Are Headaches a Problem?
Have you been diagnosed with tension headaches?
What about migraine headaches?
Do your headaches throb?
Are your headaches dull and constant?
Are you taking OTC medications on a regular basis?
Do you have to take prescriptions to relieve and manage your headaches?
Is your life limited by headaches?
Have you been depressed?
Is your sleep not as good as it once was?
Did you know diet plays a big part in headaches?
Tension and Migraine headaches can range from the annoying to the debilitating.
Headaches affect millions of Americans and cause a lot of suffering, inconvenience and expense.
Many people experience headaches with great regularity and must endure countless hours of pain and suffering.
There are many types of headaches but they can be divided into two groups, Vascular and Non-vascular.
Vascular headaches include Migraine, Cluster headaches and a list of miscellaneous types [Hypertension, exertional, hangover, toxins and drugs to a name a few].
Non-Vascular headaches include Tension headaches, TMJ dysfunction, sinus or dental infections and ear infections to the more serious brain tumor or changes in intracranial pressure.
Tension headaches are fairly easy to diagnose due to their presentation. Usually starting in the back of the head or the forehead and they often have trigger points in muscles of the neck and upper back. Tension headaches can be severe and can have symptoms similar to migraines, including nausea and vomiting.
Migraine headaches have many variations from the classic, common, complicated and variant types. Some migraines are mild while others are debilitating. There are many presentations, variable duration and severity as well as sometimes unpredictable response to therapies.
There are a number of good theories about what causes migraines. Vascular instability and Serotonin deficiency are the two I’ll cover here.
Here is a quick overview of two different theories with some answers.
~ Vascular instability
An artery has the ability to constrict and relax as needed to maintain proper pressure for the delivery of the blood’s oxygen and nutrients. Blood vessels, especially arteries have a relatively high metabolic need – that is, if certain nutrients are short there can be problems.
If the B vitamins are out of whack there will be problems, especially B2, B6 and B12.
B2 or Riboflavin – A 68% improvement of migraine symptoms in a study using very high dose riboflavin [400mg per day] for 3 months- no side effects – blood vessel energy production falters without B2. [An activated version works better]. Chapped lips can be a symptom of a B2 shortage.
EFA’s [Essential Fatty Acids] are instrumental in proper blood vessel stability and function.
Vitamin E and Vitamin C work together to keep cell membranes and blood vessels safe from undue damage and destruction.
Low serotonin levels have been associated with migraine headaches for 50 years.
This theory is supported by over 40 years of success seen in several double blind studies using a supplement 5-HTP [5-hydroxytryptophan] the precursor to serotonin.
Low serotonin levels have also been associated with decreased pain tolerance.
This link between low serotonin levels and headaches is the basis of many prescription drugs for the management of migraines.
Imitrex or its generic twin sumatriptan is very effective in giving relief and quite popular – it is a serotonin booster of sorts or an agonist.
There are many triggers for migraine.
Low serotonin levels [diet, stress and genetics]
Foods [allergies, histamine releasing foods, histamine containing foods]
Alcohol [esp red wine]
Chemicals [MSG, nitrates or nitroglycerin]
Caffeine withdrawal or other drugs
Stress and Emotional changes – strong emotions like anger
Hormonal problems [menstruation, ovulation and birth-control pills]
Too little or too much sleep
Weather changes [barometric pressure changes]
Most of these “Triggers” are avoidable or at least manageable.
With proper nutrition, lifestyle, exercise and rest many of these triggers can be minimized.
Proper nutrition can prevent many health problems including headaches.
Various nutrient deficiencies have been linked to headaches.
It is important to seek medical attention is your headache feels different than a tension ha or migraine or your ha is severe and unrelenting.
Magnesium is very important to avoid headaches. Vegetables are a good source of magnesium [center of chlorophyll – the green pigment]. Sometimes a magnesium supplement is warranted.
Calcium is also very important. Calcium and magnesium work together with potassium and sodium.
Serotonin is very important for migraine sufferers. It is a neurotransmitter that is made from tryptophan, an amino acid. A shortage of serotonin can cause migraines as well as depression.
5-HTP is an excellent supplement to boost serotonin levels.
The B vitamins are crucial to our bodies and can help prevent headaches, especially B2, B6 and B12. There are activated versions of these three B vitamins – the activated versions work in less than 2 weeks where standard versions may take 3-4 months to give results.
It is best to take a B complex [includes all the B’s] in addition to any individual B vitamins you take to avoid imbalances in the B family.
The EFA’s need to be in your diet- Flax oil and fish oil are sources.
Quick supplement list:
5-HTP – many people take 100mg three times a day with good results.
B6 – 25mg twice a day [look for pyridoxal-5-phosphate the “activated” version of B6.]
B2 – 25mg twice a day [ an activated version is available for faster action riboflavin-5-phosphate].
B Complex or B100 two pills twice a day
Consider taking extra Magnesium ; aspartate, malate, succinate, fumarate and citrate versions are best. Avoid Magnesium oxide, chloride and carbonate versions.
As I frequently tell people – It is advisable to pursue full spectrum nutrition – not only for joint pain but for general health purposes.
Our health [or lack of health] is proportional to our nutrition – good or bad.
As I always Remind you…
To achieve full spectrum nutrition we all need to supplement our diets.
Supplements to consider:
1) Get a good multiple vitamin/mineral product. Versions with “Chelated” minerals are best. I also like those with some plant based vitamins.
2) Take a quality Calcium product. Look for MCHA as the calcium source and one that includes Magnesium, vitamin D and some assorted trace minerals.
3) Take Omega 3 oils. Flax oil is the best to start. Adding Krill or fish oil later [BTW – Krill oil in the container has a distinctive odor – if you place 3-4 desiccant packs in the bottle and refrigerate it, the odor is gone in 12 hours]
4) Find a good Colloidal mineral product for trace minerals. Make sure it’s from Humic shale and NOT ionic minerals. Humic shale is the “fossilized” remains of the dinosaur days. Plant based colloidal minerals are 98% absorbed.
As always, feel free to comment or message questions or concerns.