Getting a migraine headache can put a real damper on anyone’s day. The good news is that migraine headaches are a completely treatable and preventable once a person can identify and eliminate the “trigger(s)” along with addressing nutritional deficiencies. Getting to heart of a migraine suffers trigger(s) may be arduous, but I have never failed a client yet, and working on resolving the causes of a persons migraines, in my experience, will always be better than relying on prescription medication.
Laying the ground work for treatment starts with the digestive system. Although migraines almost always come with a headache and visual disturbances, many sufferers also or only experience symptoms in the digestive system, like nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. This is, in part, because the answer for migraine treatment and prevention is often associated with the neurotransmitter serotonin.
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps with peoples mood but it is also highly concentrated in the gut and helps with intestinal motility through its effects on smooth muscle contraction. When working with a person that experiences frequent migraine headaches, starting with a diet that is low in sugar, including starchy carbohydrates and tropical fruits, is a must. It is also important to balance intestinal flora, with a particular focus on yeast overgrowth, as yeast and other opportunistic bacteria can significantly decrease the absorption of tryptophan, the amino acid precursor to serotonin. We have also found in the office that yeast overgrowth can be the cause of some peoples migraine headaches.
Other triggers have been found to be specific foods in the diet. Food elimination or testing for food allergies can help migraine suffers better control these triggers. Common food allergies, such as dairy, eggs, gluten grains, soy, sulphites and MSG may be considered, however technically any food trigger can be involved. Identifying and eliminating food triggers is an essential part of an initial treatment plan for migraine sufferers.
Hormones and environmental allergies have also been found to cause migraine headaches. My clients, using hormone based contraception, are always suggested to stop taking their birth control pills for several months to determine if this can make a difference. Other clients clearly get their migraine headaches right before menstruation, which can be a sign that low estrogen or poor estrogen metabolism is involved as a trigger. Correcting this deficiency with hormone replacement or addressing how a persons body processes estrogens will often eliminate this cause. Environmental triggers such as weather and airborne allergens can also play their part. It is my experience however, that these causes will resolve with proper supplementation along with dietary and lifestyle treatments.
Correcting nutrient deficiencies is a must. To find out more about different nutritional support strategies for migraine headaches visit our North Vancouver Naturopathic Doctor.