One of the toughest health challenges faced by some people are migraine headaches. Neither traditional or alternative medicine has figured out a way to relieve migraines with 100% reliable results.
Partly this is because there are several types of migraines. In addition, each person has their own unique set of circumstances that contribute to the problem.
From a traditional medical point of view there are three main causes of migraines:
- Spasms in cerebral blood vessels – dangerous because of their association with the possibility of having a stroke. These are the type associated with the classic ‘aura’ phenomena.
- Dilated arteries in the brain – the most painful type of migraine.
- Intracranial aneurysms – a swelling in the blood vessel that puts pressure on the brain.
Although there are drugs which can sometimes be effective for migraine relief, they can have side effects and they tend to become less effective over time.
For natural migraine relief there are a number of considerations.
First of all, as with many health issues, it is sometimes more important what you don’t do. In the case of migraines it’s important to avoid foods and food additives that over stimulate the brain. These foods, called ‘excitotoxins’ can wreak havoc with the nerve signals in the brain.
What should be avoided?
- MSG (monosodium glutamate)
- Hydrolyzed protein & isolated protein
- Protein drinks, particularly if made with soy protein
- All other soy products and soy proteins
- Portabella mushrooms
- Sodium or calcium caseinate
- Stock, broth and natural flavoring
- Caffeine can sometimes trigger migraines
- Stress can trigger high levels of cortisol, which can cause migraines
- Alcoholic beverages
- Cocoa & chocolate
- Aged Cheeses
- Citrus fruits
- Preservatives, particularly sodium nitrite in bacon and other prepared meats
In addition, another major cause of migraines is hidden food sensitivities.
The ones that are the hardest to identify are the Stage IV Adverse Food Reactions. These are food sensitivities that are triggered only after the reactive substance gets down to the cellular level. That process can take up to three days before symptoms show up.
The most reliable way to spot these hidden food sensitivities is with a blood test called Mediator Release Testing (MRT). This test measures responsiveness to 150 different common reactive foods. I offer this testing to patients when indicated.
There are also proactive things you can do to decrease your likelihood of migraines. Some of these may also decrease their frequency and duration.
- Magnesium – dozens of research studies have shown that migraine sufferers are chronically deficient in this important nutrient.
- Calcium – helpful for some patients, especially when taken along with Vitamin D.
- Riboflavin – helps protect the brain against excitotoxins.
- Curcumin, quercitin and hesperidin – anti-inflammatory flavinoids.
- DHA – a component of fish oil that is a potent anti-inflammatory.
- Coenzyme Q10 (Co-Q10) – a powerful antioxidant.
- B vitamins – provide good support for healthy brain and nerve functioning.
- 5-HTP – this is a precursor for serotonin, an inhibitory neurotransmitter.
- Acupuncture – proven effective many times in cases of migraines.
Because each person’s migraines are unique, none of these approaches can be considered 100% reliable. However if you suffer from migraines, by trying one at a time, you’ll quickly learn which ones can make a difference for you.
Hyperhealth Pro Database, In-Tele-Health, Hansville, WA, 2008.
Signet Diagnostics Website (Mediator Response Testing)
Dr. Blaylock’s Article on Migraine Relief, Newsmax Health, 12/17/09.