This is a question I am often asked in my practice. But before we talk about the possible causes, lets discuss “What is a migraine?”
Migraines are severe, debilitating headaches which can occur once a year and upwards of four times a week. They can be associated with light sensitivity, aura, nausea and vomiting as well as severe throbbing head pain. Migraines can last minutes, hours or days. It 2011 it was estimated that 8.3% of Canadians, or 2.7 million people, were diagnosed with migraines.
The conventional treatment for migraines is pharmaceutical medication which can include; calcium channel blockers, beta-blockers, anti-seizure medications, anti-depressants and triptans. Many of these medications are only effective if they’re taken BEFORE a migraine starts and some of them have significant long term side effects. Also – these treatments are dealing with the symptoms and not the cause.
This leads us into “What’s causing my migraine?”. During my first visit with a patient I ask a lot of questions to be able to determine what might be the underlying cause of a migraine. And I’ve discovered 4 main health issues:
- Food allergies/sensitivities and Gut health imbalances: I frequently find that patients are sensitive to one or more foods they’re eating. The top five are dairy, wheat/gluten, soy, eggs and corn. These foods can cause an immune reaction in the body which can produce symptoms such as; migraines, headaches, nasal congestion, gas, bloating, joint and muscle pain and many more. Eliminating food sensitivities and supporting the digestive system with probiotics, digestive enzymes and omega 3 can often help resolve migraines.
- Hormone imbalances: My female patients who suffer from migraines may also suffer from premenstrual syndrome – pain before menses, breast tenderness, bloating and mood swings. These symptoms in combination with a salivary hormone panel can tell me that there is an imbalance of estrogen to progesterone. Treatment plans focus on balancing hormones by incorporating a whole food diet, avoiding alcohol, sugar, and caffeine, supporting the adrenal glands and adding hormone balancing herbs like Vitex agnus-castus.
- Chemical Sensitivities: there are many environmental and chemical substances which our bodies are exposed to on a regular basis. I’ve found that sulphites (wine, dried food), MSG (monosodium glutamate), aspartame (sweetener), nitrites (processed meats) and tyramine containing foods (chocolate and cheese) can trigger migraines. Removing these foods from a patient’s diet, promoting a phytonutrient dense whole food diet, and healing the gut can help resolve migraines for chemically sensitive patients.
- Magnesium deficiency: this is a mineral that I prescribe the most in my practice. The signs and symptoms of magnesium deficiency can include migraines, muscle cramps, insomnia, constipation, irritability and anxiety. Magnesium glycinate at relativity high doses (under physician supervision) will usually help resolve these symptoms.
If you, a family member or a friend have suffered from migraines – I’d like to hear from you!
What treatments have you tried and are they working?
Have you found any connections between the causes I’ve listed above and your migraines?
Please message me on Facebook (Dr. Tamzin Morley, ND) or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know what’s working for you.