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Joan had the typical migraines, but had an unusually happy ending.

Joan's headaches were typical. Her response to neurofeedback also was normal also. Now she is headache-free.

Joan M. was a typical migraine sufferer. 

Her headaches began when she was a teen and occurred about 2 times a month.  Each episode would last for most of a day, often Sunday.  And they were horribly painful. 


Migraines normally run in families and Joan’s grandmother got ‘headaches’ too.  “Grandma would first get irritable and nauseous and then the pain would break out like a storm.  We would have to leave.”  Joan would have probably suffered attacks well into her 40s, but fortunately she was also typical in her response to a new kind of biofeedback called neurofeedback.


The migraine statistics are dismal.  Headaches are the most common complaint physicians hear.  About 20 million people suffer from migraine headaches, but only half of the people call their headaches migraines.  Women are victims 3 to 1 over men.  They can begin in childhood and last throughout the life span.  Migraineurs are often highly responsible people and somewhat tightly wound.  There is little point in telling them to relax.  They must first learn how. 


If migraines are a medical issue they are a difficult one.  There is no cure for a genetically inherited predisposition for a disrupted brain state. Migraines could be triggered by hundreds of factors from weather to wine.  Physicians are generally best at pain and medication management.  Drugs work for some patients, but side effects are a problem for many.   There are surgeries to cut or kill the pain. 


Biofeedback is recognized as an effective technique to aid migraine headache sufferers.  The basic method is to teach relaxation with hand warming or with muscle tension meters.  “The first obvious home biofeedback remedy is to practice raising your finger temperature.  Aim for 94.5ş within 5 minutes.  If relaxation makes you anxious, try something else,” says Gary Ames who specializes in training away migraines with neurofeedback. 


There are two kinds of neurofeedback training that have made stopping migraine headaches quite possible for over 90% of those with this debilitating disorder.  First, think of infrared thermal training as brain strengthening.  It is done by measuring the infrared temperature of the frontal cortex for biofeedback training. 


Raising the infrared temperature stimulates cellular activity. The resulting activation stimulates cortical inhibition of the migraine generator.  Or, whatever caused the blood perfusion and increased tempurature, enables the brain to turn off the migraine switch.  When viewed with infrared photography the sessions appears to brighten the forehead.  More practice at ‘brain brightening’ gradually builds the ability to turn off a migraine before it gets started.  “This can interrupt a current raging migraine within 20 minutes” says psychologist Dr. Dale Patterson of Williamstown, NJ. 


The other form of neurofeedback uses an electroencephalograph or EEG.  This micro-volt meter detects tiny brain emanations on the scalp and uses the information for biofeedback to regulate brain activity.  It is like watching your brain waves wave ... and then waving back at them.  As in all biofeedback, awareness of a biological process leads to control of that process.  With self-awareness comes self-regulation.  All healing is self-healing where self-information is the remedy.  The practitioner merely holds up a high-tech mirror and does coaching.  “There is no treatment occurring, only training” says Gary Ames.


EEG biofeedback is highly effective in empowering the migraineur to stop getting horrible headaches.  Joan M found the experience of neurofeedback to be utterly calming.  Dangerous mental storms do not survive scrutiny.  To drop needless surging is a permanent release and to cease wasting energy is a welcome unwinding. 


When done gently, both forms of neurofeedback are safe and harmless, even for sensitive people.  The other effects of neurofeedback are all benefits such as better sleep and reduced mental chatter. 


“Neurofeedback is simply making the central nervous system more internally efficient.” says Gary Ames, a certified neurofeedback practitioner in Bala Cynwyd, PA.  He says we are certain that neurofeedback is safe and works for nearly everyone, but are not sure about the mechanism of action. 


Joan M. doesn’t care how it works.  She is just glad it worked completely for her.  She has been migraine free for 2 years for the first time as an adult. 


Gary Ames can be contacted at 610.668-3223. 

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