headaches & migraines
Headaches & Migraines

Headaches & Migraines

how a naturopath helps headaches and migraines

What causes headaches & migraines?

There are several possible reasons for headaches & migraines:

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.

Hypoglycemia or Low Blood Sugar

Blood sugar dips from not eating the right foods regularly can cause headaches.  Protein with each meal can help you stabilize your blood sugar as can supporting your adrenal glands.

Caffeine or caffeine withdrawal

Caffeine affects your blood vessels.  For headaches from dilated blood vessels, having a cup of coffee can sometimes help relieve the headaches because the caffeine restricts the blood vessels. For those trying to quit caffeine, there can be withdrawal headaches.

B Vitamin deficiencies

A deficiency of the B vitamins, particularly B2, B6, folate and B12 can contribute to migraines.  Supplementing with these B’s can help prevent migraines.

Histamine

Histamine is found in higher amounts in certain foods such as packaged foods, leftovers, wine and aged foods like cheese.  Some people lack sufficient DAO enzyme in their gut to break down dietary histamine efficiently.  Chronic daily headaches can be the result of too much histamine related to a DAO deficiency.

Food sensitivities

If your immune system is producing antibodies against certain foods, then it creates inflammation that can affect the brain and the blood vessels. Inflammation creates pain and pressure.  Through testing for and removing food sensitivities I have helped people with chronic, daily migraines find relief.

MTHFR C677T variant

This genetic variant has been linked to an increased risk of a migraine with aura.  There is genetic testing that can be done to determine whether you carry this genetic mutation.

Increased prostaglandins

High prostaglandin levels are associated with menstrual migraines.  Prostaglandins are chemicals that your body makes that can be either inflammatory or anti-inflammatory. Through diet and supplementation, we can better balance out the inflammatory prostaglandins.

Nerve inflammation

Increased reactive oxygen species can contribute to inflammation that can aggravate headaches and migraines.  Certain antioxidants like vitamin C can help.  Vitamin C is also a natural anti-histamine if your migraines are related to excess histamine.

Perimenopause

The hormonal instability at menopause is associated with an increased frequency of menstrual migraines and new onset of migraines in women.  Women are generally more susceptible to migraines, suggesting a link to hormone imbalance.

Natural Treatment of Headaches and Migraines

As with anything, we address the underlying root cause of headaches or 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 or other antioxidants to scavenge reactive oxygen species
  10. Balance hormones, regardless of your age

For help with this or any other health problem, book an appointment here or call the office for more information at 416-481-0222.

by Dr. Pamela Frank, BSc(Hons), ND

Headaches and Migraines Research

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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