Relief from The Misery of Migraines
Published on Thu May 9, 2019 - 3 min read
Nothing can put a good day into a headlock and dropkick you into misery as a migraine can. Migraine sufferers will be quick to point out that a migraine is different than “just a headache.” With a migraine everything hurts – taking a shower, brushing your hair, even sunlight. Many migraine sufferers also have stabbing eye pain, a tingling scalp and face, brain fog, pinched nerve sensations and since migraines can paralyze the nerves of the digestive system, there can be difficulty swallowing, nausea, and even an inability to digest medications.
Surprisingly, migraine is the third most common disease in the world. Yes, migraines are more prevalent than diabetes, epilepsy, and asthma combined affecting about 37 million Americans1. Interestingly, for something so widespread and debilitating the definition of migraine is somewhat loose – partly because there are so many different types and symptoms. Generally, migraine is a tendency to have headaches with sensory disturbances. It’s an instability in the way the brain deals with incoming sensory information2.
Are there different types of migraine?
According to the International Headache Society, there are dozens of types and subtypes of migraine each classified by their different symptoms3. The two most prominent are “migraine with aura” and “migraine without aura.”4 Aura describes neurological visual disturbances such as blind spots, tunnel vision, sparkles, stars, and even temporary blindness. This type of migraine usually lasts less than an hour. Migraine without aura accounts for 90% of migraines and can last between four hours and three days!4
What causes Migraines?
There are many theories on the cause of migraines. Some say it is a problem with the blood vessels of the brain and others say it is a nerve malfunction. While the truth likely lies between both theories the result is always inflammation and immune system dysregulation in cranial nerves5. Indeed, the natural remedies we recommend treat both systems while addressing autoimmunity and inflammation.
What are common migraine triggers?
Anything that causes toxicity, stress, and inflammation in the nerves or brain can trigger a migraine. Common triggers include 1. Cheese. (because of the amino acid tyramine) 2. Wine and dried fruit. (because of sulfites) 3. Food additives such as artificial dyes, sweeteners, and MSG. 4. Sleep deprivation. 5. Chronic stress. 6. Dehydration. 7. Hormone imbalances and menstruation.
What are some of the best diet, lifestyle, and supplements tips for migraine suffers?
Getting adequate sleep does several things that help with migraines.6 First, it reduces stress, lowers inflammation, enhances energy production in the brain, and most importantly means you’re making enough melatonin. Melatonin has been clinically proven just as effective at preventing migraines as several medications with none of the associated side effects.7 Usual doses are between 3 and 10 mg nightly. 7
Magnesium deficiency is more common in migraine sufferers and supplementation might help with migraines in several ways.8 First, it helps regulate vascular function9. Migraine may be caused by either too constricted or too relaxed blood vessels, and magnesium helps regulate this.9 Migraine suffers often have an energy deficit in the brain.10 Particular forms of Magnesium malate can help with energy production in mitochondria. Magnesium glycinate is another more relaxing form of magnesium that helps relax the nervous system. It is recommended to take magnesium malate in the morning and magnesium glycinate in the evening.
Coq10 is found in the mitochondria of all cells and along with magnesium helps with energy production and the lowering of oxidative stress.11 In recent studies taking Coq10 100mg three times daily significantly reduced the frequency of migraines with no side effects.12
Riboflavin plays an essential role in mitochondria and may reverse mitochondrial defects that could trigger migraines. Mitochondrial defects lower a person’s threshold to migraine triggers and riboflavin may help to reverse this. Several clinical trials have shown riboflavin effectively reduces the frequency of migraines.13
Butterbur is one of the most effective and highly rated herbals for migraine reduction earning a level A drug rating (highly effective) from both the American Headache Society and the American Academy of Neurology. Butterbur works by reducing inflammation and oxidative stress in blood vessels.14 Further butterbur is an effective histamine blocker, a common migraine trigger.15 Finally, butterbur acts as a calcium channel blocker which then allows magnesium to enter cells and relax blood vessels while improving energy production. 16
Low histamine diets can significantly reduce migraine frequency and severity. In one clinical trial, 75% of patients following a low histamine diet either reduced or eliminated their migraines!17 Histamines are potent immune stimulators that can cause swelling and inflammation in nerves and blood vessels.18 Many foods can cause histamine releases particularly fermented foods such as wine and cheese.19 Certain probiotics can also cause histamine release20 while others can lower histamine and reset the digestive tract.21 Look for probiotics that contain a combination of Saccharomyces boulardii, L. Plantarum, and B. breve.21
The bottom line is that you don’t have to continue to suffer through migraines with just conventional medications and side effects. Natural remedies along with diet and lifestyle changes are proving to be as effective or more effective than traditional medical interventions.