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Migraines on the rise

The number of migraine sufferers seems to be on the rise. Many of them have had considerable relief by fmigraines and what to doollowing my ‘healthy living’ concepts. When a recent article came out describing the findings of several research studies those findings really hit home with me. In fancier words, it was exactly what I had been teaching.

First we have to realize that there are multiple causes of migraines. When you are suffering from one you could almost care less what caused it. The pain is that bad. Many people get visual effects, nausea and dizziness along with the pounding headache. About 60% of female sufferers can find a calendar link between their migraines and their menstrual cycles. Fluctuating hormones seem to trigger them.

Other causes include dietary allergies or sensitivities. The common links here seem to be grains, dairy, white sugar, citrus fruits, yeast and eggs. Since so much of our modern processed foods contain grains, sugar, and eggs this can make eating both at home and in restaurants a real challenge. Even something as non-threatening as soy sauce is made from wheat, which is a grain.

Even more often food additives called excitotoxins have been shown to cause migraines. These include food colorings, flavorings (artificial but sometimes listed on the labels as ‘natural’), MSG (hiding under phrases such as hydrolyzed, Caseinate, extracts, plant proteins, seasoning and spices), aspartame and other artificial sweeteners. When you are experiencing low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) you are even more vulnerable to excitotoxins causing a migraine. Drinking a diet soda to avoid eating seems like a sure fire trigger.

Lacking nutrients can also cause migraines. A pain on the left side behind the left eye can indicate a zinc shortage. A pain beside the right eye says to look for an iron shortage. One at the back of the head says to look at choline levels. Behind the right ear says to look at your potassium levels, while behind the left ear indicates a sodium deficiency.

Magnesium comes up again and again in literature as both a preventative and a remedy for migraines. Magnesium is a mineral that has been nicknamed ‘the great relaxer’ because it is a key to relaxing muscles. It has also been linked to avoiding the devastating effects of excitotoxins. It has been shown to keep the blood flowing more smoothly, without actually thinning the blood and causing bleeding problems.

Stress causes both chemical and physical problems in the body. Both can lead to migraines or tension headaches. Many of us can’t avoid the stressors in our lives, so we have to find ways to cancel them out. A great way to do this is exercise, but another way is through an old fashioned Epsom salt bath. The salts contain magnesium, which your skin absorbs directly from the water. Since it is not going through the intestines it doesn’t cause the cramping and diarrhea that sometimes occurs with oral supplementation of magnesium. If you can’t stand sitting in a tub of warm water for any length of time there are also topical magnesium supplements.

Avoiding processed foods can go a long way towards preventing migraines. Eating a low carb or ‘paleo’ diet goes even further. The next step is avoiding conventionally grown fruits, vegetables, meats, and nuts. Go for the organic whenever possible. Residues of insecticides, herbicides, antibiotics and hormones have also been shown to increase migraines. Living a clean, healthy lifestyle is truly key to preventing that debilitating pain.

The Magnesium Miracle by Carolyn Dean, M.D., N.D. copyright 2007 by Carolyn Dean, published by Ballentine Books
The Ultimate Healing System by Donald Lepore, N.D. Copyright 1985 by Donald Lepore Excitotoxins: The Taste that Kills by Russell L. Blaylock, M.D. Copyrighted 1997 by Russell L. Blaylock, published by Health Press.
The Complete Encyclopedia of Natural Healing by Gary Null, Ph.D. copyrighted 2005 by Gary Null, published by Kensington Books
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