Treating Migraines

Can a compounding pharmacy help with migraines and headaches? Absolutely.

It is estimated that 1 in 7 people will search for a product off the shelf that helps control the pain of their headaches. In Australia, over the counter treatments are pretty much limited to tablets and capsules of paracetamol, aspirin, ibuprofen and some antihistamines. Unfortunately, many people in the past have resorted to codeine containing medications which seemingly help for a short amount of time, but can actually end up causing to headaches if taken long term.

With such as small option of over the counter treatments available, and the enormous amount of variation from person to person, it is no wonder that many people’s search for an effective over the counter headache treatment is in vain. This is where a compounding pharmacist may help.

There are a number of types of headaches, which need to be diagnosed before a treatment can be suggested. Primary headaches include migraine, tension headaches and cluster headaches. Secondary headaches are a result of head and neck trauma or head or neck circulatory issues. Secondary headaches may also be caused by substance withdrawal, infection, or other intracranial disorders. Secondary headaches are best managed by a doctor. Alternatively, if a headache occurs more than once every 2 weeks then it is also time to see a doctor.

What causes migraines?

The true cause of migraines is still somewhat of a medical mystery, but we do not that they can be triggered by:

  • Hormone changes
  • Certain foods eg alcohol, cheese, chocolate, caffeine, MSG
  • Stress
  • Bright lights
  • Unusual smells
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Physical exertion
  • Medications

How your BCP compounding pharmacist will target migraines

The easiest way to show you how we target migraines and tension headaches is to show a picture of some anatomy.

The pain and increased pressure in blood vessels in the brain is caused by some misfiring by the large trigeminal nerve. You can see from above that this bundle of nerves is like a junction where nerves from all over the face come together. This is very similar to a bunch of electrical cables all bunched together. If you can imagine what would happen if the wires were poorly insulated and electricity could jump from one wire to another, you can imagine what goes on in a migraine, and why eyes, teeth, face and head feel so sore!

Traditionally, taking a tablet or capsule to control the pain will work, but to get the drug to the trigeminal nerve, you must first dilute it in all the fluids in the body. So it’s not going to be very concentrated at the site that needs it the most.

A compounding pharmacist can combine a number of ingredients and turn them into a gel that can be applied to the first 2 molars on the top gum. You can see from the diagram above this corresponds to the maxillary nerve. By telling this nerve to stop with the pain, you can get it to tell all the other ones in the trigeminal nerve meeting point to stop with the pain too. The best thing is, you don’t need to dilute the drugs – you are applying a full dose directly to the nerve. Furthermore, because its not going to be spread all throughout your body, you won’t get the same side effects as if you took it orally. This is good if you feel nausea with your headaches!

If you suffer from migraines or headaches, talk to our compounding pharmacists about designing a formulation specifically for you.