Written By: Jennifer MacDonald ND
Migraines are fairly common, affecting 10% of the general population. That 10% does not count themselves lucky as migraines can be very painful and can cause individuals to want to lie down in a dark room and not move. Migraines are often felt as a painful throbbing or pounding headache that can be on one or both sides of the head and can last for hours. They can be preceded by visual and mood changes. Some people also experience nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light or sound. For lasting relief, it’s important to get to the root cause of your migraines instead of just treating your symptoms.
There are several different causes of migraines, ranging from food and chemicals, to a lack of nutrients. Food sensitivities account for one of the most common causes of migraines. A food sensitivity may present as bloating, diarrhea, constipation, joint pain and much more. Many individuals are not aware that many of their health complaints can be linked to a food sensitivity.
Chemicals in our food can also be to blame. Prepackaged food is prevalent in many people’s diet and one of the reasons being is it is so convenient. There are certain offenders that people have a tendency to be sensitive to such as monosodium glutamate (MSG), nitrates, sulfites and artificial sweeteners.
Hormonal imbalances are another common cause of migraines. You might fall into this category if you experience mood changes with your menses, breast tenderness, bloating, cravings, cramps etc. Are your migraines associated with your menses? A hormonal imbalance may be the cause.
If food sensitivity is to blame, then you should stop eating the offending food. Identifying the food sensitivity can sometimes be difficult to do. A good place to start, however, is eliminating the foods that most commonly cause sensitivities from your diet. These include wheat, and other gluten containing grains, dairy products, soy, peanuts and eggs. You may also need to rebalance your digestive system using probiotics and dietary changes.
Migraine suffers should consider eliminating artificial sweeteners, MSG, nitrates, sulfites and tyramine containing foods. Tyramine is found in aged, fermented or spoiled foods such as meats, cheeses, red wine, sauerkraut and soy sauce. Nitrates are found in meats that have been cured such as bacon, hot dogs and deli meats. Sulfites are found in wine and dried fruit. See a trend? No more wine and cheese nights.
Hormone balancing can vary person to person depending on the cause of your imbalance. Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, especially cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and Brussels sprouts can be helpful to balance hormones. It’s also important to avoid alcohol, caffeine and refined carbohydrates.
There are also many supplements and herbal combinations that can be useful for preventing the occurrence of migraines. Magnesium and B vitamins (particularly B12) are helpful to prevent the occurrence of migraines in some individuals. Consumption of NSAIDs (ibuprofen and Advil) depletes certain nutrients in your body such as B vitamins. As NSAIDs are often taken to help alleviate the pain of a headache, it’s often a good idea to supplement.
This is not an extensive list of the causes and treatment options available for migraines. There are many different causes of migraines and a combination of treatments may be necessary. Treating migraines can be a little complex given the various causes, but finding the root cause and benefiting from relief is rewarding. If you have any questions, or would like to explore options for migraine relief, book an appointment.