Migraine headaches

What are Migraine headaches?

Few readers, we would imagine, have not at some time suffered from Migraine headaches, so we needn't spend time telling you what it is. A headache is a headache, right? Actually, headache is one of the more difficult symptoms to evaluate in medicine, because so many different problems can cause the same end result—your head hurts. Viruses often cause headache, but fever from other types of infections can, too. Some women develop headaches that coincide with menstrual period cycles. Other people suffer mightily and often with "sick headaches" or "migraines" or "cluster migraines." They can occur with sinus pressure or allergies—the "sinus headache." Stress can bring them on. But so can too much caffeine—or too little. The list goes on and on, and most of the time, the cause of the headache is not serious or dangerous. Sometimes, however, headache can be a sign of dangerous blood vessel problems—an aneurysm or blood clot—or of benign tumors or cancers in the brain. Although most adults have at one time or another had a headache, and most pass without incident, you should never ignore a headache in a child, which almost always means an infection coming on, nor should you ignore one in yourself that is unusually severe, lasts more than a day or two, follows a blow to the head, or for which you have no reasonable explanation. Always seek medical help for any unexplained, sudden, or severe headache.

Although nutrient remedies may not be of much benefit for sudden Migraine headaches from trauma, blood pressure, or infection, which will have specific medical treatments, what if you suffer chronic headaches that you do know the cause of, such as headache from allergies, with menstrual periods, or from low blood sugar? Can nutrition offer help here? Let's take a look.

Migraine headachesWhat makes Migraine headaches worse?

•  Eating a diet high in simple sugars can trigger migraine headaches in some people by making wide swings in their blood sugar. When you eat a sugary food, your blood sugar rises quickly, sending out signals for your body to produce insulin to drive the blood sugar level back down by driving the sugar into the tissues to be used or stored. Some people have an exaggerated insulin response to a sugary food, and their overproduction of insulin drives the blood sugar down too fast and too far. The low blood sugar triggers migraine for some of these people. Recommendation: Avoid concentrated sweets. Try to sharply curtail your intake of sugar, corn syrup, molasses, or foods made with these, including cakes, pies, pastries, cookies, soft drinks, frosted cereals, jams, and ice cream, to name but a few. Also avoid large quantities of the starchy foods that your body can convert quickly to sugar, such as potatoes, wheat, and corn. Rice and oats make less dramatic changes in blood sugar and are better starch choices for you.

• Foods or supplements containing copper may trigger headaches in some people, because it plays a role in the metabolism of some of the brain chemicals involved in headache. Recommendation: If you suffer migraines, do not take mineral supplements containing copper. Also avoid foods rich in copper, such as chocolate, nuts, wheat germ, and shellfish.

•  Caffeine can trigger headaches both from too much use and from too little. (The one special group of headaches that may respond to use of caffeine are migraine headaches. This benefit occurs because caffeine helps to prevent the dilation of blood vessels in the brain.) People who drink moderately heavy amounts of coffee or tea (4 to 5 cups per day) tend to suffer headache more frequently than their decaffeinated friends. And once you become a regular user of caffeine, withdrawal of the substance will almost universally trigger a bad headache. If you suffer with chronic headaches, you would do yourself a favor to become caffeine-free. Recommendation: Approach caffeine detoxification with caution. Don't stampede your way to a caffeine-free lifestyle. Here's a reduction schedule that will help you: Purchase a tin of a half and half blend of caffeinated/decaffeinated coffee. (There are several available in the supermarket.) Mix the blend with your regular full-strength coffee in a ratio of 1 part blend to 3 parts regular, and drink this slightly less caffeinated mixture for several days. Drop to 1 part blend to 2 parts regular, then 1  part of each, then 1 part regular to 2 parts blend, then 1 part regular to 3 parts blend, then all blend. At this point, you're 50% decaffeinated. Now repeat this schedule using the 50/50 blend and mixing in fully decaffeinated coffee. Start with 3 parts blend to 1 part decaf, 2 blend to 1 decaf, 1 blend to 1 decaf, 1 blend to 2 decaf, 1 blend to 3 decaf, and finally, you're fully decaffeinated. By taking it slow and easy, you avoid the sometimes severe headaches that withdrawal from caffeine can cause.

•  Aspartame, the sugar substitute in the sweetener NutraSweet, can trigger headache in as many as 10% of migraine sufferers. Recommendation: Undertake an elimination trial of aspartame to see if it acts as a trigger in your migraines. Totally eliminate the sweetener and all products made with it from your diet for 3 to 4 weeks. If you suffer no headaches during that period, you must challenge yourself by eating or drinking products containing aspartame. If doing so brings on a headache, you'll know with certainty that this sweetener acts as a trigger for you.

• Migraine headachesNearly half of the sufferers of chronic headaches of all causes report that alcohol acted as a trigger for their symptoms, and that percent increases to nearly 60% for migraine sufferers. Beer and wine, especially red wine, seem to cause greater problems than distilled spirits, although all kinds of alcohol may be at fault. Recommendation: If you drink alcohol and suffer chronic headaches, you may want to undertake an elimination trial. Begin by eliminating ail forms of alcohol from your diet for a period of 3 to 4 weeks. Then test one kind of alcoholic beverage at a time. For example, drink 2 to 3 glasses of red wine daily for 3 to 4 days. If you fail to develop a headache, red wine probably does not act as a trigger for you. Allow yourself a washout period of 3 weeks between trials, then move on to another kind of beverage—say, white wine or beer or distilled spirits. By systematic elimination, you can discover whether alcohol in general or some specific form of it triggers your headaches.

• Nitrates/nitrites, found in cured meats and hot dogs, may cause migraines in some people. Recommendation: An elimination trial conducted for each suspected food as described above for alcohol.

• Red wine, aged cheese, fermented sausages, and sour cream all contain high levels of the amino acid tyramine, which serves as a trigger for migraine in some people. Recommendation: An elimination trial for each of these substances as described above for alcohol.

•  Chocolate contains a chemical called phenylethylamine that can trigger migraine in some people. Recommendation: An elimination trial as described above for alcohol.

•  If you have a lactase deficiency and cannot tolerate milk and other dairy products, eating dairy products can cause headache in addition to—or in place of—the gastrointestinal distress usually seen in milk intolerance. Recommendation: If you have any history of milk intolerance, still eat other dairy products, and suffer frequent headaches, you may want to investigate the connection between the dairy products and your symptoms.



Other Health Problems:

Headache and migraine
Hearing Loss
Heart attack
Heavy Periods
Herpes Simplex
Herpes Zoster
Infertility, Men
Infertility, Women
Inflammatory bowel disease
Inner Ear Dysfunction
Irritable Bowel Syndrome



Other Health Problems:

Kidney Stones
"Liver" Spots
Low Blood Sugar
Lung Cancer
Lupus Erythematosus
Macular degeneration
Meniere's Syndrome
Menstrual Irregularities
Migraine Headache
Mitral Valve Prolapse
Mood disorders
Morning Sickness of Pregnancy
Multiple Sclerosis
Muscle Cramps
Muscle Weakness
Muscular Dystrophy
Nail Health
Nausea and vomiting
Numbness and Tingling
Ovarian Cancer