Headaches may be common, but they are not normal. They’re a symptom and a signal to dig deeper for the underlying root cause. More than 300 million people worldwide experience severe or debilitating headaches.
There are various types of headaches: tension, migraine, sinus and cluster headaches. Migraines alone affect more than 10 million people, 75% of them being women. The incidence of those who suffer from migraine headaches has increased nearly 50% over the past twenty years!
Some people accept headaches as part of life, and manage them with prescription or over-the-counter drugs (that have their own side effects), but the headaches continue to get worse. Other people have sever headaches that greatly reduce their quality of life.
Treatment and prevention of migraine headaches require addressing both the triggers and the underlying root causes of the imbalance. Migraines are no different from any other disease, so determining the root cause is crucial.
As you can see from the lengthy list of headache triggers above, the root cause may be different for each person. Hence, the importance of identifying the root cause.
When inflammatory foods were eliminated from the diets of migraine sufferers, 93% of them experienced relief! — study published in The Lancet
People often resort to OTC drugs and prescription pain killers for migraines and headache relief. These drugs have detrimental side effects that have been linked to kidney failure, liver damage, micro-bleeds in the brain and intestinal bleeding. Natural therapies and prevention for headache relief is a much safer and more effective option.
— 85% of those who suffer from headaches tend to have hidden food sensitivities. A study in the journal, The Lancet found that as many as 93% of migraine sufferers found relief when reactive foods were eliminated. Common trigger items include aspartame, sucralose aka Splenda, and other artificial sweeteners, gluten, wheat, cheese, dairy, corn, soy, peanuts, eggs, yeast, sugar, soda, sulfites, red wine, beer, chocolate, MSG, chemicals, preservatives, and additives
— Nightshades (tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, eggplant, tobacco, paprika, cayenne pepper) can be inflammatory and problematic for some individuals, especially those with an autoimmune disorder.
— Hydrate! Drink a minimum of half your body weight in filtered water every single day away from mealtime. Add a pinch or two of Celtic sea salt or Redmond’s salt
— Include magnesium-rich foods: dark, leafy greens, fresh seafood and sea greens
— 12-15 raw, organic almonds, avocados, coconut oil and other healthy fats reduce inflammation providing headache relief
— Drink two to three cups organic green tea throughout the day
— Anti-inflammatory herbs and spices such as ginger, turmeric (curcumin), cinnamon, chili peppers can be helpful
— Prevent blood sugar fluctuations by eating 3 small meals throughout the day that contain protein
— Drinking a mixture of raw apple cider vinegar in water will often stop headaches within 30 minutes. Add fresh ginger root, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, turmeric and raw honey.
— Upon first sign of a migraine coming on, drink one to two cups of organic strong black coffee to prevent blood vessel dilation or chew on some crystallized ginger or make a strong cup of ginger tea with a little lemon and honey
— Acupressure: Headache pressure point therapy is simple to do and one of the most effective methods for headache relief. Press and hold the area between the thumb and index finger for 9-10 breathing cycles. Another acupressure point is under the eyebrows at the top ridge of the eye socket causes the pituitary to release pain relieving endorphins. Another acupressure point to relieve headaches, stiff necks and stress is directly beneath the occipital bones located at the base skull.
— Most headaches arise from digestive dysfunction. Very important to test for and rule out root causes of gut dysfunction including leaky gut, intestinal toxins and infections (bacterial, fungal, Candida, parasites, SIBO, H. pylori). The processes of digestion, absorption of nutrients, production of SCFAs, pH and gut bacterial balance are all interdependent. Unfortunately, this is seldom if ever checked in migraine patients.
— Those who suffer with migraines tend to have serotonin deficiency. Note that 95% of serotonin is produced in the gut, not the brain (gut health must be a priority!)
— Rule out heavy metal toxicity. Exposure to heavy metals is another proven link to migraines.
— Address hormone imbalances (estrogen dominance, progesterone deficiency)
— Morning headaches that wear off as the day progresses are usually caused by 3 things: rule out thyroid dysfunction, low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), and adrenal insufficiency
— Relaxation, deep diaphragmatic breathing and meditation extremely beneficial for headache relief. Breathe deeply as you gently massage your temples, forehead and back of neck with lavender, frankincense or peppermint essential oil for 5 minutes.
— Peppermint oil applied to the temples, forehead and the back of the neck works better than toxic Tylenol (and without the side effects!) Peppermint oil prevents the body from sending pain signals to the central nervous system. Other essential oils helpful for headache relief include eucalyptus, lavender, frankincense and sandalwood
— Address sinus problems and sinus infections
— Optimize liver and gallbladder function
— Walking and daily exercise have been shown to reduce frequency of migraines by 25%!!!
— Yoga poses especially beneficial for headache relief: reclined bound angle, wide legged forward bend (standing or seated), legs up the wall, supported bridge, seated twists
— Consider a healthy detox for migraine relief related to chemical buildup and toxic overload
— Unplug from technology. Take a digital detox from TV, cell phones, iPad, computers.
— Avoid artificial light at night! Migraine headaches are exacerbated by exposure to bright lights at night.
— Consider alternative therapies such as biofeedback, acupuncture and acupressure, cranial sacral therapy, chiropractic manipulation, reflexology, Tai Chi and massage therapy. Studies have shown that over 80% of headache patients find some type of relief for their headaches with chiropractic treatment.
The best nutrients are targeted nutrient specific to the individual’s needs and are unique to each individual. It’s important to identify your personal nutrient deficiencies.
There have been several studies supporting the finding that migraine sufferers are more likely to be deficient in riboflavin, CoQ10, magnesium and vitamin D.
— Magnesium. Those that suffer migraine headaches tend to be significantly deficient in magnesium and zinc.
— Riboflavin (vitamin B2) deficiency tends to be a common deficiency in migraine sufferers.
— CoQ10: 200mg of CoQ10 once or twice a day has been shown to be beneficial for preventing and reducing the frequency of migraine attack. Supplementation for 3 months resulted in more than 50% reduction in headache days in 61.3% of 321 patients.
— B vitamins: vitamin B2, vitamin B6, vitamin B12 and folate
— Vitamin D, vitamin C and vitamin E
— Butterbur, Feverfew and Ginger
— Omega-3s with GLA to reduce inflammation
— Support healthy bile flow
— Adaptogens such as rhodiola, ashwagandha and holy basil reduce stress, cortisol and tension headaches.
If you suffer from migraine headaches, prevention is the best therapy to reduce frequency, severity, and duration. Contact my office for a bio-individualized therapeutic lifestyle plan.