Wednesday, April 6, 2016


Migraines are a form of debilitating headaches that often begins as an aura. An aura is an early warning that something bad is going on- and the aura is different for different people. So some people have an aura where they'll smell something weird. They'll be in their car, in their home and start smelling cigarette smoke, and they don't smoke and nobody around them smokes. Or they may see some flashing lights or they may get a strange numbness feeling someplace. But there's some sort of neurological symptom that occurs prior to the onset of the migraine, and that's an early warning. And if they get that and they know from past experience that a migraine's about to hit them, they should do some things to try to prevent that migraine if they can.

When I used to work in the emergency room, one of the best treatments for people with vice-like migraines (the kind where a person was light-sensitive and sound-sensitive and they couldn't move because every little movement would cause excruciating pain) was to put them in a dark room and you put them on pure oxygen. You give them five or seven liters a minute of oxygen and you'd just flood their system with oxygen. Because the oxygen level of the blood becomes so high, it actually causes a bit of a reactive constriction-- because they're not exercising, their body isn't really using all that oxygen, so the blood vessels will constrict a little bit. And in doing so, it will help break the vascular cycle that they get into that triggers the migraine to begin with.

There are drugs, of course, that could be helpful. There's over-the-counter things that are helpful too such as caffeine. Caffeine is often helpful in the very early stages of a migraine for the same reason, in that it breaks the vascular cycle that's going on, that is part of what's causing the migraine. But there are supplements that can be helpful too, such as magnesium. Magnesium can be very helpful for people with migraines, both as a preventive and a treatment. Now, one of the most common triggers for a migraine (and there are many) are structural, such as an old injury to the neck and putting pressure on nerves can actually trigger a cluster headache or a migraine.

Another solution is an herb called Feverfew which can both be used for a preventative and a treatment for migraine headaches. It works much better as a preventative because if you're already photophobic and throwing up in a corner, it's a little late to be swallowing pills of Feverfew, you might be looking for some pharmacology instead. 

Sometimes over-the-counter things like evening primrose oil could be helpful. And there's various herbs, black cohosh for example, that could be helpful in some of these hormonally-triggered headaches. 

A sudden change in blood sugar can often trigger a migraine. I've treated over the years who were chronic migraine sufferers and the simple cure, if you will, to their years and years of suffering from migraines was to throw out the doughnut and coffee for breakfast and eat a vegetable omelet instead, because protein stabilizes blood sugar levels. If you switch to a diet that starts the day with protein and have more animal protein in the course of the day, it's going to give you a much more stable blood sugar level and be much less likely to trigger a migraine event. And then, of course, I would tell them that you don't want to tempt fate, you want to keep the sugars as low as you can in your diet, get rid of as much as the processed sugar as possible, and try to keep the blood sugar as stable as you can.

Hormonal changes can trigger migraines too. There are many women who will get a migraine during PMS time, for example, because of the change in hormones, and there's ways to address that. But the bottom line is that migraines can be a very debilitating sort of symptom and there are people who may spend several days of the month literally debilitated in bed because of a severe migraine. But there's a lot of things that could be done to look into the triggers for their particular migraine and therefore do things to help prevent it. It's not just about pharmacology, it's about looking into patterns of keeping a diary, when do you get your migraine?

  If you're a woman, is it in relationship to your cycle? Is it mid-cycle? Is it during PMS time? Is it the end of the period? What's going on? And then look at the hormonal levels at that time and see what's out of whack and do things to correct it. Because, for example, there's over-the-counter progesterone creams you could buy at any health food store that can often be helpful for a migraine headache if this was triggered by a hormonal imbalance. Switching to a high-protein diet is very, very excellent and getting into a regular pattern of exercise that increases the oxygen levels in your blood on a regular basis is also very good and can also help you to minimize migraines. And taking a supplement like CoQ10 which increases the oxygen retention in the blood can also be very good in helping to minimize migraine headaches.
Migraines don't have to be a debilitating part of one's life if one starts to go after them in a systematic sort of way. What triggers it?  What is the pattern? what time of day did they tend to occur? Over a period of time, you look for these kinds of patterns and then look for a common denominator so that you can find ways to break that cycle. But in most cases, people can have a tremendous amount of relief, if not complete a "cure" from their migraine headaches by taking a systematic approach to it in the ways I've just said.

DR. JESSE A. STOFF is an internationally renowned physician with extensive credentials in clinical immunology and holistic medicine. A graduate of New York Medical College, he pursued extensive post-doctoral training including a fellow- ship at the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital in LondonEngland. He has authored/co-authored countless articles and 8 books including co-authoring the bestseller "Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: The Hidden Epidemic" and The Prostate Miracle.

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