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The Migraine Brain: Your Breakthrough Guide to Fewer Headaches, Better Health Hardcover – September 16, 2008

4.6 out of 5 stars 138 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Bernstein, a neurologist who suffered her first migraines in her 20s, teaches at Harvard Medical School and is on staff at the Cambridge Health Alliance, where she founded the Women's Headache Center. With journalist McArdle, she presents a clear and comprehensive analysis of the migraine brain. Noting that there are about 30 million migraine sufferers in the U.S., Bernstein reveals that migraine is a complex neurological disease that affects the central nervous system. A severe headache is just one of its symptoms: others may be nausea, vomiting, visual changes or sensitivity to light or sound: the authors help readers identify the triggers that can bring on an attack (such as stress, insufficient sleep, menstrual periods or a host of other factors). Bernstein then helps the migraineur develop a personalized plan to prevent, abort, or rescue. The authors include research on the new triptan meds, which can interrupt the neurochemical reaction of an attack and halt a migraine in its tracks, as well as info on preventive medications (i.e., beta-blockers and antidepressants) and such alternative methods as biofeedback and acupuncture. Bernstein approaches the reader as she might patients—creatively, scientifically and sympathetically—offering a range of tactics and treatments to help migraine sufferers control and mitigate their pain. (Sept.)
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"As a family doctor, I welcome this wonderful book, which can help patients reduce the impact of migraine on their lives. "The Migraine Brain" explains the subject well and makes understandable a complex condition. It is comprehensive and filled with practical tips for feeling better." -- Erica Swegler, M.D., 2006 Texas Family Physician of the Year

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press; 1 edition (September 16, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416547681
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416547686
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.4 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (138 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #392,462 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
From: [...]

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?
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Format: Hardcover
As a long-time migraine sufferer, I would highly recommend this book. Some of the book treads on basic ground, but the author's manner of talking about migraines & her emphasis on the fact that it's a "whole body" phenomenon is very refreshing. And, it's not one of those hokey, useless books that tries to tell you, "Do x, and your migraines will disappear" (ha! Oh, if I had a penny for every book that purports to give a silver bullet to us migraine sufferers....!!). The book emphasizes the need for a holistic (that is, comprehensive) approach to migraine management -- what we can do to support our overall health in order to mitigate or lessen the impact of migraines on our lives -- and offers some practical strategies for living with migraines (e.g., how to increase your family's understanding of the disease and how it affects our functioning). And, I found her review of various therapies (medical and "alternative") very instructive. It's a well-researched, solid book from a highly-credentialied physician, and I would highly recommend it. Also, the author is a migraine sufferer, so she "gets it."
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I have been dealing with all the issues of migraines for over 10 years now and was hoping for some more information via this book to learn from. I have worked with my primary doctor(s) over the years trying various prescriptions, have dealt with the emotional/psychological effects of stress/life events in individual therapy for many years, have tried a handful of natural supplements, have gone to chiropractors, done acupuncture,tried special diets,etc...all this to realize what? That migraines have a life of their own to a large degree, that the research on it's effects change over time, that each migraine sufferer is unique and that the best you can hope for is to find any variables that can even slightly control these type of "headaches". I have found that something that seems to help one day can totally backfire and actually trigger a migraine the next! It still seems like a mystery to a huge degree and without rhyme or reason lots of the time...I'm from a long line of migraneurs from my mom, my sister, my aunt, my grandma,etc all on the same side of the family so feel like there is only so much you can do about biology predisposition. Treating it solely on a chemical basis with many different prescriptions over the years have led to less than ideal results for me anyway. Terrible side effects usually take their toll so in the end all I have for immediate treatment relief is Imitrex which again has it's own host of side effects as well.
I think this book is a good place to start to learn more about the fundamentals of migraines and for people who have only pursued conventional medicine so could benefit from some exposure to other treatment ideas. I'm already naturally bent to search out alternative options so some of the topics discussed by this author were nothing new to me...
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10 Comments 37 of 43 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Hardcover
I have had migraine since I was 12 and I am 34, that is 22 years of migraine. I get about 2-3 a week. So you'd think I'd know a lot about migraine. Not until I read this book!

After all this time, I have never had a Dr explain what happens when you get a migraine. Or why some medicines work for some people and not for others. After reading this book I look at my migraines in a different way and I have taken new steps using advice from the author to try to reduce the number of migraines I get.

I love this book and have been recommending it to everyone who has migraine!
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