Book Review: The Migraine Brain: Your Breakthrough Guide to Fewer Headaches, Better Health (Free Press, 2008)
By Carolyn Bernstein, M.D. and Elaine McArdle
With the publishing of The Migraine Brain, a precedent has been set for better prevention and treatment of migraine patients. Written by Carolyn Bernstein, herself a migraine sufferer, but also the Founder and Director of the Women's Headache Center at Cambridge Health Alliance, Dr. Bernstein empathizes with those who are struck down by the mind-numbing pain of migraines.
Dr. Bernstein refers to those with the headaches as migraineurs, and as a neurologist on the faculty at Harvard Medical School, she has treated thousands of fellow sufferers.
The Migraine Brain seeks to express to readers how to:
* Prevent migraines
* Find their triggers
* Reduce pain and duration of the migraine
* Understand her/his own brain
Bernstein's Points to ponder:
* One in every four households in the United States includes a person who get migraines. It is the ninth leading cause of disability among women, and is also one of the most painful conditions. Some women quoted in the book said that natural childbirth was easier than a migraine.
* Migraine costs the United States $1 billion a year in health costs and about $13 billion in loss of industry.
* Most migraine sufferers do not realize they have the condition as it is often misdiagnosed or underreported.
* Within the last 15 years, new medications have revolutionized migraine treatment.
* Alternative medical treatment, like yoga, ice massage, acupuncture, and biofeedback has been found to help.
* Even the famous get migraines. Recognize any of these? Terrell Davis, Troy Aikman, Serena Williams, Kareem Abdul-Jabar, Ben Affleck, Whoopi Goldberg, Carly Simon
* Foods like chocolate and red wine do not begin migraines, rather for some, foods set off abnormal brain chemistry, which begins the migraine.
* At a 3 to 1 ration, more women than men get migraines due to a difference in our brains. 1 in 20 elementary school children get migraines.
* Those with migraines are more likely to be depressed.
The Migraine Brain is divided into three large sections, each covering a different aspect of the migraine. Part one helps the reader decide if hers is a true migraine, learn how to find anything that triggers the condition ( Dr. Bernstein lists her own top ten), and covers how female hormones play a part throughout life. There is also a short but important section for men.
Part two discusses how to find the right physician to help you; explains the variety of medications--those that prevent, abort, and rescue; mentions in-hospital treatment; covers recent natural alternative methods for migraine relief.
Part three helps the reader set up her personal wellness plan. Topics covered are family, sex, mental health, travel, home environment, and work.
The Migraine Brain is the kind of book I really like, because it is written by a doctor who is also a researcher, but more important than this, she is a self-advocate--Dr. Carolyn Bernstein truly understands the disease. We all know someone who suffers, sometimes needlessly because of lack of information. By reaching out to both her patients and other readers, Dr. Bernstein has handed them a tool which will empower their lives. I highly recommend The Migraine Brain, and will pass my copy along to my aunt who has suffered her entire life with migraines.