Book Review, The National Headache Foundation, Headlines, March-April 2008
Migraines Be Gone: 7 Simple Steps to Eliminating Your Migraines Forever, Kelsie Kenefick, MPS, CBT, LMHC, Roots and Wings Publishing, $19.95
If you're looking for instruction on such techniques as biofeedback and relaxation, you may want to pick up Migraines Be Gone by Kelsie Kenefick.
Kenefick is a biofeedback therapist who draws on thirty of years of study in mind-body medicine, yoga and psychology, and ten years specializing in the treatment of migraine, to create the seven-step program outlined in the book.
“This book is essentially about creating new habits,” she writes. She’s not referring to eating or smoking, but to habits that most of us think we have no control over—our autonomic nervous system. This is the “automatic” part of our nervous system that controls such bodily functions as blood flow and heart rate. The autonomic nervous system is also responsible for the “fight or flight” state that so many of us experience as a result of daily stresses. Too much time in this state can push the already sensitive migraine brain into migraine attacks.
The seven steps include: making a commitment to create new habits through the program; understanding the role of the autonomic nervous system in regards to migraine; calming the body and mind through breathing, relaxation and imagery exercises; learning to relax the shoulder, neck, eye and jaw muscles; using thoughts to heal through affirmations; and increasing your circulation through temperature training (biofeedback).
The steps are broken down into a dozen simple and well-described lessons and readers are advised to do one or two lessons each week. Kenefick uses photographs to illustrate stretches and exercises and includes lengthy relaxation scripts that can be recorded or downloaded from her Web site. She also makes the exercises easy to integrate into daily life.
Behavioral techniques like these are used in headache centers around the world and can work wonders in reducing migraines. Kenefick insists that most of her patients have either eliminated their migraines or significantly reduced the number and intensity of the attacks. To keep migraines at bay, the techniques will likely need to be used lifelong—migraine, like asthma, diabetes and other chronic conditions cannot truly be “eliminated”—but being in control of your body’s response to stress is worth it.
~ Lesley Reed