Migraine is a highly tedious complaint that I would like to discuss. It continues to be a tricky topic, because there are so many different causes. In addition, the medical profession is not quite clear about what happens during a migraine attack and how it can be prevented. In my practice, I have advised a lot people with light to heavy migraine complaints. In some cases, with great success! Medication and painkillers could be discarded altogether. I have observed many connections in practice and would like to share these in this blog. Who knows – they may help you as well. I advise you to study your particular situation and see if the tips I give here might help you.
First of all, it seems a good thing to distinguish between cycle-related migraine and migraine that may occur on any day of the month. My vision on the development of migraine is that it is often the result of changes in blood pressure, neurotransmitters in the head, or muscle spasms – often in the neck. I personally believe that the neurotransmitter serotonin may play an important part in this. Blood pressure in the head and neurotransmitters affect each other.
THE MONTHLY CYCLE AND MIGRAINE
Many women suffer from ‘hormonal migraine’. This migraine occurs when hormone levels are fluctuating. In this case, it often concerns a strong drop in estrogen. During the monthly cycle, this will happen during the days around ovulation (day 14) and/or just before the menstrual period. As the estrogen level drops, the level of serotonin in the head will also drop, as well as the blood pressure as a result of vasodilation. This will increase the risk of migraines developing.
But why do some women suffer from migraines at these moments during their cycle, while others do not? A well-known phenomenon in connection with this is too high a level of estrogen, also known as estrogen dominance. If the level of estrogen is high, the drops in estrogen may also be a lot higher and this will increase the risk of hormonal migraine.
Well-known causes for high estrogen levels include:
- A high fat percentage, causing a lot of estrogen to be produced in the fatty tissue
- A high load of chemical substances that resemble estrogen, for example from plastics and pesticides
- Poor liver performance, for example as a result of ‘leaky gut’, high alcohol consumption, and/or high load of chemical substances
Remedies specific for the hormonal part (the tips listed under other causes may work here as well) include:
- Tips how to counteract estrogen dominance by means of lifestyle changes are presented in The Hormone Factor
- Phyto-estrogens in the form of supplements may reduce estrogen fluctuations
- A physician may prescribe estrogen patches (preferably bio-identical) to be applied just before the critical moments. The estrogen release may reduce the estrogen drop, in some cases preventing migraine attacks
MIGRAINE AND THE THYROID GLAND
Sluggish functioning of the thyroid gland may also cause migraine. The thyroid gland affects the monthly cycle, the serotonin level, the suppleness of muscles, and the blood circulation inside the head.
FOOD AND MIGRAINE
Food may also provide a trigger to develop migraine. Some foods affect neurotransmitters (serotonin) and may themselves function in similar ways to neurotransmitters. They may also affect the blood pressure. Foods that may trigger migraine attacks, as I have experienced in my practice, include: Foods containing gluten and casein, chocolate (theobromine and tryptophan), alcohol, caffeine in coffee, tea and other caffeine-containing drinks, and additives to food products such as glutamates, aspartame, and nitrite. Another thing to avoid is a ‘leaky gut’.
Many people who switched to foods according to the Hormone Factor have spontaneously stopped having migraines.
Note that nicotine from cigarette smoke may also affect neurotransmitters and may sometimes cause migraines.
Stress also affects neurotransmitters, the blood pressure inside the head, and muscle tension. Often, migraines occur during relaxation after stress (rather than during stressful times themselves). In addition to general stress reduction, magnesium citrate may help (200 mg in the morning and 400 mg in the evening). Magnesium will help muscles (in the neck) to relax.
Traumas to the head, jaw and neck are often at the basis of migraines. A good chiropractor or osteopath may help in these cases. Note that wisdom teeth may also present problems.
COLD TO HOT
Strong temperature fluctuations may also affect the blood vessels inside the head. Some people take alternating hot and cold showers to reduce migraine attacks.
DRINK PLENTY OF WATER
Make sure to prevent lack of moisture intake.