Head Trip

A migraine headache can put a real damper on anyone’s day. The good news is that migraine headaches are completely treatable and preventable once their triggers are identified and eliminated, and any nutritional deficiencies addressed.

Getting to the heart of a migraine sufferer’s triggers may be arduous, but I have never failed a client yet, and working to resolve the causes of a person’s migraines, in my experience, is always better than relying on prescription medication.

GUT LEVEL
Laying the groundwork 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, such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. This is, in part, because the answer for migraine treatment and prevention is often associated with the neurotransmitter serotonin.
Serotonin helps with people’s moods; however, 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 who 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. Yeast overgrowth can also be the cause of some people’s migraine headaches.

FOOD SUSPECTS
Specific foods in the diet can also be triggers. Food elimination or testing for food allergies can help migraine sufferers better control these triggers. Common food allergies, such as dairy, eggs, gluten grains, soy, sulphites and MSG may be considered. However, 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 can also cause migraine headaches. I always recommend that my clients who use hormone-based contraception 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 person’s body processes estrogens will often eliminate this cause.

Environmental triggers such as weather and airborne allergens can also play their part. These causes will likely resolve with proper supplementation, along with dietary and lifestyle treatments.

ANTI-MIGRAINE NUTRIENTS
Correcting nutrient deficiencies is a must, and low magnesium is at the core of initial treatment. Magnesium glycinate (300 to 600 mg per day) in a supplemental form is effective, although it may take a while to achieve results. Therefore, I offer intravenous magnesium to clients at the beginning of treatment for fast relief.

Vitamin B2 or riboflavin deficiency has also been connected to migraine headaches, and should be supplemented (200 to 400 mg per day) with the support of a vitamin B complex to correct this deficiency.

Finally, adding a standardized extract of the herb butterbur can often address environmental and allergic triggers. Remember: before experimenting with supplemental herbs, speak to a knowledgeable professional. Serotonin helps with people’s moods; however, 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 who 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. Yeast overgrowth can also be the cause of some people’s migraine headaches.