Trigeminal neuralgia affects one of the largest nerves in the head and can cause intense pain that people liken to being stabbed, or being similar to receiving an intense electric shock. It typically develops after age 50, and women are much more likely to be affected than men. Trigeminal neuralgia can be somewhat unpredictable, with some people experiencing symptoms for a period of days, weeks or even months, and then not having any for quite a while, sometimes years. The exact causes are unknown, though certain factors may play a role such as some sort of damage to the nerve, or stress.
Primary treatments include anti-seizure medications, which act to suppress overactive nervous tissue. Many people find they require an increasing dose of medication to control symptoms, and this can often lead to undesirable side effects. Surgery is sometimes considered, and like any neurological operation, carries with it serious risks. If you are considering a surgical procedure to manage symptoms, it is imperative you choose your doctor and medical center carefully. Consider institutions such as the Skull Base Institute, which specialize in Trigeminal neuralgia along with other conditions affecting this area of the body.
In addition to traditional treatments, there are several natural strategies that may help maximize symptom relief. It is important to note natural treatments can take some trial and error. We are all very unique in our ‘make up,’ and like conventional interventions, not everything works for everyone, and, it can also take a bit to see the full effects. Here are just a few that may be worth considering for Trigeminal neuralgia.
Unlike a condition such as diabetes, where strong links have been established between food and symptoms, there is no definitive nutritional guidelines for Trigeminal neuralgia. This does not mean experimenting with your diet is a lost cause. There is lots of anecdotal evidence making certain changes may ease symptoms. Many people with this condition have reported an improvement in symptoms when reducing the amount of saturated fat in their diet—this means cutting back on meat and dairy products.
Certain foods may trigger pain by stimulating an already hyperactive Trigeminal nerve. Foods and flavors that cause a strong ‘reaction’ in the mouth may be problematic. Examples include salsa, chili, hot sauce, foods that are very cold, sweet or sour and spices such as cinnamon, ginger and black pepper. If you tend to feel pain in your nose, foods with strong odors or steamy foods may be problematic.
Other potential problem items include anything high in caffeine and the artificial sweetener aspartame.
When it comes to the effects of diet, you may need to do a little detective work. Start keeping a food journal, and look for connections between certain foods and an onset of symptoms.
Stress has been noted as a possible trigger for Trigeminal neuralgia—doctors report many patients seemed to have developed this condition shortly after going through very stressful periods in their lives, such as death of a loved one or divorce. Therefore, it is feasible stress could serve as a trigger for the pain once the condition has manifested; and finding ways to keep it at bay could be a powerful tool in minimizing symptoms.
Certain supplements may be helpful in treating this condition. The B-vitamins are crucial for proper functioning of the nervous system. Magnesium may help relax overactive nerves. Corydalis, a Chinese herbal remedy, may help reduce the intensity of pain. Supplements that have strong anti-inflammatory properties, such as turmeric or evening primrose oil may also be helpful.
There are some homeopathic remedies which may be helpful, and if you are interested in going this route, you might consider working with a health care professional well-versed in this system of medicine, or at the very least, do a bit of reading on potential treatments. This is because this system of medicine is very individualized, with optimal treatments being prescribed based on a variety of factors unique to your experience. Two people with the same condition may benefit from completely different preparations.
If symptoms affect the right side of your face, potentially helpful treatments include magnesium phosphoricum and kalium phosphoricum. If you experience pain on the left side, good treatments may be spigelia and lachesis. If you experience numbness along with the pain, chamomile and verbascum thapsus. If you experience twitching, belladonna and agaricus muscarius are recommended.
Remember—be patient with natural remedies. Be willing to experiment. Stay positive that you can find a way to relieve your pain.
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