*This blog is dedicated to a dear dear friend who knows who they are.*
Whether you suffer from occasional headaches or disabling migraines, these aches and pains can really impede your quality of life. Studies suggest that up to 13% of US adults suffer from regular migraines (37 million people) and 2-3 million of these suffer from them chronically. Women are more prone to experience migraines than men, but overall this discomfort does not discriminate.
Migraines generally manifest physically as uncomfortable, frequent, and prolonged headaches of varying intensity. They are often accompanied by nausea, fatigue, and light sensitivity. Depending on the intensity of the symptoms, a medical doctor might prescribe medication to alleviate pain and assist with sleep – simply numbing the symptoms of a migraine and not getting to the root cause of it all.
What makes Functional Health different for your headaches and/or migraines?
Instead of simply removing the SYMPTOMS of your migraine, functional practitioners aim to combat the underlying causes and root imbalances leading to the pain in your body. This means that you will learn to implement strategies to avoid the onset of migraines once and for all, instead of merely solving the symptoms when they arise.
Certain foods, drinks, hormonal imbalances, environmental shifts and/or reactions to medications are common causes of migraines, and so by studying each of these potential causes, a functional medicine approach successfully identifies which element is causing YOUR specific discomfort.
Functional health involves helping those who suffer – and their loved ones – become more aware of the possibilities for treatment that lie outside of pharmaceutical drugs. This is called becoming functionally ‘literate’.
I believe everyone deserves to be aware of the cause of their health issues in order to be able to control of their own health and fight off those symptoms. Everyone deserves to live pain-free!
So here goes:
Magnesium is an essential mineral that the body requires for bone health, stabilizing blood pressure, and helping maintain nerve function and healthy heart rhythm. Additionally, magnesium deficiency has been found to be a potential cause of migraine headaches.
A natural survey reported that approximately 75 percent of Americans aren’t getting enough magnesium. A simple way to ensure adequate magnesium intake is by consuming one cup of dark leafy greens, like spinach or chard, which contains nearly 40 percent of your daily
Other foods that contain magnesium include:
- seeds, like pumpkin or squash seeds
- mackerel, tuna, and pollock fish
- yogurt or kefir
- black beans and lentils
- dark chocolate
For certain deficiencies, supplementation may be recommended.
Check Your Hormones
It’s been shown that more women than men experience chronic migraines, which may be attributed to increased levels of estrogen and decreased progesterone. This type of hormone imbalance is typically experienced before menstruation. However, stress, consuming too much alcohol, sugar, flour, and starches, and a lack of exercise or sleep may be other contributing factors.
Standard practices for preventing menstrual migraines include:
- Dietary changes such as avoiding aspartame, refined sugar, and processed foods
- Lifestyle factors including getting enough sleep and exercise
- Hormonal balancing
- Micronutrient supplementation
- Homeopathic therapies for example meditation, acupuncture, and herbal supplementation
Studies have found that many migraines are caused by a small misalignment or subluxation in the spine. When vertebrae are misaligned, the surrounding muscles become inflamed and irritated. Chiropractic adjustments correct misalignments that may be causing migraine pain as well as
improve posture for better overall health. Chiropractic adjustments are not only excellent for helping reduce the severity of migraines, but regular chiropractic care can also help reduce the frequency of these migraines as well.
When it comes to migraines, some individuals have been found to have low brain energy levels caused by a deficit in mitochondrial energy metabolism. Mitochondria are present in most cells and are responsible for the biochemical processes of respiration and energy production. Energy metabolism is the process by which the calories found in fats, sugars, and proteins (aka macronutrients) is converted into energy for the body to utilize, called ATP. Individuals with migraines have shown decreased brain mitochondrial energy reserves between attacks. Randomized control trials found that over half of migraine sufferers experienced a 50% reduction in headache frequency with Riboflavin (Vitamin B2) supplementation.
Many studies have found that mind-body techniques can be useful in easing chronic pain such as migraines. There are many types of meditation, so you’re sure to find one that works best for you. The key is to practice daily, so you are prepared for future migraines. Researchers are trying to learn more about what exactly happens in the body during meditation. Since many headaches are caused or aggravated by stress, tension, and anxiety, mind-body techniques like meditation may relieve headaches simply by alleviating underlying stress. Here are a few different methods to google and try:
Natural Pain Relievers
If pain does strike, and you find yourself in needing something to ease the pain. Here are a couple of Natural Pain Relievers
Aromatherapy has been known to relieve the symptoms of migraines, and so it’s useful to have essential oils on hand whenever the onset of a migraine looms.
Essential oils can be applied to the skin or inhaled by means of diffusing. Although it’s called aromatherapy, it’s not just the aroma that’s therapeutic. Essential oils also directly interact with body chemistry, affecting nearly all of the organ systems.
Peppermint, lavender and eucalyptus oils, in particular, are known to be very effective in combating migraines. Here is a quick and easy way to add them to your treatment routine:
- Combine 2 teaspoons of fractionated coconut oil with 1 – 2 drops each of Lavender and Eucalyptus essential oils in a small bowl.
- Gently stir the ingredients with a spoon until well-mixed.
- Massage the mixture onto the skin, focusing on areas where your headache is. Don’t forget to massage other tense areas that may be contributing to your headaches, including the neck, shoulders, upper back, and pectoral muscles.
- Relax and Enjoy!
NB: And as always, I am not a medical doctor and the above post is based on my experience. No information on this site should be relied upon to make a medical diagnosis, treat, prevent or cure any disease or medical condition.