So I like to introduce you to look at what your body is struggling with underneath. And dig below the surface to the source of the problem. Because I don’t believe migraines are the problem.
It’s a symptom.
What is a migraine?
A combination of sensory impulses and triggers ‘confuse’ the brain. This causes blood vessels to diffuse and trigger headaches and visuals (aura’s). Environmental changes, as well as changes in the homeostasis (internal environment) can trigger migraines. A migraine is most often not merely caused by triggers, though. Triggers may bring a migraine to the surface, but underlying conditions and health issues are at the source of the problem.
If you want to treat migraines it’s important to understand that you can suffer from a variety of underlying issues. The fact that you have a migraine doesn’t mean the underlying issues are the same as someone else’s. This makes it an interesting topic, but sometimes tricky.
Triggers of migraines
- Hormonal changes
- Poor sleep
- Certain foods: caffeine, sugar, alcohol
- Bright lights. This also includes car lights when driving at night. You can wear night vision glasses or orange filter glasses.
- Loud noises
- Strong smells
- (Intense) physical activity
Stress doesn’t cause any issues or disease by itself, but it can turn the volume up for other diseases. People with migraine often have higher level of cortisol. Which points to more chronic stress. You can recognise chronic stress as a constant, underlying feeling of urgency. The feeling of always being ‘switched on’. The inability to relax. The feeling of restlessness and pressure to be productive and think about stuff.
Many people don’t event recognise stress as ‘stress’ because they’ve gotten so accustomed to the sensations of it. It’s become their ‘normal’ state of being. But unfortunately, this is the catalyst for many (chronic) conditions on the long-term. Like migraine.
The mitochondria are the powerhouses of the cell. The energy factories. Mitochondria dysfunction leads to less production of ATP (energy) molecules in the body. Causing a neural energy crisis. A lack of ATP cells in the nervous system and brain may impair with neural information processing. This is a topic which needs more depth and an article on its own. Don’t overlook the mito’s. Energy really is the source of everything and you rely on your mitochondria to create it!
Mitochondria dysfunction symptoms:
- Muscle weakness
- Intense morning stiffness
- Visual of hearing difficulties
- Neurological issues
- Migraines (duh!)
- Poor growth
- Loss of muscle coordination
- Exercise intolerance
Also premenstrual migraines belong this category. Especially high levels of oestrogen can trigger migraines.
People who suffer from premenstrual migraines often have issues with oestrogen detoxification. Resulting in access oestrogen and not enough progesterone. Progesterone works on the GABA (an inhibiting/calming neurotransmitter) receptors of the neurones. So, you could say that progesterone is a woman’s natural valium. It’s an inhibitor, meaning progesterone calms and relaxes the nervous system and brain down, whereas oestrogen has the opposite effect.
When you have SIBO (an access of bacteria in the small intestines) or a gut microbiome with a high amount of histamine-producing bacteria you’ll most likely have access histamine levels. This triggers and activates the brain and the neurological system. It’s also very taxing on the liver. If the liver has to deal with clearing up oestrogen and histamine, you’ll see problems arise. Everything is in relation to each other.
Access histamine or histamine intolerance symptoms:
- Headaches and migraines
- Nasal congestion or sinus issues
- Digestive issues
- Irregular menstrual cycle
- Skin irritation
The gut is connected to the brain through the gut-brain axis. It’s very important to understand the importance of the gut when it comes to mental health and wellbeing! Migraines caused by the gut are called abdominal migraines. This could be caused by SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth), an access of certain (histamine producing) bacteria, or a leaky gut syndrome.
Serotonine may have an important role in migraines. 95% of serotonine is produced in the gut. This makes gut health even more important.
Frequent discomfort, bloating, gassing, constipation, diarrhea, heart burn could be signs that your gut might have an imbalance
Food sensitivities and additives
High levels or mercury
A poor circadian rhythm is very stressful and taxing on the body, and especially the brain (recovery). Getting good rest is one of the bigger pillars of good health and often overlooked. High quality sleep and deep relaxation are crucial for processing of impulses, emotions, thoughts and rebalancing homeostasis.
Magnesium is a crucial nutrient that people are often low in. A high level/dose of magnesium functions as a calcium-blocker, which is used in conventional medicine to treat migraines. You could say that magnesium — apart from the importants of this nutrient — is a natural calcium-blocker in this case.
Symptoms of magnesium deficiency are muscle
- Muscle spasms
- Fatigue and weakness
- Nausea and vomiting
- Depressive emotions
- Inability to relax
- Hormone imbalances
- High blood pressure/hypertension
- Low vitamin D levels (magnesium is needed for vit D production) and more.
More in depth article on this soon, but this will be a good start!
A no-brainer. Wanna mess with you neuro-circuits (brain cell network)? Then double down on your drinking game!
Avoid processed foods
For the average person a good exercise routine would include the following:
- At least 8.000 steps daily.
- 2 to 3 times weight or strength training weekly, for both men and woman.
- Interval training such a sprints to get your heartbeat up high are great! (think of this as strengthening your heart and cardiovascular system)
Proper hydration includes not only drinking water, it also includes salts (electrolytes). The main ones are sodium, potassium, chloride and magnesium. These are important to absorb liquids into the bloodstream and into the cells.
Active stress management
Especially chronic stress is a dangerous silent killer. I know there’s a lot of fuzz and talk about it, but that’s for good reason!
Meditation or mindfulness practises, long walks in nature, exercise, deep sleep, cuddling with partner, social life, are some ways to calm the nervous system down.
Detoxification of oestrogen
Improve gut health
Chew well and eat slow
Don’t drink water during your meal (this dilutes digestive enzymes)
De-stress. (Chronic) stress and digesting don’t, at all, go well together.
Eat less raw vegetables, they are hard to digest
Check for intolerances (especially gluten and dairy)
Eat real foods and vary your diet.
Eat more fermented foods (it’s higher in histamine, so if you’re histamine sensitive beware of this)
Eat sufficient proteins (to improve the gut lining)
Improve bowel function by consuming sufficient amounts of fiber from cooked or steamed vegetables and fruit
Eat more organic! Pesticides are horrible.
You can always do a stool test to look into the specific needs of your gut. A good general probiotic would do as well. I would recommend S. Boulardii in this case, because it helps with oestrogen and histamine as well. In the case of migraine it’s 3 birds in 1 throw. On top of that S. Boulardii doesn’t interfere with SIBO’s, because you won’t need prebiotics (the food for probiotics)
Improve mitochondrial health
Avoid toxins and highly processed foods (because it damages the fragile mitochondria)
Resolve pathogen load (bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites)
Eat foods to support glutathione: avocado, almonds, turmeric, milk thistle, okra, asparagus and broccoli
Increase vitamine C intake
Sleep & regular (moderate) exercise
Supplementing nutrient deficiencies and/or Glutathione or NAC
I would go with magnesium as the most important one. Also known as the anti-stress mineral. Magnesium in sufficient amounts also works as a beta-blocker, used in conventional medicine against migraines. Beta-blockers help keeping blood-pressure low and widen blood vessels. Co-enzyme Q10 and Omega 3 may also function as natural beta-blockers.
- Magnesium (-taurate) — combine with B6 (in the P-5-P form) to improve hormonal health
- Omega-3 (learn everything you need to know about omega-3 here) — stabilise platelets, ‘natural beta-blocker’ and improves muscle spasms
- B12, b6, folic acid (called b11 EU & AUS or b9 in USA) — improve homocysteine levels and nervous system function.
- Co-enzyme Q10 — improves mitochondria function, anti-oxidant protector and ‘natural beta-blocker’.
- B2 — may improve the duration and intensity of migraines
- Dong Quai (Angelica Sinensis) — may improve hormonal migraines.
- Food sensitivities
- Leaky gut (hyper permeability)
- Magnesium intracellular (RBC)
- Gluten sensitivity
- Organic acids
Hormones (cortisol and/or oestrogen)
Steps to Self-healing
- Supplement magnesium (-taurate is a high bioavailable form of magnesium). During a mentrual period you may supplement higher amounts of magnesium. Stay away from magnesium-oxide. You won’t absorb much of it. It’s cheap garbage
- Eliminate potential foods you’re sensitive to. The most common ones being: gluten, dairy and/or eggs
- Consume foods high in anti-oxidants
- Limit coffee and alcohol
- Stop smoking
- Improve sleep quality
- Actively manage and detoxify stress
- Eliminate (environmental) toxins and products
- Cold plunges and cold showers (improves stress resilience and cardiovascular health)
Experiment by yourself in a safe and gentle way.
And remember, you can book a consult (with a free intake call) with me so I can help you and you can support me with writing more of these extended articles.