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Headband delivers electric migraine therapy

  • Published Tuesday, April 22, 2014, at 12 a.m.

Jay Silverheels portrayed Tonto in TV’s “The Lone Ranger” wearing a simple headband across his forehead. Johnny Depp amped up the character’s costume and topped off his movie-version headband with a dead crow. Critics said the affectation pained them greatly. But the latest headband to hit the U.S. market – it’s been available in Canada and Europe for some time – may bring much-needed pain relief to the more than 30 million folks who contend with migraine headaches.

This battery-powered device, newly approved by the Food and Drug Administration, is designed to prevent migraine attacks, not treat them once they’ve started. It’s worn around the head, and during a daily 20-minute session, an electrode delivers programmed electrical impulses to branches of the trigeminal nerve that’s located in the center of the forehead, above the eyes. This three-part nerve is thought to play a role in triggering migraine and in transmitting the pain sensations it causes.

Studies show that when used over several months, the headband cuts the number of headache days in half (that’s a relief) and significantly reduces the use of migraine-attack medication. And just as important: Side effects from this novel migraine therapy are rare and minimal. Many migraine suffers can’t stomach potent migraine prevention and treatment medications, which can trigger burning or prickling sensations in hands and feet, chest pain, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, dizziness, nausea and rebound headaches. So if you have migraine headaches, ask your doctor about trying this new way to stop the pain before it begins.

Acing your vegetable serves

In the 2010 Wimbledon Championship, John Isner and Nicolas Mahut served up the tennis ball for 11 hours and 5 minutes – the longest match ever. (Isner won.) Now, that’s a lot of servings. And yet, people complain about having to eat nine or more servings of veggies and fruits a day.

The benefit of nine veggies a day is astounding. Seven servings (not even the nine we recommend) slash your risk of death at any point in time by 42 percent compared with folks who eat one serving a day. Fresh vegetables offer the best protection; each daily serving reduces your overall risk of death by 16 percent (salads by 13 percent) and each serving of fruit by 4 percent.

But only around 60 percent of you eat four servings of veggies a day at least four days a week. And french fries (your most favorite veggie) don’t win you any points. So here’s how you can ace your veggie-serves.

1. Start smart: At breakfast, try sliced tomatoes with 100 percent whole-grain toast; butternut squash puree added to oatmeal. Get creative. (1 serving)

2. Snack smart: Midmorning and afternoon grab carrot and celery spears with no-fat, no-sugar-added Greek yogurt or 1/4 cup hummus. (1-2 servings)

3. Lunch a bunch: Toss together 2 cups greens (2 servings), 1/4 cup tomato (1/2 serving), 2 tablespoons avocado (1/2 serving) and 1/4 cup blueberries (1/2 serving). (3 1/2 servings)

4. Dinner – and it’s done: Enjoy mixed, steamed veggies (1 cup equals 2 servings) with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.

Preventing injuries

This year, Major League Baseball revised its rules to prevent bone-jarring collisions at home plate between a base runner and the catcher. That should make “The Boys of Summer” a lot safer during spring training – and the regular season.

You can make sure your spring training is safer too, and avoid muscle, tendon and joint pain. When you head outdoors for your daily walk or other physical activities (after a winter spent in the gym, right?), make sure you start out slowly – with reduced speed and less tension. This warms up your muscles and tendons and increases your range of motion.

You also might try slow stretching; it improves circulation, increases blood flow to your muscles and helps joints, tendons and sinews become more flexible. It also improves posture and balance (important for pain-free walking and other activities). And practice visualization: Imagine your muscles and tendons extending, getting more toned, as you exhale into the stretch. You will get maximum results.

Mehmet Oz, M.D., is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D., is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic.

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