Headaches & Migraines

headaches & migraines
Headaches & Migraines

Headaches & Migraines

What causes headaches & migraines?

There are several possible reasons for headaches & migraines:

  1. Lack of magnesium – Magnesium allows muscles to relax, while calcium helps them contract.  Muscle tension headaches may be due to something as simple as a lack of magnesium.
  2. Hypoglycemia – blood sugar dips from not eating the right foods regularly, can cause headaches.  Protein with each meal can help stabilize your blood sugar as can supporting the adrenal glands.
  3. Caffeine or caffeine withdrawal – Caffeine affects the blood vessels.  For headaches from dilated blood vessels, having a cup of coffee can sometimes helps relieve the headaches because the caffeine restricts the blood vessels. For those trying to quite caffeine, there can be withdrawal headaches.
  4. B Vitamin deficiencies – deficiency of the B vitamins, particularly B2, B6, folate and B12 can contribute to migraines.
  5. Histamine – histamine is found in higher amounts in certain foods such as wine and aged foods like cheese.  Some people lack sufficient DAO enzyme in the gut to break down dietary histamine efficiently.  Chronic daily headaches can be the result of too much histamine related to DAO deficiency.
  6. Food sensitivities
  7. MTHFR C677T variant – This genetic variant has been linked to increased risk of migraine with aura.
  8. Increased prostaglandins – prostaglandins are associated with menstrual migraines.
  9. Nerve inflammation – Increased reactive oxygen species can contribute to inflammation that can aggravate headaches and migraines.  Certain antioxidants like vitamin C can help.
  10. Perimenopause – the hormonal instability at menopause is associated with increased frequency of menstrual migraines and new onset of migraines in women.

Naturopathic Treatment of Headaches and Migraines

As with anything, we address the underlying cause of headaches and migraines:

  1. Address magnesium deficiency
  2. Stabilize blood sugar through diet and adrenal gland support
  3. Reduce or eliminate caffeine intake
  4. Address B vitamin deficiencies
  5. Reduce histamine intake from foods, supplement DAO enzyme
  6. Test for and eliminate food sensitivities
  7. Supplement to offset problems caused by MTHFR variant
  8. Reduce inflammatory prostaglandins with vitamin E, Evening Primrose Oil or fish oil
  9. Supplement vitamin C to scavenge reactive oxygen species
  10. Balance hormones

References

Shahrami A, Assarzadegan F, Hatamabadi HR, Asgarzadeh M, Sarehbandi B, Asgarzadeh S. Comparison of therapeutic effects of magnesium sulfate vs. dexamethasone/metoclopramide on alleviating acute migraine headache. J Emerg Med. 2015 Jan;48(1):69-76. doi: 10.1016/j.jemermed.2014.06.055. Epub 2014 Sep 30.

Wantke F, Götz M, Jarisch R. Histamine-free diet: treatment of choice for histamine-induced food intolerance and supporting treatment for chronic headaches. Clin Exp Allergy. 1993 Dec;23(12):982-5.

Menon S, Lea RA, Ingle S, Sutherland M, Wee S, Haupt LM, Palmer M, Griffiths LR. Effects of dietary folate intake on migraine disability and frequency. Headache. 2015 Feb;55(2):301-9. doi: 10.1111/head.12490. Epub 2015 Jan 19.

Shaik MM, Gan SH. Vitamin supplementation as possible prophylactic treatment against migraine with aura and menstrual migraine. Biomed Res Int. 2015;2015:469529. doi: 10.1155/2015/469529. Epub 2015 Feb 28.

Ibrahimi K, Couturier EG, MaassenVanDenBrink A. Migraine and perimenopause. Maturitas. 2014 Aug;78(4):277-80. doi: 10.1016/j.maturitas.2014.05.018. Epub 2014 Jun 2.

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