New migraine device, Cefaly, disappoints
As anyone who suffers from them can tell you too well, a migraine isn't just a headache.
It's not even a headache "this big" like in the old painkiller commercials.
No, a migraine is a monster headache -- a headache on steroids. These headaches can be so debilitating that you're unable to do anything other than to hide under the covers in bed and pray they pass quickly.
Now, the FDA has approved a new device that I know some people are eager to try.
It's not another drug (thank God) but a battery-powered headpiece that looks a like a tiara from a science-fiction film. It's called Cefaly, and it works by delivering transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation through the forehead.
If you want to try it out, I won't stop you. The Cefaly device appears largely safe, at least in the early trials, with patients reporting no major side effects beyond some tingling and a little sleepiness during the daily 20-minute sessions.
But it's not really a cure, either: In one study, it cut the number of days with headaches per month in half, from two down to one, but only in 38 percent of the patients who tried it.
And in the patients who did get a benefit, it didn't reduce the severity of the headaches -- only the frequency.
As a result, nearly half of the patients who tried it said they didn't like it.
Personally, I think you can do better with my tried-and-true two-step approach to fighting migraines.
First, consider butterbur, which is proven to cut the number of migraines in half, no pricey sci-fi gadget necessary.
But like the Cefaly gadget, butterbur isn't a solution, either. It's a half-measure to help get you to the second step, and that's working with a doctor to identify your migraine triggers.
You may have one or you may have several.
Some are beyond your control. Nearby lightning, for example, can actually trigger migraines for some folks.
But many others are within your control, especially common migraine triggers such as alcohol and caffeine as well as food additives. Preservatives, colors, chemical agents such as MSG and sweeteners such as aspartame are all known to cause migraines.
And in some cases, migraines can be caused by everything from stress to hormonal imbalances.
A holistic doctor can test you for all the possible causes and work with you on a natural solution -- a solution that will bring real and lasting relief without the risks.
For complete natural migraine testing and treatment in Southern California, make an appointment to see me at my clinic outside San Diego.
And if you're not in the area and have no plans to visit, I'm also available by phone. Call 855-DOC-MARK to learn more.