Laura! Help! My headaches are ruling my life and I’m willing to try anything to find some long-term relief! I feel like I’ve heard it all (as a young child some doctor put me on antidepressants, eek!) and simply cannot be told one more time that I just need to “stress less” or pop a pill. Please help me find my way out of nearly 20 years of debilitating headaches.
Okay, so I’m assuming that you know all about potential food triggers for migraines, right? If you aren’t already, you need to be keeping a migraine diary. Trying to eliminate all the possible food triggers is nearly impossible, but scrupulously writing down what you eat for a week and tracking your migraine incidence alongside might help you pinpoint any food triggers to which you are susceptible.
You can refer to a very extensive list of food triggers here, but the most common ones are:
- ~ Tyramine-containing foods (aged cheeses, red wine, alcoholic beverages, and some processed meats)
- ~ Alcohol
- ~ Food additives (including nitrates and MSG)
- ~ Chocolate (I’m sorry!)
- ~ Fermented/aged foods (hard cheeses, kombucha, kimchee, etc.)
Psychology Today has a short article supporting chiropractic as a treatment for migraines. In some cases, it has been as effective as medication.
Supplements and Herbs
I apologize for the ugliness of the website I’m about to link to. I hope it doesn’t give you a headache just reading it! However, it has a pretty comprehensive list of herbs, homeopathic remedies, and supplements suggested for use with migraines.
I just discovered Native Remedies and am pretty intrigued by their formulas. Their Migone Plus migraine remedy gets good testimonials, and for only $35 for a 12-week protocol, you’re not going to lose much trying it. Like all herbal remedies, it takes a little time for your body to respond, so you might not see results right away. If you try it, stick with it. It needs to build up in your system!
According to this study showed that acupuncture (or even fake acupuncture) is more effective than no acupuncture at all.
There is a lot of evidence reviewed on the British Acupuncture Council’s website which concludes that “overall the evidence supports the hypothesis that acupuncture is effective in the treatment of migraine.”
Along the lines of the gluten connection, ForeverWell is spearheading some pretty exciting research into treating migraines by supporting digestive health. While this concept is relatively new to the migraine scene, their products and protocol make a lot of sense to me: it treats the body as a complete system, acknowledges the importance of the gut to overall health…I think there is a lot of promise here.
Your Heart (!)
This one just totally blew me away! I had never heard of this. New research connects a common congenital heart abnormality called patent foramen ovale (PFO) with migraines! This knowledge was sort of stumbled upon, as people who had the procedure to close the tiny PFO hole in their hearts reported that their migraines had also vanished.
“We believe 30 to 40 per cent of migraines with aura are associated with a hole in the heart,” says consultant cardiologist Peter Wilmshurst of the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital, UK, who was one of the first to identify the link. “We found that if we close the hole, about half of patients are cured of migraine, and half get fewer attacks.”*
Since the research on this connection is still in its very early stages, the PFO-closing procedure as a treatment for migraines is considered experimental; it hasn’t been proven effective - there’s just a strong correlation so far. However, it’s easy enough to ask for an echocardiogram to see if you have PFO and see if that could be a contributing factor.
Migraines.org has an extensive list of alternative therapies, some of which are not here in my list.
Here is where I sigh and apologize for the cheesiness of how this sounds. NAET is the treatment our family discovered for the severe multiple food intolerances that our kids suffer from. It was miraculous, and - because of its alternative medicine nature - difficult to describe without sounding like I’m talking about voodoo. It’s an energy based healing art. Maybe some day I’ll write a whole post about it.
NAET holds promise for migraine sufferers as well, particularly those that are connected with food issues. I have a friend, whom I hope will chime in with her experience in the comments, who got cleared of her severe gluten intolerance thanks to a treatment similar to NAET.
It works. I don’t “get” how, but I’ve seen the results in my own children and my friends - we’re not gullible nut-jobs, either! :)