Migraine headaches – a nutritional perspective

Migraines are recurrent attacks of throbbing, pulsating headache that may last between a few hours and 3 days. They may be preceded by visual disturbances (aura), and may be accompanied by nausea, gastrointestinal upset, photo- and phono-phobia or double vision. These headaches are very debilitating in nature and often followed by a significant fatigue.

If you suffer from severe chronic headaches, it is important that you consult your GP in the first instance to allow for a diagnosis and exclusion of other potentially underlying conditions.

Unfortunately the public healthcare doesn’t offer many solutions in terms of treatment, other than pharmacological symptom relief. We know that medications often come with various side effects. Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) like Ibuprofen (Advil) are damaging to the gut lining, they can modify our gut flora and cause serious gastric damage (1); Paracetamol (Tylenol) use has been linked with an increased risk of some types of blood cancer (2) just to name a few. You may also be prescribed Triptans (affecting serotonin levels in the brain), anti-sickness medicines or a combination of all of these, therefore please bear in mind that side effects may also combine.

NHS also recommend a course of up to 10 sessions of acupuncture over a 5- to 8-week period (3) so if you suffer from migraines this may be an option for you to explore.

So how does the Nutritional Therapy fit into this?

Well, if you look at the list of possible triggers of migraines, you will find the answer. They include hormonal, emotional, physical, environmental and medicinal factors (4). Using nutrition and lifestyle changes, we may affect some of these triggers and hence support the management of the condition without the disturbing side effects.

Functional medicine model in which the Nutritional Therapy operates, will always direct us to go further than just the relief of symptoms. If we look at the migraine not as a condition in itself, but as a manifestation of a deeply rooted imbalance, we can approach it from a different perspective and explore more options than just a pharmacological alleviation of pain.

When you decide to consult me to address migraines, first I will ask you to complete a detailed health questionnaire and return to me prior to the consultation. This will help me to moderate our conversation when we meet face-to-face. I will ask you a lot of questions around yours and your family health history, the functioning of your internal systems, the presentation of your symptoms, your lifestyle, diet.

All of this will give me a comprehensive view of what type of dynamics we are dealing with, and what course of action we should pursue. The following are the possible areas we may decide to work on:

  • hormonal imbalance (e.g. oestrogen dominance),
  • blood sugar dysregulation,
  • food allergies and intolerances,
  • inflammation,
  • gut dysbiosis,
  • impaired liver function and toxic overload,
  • neurotransmitters imbalances,
  • nutritional deficiencies,
  • dehydration,
  • impairment in cellular energy production in brain,
  • and more…

But please don’t get overwhelmed by the myriad of possible contributing factors, but think about them as a myriad of possible SOLUTIONS! All these areas can be addressed with nutrition and lifestyle changes!

With every client I use my signature approach:

CLEANSE (remove obstacles to getting better) – FEED (ensure adequate nutrition) – THRIVE (maintenance of wellbeing).

I want you to achieve your health goals, so it is crucial that we will work together to create a plan that is tailored to your personal circumstances and gives you the best chance of compliance and success. I also ensure that once we come to an end of our journey together, you are equipped with the knowledge to help you make better choices in the future.

In good health,

Gosia

(1) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3045681/

(2) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21555699

(3) https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/migraine/treatment/

(4) https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/migraine/causes/

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