How To Cope With Headaches And Migraines
The jury is still out on what causes headaches and migraines, there is a lot of literature to say what “may” contribute to them, which can be quite frustrating for those who want to get to the bottom of the cause.
A common thread is inflammation of the brain blood vessels and nerve structures resulting in the throbbing, pulsating, squeezing pain, and may possible be due to ANY of the following:
- Caffeine intake
- Hormonal imbalance
- Trauma to the head
- Nutrient deficiencies
- Drug/alcohol intake
Oh my …. the list is exhausting!
So where do you begin with such a varied list like this?! I have highlighted the word inflammation, because I feel this is where it must be considered first. Pin pointing where the main contributors of inflammation might be occurring is key and the best way to do this is by doing any of the following.
If you want to be your own detective do the following:
- Do a food diary for about 7 days – be truly honest!
You might be able to see a trend of a specific food item or items that could be causing inflammation. Common inflammatory foods and drinks include almost all processed foods (biscuits, cakes, breads, pre-packaged foods), sugary drinks, alcohol, coffee etc.
Add these foods up at the end of the week Vs. fresh fruit and vegetables, if the ratio is higher on the pro-inflammatory foods then you have a good starting point to work from.
- Do a general diary of about 7 days
In your week what kind of toxins are you exposed to, such as cleaning products, personal hygiene products, work chemicals (hazardous or non), car fumes, gardening chemicals, etc.
Add these up, you might be surprised how many you are exposed to on a daily basis. These in themselves could be promoting inflammation.
- Are you an athlete? Performance part of your job?
Have you got your nutrition nailed? You could be promoting inflammation by not drinking or eating to your needs.
- Do you know you have hormonal issues
Then this could be causing a whole bunch or issues…grrr hormones…
Does the above seem like hard work to work out? See a qualified Clinical Nutritionist, or a Medical Herbalist who can work through these lists with you in a simple and easy way.
Inflammation is a response to an immune process, to fight infection or irritation. Inflammation is designed to promote heat, redness, swelling which is associated with some pain in a bid to rid the body of the “foreign invader”.
If it’s normal, why is it such a problem these days? Because there are so many contributing factors that can promote inflammation, for some people, the inability to regulate inflammation has resulted in chronic inflammation sometimes very low grade, in other cases, very painful and ongoing.
For some, their body’s way of showing chronic inflammation is through headaches/migraines. (for others it might be back pain, joint pain, digestive issues…again the list can go on here).
So…how to get on top of those headaches!
First off: ditch the sugar and the processed foods.
This is a very basic starting point and may seem obvious to some, but can be very hard for most. Especially the sugar! Oh my gosh! That sugar is actually very addictive! But thankfully these days there are some really awesome social media pages that can help support you through this.
Again if you find it hard doing on your own, get in touch with a qualified Clinical Nutritionist who will be able to help you gently wean off the white stuff.
Next: Take note of your digestive system
Are you constipated or do you hunt down your nearest loo with great “urgency”. Either way, this is a clear sign that there is not only inflammation and therefore immune dysfunction happening but also that is more than likely nutritional deficiencies of some description.
While it can be hard to get the diet on tract and like I say to all my clients is a life long journey of fally off the wagon and getting right back on, there are some keep supplements that can help support inflammation and so can be useful for headaches and migraines.
Omega 3 – Helps to regulate inflammation by balancing the main components of the inflammatory process
Magnesium – Helps to relax muscles as well as blood vessels
MSM – Helps to remove toxins from the body. Drink extra water because it really targets detoxification.
Vitamin B Complex – It has been found that headaches sufferers tend to be a nutrient deficient. B vitamins are the best taken as a complex, and as they are involved in so many different enzyme processes, is essential for circulation, supporting the nervous system (think pain functioning), as well as supporting stress.
Passionflower, Feverfew, Valerian, Willow Bark and Ginkgo Biloba or Boswellia and Turmeric may all be useful as they either either target the pain enzymes directly or help to reduce inflammation or are known as natural pain relievers (such as Boswellia or Willow Bark).
Drink more water!
So easy! So simple! Yes most people don’t drink nearly enough to help support proper clearance of toxins from the body. Drinking more water will ensure the bowels and kidneys are flushing the way they should be!
In my clinical experience, patients can definitely get on top of their headaches and migrains as long as they are committed to making changes to their diet. This can be in small chunks to begin with to make them long term sustainable positive changes.
In incorporating some key supplements definitely helps to boost their natural anti-inflammatory abilities to tackle these headaches.
I can’t stress enough that although it may be a journey it is definitely possible!