Millions of North American's suffer from the pain of migraine's which can be relentless. Migraines can occur anywhere from once per year to more than three times per week and last hours to days. They are often associated with an aura, light sensitivity, nausea, vomiting, and severe throbbing pain on one or both sides of the head.
Migraines are very difficult and often unsuccessfully treated by conventional means. There are many types of drugs such as calcium channel blockers, beta-blockers, anti-seizure medications, triptans, antidepressants, and more -which work poorly, if at all, and are accompanied by frequent side effects. Botox is even being used to paralyze neck muscles in the hopes of easing migraines. The problem with all of these medications is they are treating the symptom and not the cause!
In my practice there are 6 sets of underlying causes of migrainesand sometimes patients might have a combination of more than one.
- The most common cause is Food Allergies/Sensitivities.Other symptoms that can accompany migraines are digestive issues such as gas/bloating, constipation and/or diarrhea, fatigue, sinus congestion, joint pain, skin conditions like eczema and more.
Get tested! A simple blood test called an IgG/IgE food allergy panel can reveal any allergies or sensitivities (this can only be done through a Dr of Natural Medicine as Medical Dr's do not do this testing). Testing for celiac disease is also recommended because wheat and gluten are among the biggest causes of headaches and migraines.
Try an Elimination Diet- By removing the top culprits for a period of time such as gluten, dairy, corn, soy, tomatoes, sugar, peanuts and eggs can eliminate migraines completely. Slowly re-introduce each food back in one a time to find out which food or foods are the underlying causes.
- Chemical Triggers can also be a cause of migraines. A processed-food diet including aspartame, MSG (monosodium glutamate), nitrates (in deli meats), and sulfites (found in wine, dried fruit, and food from salad bars) can be to blame. Tyramine-containing foods like chocolate and cheese are also common triggers. Eliminating these foods and eating a diet rich in whole foods with an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables can be the answer to your migraine pain.
- Hormonal Imbalances play a huge role in the cause of migraines. When Estrogen dominates and progesterone is too deficient, hormonal migraines can develop. Birth control pills, hormone replacement therapy, chemical exposure to estrogen mimickers (xenoestrogens) peri-menopause, menopause or changes in ovulation can cause huge shifts in the estrogen and progesterone balancing act.
Get tested! Hormone saliva testing will reveal where the imbalance lies. Eat a whole-foods, low-glycemic load, and high-phytonutrient diet with flax, soy, and cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower. Use herbs such as Vitex, along with magnesium and B6. Avoid alcohol, caffeine, sugar, and refined carbohydrates.
- Magnesium Deficiencies are becoming more and more common and migraines can certainly develop as a result. Symptoms of a Magnesium deficiency that can come along with migraines might include muscle cramping and twitching, constipation, anxiety, insomnia, irritability, sensitivity to loud noises and palpitations.
If you are experiencing these symptoms you may want to consider supplementing with Magnesium glycinate, citrate, or aspartate in doses that relieve symptoms or until you get loose bowels. If you have kidney disease of any kind, do this only with a doctor's supervision.
- Mitochondrial Imbalances are yet another underlying causes of migraines. There are usually some accompanying symptoms such as fatigue, muscle aching, and brain fog, although sometimes the only symptom can be migraines.
There is some testing that can help to reveal if there is a mitochondrial imbalance called a urinary organic acid test (this can only be done through a Dr of Natural Medicine as Medical Dr's do not do this testing). Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) and CoQ10 are the main treatments that can help to reverse a mitochondrial imbalance.
- Spinal misalignment is a structural issue that can cause migraine. In many cases of migraine headaches, the origin of pain stems from misalignment of the spine's vertebra. This spinal misalignment can affect nerves traveling to the brain, resulting in chemical imbalances and neurological issues that cause migraines.
Spinal manipulation from a chiropractor is an effective remedy sought by many individuals who experience migraine headaches. Chiropractic treatment can relieve misalignments and pressure against pinched or inflamed nerves. Even after one successful session with a chiropractor, a headache can be relieved as the vertebra is restored to proper alignment.