Migraines can be quite debilitating. This forsaken condition can force the sufferer to remain in bed for days. Many individuals experience migraines several times a year and they have come to live with their situation. However, with few exceptions, you do not have to live your life awaiting that next occurrence to knock you off your feet. There are options, although they may be obscure to the general public. Here we will discuss just a few reasons why migraines happen. We will focus on estrogen, serotonin, & insulin which are the tip of the iceberg for sure. Then we will look at a brief clinical case that we recently treated successfully.
Sex hormone levels seem to play a vital role in the migraine presentation for many people. As a female still in reproductive years, you may have noticed that you only experience your migraines right around menstruation. There is a good reason for this. Once your reproductive system realizes that a baby is not coming from this most recent egg, both estrogen and progesterone levels drop which signals your uterine lining to shed. Serotonin, being a potent vasoconstrictor, is somewhat regulated by estrogen levels. Meaning that when estrogen levels decrease, so too will your serotonin levels. Then your blood vessels dilate more than usual, resulting in that extreme throbbing pain which disables you for the time being. Now, there are many other factors at play, especially blood vessel inflammation, since not all women will experience a migraine with the same drop in their hormones. This is why, as functional medicine practitioners, we want to see other blood markers or advanced laboratory testing that can help elucidate the true root cause of your migraines.
That being said, we must first make sure that we are not overlooking something as simple as magnesium deficiency. Magnesium deficiency is rampant today because of poor dietary choices, chronic stress, and depleted soil levels. Magnesium is vitally important for balancing out calcium, maintaining proper pH, & relaxing smooth muscles around the arterioles. There may also be an underlying food sensitivity, say to chocolate. Many women do not realize that they require more calories during this part of their cycle which will often result in carbohydrate cravings. Then the subsequent insulin release can cause damage due to proinflammatory cytokines while simultaneously depleting your nitric oxide which results in vasoconstriction. Then your nervous system responds by inducing vasodilation for brain blood flow and you experience pulsating fluctuations of your blood vessels as that throbbing pain.
Clinical Case – Casey, 48-year-old female
Patient initially came into see us for neck pain. As we started evaluating her situation, she mentioned that she will get these headaches from time to time which she associated with disrupted sleep due to her husband’s loud snoring. The headaches are very intense, but she can still make it to work after taking some Advil & coffee. They are always over her right eye with squiggly lines in the upper right corner of her vision. When she is driving to work during a migraine episode, the headlights from other cars will aggravate her pain and sometimes she must pull to the side of the road. Other symptoms that correlated with her migraines included:
Besides running a basic blood panel, we decided to run the DUTCH Cycle Map & the Organic Acids Test
What we noticed from the testing was that Casey had elevated levels of insulin, homocysteine, & ferritin. The advanced testing revealed low melatonin, erratic cortisol rhythm, low estradiol, low B vitamin status, & elevated 5-HIAA (low serotonin).
Treatment consisted of:
· Cod Liver Oil
· Liposomal B Vitamins
· Weekly Chiropractic Adjustments
· Decreased refined carbohydrates & added sugars
· Focus on healthy fats like EVOO, Coconut Oil, Ghee, & Pasture-raised Pork Lard
· Incorporated a daily movement practice & better sleep hygiene
· Referred for Lymphatic Drainage Massage biweekly
Casey has been migraine-free for the past 6 months with only 1 migraine total since starting our treatment plan, even though her husband still saws logs throughout the night. Several factors needed to be addressed in this scenario which has provided the patient with true pain relief. Her healing journey still continues to this day, but now she has a better understanding of optimal wellness.
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If you would like assistance on your health journey and are fed up with the conventional medical model, then contact our office at (727) 789-4020 and Janine will get you all set up for your initial consultation. I look forward to meeting you and helping you to be your best self. We dedicate as much time as needed to get you back on track.