Migraine & Headache | Kaleidoscope Wellbeing
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Migraine & Headache

What is migraine?

Migraine is a complex disorder of the nervous system. It is still not completely understood, but it is thought to involve changes in brain activity, initial blood vessel constriction and later reversal of this, release of neurotransmitters and inflammatory compounds, activation of pain receptors and low serotonin levels. Migraine sufferers appear to have hyperreactive nervous systems.1,2

Prevalence of migraine and headache

47% of adults worldwide have some form of headache disorder. More specifically 10% of adults have migraines while 38% have tension headaches. In terms of migraine, women are significantly more affected than men.3

What causes migraine and tension headache?

70% of migraine sufferers have a family history of migraine. Triggers for migraine can include certain components in foods (including MSG, tyramine, nitrites and nitrates), alcohol, caffeine, food allergies and intolerances, hunger, dehydration, lack of or too much sleep, weather, barometric pressure changes, hormonal changes, drugs and stress.2,3

Tension headaches may be caused by stress, anxiety, depression, muscular tension or oromandibular dysfunction.3

How can we find out the cause of migraine or headache?

The most effective way to determine the cause is to keep a headache diary, detailing all food and drinks consumed, medications, exercise, sleep, stress levels, menstrual cycle if female and headache/migraine and other physical symptoms experienced. To identify patterns and linkages between diet, lifestyle and symptoms, the diary should be kept daily for at least three months. Migraine often has several triggers, and they can be additive and therefore more difficult to identify. For example, a person’s triggers might be chocolate and red wine. If they have chocolate on its own, or red wine on its own, they don’t get a migraine. However, when they have chocolate and red wine together, they will get a migraine.

What can we do to treat migraine and headache?

After analysing the diet and lifestyle diary to identify your triggers and testing for food allergies and intolerances if necessary (you may have other symptoms indicate this as well), we can remove your triggers and treat your intolerances. There are several nutrients which have been shown to reduce frequency and/or severity of migraine in some people, as well as lifestyle changes which can help. Of course, there are also medications which can be prescribed by your GP or neurologist, and some migraine sufferers do need these.

If you would like to explore natural treatment, I’d love to help. Using diet, lifestyle and nutrients, I’ll develop a tailored treatment plan for you with clear, achievable goals and simple, manageable steps to improve your health.

References

  1. Charles, A. (2018). The pathophysiology of migraine: implications for clinical management. The Lancet Neurology, 17(2), 174–182. doi:10.1016/s1474-4422(17)30435-0
  2. Bryant, B. & Knights, K. (2015). Pharmacology for health professionals (4th ed.). Chatswood, Australia: Elsevier Australia.
  3. Hechtman, L. (2019). Clinical naturopathic medicine (2nd ed.). Chatswood, Australia: Elsevier Australia.