Migraines: Why Are You Still Suffering?


woman with migraines

Why Do You Get Migraines?

What Causes Migraines?

There are a number of potential causes of migraines:

  1. Excessive histamine
  2. Excessive inflammation
  3. Food allergies, intolerances or sensitivities
  4. Neurotransmitter imbalance
  5. Hormone imbalance

How Do You Know if a Headache is a Migraine?

Migraine symptoms include: nausea and/or vomiting, pain behind one eye, pain in your temples, visual changes like seeing spots or auras, sensitivity to light and/or sound, and/or temporary vision loss [see your MD ASAP if you have this symptom].

How Long Does a Migraine Last?

A typical migraine can last from 4 to 72 hours.

The Natural Treatment Approach to Migraines

  1. Reduce histamine – correct diet, increase vitamin C
  2. Support the adrenal glands – vitamin B5, B6, C, magnesium, zinc, ashwaganda, panax ginseng, rhodiola, schisandra, gotu kola.
  3. Test for and remove IgG and IgA food sensitivities.
  4. Balance neurotransmitters by providing the appropriate precursor vitamins, minerals and amino acids (B6, magnesium, tryptophan, tyrosine).
  5. Balance hormones – correct diet, provide indole-3-carbinol, 5MTHF, P5P, magnesium, B12, and glucarate for liver detoxification.

Histamine

Excessive blood histamine levels may be a factor in migraines. Histamine is a substance released by cells known as mast cells and is also present in certain foods. Histamine from food sources are normally broken down in the gut by an enzyme known as DAO or Diamine Oxidase.  Some people are genetically programmed to make inadequate levels of DAO. Stabilizing mast cells to reduce histamine release, lowering intake of high histamine foods and supplementing DAO enzyme may help histamine related migraines.

Dietary histamine: Avoid citrus fruit, stored, fermented, canned, aged and/or pickled foods.

Antihistamine: Vitamin C acts as a natural antihistamine and supports the adrenal glands and healthy, more stable blood veins and arteries.

Blood tests: tryptase and diamine oxidase (DAO).

Adrenal glands

The adrenal glands are your body’s internal corticosteroid source.  As such, they play a role in moderating inflammation and migraine prevention. Depletion of critical nutrients for adrenal function due to malabsorption, excessive excretion due to stress, or poor diet may lead to altered HPA axis function or corticosteroid production, contributing to migraines. Adrenal supportive nutrients include vitamin B5, B6, C, magnesium, and zinc.  Herbs demonstrated to support the body’s adaptation to stress include Panax ginseng, eleuthrococcus, ashwaganda and licorice root.

Blood tests that may elucidate issues with the adrenals include DHEAs, testosterone, a.m. and p.m. cortisol levels.

Test for and Remove IgG and IgA Mediated Food Sensitivities

The exclusion of IgG mediated food sensitivities has been shown to significantly improve symptoms for sufferers of migraines and IBS. An association between celiac disease (IgA antibodies to gluten) and migraine in adults has also established.

Blood test: IgG and IgA food sensitivity testing

Neurotransmitters and Migraines

Research has also suggested a connection between neurotransmitter levels such as serotonin and migraine.   SSRI type medications are often tried as a solution.  Many of the patients that I see don’t like these medications due to their side effects of weight gain, low libido and feeling emotionally flat. As an alternative to this approach, I recommend vitamin B6 and magnesium as co-factors for the production of serotonin. Magnesium may also help relax muscle tension and calm the nervous system.

Blood test: Spectracell Micronutrient Analysis

Migraines and Hormones

Hormone imbalance can influence susceptibility to migraines. Estrogen dominance in women often precipitates premenstrual migraines.  Supporting liver detoxification of estrogen, including environmental estrogens, helps relieve menstrual migraines.

Blood tests: DHEAs, testosterone, estradiol, LH, FSH, progesterone, prolactin

What other treatments help migraines?

Other effective natural medicine therapies for migraines include: chiropractic treatment, massage therapy, acupuncture and craniosacral therapy.

If you need help with migraines, click here to book an appointment.

References:

  1. Johnston CS, Martin LJ, Cai X. Antihistamine effect of supplemental ascorbic acid and neutrophil chemotaxis. J Am Coll Nutr. 1992 Apr;11(2):172-6.
  2. Alstadhaug KB. Histamine in migraine and brain. Headache. 2014 Feb;54(2):246-59.
  3. Aydinlar EI, Dikmen PY, Tiftikci A, Saruc M, Aksu M, Gunsoy HG, Tozun N. IgG-based elimination diet in migraine plus irritable bowel syndrome. Headache. 2013 Mar;53(3):514-25.
  4. Cristofori F, Fontana C, Magistà A, Capriati T, Indrio F, Castellaneta S, Cavallo L, Francavilla R. Increased prevalence of celiac disease among pediatric patients with irritable bowel syndrome: a 6-year prospective cohort study. JAMA Pediatr. 2014 Jun;168(6):555-60.
  5. Gabrielli M, Cremonini F, Fiore G, Addolorato G, Padalino C, Candelli M, De Leo ME, Santarelli L, Giacovazzo M, Gasbarrini A, Pola P, Gasbarrini A. Association between migraine and Celiac disease: results from a preliminary case-control and therapeutic study. Am J Gastroenterol. 2003 Mar;98(3):625-9.
  6. Woldeamanuel Y, Rapoport A, Cowan R. The place of corticosteroids in migraine attack management: A 65-year systematic review with pooled analysis and critical appraisal. Cephalalgia. 2015 Jan 9.
  7. McMullen MK, Whitehouse JM, Towell A. Bitters: Time for a New Paradigm. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2015;2015:670504.
  8. Dakshinamurti S, Dakshinamurti K Antihypertensive and neuroprotective actions of pyridoxine and its derivatives. Can J Physiol Pharmacol. 2015 May 11:1-8.
  9. Mauskop A, Varughese J. Why all migraine patients should be treated with magnesium. J Neural Transm. 2012 May;119(5):575-9.
  10. Patacchioli FR, Monnazzi P, Simeoni S, De Filippis S, Salvatori E, Coloprisco G, Martelletti P. Salivary cortisol, dehydroepiandrosterone-sulphate (DHEA-S) and testosterone in women with chronic migraine. J Headache Pain. 2006 Apr;7(2):90-4. Epub 2006 Mar 31.

 

 

Craniosacral Therapy

woman relieving neck pain with craniosacral therapy

Craniosacral Therapy and Neck Pain

By Joy Walraven, TCMP, Acupuncturist, Craniosacral Therapist

Is your chronic neck pain cramping your style? Tired of getting relief for a day or two and then being right back where you started? Craniosacral therapy (CST) is likely the answer for you. According to recent research published in The Clinical Journal of Pain, 8 weekly treatments of craniosacral therapy significantly reduces neck pain, even three months after treatment is over. As a health practitioner, these kind of long-term results are what I want for everyone who comes to see me.

CST is a gentle, manual therapy that relieves restrictions in the head, spine, sacrum and fascia. Fascia is a web of tissue that connects all the parts of your body; it wraps around each of your bones, muscles, internal organs, nerves, and blood vessels and links them to each other. The web is designed to allow for smooth, gliding movement between all of these body structures. However, injury, inflammation, and scar tissue, among other things, can cause the fascia to become stuck together. This creates a ripple effect, where other parts of the web get pulled out of alignment and you have pain in multiple places. So, for example, you might start out with a shoulder injury, and end up with neck pain as well.

During a craniosacral treatment bones and fascia are slowly and subtly shifted in order to help the body to untwist and release areas of tension that are causing pain, stress, and dysfunction in the muscles, joints, and internal organs. The technique also enhances the flow of cerebrospinal fluid around the brain and spine, which optimizes the functioning of the central nervous system. In addition to pain reduction, people almost always report that they feel a greater sense of well being and deep relaxation after treatment.

Other conditions such as post-traumatic stress, post-surgical dysfunction, scar tissue, back pain, depression and anxiety, chronic headaches, and motor coordination impairment respond very favorably to craniosacral as well.

Craniosacral Therapy Research:

Clin J Pain. 2016 May;32(5):441-9. doi: 10.1097/AJP.0000000000000290.
Craniosacral Therapy for the Treatment of Chronic Neck Pain: A
Randomized Sham-controlled Trial.
Haller H1, Lauche R, Cramer H, Rampp T, Saha FJ, Ostermann T, Dobos G.
Author information
Abstract
OBJECTIVES:
With growing evidence for the effectiveness of craniosacral therapy (CST) for pain management, the efficacy of CST remains unclear. This study therefore aimed at investigating CST in comparison with sham treatment in chronic nonspecific neck pain patients.
MATERIALS AND METHODS:
A total of 54 blinded patients were randomized into either 8 weekly units of CST or light-touch sham treatment. Outcomes were assessed before and after treatment (week 8) and again 3 months later (week 20). The primary outcome was the pain intensity on a visual analog scale at week 8; secondary outcomes included pain on movement, pressure pain sensitivity, functional disability, health-related quality of life, well-being, anxiety, depression, stress perception, pain acceptance, body awareness, patients’ global impression of improvement, and safety.
RESULTS:
In comparison with sham, CST patients reported significant and clinically relevant effects on pain intensity at week 8 (-21 mm group difference; 95% confidence interval, -32.6 to -9.4; P=0.001; d=1.02) and at week 20 (-16.8 mm group difference; 95% confidence interval, -27.5 to -6.1; P=0.003; d=0.88). Minimal clinically important differences in pain
intensity at week 20 were reported by 78% within the CST group, whereas 48% even had substantial clinical benefit. Significant between-group differences at week 20 were also found for pain on movement, functional disability, physical quality of life, anxiety and patients’ global improvement. Pressure pain sensitivity and body awareness were significantly improved only at week 8. No serious adverse events were reported.
DISCUSSION:
CST was both specifically effective and safe in reducing neck pain intensity and may improve functional disability and the quality of life up to 3 months after intervention.