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Is Your Diet Causing Your Headache?

Chronic daily headache, a condition marked by recurrent migraines and severe pain, can be extremely difficult to treat with conventional prescription drugs. For those suffering with Chronic daily headache (CDH), day-to-day activities and interactions become increasingly difficult to navigate while experiencing excruciating pain. This debilitating condition markedly alters the sufferer’s ability to enjoy their life while suffering headaches 15 days or more a month.

A 2013 study, conducted by PAIN online journal, has revealed that the headache remedy you seek can be found in the aisles of your local grocery market. After introducing a dietary change that increased amounts of Omega-3 fatty acid and decreased amounts of Omega-6 fatty acid, the test population experienced a reduction in symptoms associated with CDH. The healing properties found in an appropriate balance between the Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids helps to reduce inflammation in the system, and in turn, extreme headache pain. In the study, participants experienced a significant reduction in headache hours and severe pain symptoms, as well as an improved quality of life.1

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for our health, but do not naturally occur in our systems. Because of this, we must intake our Omega-3 fatty acids through food or supplements. Wonderful Omega-3 rich foods include grass fed beef, eggs, walnuts, edamame, black beans, flaxseed, and fish. Omega-3 fatty acids are vital for brain functioning, normal growth and development, have an anti-inflammatory effect, and are powerful agents in lowering the risk of cancer and other diseases.2

Omega-6 fatty acids are also essential for our health, but must be consumed through food or supplements as they are not naturally occurring in our bodies. However, high levels of this fatty acid will have a reverse effect in treating disorders and will actually cause inflammation in the system. Unfortunately, our modern diet has overloaded us with Omega-6 through the influx of processed foods and various types of vegetable oils. Food sources that you want to regulate in your diet in order to reduce your intake of Omega-6 fatty acids include refined vegetable oils (those commonly found in processed foods, cookies, and sweets), avocados, pine nuts, and pumpkin seeds.3

An easy way to increase your intake of Omega-3 and decrease the levels of Omega-6 in your system is to eliminate heavily processed foods from your diet and begin to include Omega-3 rich foods and supplements. This simple dietary change, corroborated by the 2013 randomized trial in the treatment of chronic headaches, can transform the lives of an estimated 10 million adults in the United States who suffer from Chronic Daily Headache and other chronic pain conditions.4

Written by Kristin Accorsi

References

  • 1PAIN journal. Targeted alteration of dietary n-3 and n-6 fatty acids for the treatment of chronic headaches. ctsi-price.sites.medinfo.ufl.edu/files/2014/02/Ramsden-et-al-2013-Alteration-of-n-3-and-n-6-fatty-acids-for-Chronic-HA.pdf
  • 2 Omega-3 fatty acids. umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/omega3-fatty-acids
  • 3 Understanding the Omega Fatty Acids. www.webmd.com/diet/healthy-kitchen-11/omega-fatty-acids
  • 4 PAIN journal. Targeted alteration of dietary n-3 and n-6 fatty acids for the treatment of chronic headaches. ctsi-price.sites.medinfo.ufl.edu/files/2014/02/Ramsden-et-al-2013-Alteration-of-n-3-and-n-6-fatty-acids-for-Chronic-HA.pdf
  • photo credit: https://flic.kr/p/5r4S8J

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5 Supplements for Migraines

A migraine headache is frequently described as an intense throbbing or pulsing on one side of the head, and it is commonly accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and extreme sensitivity to light and sound. It often causes significant pain for hours or days at a time. Migraine headache triggers include food allergies, hormonal changes as a result of the menstrual cycle or stress, and chronic dehydration.

Below are 5 supplements that may help ease migraine pain:

Magnesium
A magnesium deficiency can cause migraine headaches and many people have been shown to have a deficiency in this mineral. The recommended dosage of magnesium is 600 to 800 milligrams (mg) a day, taken in divided doses throughout the day to maximize absorption. There are various forms of magnesium on the market, but the one that has been shown to be the most beneficial for migraines is Magnesium Threonate.

Cayenne Pepper
The cayenne pepper herb has been shown to help prevent migraines, largely because it is an excellent source of magnesium. Plus, its active ingredient is capsaicin, which is an anti-inflammatory agent that could help ease migraine pain. Cayenne also might reduce the likelihood of a migraine by stimulating digestion, easing muscle pain and increasing the body’s metabolic rate.

Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)
Riboflavin is a vitamin required for energy metabolism, such as for the breakdown of carbohydrates for energy, and studies have shown that a deficit of mitochondrial energy metabolism could lead to a migraine. According to studies, a daily dose of 400 mg of riboflavin has helped reduce headache frequency. The vitamin also has been used for migraine prevention. Riboflavin is a water soluble vitamin, which means that the vitamin isn’t stored in the body and that it needs to be replenished every day.

Ginger (Zingiber officinale)
Ginger may help reduce the severity of migraine headaches because of its anti-inflammatory properties. Also, ginger may help reduce the inflammation in the stomach and liver that can lead to headaches related to digestive problems. About 500 to 600 mg of ginger is recommended at the onset of a migraine attack and then two more times during the day, with four hours between each dose. Ginger also can be chewed or used in cooking.

Feverfew
Feverfew has been shown to reduce the production of prostaglandins, an inflammatory agent that contributes to the onset of migraines. In one study, 70% of 270 migraine patients reported that a daily dose of feverfew decreased the frequency and intensity of migraines.

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Kids and Migraines: What You and Your Family Need to Know

Few things are harder for parents than seeing their kids in pain—and no one needs to tell this to the 10 percent of families that have school-age children with migraines.

Unlike in adults, migraine pain in children isn’t always as pronounced and can lead to difficulty in diagnosis. Dizziness, nausea, vomiting and/or abdominal pain are common symptoms in kids for example but not necessarily typically associated with migraines. Other tip offs can include everything from irritability and mood swings to food cravings or loss of appetite to fatigue and yawning.

While migraines can sometimes be hard to determine as the culprit in a child’s discomfort, there are some clues that can help point the finger. Specifically, a child with one parent who experiences migraines has a 40 percent chance of having migraines also. That percentage increases to 90 if both parents suffer from them. Motion sickness and certain sleep issues such as night terrors, sleep walking and sleep talking may also be indicators of a tendency to experience migraines.

The first step to getting help is finding the correct diagnosis. If migraines are suspected it’s important to see a healthcare professional for a complete patient (and family) history. This can include everything from description of the pain and how bad it is to how often it’s experienced and for how long. Other symptoms should also be discussed along with the possibility of any patterns or triggers. Medical tests may also be undertaken including an EEG, a blood test and neuroimaging among others.

Once a diagnosis of migraine is reached, successful treatment becomes the next goal. This can be achieved on several levels.

Kids & Migraines: Prevention

Obviously the most preferable, this method prevents the migraines from even starting. Discerning a child’s trigger(s) is important for this to work. Triggers in children can be similar to those found in adults such as not getting enough sleep, not eating at regular intervals, stress, environmental issues (loud noises, bright lights or strong odors), changes in the weather, eating certain foods and in the case of girls hormonal fluctuations. While a few of these cannot be controlled, many can be by careful habits.

Herbs and supplements such as magnesium, riboflavin and feverfew among others may also be helpful for kids who suffer from many migraines. (Always consult with a healthcare professional before giving supplements or herbs to a child.)

Finally, some families find they are able to ward off migraines using means such as biofeedback, hypnosis, imagery and other relaxation techniques. Exercise, acupuncture and cognitive behavioral therapy are other possibilities to explore.

Kids & Migraines: The Future

To the extent possible it’s important to try to get childhood migraines under control. Not only do they cause pain and other debilitating symptoms but even just the anxiety and fear kids experience thinking they might have a migraine can wreak havoc on their enjoyment of school and social activities.

In some cases children can look forward to growing out of their migraines but others may suffer with them for decades with 60 percent of kids who started having them in adolescence still experiencing them decades later.

By Kristen Stewart
Kristen is a freelance writer specializing in health, nutrition, parenting and lifestyle topics. To learn more, visit her website at www.kristenestewart.com.

References

  • my.clevelandclinic.org/disorders/headaches/hic_migraines_in_children_and_adolescents.aspx
  • www.migraineresearchfoundation.org/Migraine%20in%20Children.html

 


 

Holistic Resources for Migraines

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5 Ways to Avoid (or Banish) Pregnancy Migraines

Most pregnant women expect common symptoms like morning sickness and back pain. Pregnancy migraines, on the other hand, catch many by surprise. This is especially true because they can be unpredictable.

Some women who had migraines before pregnancy, for example, experience them more often when with child while others are stricken less frequently. Still other women who have never had a migraine suddenly have one for the first time during pregnancy.

Experts are not entirely sure why this is nor can they guess which camp a particular woman will fall into. Hormones are an obvious culprit but they are not the only one with experts also pointing fingers at chemicals in the brain which can affect blood vessels. Outside forces can be at work too including stress and fatigue, sensory stimulation like heat, cold, bright lights and loud noises, tobacco smoke and some foods and food ingredients.

Regardless of the cause, pregnancy migraines can be miserable with throbbing pain on one or both sides of the head. In addition, either before or during a migraine some women may experience an aura that can include light flashes, blurry vision, blind spots and/or tingling or numbness in arms or legs. Dizziness, nausea, vomiting and fatigue can also accompany the migraine.

Fortunately there are things women can do to try to help. For example:

  1. Keep a headache journal. Note when and where a pregnancy migraine strikes along with what has been eaten and any activities that were being undertaken in order to look for a trigger pattern.
  2. Avoid any known triggers. Watch out for chocolate, caffeine, nitrates and artificial sweeteners in the diet which are known to cause issues for some people along with anything else that has been personally determined. Staying away from smokers is a healthy practice anyway but especially important for women prone to pregnancy migraines.
  3. Take care of yourself. Sometimes easier said than done but try to find the time to get enough sleep and decompress as both fatigue and stress can contribute to migraines. Exercise may help lessen their numbers and severity. Drink enough water to stay fully hydrated and eat at regular intervals.
  4. If a migraine does strike, try to lay down as soon as possible in a dark quiet room with a cold compress. Sometimes taking a nap can decrease the pain or even stop it.
  5. Be sure to discuss pregnancy migraines with a healthcare provider. It is possible the headache could be caused by preeclampsia which is a serious pregnancy complication. If preeclampsia is ruled out, the doctor may be able to recommend relatively safe medications to take to ease the pain (always check before taking any medicines, herbs or supplements during pregnancy).

Written by Kristen Stewart
She is a freelance writer specializing in health, nutrition, parenting and lifestyle topics. To learn more, visit her website at www.kristenestewart.com.

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Bodywork for Migraines

When treating migraines from a holistic approach, sufferers may wish to consider bodywork and physical treatments to alleviate symptoms and frequency of attacks. Several techniques are available from practitioners and specialists to relieve migraine pain, control physiological responses and eliminate nerve inflammation.

The Chinese Medicine Practice of Acupuncture has shown much promise for the treatment of migraines. Acupuncture involves the insertion of fine needles through the skin at reflex points to stimulate nerves, muscles and connective tissue for the relief of migraine symptoms. Clinical trials have shown acupuncture to help reduce headache pain by targeting the health of blood vessels involved in migraine attacks.

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Similarly, the practice of Acupressure is also effective in treating migraines. Acupressure uses the same reflex points as acupuncture, but the areas are stimulated with gentle pressure using fingers, hands or small seeds instead of needles. Points can be held, rubbed or tapped during an acute attack to relieve migraine pain. Acupressure can self-administered or migraine sufferers can attend sessions by a certified acupresure specialist to prevent migraine frequency.

The alternative medicine technique called Biofeedback is another option for the treatment of migraines. Biofeedback aims to condition the body’s response to the onset of imbalances. Biofeedback focuses on connecting your mind to physical reactions from the body and helps train it to control bodily functions such as muscle tightening and heart rate. During a treatment session, an individual has electronic sensors that measure biological feedback, including migraine stress triggers. Learning to control your body’s response to stress can help prevent or stop a migraine attack.

Lastly, treating migraines with Chiropractic therapy can significantly help migraine sufferers. Chiropractic therapy offers spinal alignment to help keep the body balanced and functioning optimally. When used for migraine treatment, chiropractors align the vertebrae in an attempt to alleviate nerve irritation. Chiropractors believe that nerve irritation along the spine can create chemical imbalances in the brain, which are perhaps the number one cause of migraines. When specific attention is given to posture and restoring spinal alignment, the nerves function freely and without interruption.

Visiting a chiropractor migraine headaches can include a single or multiple visits to correct spinal misalignment. Most sessions provide immediate relief from symptoms associated with migraines but proper posture, consistent stretching, and good spine health are required for more permanent relief.

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Will Riboflavin help with Migraines?

Riboflavin, or vitamin B2, is a water-soluble vitamin, which means it is not stored in the body. Therefore, it needs to be replenished in the body every day. Riboflavin is important for body growth and red blood cell production. It is also required for energy metabolism, such as the metabolism of carbohydrates.

Studies show a deficit of mitochondrial energy metabolism may play a role in migraine pathogenesis. Because riboflavin is the precursor of the two flavocoenzymes (FAD and FMN) required by mitochondria, supplemental riboflavin has been investigated as a treatment and/or prevention for migraine.

For example, a randomized trial of 3 months duration compared riboflavin (400 mg) and placebo in 55 patients with migraine. Riboflavin was superior to placebo in reducing attack frequency and headache days. Regarding the latter, the proportion of patients who improved by at least 50%, i.e. “responders,” was 15% for placebo and 59% for riboflavin. Because of its high efficacy, excellent tolerability, and low cost, riboflavin is a promising option for migraine prophylaxis.

Another study investigated patients who received 400 mg riboflavin capsules per day. Headache frequency was significantly reduced from 4 days/month at baseline to 2 days/month after 3 and 6 months. Additionally, the number of abortive anti-migraine tablets (ie. Triptans, ergotamines) was reduced following riboflavin treatment. These results confirmed the findings of previous studies in which riboflavin was demonstrated to be a safe and well-tolerated alternative in migraine prevention and treatment.

By Sandy Cho, MD

  • Boehnke C, Reuter U, Flach U, Schuh-Hofer S, Einhäupl KM, Arnold G. High-dose riboflavin treatment is efficacious in migraine prophylaxis: an open study in a tertiary care centre. Eur J Neurol. 2004 Jul;11(7):475-7.
  • Schoenen J, Jacquy J, Lenaerts M. Effectiveness of high-dose riboflavin in migraine prophylaxis. A randomized controlled trial. Neurology. 1998 Feb;50(2):466-70.

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Food Dye As A Migraine Trigger

Over 28 million Americans suffer from migraine headaches. Migraines are a severe, chronic neurological condition involving painful headache and other symptoms such as nausea, vomiting and light sensitivity.

The cause of migraines aren’t fully understood but many migraine sufferers identify specific triggers such as allergic reactions, specific odors or bright lights, stress, sleep pattern changes, smoking, menstrual cycle fluctuations and certain foods and food additives.

Various studies indicate that anywhere from 20% to 44% of migraines are triggered by specific foods or beverages. Common culprits are MSG (monosodium glutamate) sodium nitrite, aspartame and food dyes such as Yellow and Red food colorings.

What Is Food Dye?

Each year the U.S. produces 15 million pounds of artificial food dyes which land directly into our food to enhance its appearance. Dyes add zero nutritional value but are a cheaper way to obtain that bright, stable color in food making it more aesthetically pleasing. Processed food in particular requires the use of additives and food dyes. Generally speaking, the more highly processed the food, the more food dyes are needed.

The FDA has approved seven food dyes for use in the U.S. These include: Yellow #5 (Tartrazine or E102), Yellow #6 (E110 or Sunset Yellow), Blue #1 (E133), Blue #2 (Indigotine or E132), Green #3 (Fast Green or E143), Red #40 (Allura Red AC or E129) and Red # 3 (Erythrosine, E 127).

Where Does Food Dye Lurk?

Food dyes can be found in candies, ice cream, potato chips and some sodas. Yet avoiding junk food does not fully avoid the issue. Dyes can also be found in pickles, American cheese, boxed macaroni and cheese, crackers, jams, lemonade, sports drinks, cereal, cereal bars, and condiments along with self-care products like shampoos, medications, mouthwashes and toothpastes.

Why Be Concerned?

Artificial food dyes are derived from petroleum, the same ingredient used to make motor oil. Many consumers are concerned about health risks from exposure to food dyes, particularly in foods and beverages marketed to children. Food dye allergies and sensitivities are medically documented. This prompted the Code of Federal Regulations to issue a statement in 2013 that dyes such as Yellow #5 must include a warning statement of possible allergic reactions.

Several food dyes still used and defended as safe in the U.S. have been banned in Austria, Norway, Sweden and France and contain label warnings in many European countries.

Food Dyes And Migraines

Migraine sufferers want to know how to prevent their pain so they are often very proactive in identifying their migraine triggers. Unfortunately, there are no hard-and-fast, universal triggers for migraines. Each migraine trigger will be unique and the journey toward understanding migraine triggers very personalized.

Several foods and food additives are associated with migraine triggers, though research is still inconclusive to date. Yellow and Red food dye have been fingered as possible culprits.

Identifying Migraine Triggers

The best advice is to research all possible triggers and then determine if some, or any, are triggering your migraines.

  • Keep a Migraine Journal. This should include a detailed description of your migraine attack including what you were doing and eating up to 14 hours prior.
  • Conduct a Controlled Elimination Diet. Eat the food in question in isolation, wait to see if there is a reaction, and repeat. Journal all of your experiences.

Tips For Eliminating Food Dye

If you suspect food dyes are triggering your migraines, eliminating them is simple once you are educated on label reading. Even if your migraines don’t appear to be triggered by food dye, one fact remains – food dyes add no health value to your diet and are typically found in processed food that has limited to no nutritional value.

Try these tips for eliminating or reducing food dye consumption in your home:

  • Wean off of processed food. The rule of thumb is to “shop the perimeter” of the grocery store.
  • Become more food label conscious. Educate yourself on the ingredients to avoid.
  • Fresh fruits are always better than canned or jarred.
  • When baking, opt for natural food colorings to add some pizazz to cakes and icings. For example, substitute chloropyll to make green, beet powder to make red or pink, cocoa powder for brown and tumeric powder for yellow.
  • Choose foods with natural rather than artificial colors. Any ingredient with a number in it should be absolutely avoided. Look for natural food colorings ingredients such as annatto extract, beta-carotene, beet powder, paprika, saffron, turmeric and vegetable juice.
  • For treats and holidays, try dye-free candies like those sold by NaturalCandyStore.com, YummyEarth.com or Unreal Candy.
  • Don’t try to save money by purchasing lower quality foods. Always invest in good health.

by: Alicia DiFabio, Psy.D.

Alicia DiFabio, Psy.D. is a freelance writer with a doctorate in psychology. Her personal essays and parenting articles have appeared in various newspapers and magazines. She lives in New Jersey with her husband and four girls, one of whom has extensive special needs. She can be found writing about her adventures in parenting at her blog, Lost In Holland.

 

REFERENCES

  • Migraine.com
  • Harvard Health Blog: Food and migraine: a personal connection by Christine Junge, 2011.
  • AmericanMigraineFoundation.org
  • MigraineResearchFoundation.org

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Feverfew for Migraines

Feverfew is a medicinal herb commonly used in self-treatment for conditions such as migraine. The feverfew herb has a long history of use in traditional and folk medicine, especially among Greek and early European herbalists. The primary active ingredients in feverfew are the sesquiterpene lactones; other plants containing this chemical compound include artichoke, sunflower, lettuce, spinach, and ginkgo biloba. Sesquiterpene lactones consist of several different varieties. The one of central importance in feverfew is parthenolide (Tanacetum parthenium) which occurs naturally in this plant. In fact, many feverfew-containing products specify the content of parthenolide as it is central to its pharmacologic mechanisms and biological effects.

Feverfew’s mode of action does not appear to be limited to a single mechanism. Plant extracts can affect a wide variety of physiologic pathways; some of these mechanisms include inhibition of prostaglandin synthesis, decrease of vascular smooth muscle spasm, and blockage of platelet secretion.

A proposed mechanism of action involves parthenolide specifically binding to and inhibiting IκB kinase complex (IKK)β. IKKβ plays an important role in pro-inflammatory cytokine-mediated signaling.

Further, feverfew appears to be an inhibitor of prostaglandin synthesis, creating an anti-inflammatory effect. Specifically, tanetin, a lipophilic flavonoid found in the leaf, flower, and seed of feverfew, blocks prostaglandin synthesis. Aqueous extracts do not contribute to feverfew’s anti-inflammatory activity, but do prevent the release of arachidonic acid and inhibit in vitro aggregation of platelets.

Feverfew supplements are available fresh, freeze-dried, or dried and can be purchased in capsule, tablet, or liquid extract forms. Feverfew supplements with clinical studies contain a standardized dose of parthenolide. Feverfew supplements should be standardized to contain at least 0.2% parthenolide.

Feverfew may alter the effects of some prescription and non-prescription medications. If you are currently being treated with any of the following medications, you should consult first with your healthcare provider.

  • Blood-thinning medications– Feverfew may inhibit the activity of platelets (a substance that plays a role in blood clotting), so individuals taking blood-thinning medications (such as aspirin and warfarin) should consult a healthcare provider before taking this herb.

Adverse reactions of using feverfew include oral ulcers, hypersensitivity, and post-feverfew syndrome. Contraindications for feverfew are pregnancy, breastfeeding, and allergies to chamomile or tansy.

By: Dr. Sandy Cho. MD

REFERENCES

  • Dall’Acqua S, Viola G, Giorgetti M, Loi MC, Innocenti G. Two new sesquiterpene lactones from the leaves of Laurus nobilis. Chemical & pharmaceutical bulletin 2006;54 (8): 1187–1189.
  • Pareek A, Suthar M, Rathore GS, Bansal V. Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium L.): A systematic review. Pharmacogn Rev 2011; 5(9):103-110.
  • Saranitzky E, White CM, Baker EL, Baker WL, Coleman Cl. Feverfew for migraine prophylaxis: a systematic review. J Diet Suppl 2009;6(2):91-103.

Photo Credit: flickr.com/photos/phoebe_photo/2632129836

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3 Tips to Fighting Migraines during Pregnancy

Pregnancy can bring on a lot of changes from fluctuating hormones and other manipulations in the body. What this means for the average woman is a period of time that can be uncomfortable and down-right nauseating. However, for some women prone to migraines, these changes can actually lead to prolonged pain that is aggravated by hormonal changes. Here are 3 tips to help battle pregnancy hormonal migraines.

  • Staying hydrated – One of the most essential elements for proper body function is hydration. Whether pregnant or not, proper hydration is vital in the treatment of migraines. For pregnant women, added blood volume can contribute to headaches along with the addition of pregnancy hormones. Proper hydration helps to keep the body functioning at its peak level.
  • Eating a balanced diet – It is important to keep blood sugar levels constant for both pregnancy and migraine prevention. Especially in the first trimester when a woman may feel unable to eat or nauseated by many foods, blood sugar levels must be kept in check to help prevent migraines. Just eating some lean protein such as grilled chicken or turkey with a piece of fruit can greatly reduce the risk of hormonal migraines.
  • Hydrotherapy – Basic at-home hydrotherapy techniques can greatly reduce the pain associated with hormonal migraines. Using a combination of cold compress on the forehead or the back or the neck while soaking the feet in a warm tub of water can encourage good blood flow and circulation. Having the blood flow properly away from the blood vessels that are commonly associated with migraines decreases the pressure that is symptomatic to the hormonal headaches.

While these tips may seem simple, they are in fact fundamental in preventing and treating migraines that are brought on by pregnancy hormone. Simple techniques can greatly reduce the severity and onset of hormonal migraines.

Reference

  • migrainetrust.org/factsheet-pregnancy-breastfeeding-and-migraine-10901
  • Photo Credit: flickr.com/photos/millervintage/4864917547

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Identification of Food Sensitivities for Migraine Sufferers

A nutritional assessment is an integral part of the evaluation for migraine sufferers. Often, identification of food sensitivities and elimination of one or more offending foods from the diet can reduce both the frequency and intensity of the headaches. It is an effective treatment, in which the use of prescription medications can be minimized or even stopped. This is especially important in treating pregnant women, for whom pharmacologic interventions are generally contraindicated.

Keeping a food diary in order to identify potential “trigger foods” is the first step. How do you know if you have identified a potential trigger food? Common symptoms of food sensitivity can include fatigue, muscle and/or joint aches, headaches, excessive flatulence, bloating, heartburn, confusion and irritability. Often these symptoms occur several hours after the consumption of the offending food substance. Food sensitivities trigger an inflammatory reaction, unlike a food allergy which triggers an “allergic reaction.” Common “allergic” symptoms include tongue swelling, watery eyes, wheezing and shortness of breath – which can develop into a medical emergency.

Common causes of food sensitivities include foods that contain lactose, gluten and/or wheat. That being said, be aware that ANY food has the potential to be a food sensitivity, even fruits and vegetables. That is why keeping a food diary is so important. If you find that during a particular meal, you experience the symptoms of a food sensitivity, eliminate what you think may be the trigger foods from your diet. Your diet, at this point, should consist only of foods not commonly implicated in migraines including:

  • Brown rice
  • Plain or carbonated water
  • Cooked green, yellow, and orange vegetables (artichokes, asparagus, broccoli, chard, collards, lettuce, spinach, string beans, squash, sweet potatoes, tapioca, and taro)
  • Cooked or dried fruits (cherries, cranberries, pears, or prunes but no citrus fruits)

When you notice migraines have decreased or subsided (usually within a week or so), having noted the potential trigger foods in your diary, slowly add them back one at a time every few days to observe which foods trigger your migraines to come back.

Foods that are the most common triggers of migraines should be added last. If the food is associated with a migraine, it should be removed from the diet for 1 to 2 weeks and then reintroduced to observe if a similar reaction occurs. If no symptoms arise, that food can remain in the diet.

By: Dr. Sandy Cho, MD

REFERENCES

  • Egger J, Carter CM, Wilson J, Turner MW, Soothill JF. Is migraine food allergy? A double-blind controlled trial of oligoantigenic diet treatment. Lancet 1983;2:865-869.
  • Karli N, Akgoz S et al. Clinical characteristics of tension-type headache and migraine in adolescents: a student-based study. Headache 2006;46(3):399-412.

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How to Use Your Local Farmers Market to Treat Fibromyalgia, Osteoarthritis, and Migraines

It is no secret that diet plays a large role in treating many different types of conditions. But in the spring and summer months there is plethora of medicinal treatment options set up at little tables in communities all across the county – Farmers Markets. Farmers markets are the off-shoot of nature’s bounty providing a virtual organic pharmacy disguised by sweet, fresh, and delicious produce. Here are some farmer’s market gems for treatment of Fibromyalgia, Osteoarthritis, and Migraines.

Fibromyalgia

  • Cherries and Raspberries – Having strong anti-inflammatory values, most red fruits can have a stronger pain and inflammation reduction value that is ten times the average aspirin treatment. Recent studies have also shown that tart cherries can also help with sleep problems that are often associated with Fibromyalgia.
  • Cantaloupe, Watermelon, Broccoli, Collard Greens, and Kale – The local farmer’s market favorites are proven alkaline forming foods. Adding these to a Fibromyalgia diet can also reduce inflammation and help to combat the symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome which is commonly diagnosed as a co-morbidity with Fibromyalgia.

Osteoarthritis

  • Strawberries, Bell Peppers, and Cauliflower – High in vitamin C and absolute staples to get from any farmers market, produce power houses provide a healthy dose of vitamin C which is vital in the formation of both collagen and proteoglycans.
  • Spinach, Pumpkin, Tomatoes, and Carrots – These market gems are high in beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is strong antioxidant that helps reduce the progression of Osteoarthritis.

Migraines

  • Spinach – Especially when eaten raw, spinach contains high levels of vitamin B-12 which is often prescribed as a supplement to help combat migraine pain.
  • Green Beans, Kale, and other leafy greens – These green veggies are high in magnesium, a powerful element that can help reduce tension in muscles as well as help the reaction of nerve and muscles cells.

Whether it’s just to help local economy or a conscious effort to bring more fruits and vegetables into your diet, visiting your local farmer’s market can provide relief for many conditions including Fibromyalgia, Osteoarthritis, and Migraines. Just by its nature of getting a person outside and moving, a farmer’s market can provide exercise, fresh air, and the added bonus of a growing ‘pharmacy’ to treat chronic pain conditions.

Photo Credit: flickr.com/photos/29233640@N07/9223899743

Natural Treatments for Osteoarthritis, Migraines, and Fibromyalgia

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The Real Culprit Behind Childhood Migraines – Food Allergies and Sensitivities

Does your child suffer from migraines on a regular basis? It can be frustrating to take your sick child to the doctor to come home with a prescription in hand, and yet no answers as to the cause of these many times debilitating headaches. There are many different reasons a person can get migraines– but the one that is most often overlooked is food allergies.

Food allergies or sensitivities can be the cause of many ailments, including fatigue, IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) and muscular pain, like that associated with fibromyalgia. Your doctor can do testing to rule out food allergy, but the best way to pinpoint migraine triggers is to monitor food intake and symptoms at home.

The first thing you can do is start a simple food log. Write down what your child eats each day and any migraine symptoms that occur. You can usually pinpoint triggers very quickly this way.

The second item, and what I recommend to my clients, is to do an Elimination Diet. In an Elimination Diet you simplify the child’s diet to cut out the major allergens: Wheat & gluten (a protein contained in wheat, rye & barley), corn, dairy, eggs, peanuts, soy, sugar and artificial colors & preservatives. (Artificial sweeteners are also known to cause migraines; however, I do not recommend anyone ingest these – especially growing children.)

Once you have pinpointed the cause of the migraines you can let your doctor know. He or she might decide to follow up with some testing, but allergy testing might turn out negative. That’s ok. Once you know that something has a negative effect on your child, it’s up to you to continue to keep them away from the offending item and to educate your child about it too.

Elimination Diet

Take the following foods out of the child’s diet for 3-4 weeks:

  • Wheat
  • Gluten
  • Corn
  • Dairy
  • Eggs
  • Peanuts
  • Soy
  • Sugar
  • Artificial colors & preservatives

Introduce one food at a time, every 4-5 days

Monitor for symptoms

Consult with your doctor on any findings that occur. (If, for instance, you find that dairy or gluten triggers any sort of symptom from your child, you will want your physician to know this, as there are many medications that contain these items.)

One other side note I would like to say about children is this: They are open and far more in tune with their body than you might realize. If a child says that a particular food bothers their stomach, or just makes them feel “icky”, then listen to them. When it comes to food allergies or sensitivities, take a look at foods that your child might crave. Especially in the forms of gluten (most especially in highly-processed foods), dairy and sugar, which, when eaten consistently, raise blood sugar levels very high, the body then craves them more when blood sugar levels drop.

Looking at your child’s migraine headaches in a more holistic way and understanding how the body systems work together can help you ease their pain, and hopefully, teach them how to prevent future occurrences from happening.

Gina Wieboldt is Certified Holistic Health Coach accredited from Institute of Integrative Nutrition. She’s also a mom and blogger. Read more about her at http://goodlifehealthcoaching.com