Natural Support Strategies For This Debilitating Condition
Migraine headache is a type of headache so painful that it is debilitating. Although other types of headaches may be severe, migraine headaches are characterized by symptoms including “auras” (visual spots, lights or sensations) that precede onset of headache, anxiety, fatigue, nausea, numbness or tingling, and a headache so severe that bed rest is often necessary. Lights and sounds may be excruciatingly painful to the migraine patient. Other alterations of sensorium may be present.
Although the exact causes of migraine headache is unclear, evidence suggests that this type of headache is caused by blood vessel instability resulting in abnormal blood flow to the brain. It appears that blood vessels undergo a strong constriction followed by a rebound dilation. The major factors which cause migraine headaches include:
I.) alterations in serotonin metabolism (particularly serotonin deficiency)
II.) food allergies
III.) low magnesium levels
IV.) hormonal imbalances, especially serotonin and the sex hormones
V.) histamine-induced platelet aggregation (blood platelets sticking together)
Migraine headaches can be triggered by eyestrain, poor posture, stress, sleep excess or deficiency, weather changes, blood sugar imbalances and drug use
to name only a few.
DIET AND LIFESTYLE RECOMMENDATIONS
- Eat cold water fish (salmon, mackerel, halibut) in preference to chicken, or pork. These fish are high in Essential Fatty Acids, especially Omega-3 Fatty Acids.
- Avoid known food allergens. Cow’s milk, wheat, chocolate, citrus fruits, cheese, alcohol and shellfish are the top specific allergens for many people with migraine headaches. Consider an elimination/challenge diet or laboratory allergy test to evaluate. Your holistic physician can advise you on the proper procedure for this.
- Labs: hormone evaluation (sex hormones, serotonin and melatonin) and food allergy testing are highly recommended.
- Stress reduction is often helpful, since the hormone changes associated with stress can trigger a migraine headache
- Maxi Multi: 3 caps, 3 times per day with meals. Maxi Multi contains all essential vitamins and minerals in optimal doses. Vitamins and minerals of particular importance in migraine headaches include: Magnesium (often found to be deficient in migraine sufferers); chromium (a mineral which helps stabilize blood sugar levels); Vitamin C (needed to convert tryptophan or L-5-HTP to serotonin); Vitamin B2 (involved in energy processes in the brain and shown in several studies to decrease migraine attacks by 60+%); Vitamin B6 (decreases histamine), and antioxidants (Vitamin A, beta carotene, Vitamin C, vitamin E, and selenium ) which decrease histamine production. All of these nutrients are found in Maxi Multi. This formula is also an excellent all-around multiple vitamin & mineral supplement.
- Omega 3 Fatty Acids: Increasing anti-inflammatory fats (Omega-3’s) is very important. High levels of O-6 and/or trans fats in relation to Omega-3 fats causes an increase in body-wide inflammation and can trigger the platelet aggregation seen in migraines. To achieve a healthy “Omega Ratio,” use one of the following:
Flax seed meal, 2 Tablespoons per day with food
Flax seed capsules: 2-4 caps, 3 times per day (target dose range: 6-12 caps per day)
Flax seed oil: 1 tablespoon per day
Max EPA (Omega-3 rich fish oil): 1-2 caps, 3 times per day with meals (target dose: 3-6 caps per day).
- L-5-HTP (100 mg): 1 cap, 3 times per day with meals. Increase to 2 caps, 3 times per day after 2 weeks if needed. L-5-HTP has been studied and found to be more effective than drug therapy for migraine prevention, with a much better safety profile. L-5-HTP is the direct precursor to serotonin and increases serotonin levels in the body.
- Feverfew: 1 cap, 1-2 times per day for prevention; 4-8 caps for acute attack. [Use a parthenolide content of .5 or greater]. Feverfew helps prevent the release of vasodilating substances from platelets and inhibits the production of inflammatory substances. The effectiveness of feverfew depends on the parthenolide (active principal) content of the formula.
- Ginkgo: 1 cap, 1-2 times per day for prevention. Ginkgo inhibits platelet aggregation and has anti-allergy effects.
- Grape seed extract: 1 cap (50-100mg), 3 times per day with meals for prevention. Take higher doses when migraines are thought to be allergy-related. Grape seed extract has potent anti-histamine and anti-allergy effects.
- CoQ10: 50-100mg, 3 times per day with meals.CoQ10 is involved in energy transport in the brain.
Dr. Myatt’s Comment:
Because of the many and various causes of migraine headache, I recommend an alternative medicine consultation with a physician trained in alternative medicines. It can be difficult and sometimes impossible for a layman to self-diagnose and treat migraine headaches. With proper medical assistance, most chronic migraine headaches can be greatly helped or completely cured.