Updated: Jun 5, 2020
Migraines are miserable! If you are someone who suffers from occasional or even chronic migraines, these can be debilitating. They are not normal and the causes can and should be addressed, let's discuss those most common causes.
Migraine headaches are typically severe headaches, sometimes lasting several days at a time, and can create sensitivity to light (photophobia), sensitivity to sound (phonophobia) and even nausea, vomiting and temporary blindness. The pain can be so awful, all you want to do is go lie down in a dark room and try to sleep it off, only to wake with the pain again in the morning. Some people experience "auras" or visual changes shortly before the pain actually starts, and to those who have experienced the migraine before, these auras are a terrible foreshadow of what is to come. After the migraine finally subsides, it can take another day or two to feel back to your old self, almost like a horrible hangover.
Migraines can cause people to miss work and life, this is no way to live. Treating the causes of migraine headaches is very doable and eliminating migraines completely is very achievable. Let's start with the basics:
Top causes of migraine headaches:
Hormone imbalances: Estrogen seems to be the biggest culprit here, and migraines caused by this hormones are typically cyclical - coming and going around the same time each month often occurring with the period. This could be caused by an estrogen withdrawal, release of prostaglandins or even as simple as a magnesium deficiency.
Food Sensitivity or Intolerances: Eating the wrong foods for your body can show in a number of ways, migraines being one of the most common. As the body is unable to process the inflammatory compounds creating from eating those foods, the normal detoxification mechanisms through the liver, GI and kidneys becomes overwhelmed, and in those susceptible, a migraine can ensue. Simply removing the offending foods can be enough to eliminate the migraines completely, and I've seen this too many times to count!
Neurotransmitter imbalances: Most commonly related to serotonin, treatment of this is often focused on the GI tract, as much of the serotonin is made and metabolized there. Serotonin can cause blood vessels of the brain to constrict, creating decreased blood flow and pain. This can also happen in the abdomen, creating "abdominal migraines", where unexplained abdominal pain is the main symptom.
Musculoskeletal: misalignment of the bony structures or abnormal tightness and spasm of the muscles related to the head and neck can cause pain or lead to improper blood flow to the area.
We've had a lot of success in treating chronic and acute migraines in patients, the approach includes addressing a little of everything above, and once the cause is flushed out, additional treatment can be provided to eliminate the main causative factor.
Starting with a comprehensive approach by optimizing the diet and digestion first, helps not only eliminate any dietary causes, but also improves hormone metabolism through the GI and neurotransmitter production and metabolism in the digestive system. The last step is to ensure healthy musculoskeletal alignment with therapies such as cervical and thoracic adjustments, massage, acupuncture and even high frequency treatment to relax the muscles and help calm the nervous system.
Many patients have responded incredibly to a short detoxification protocol, which helps address the diet and digestion in a relatively short amount of time. Combining this is with hydrotherapy treatments can help increase treatment efficacy, and hydrotherapy treatments can be used to eliminate a migraine in progress. We've seen these treatments help bring someone with headache pain levels of 8 out of 10, to a zero out of 10 with just one treatment!
Here are a couple tips to help if you have a migraine:
Home Hydrotherapy: This is often best accomplished with a hot foot bath, and cold washcloth applied to the back of the neck or head. This can help pull blood out of the head and down to the feet at first, but then the body will react to this change, and increase blood flow to the brain by opening up those cranial blood vessels when done for longer than 5 minutes.
Peppermint essential oil: Applied to the temples with a little carrier oil, this cooling essential oil can help provide some relief.
High dose magnesium: The down side of taking too much magnesium will be loose stools, but in the case of a migraine, that may be the least of your concerns! Start with about 600 mg and see how you feel, you can increase to about 1000 mg, but beware, the next day you will likely have loose stools. High dose IV or intramuscular injections of magnesium from your physician can also be very helpful.
Get an adjustment! See your ND or DC and get a spinal adjustment ASAP!
Fast: Don't burden your GI, stick to liquids like water, tea and broth to help your body focus on resolving the migraine, and not digesting a heavy meal.
If you're a current patient of PCNM, schedule a hydrotherapy treatment, where we can treat with acupuncture, hydrotherapy, herbal medicines, high dose nutrients and any necessary spinal adjustments to help get you out of pain and back to life.
If you or someone you know suffers from migraines, please know that this can be resolved, without the use of chronic pain relievers such as sumatriptan, Imitrex, Maxalt, ibuprofen, Excedrin and others. We do it all the time!
Stop managing your migraines, resolve them once and for all.
Disclaimer: The entire contents of this website are based upon the opinions of physicians at Pacific Clinic of Natural Medicine, unless otherwise noted. Individual articles are based upon the opinions of the respective author, who retains copyright as marked. The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as a sharing of knowledge and information from the research and experience of our physicians and their community to promote wellness . PCNM encourages you to make your own health care decisions based upon your research and in partnership with a qualified health care professional and medical services. If you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition, consult your health care professional before using products based on this content.
If you want to use an article on your site please direct to and cite the original article page. This content may be copied in full, with copyright, contact, creation and information intact, without specific permission, when used only in a not-for-profit format. If any other use is desired, permission in writing from PCNM and the original author is required.