by Krystle Orlando October 12, 2020 7 min read

Migraines and headaches can be difficult to understand. Millions of dollars have been spent to research their causes and find solutions, and still so many around the world suffer from these debilitating headaches that can come on without warning and last for days.

If you suffer from migraines, you know how difficult it is to manage your condition while still holding onto a full time job and taking care of your family. Migraines can come in many shapes and forms, but they all include serious pain, fatigue, and insomnia issues. Perhaps the most challenging aspect of migraines is their unpredictability.

Migraine sufferers can go from feeling completely healthy and vibrant to totally debilitated in a matter of just a few hours. This can cause serious problems in the workplace as well as at home, where individuals have to scramble to get their responsibilities covered while they are put out of commission because of their headaches.

Struggling for Answers

When migraines first occur, it can be hard to know at first that this is your condition. For some, it can be difficult to tell whether you are suffering from a headache or something more serious.

Once you've recognized that it is migraines that you suffer from, it does not necessarily get any easier. There are some medications on the market that are helpful, but they can also include some difficult side effects. And for many others, the treatments that are available simply don't provide relief.

In these instances, it's easy to become discouraged and even fall into despair. And like many other chronic conditions, the stress and tension of not being able to find relief from your pain can make your symptoms worse. This perpetuates a difficult cycle that can feel hopeless at times.

Understanding Your Symptoms

Sometimes, there are a variety of symptoms that accompany migraines, which can actually lead to a misdiagnosis. There are many auxiliary symptoms to serious migraines that it's important to watch out for. Besides intense, focused pain in the head, here are some of the other signs of a migraine:

  • Dull aching pain on one side of the head, or on both sides
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Extreme light sensitivity
  • Fatigue and brain fog
  • Stiffness / tenderness in the neck
  • Sensitivity on the scalp
  • Blurred vision or blind spots
  • Sinus tension/issues
  • Lightheadedness, difficulty with balance

If you have any of these other symptoms alongside your headache and they come and go without warning or prompting, there's a good chance that you are experiencing migraines. That's why your headache hasn't been responding to the typical over the counter remedies.

When you're experiencing migraine symptoms, it can feel like you'll never recover. But having awareness that you have migraines is actually the first step to regaining your health. From there, you can begin a process of elimination to determine what is causing your headaches.

What Causes Headaches?

While the fundamental cause of migraines can be quite different depending on the individual, we do have an understanding of the mechanisms in the body that create the sensation of migraines. Basically, tension and stress in the body restricts the veins and arteries in the body.

When your veins and arteries are restricted, blood flow is decreased, which can ultimately lead to many different symptoms. Since blood flows to every part of your body, when that blood flow is decreased, you can experience pain or discomfort in those areas.

But what causes those restrictions? There can truly be so many factors that can lead to a full-blown migraine. Of course, stress is a factor. And many stress relieving activities, like eating sugar, having a glass of wine at the end of the day, and even very rigorous exercise, can ultimately contribute more to your migraines. Like so many chronic illnesses, one of the best things you can do to improve your health is to be observant of your daily habits and gather as much information as you can.

Key Factors to Migraines

Even though there are many different ways migraines can be triggered, there are certain factors that appear again and again in our clients. Dehydration can be a serious culprit when it comes to migraines. If you don't have a regular routine of hydrating yourself before bed, you could actually be going more than 14 hours without water by the time you wake up in the morning. This can lead to pain all over the body, but can be particularly uncomfortable if you are prone to migraines.

Food allergies are another factor that could be contributing greatly to your migraines. Any foods that cause a histamine-based reaction could be aggravating your migraine condition. Why? Because these foods contain a lot of cytokines and ultimately to restrictions in the arteries. These foods include lobster, shrimp, smoked/fermented food, leftovers, and even cinnamon.

While what you eat and drink can play a crucial role in how often and intense your migraines are, there are other things that could be exacerbating your migraines. Another key factor is posture and tension held in the body, especially the neck. Any individual with recurring migraines should consider whether they are improperly holding up their head, have a misaligned posture, clenched jaw, or even overly straining their eyes. Sometimes little adjustments in posture can make a big difference.

Blood sugar levels are another important lab to investigate if you are concerned about your migraines. If you have imbalanced blood sugar levels, you could end up getting recurring headaches. This can be caused by a variety of diet factors, but if you suspect blood sugar may be creating your migraines, you should consider limiting your sugar intake and reducing added sugar from your diet as much as possible.

Getting to the Bottom of Your Pain

If you have already looked at all of the above factors as potential reasons why you have migraines, it's completely normal to feel frustrated. Migraines can be incredibly debilitating, and there is nothing more infuriating than not being able to pinpoint what is causing your pain. Again, because migraines are linked to constricting blood vessels, and that can be caused by so many factors, it can be very challenging to get to the bottom of your headaches.

We suggest to clients that they continue to gather as much information as possible and be open minded as they try to discover why you are experiencing migraines. Issues like environmental toxins, imbalances with your hormone levels, and even leaky-gut syndrome could be the ultimate reason why you are having pain.

There are many questions we encourage migraine sufferers to ask themselves. For example, are your headaches worse at a particular time of the day? This could indicate that hormone imbalances are at play. Do you suffer most in the morning time? This could indicate that you have issues with dehydration, your sodium levels, or your adrenals. Or do you find that your migraines spring up after meals? This is an indication that you could be suffering from a leaky-gut issue.

Treating Migraines at Home

Luckily there are things you can do at home right away to relieve your pain. Using hot/cold compresses can be particularly helpful for migraines. We recommend that individuals place a cold compress on the head, and a warm compress at the feet. This encourages blood to flow from the head and into the rest of the body.

Deep breathing exercises and routines can be another great way to manage the pain of migraines. Many traditions, including yoga and meditation, have breathing exercises that many people have used to relax and relieve their pain when their migraines are occuring.

Finally, we recommend getting your body back in motion, even in very gentle ways. Because so much of the pain of migraines can be attributed to blood flow issues, increasing exercise and moving the body can be a key to relieving pain---even when moving seems almost impossible. Starting small, with gentle slow walks or even exercises you can do while sitting in a chair can contribute to the changes you would like to make.

Tackling Your Migraines

Like so many chronic conditions, healing your migraines requires that you start paying close attention. There are a wide variety of factors that could be contributing to your pain--your diet, the toxins in your environment, gut issues, hormonal issues, and many more. While your migraines can often seem to come on at random, there are often triggers.

The more you pay attention to what your specific triggers are and what you can do about them, the better off you'll be. Specific at-home lab tests have been developed to help you understand what triggers your condition and how you can move forward. We recommend one that looks in-depth at your body's heavy metal toxicity and mineral levels.


Case Study: Migraines & Exercise

Brooke was a 45 year old marathon runner who came to our practice because of her migraines. Running has always been a big part of her life, her body was still in great shape. But in the last couple of years, she had begun suffering from migraines. Even though she made diet changes and even tried some prescription medication, they seemed to be getting worse, and more frequent.

Because of Brooke's age and some other factors, she decided to do an at-home lab test that looks at her thyroid and adrenal hormone levels. She also did a detailed food diary, reflecting on what foods seemed to exacerbate the pain. Brooke discovered that her hormonal levels were influx, indicating that she was actually premenopausal.

Once she realized hormonal imbalance was a factor in her migraines, we were able to create a unique set of supplements and minerals to help bring her back into balance. At the same time, Brooke's food diary revealed that she was having trouble especially in the mornings and after runs. Brooke realized that even though she was drinking plenty of water, she was no longer absorbing electrolytes the way she used to. With adjustments to her diet and focused attention on balancing her hormones, Brooke was able to finally end her migraines. She's happy to report she hasn't had one in over six months!

Ready to Get Rid of Migraines for Good?

If you're anything like Brooke, you have probably been struggling with migraines for a long time. We know how frustrating and overwhelming it can be to be dealing with migraines. But there is another way. With commitment and discipline, you can finally get to the bottom of why you have been struggling with this difficult illness.