.

Because they’re made for baking, the dices are shaped like little gumdrops, but not as sweet as candy. The dices are a little chewier than the slices and have slightly less sugar, but the taste is the same, and so is their anti-emetic and anorectic properties. The dices knock out nausea just as quickly as the slices, but because they’re smaller, I have to eat a whole handful to quell nausea. When I have a migraine, I often drink homemade smoothies as meals, and if I want crystallized ginger in my smoothies, I use the NOW dices because they get chopped and blended more easily.

Best Ginger For Eating
My favorite crystallized ginger for eating straight from the bag, whether to prevent nausea during the flu or a migraine attack, or throughout the day to keep my appetite under control, is Gerbs Organic Crystallized Ginger, sourced from Thailand. Made with ginger and cane sugar, Gerbs ginger comes in 2- or 4-pound resealable bags. Because Gerbs is a bit more expensive, I don’t like to put it in smoothies, tea, Perrier, etc., because its texture gets lost. Although both NOW and Gerbs crystallized gingers come in hefty slices, and though both are great for eating, Gerbs Organic Crystallized Ginger is slightly thicker and a bit moister. I keep some slices in a candy dishes on my desk and nightstand, as well as in an airtight jar on the kitchen counter, so that I always have some around if the nausea of a migraine attack begins.

Australian Crystallized Ginger

Top-Rated Crystallized Ginger
Based on articles and reviews of crystallized ginger by bakers, chefs, and cookbook authors, I tried Australian Crystallized Ginger, which is said to be the best in the world, and Thai Crystallized Candied Ginger. Both of these brands contain only cane sugar and ginger, and are free of sulphur (sulfites). These two brands of crystallized ginger are divine — sweet, very plump, and extremely moist. Both come in multiple pound bags. The Thai Crystallized Candied Ginger is especially sweet — very candy-like — though it is more ginger root than sugar and so, technically, is probably not “candy.” Because it’s actual ginger root, it quells nausea better than any “ginger candies” on the market: ginger candies are much like prepackaged gingersnaps — they may taste good, but they don’t have enough ginger to relieve nausea.

Thai Crystallized Candied Ginger

 

I wish I could buy these two brands all the time, but I found myself devouring these gingers even when I wasn’t nauseous, i.e., like candy. I went through several pounds of the Australian and Thai crystallized gingers so quickly that I didn’t have enough the next time I was nauseous from a migraine. Even my guy liked these brands of crystallized ginger, and he is a confirmed ginger-hater. If you don’t love crystallized ginger (or actually hate ginger in any form), Australian or Thai Crystallized Ginger might be the type you’d want to keep around the house to relieve nausea.

Best Ginger for Homemade Ginger Tea

The best ginger I’ve ever gotten for homemade tea is Tea Spot’s Organic Ginger Root. I realize that tossing a couple of pieces of crystallized ginger into a cup of boiling water will give a faint ginger taste, but Tea Spot’s Organic Ginger Root makes a wonderful tasting tea that I can have without sugar. It provides all the stomach-calming and nausea-quelling properties of the crystallized ginger without any of the sugar. Also, since the ginger root is dried and chopped, I don’t have to store it in the refrigerator or freezer as I do with fresh or crystallized ginger, which makes it very convenient.

Ginger is the best natural remedy I’ve ever found to quell nausea, whether it’s from migraine, medications, motion-sickness, flu, or holiday overindulgence. It has none of the side-effects of pharmaceutical anti-emetics (prescription or OTC) and can be added to liquids so you ensure that you remain hydrated. Even if you’re not fond of ginger, you’ll find that crystallized ginger, which is often made from baby ginger, has little of the heat of restaurant stir-fry gingers and none of the bitterness. The only thing you may have to worry about with crystallized ginger is that you’ll like it so much, you’ll find yourself eating it like candy, whether or not you’re nauseous.


*Safety*
It’s generally regarded as safe to eat ginger — up to 1000mg per day. if you eat too much in one day, you might get heartburn or diarrhea, so start slowly. Also, ginger may be an anti-coagulant: consult your physican if you are on prescription blood-thinners, and do not consume any ginger products for two weeks before scheduled surgical procedures. (back to article)

**Caution**
If you experience unrelenting nausea, it may be a sign of an ulcer or of something more serious. If nausea is accompanied by vomiting, it may be food poisoning or gastritis. Please check with your health care provider if you have daily nausea that is not relieved by ginger or OTC anti-emetics. (back to article)

Note: I have never received free products or other compensation for reviews.

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Filed under chronic pain, Chronic Pain Treatment, hemiplegic migraines, migraine, migraine self-care, Migraine Treatment, Migraine with Aura, Migraine Without Aura, migraines