It has been reported that an estimated 2.7 million Canadians have been diagnosed with migraines, with migraine prevalence highest amongst women. With many possible causes and triggers, it’s important to investigate all possibilities.
The good news is many different treatment options might be helpful for migraines, and these extend beyond traditional medications often prescribed. This is where Functional Medicine can play a significant role in understanding the root cause of migraines and how to help ease the symptoms.
So how can you tell if you have a migraine or a regular headache? Migraines can happen sporadically, or you may have them regularly, and they are mostly focused on one side of the head.
Migraines are usually much more severe than a normal headache, with a throbbing type of pain. You may suffer from nausea, vomiting, and profound fatigue during or after a migraine. There is often a sensitivity to light and loud noises, and any movement can increase the pain.
For some, migraines can also impact your vision. These migraines include aura disturbances that can consist of flashing lights, zig-zag patterns, blind spots, blurry vision, or bright colors when your eyes are closed. These migraines may also cause dizziness, fatigue, and other neurological symptoms.
It is also common for migraine sufferers to experience migraine “hangovers,” where even after the migraine subsides, they still experience symptoms such as fatigue and light sensitivity.
CAUSES OF MIGRAINES
As mentioned, there are many different triggers and imbalances that can contribute to migraines. These can include your genetics, environment, and lifestyle factors.
Toxins built up in your body, food sensitivities, leaky gut, and infections can all contribute to migraines. In addition, anxiety, stress, alcohol, coffee, poor sleep, weather changes, specific foods (such as cheese and certain dairy), MSG, and skipping meals can also trigger migraines.
HOW FUNCTIONAL MEDICINE CAN HELP
As with anything regarding Functional Medicine, our goal is to reduce or eliminate symptoms while attacking the root cause of the issue. Here at the Heartland Natural Clinic, there is no blanket approach, and each individual’s plan depends on their unique symptoms and underlying causes.
It’s common for migraine sufferers to experience fatigue, anxiety, sinus problems, hormonal imbalances, food intolerances, sensitivities, and muscle or joint pain.
With so many possible triggers, narrowing down the possible causes by testing is often the first step. Testing can include hormonal testing, stool testing, genetic testing, and determining FST values.
As we investigate how to help migraine, some treatment options include:
● Dietary changes - identifying trigger foods can significantly reduce the frequency of migraines. Gluten, processed foods, dairy, refined sugar, nitrates, sulphate, and foods high in histamine are common triggers. It’s also important to balance your insulin and sugar, ensuring you aren’t hypoglycemic or dehydrated
● Improving gut health - food sensitivities, gut flora imbalance, gluten sensitivity, celiac disease, and leaky gut can all play a role in contributing to migraines
● Hormonal imbalances - testing to determine if there are any hormonal imbalances can determine if dysregulation of hormones is a factor
● Detox - by getting rid of any excess toxins in the body, a detox can help support the liver and overall body function
● Supplements - some supplements have been shown to help migraine symptoms include Magnesium, Vitamin B2, CoQ10, and Omega 3
● Mind/Body - mindfulness practices such as meditation, yoga, tai chi, hypnosis, deep breathing, and cognitive therapy have also been shown to be helpful 1
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*This article is for informational purposes only