“As Western medicine moves toward a more personalized approach to prevention and treatment, there is a concomitant movement toward the correction of underlying dysfunctions rather than the treatment of symptoms. Both systems and individuals need tools to help us accomplish this huge transformation.”

~Dr. Joe Pizzorno, ND

woman-headache-migraine-bedThrough concepts in Functional Medicine, finding and curing the causes of your migraines can be accomplished. Considerations should be given in the following categories…

Magnesium Deficiency

  • The symptoms: Anything that feels tight or crampy like headaches, constipation, anxiety, insomnia, irritability, sensitivity to loud noises, muscle cramps or twitching, and palpitations.
  • The testing: Check red blood cell magnesium levels. Even this can be normal in the face of total body deficiency, so treatment with magnesium based on the symptoms is the first choice.
  • The treatment: Magnesium glycinate, citrate, or aspartate in doses that relieve symptoms or until you get loose bowels. If you have kidney disease of any kind, do this only with a doctor’s supervision.

Food Allergy/Bowel and Gut Imbalances

  • The symptoms: Fatigue, brain fog, bloating, irritable bowel syndrome, joint or muscle pain, postnasal drip and sinus congestion, and more.
  • The testing: Check an IgG food allergy panel and also check a celiac panel because wheat and gluten are among the biggest causes of headaches and migraines. Stool testing and urine testing for yeast or bacterial imbalances that come from the gut can also be helpful.
  • The treatment: An elimination diet — getting rid of gluten, dairy, eggs, and yeast — is a good way to start. Corn can also be a common problem. Getting the gut healthy with enzymes, probiotics, and omega-3 fats is also important.

Hormonal Imbalances

  • The causes: Premenstrual syndrome with bloating, fluid retention, cravings, irritability, breast tenderness, menstrual cramps; use of an oral contraceptive pill or hormone replacement therapy; or even just being pre-menopausal, which leads to too much estrogen and not enough progesterone because of changes in ovulation.
  • The testing: Blood or saliva hormone testing looks for menopausal changes or too much estrogen.
  • The treatment: Eat a whole-foods, low-glycemic load, high-phytonutrient diet with flax, soy, and cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower. Use herbs such as Vitex, along with magnesium and B6. Avoid alcohol, caffeine, sugar, and refined carbohydrates. Exercise and stress reduction techniques  also help.

Chemical Triggers

  • The causes: A processed-food diet including aspartame, MSG (monosodium glutamate), nitrates (in deli meats), sulfites (found in wine, dried fruit, and food from salad bars) is to blame. Tyramine-containing foods like chocolate and cheese are also triggers.
  • The treatment: Get rid of additives, sweeteners, sulfites, and processed food. Eat a diet rich in whole foods and phytonutrients.

Mitochondrial Imbalances

  • The symptoms: Fatigue, muscle aching, and brain fog, although sometimes the only symptom can be migraines.
  • The testing: Checking urinary organic acids can be helpful to assess the function of the mitochondria and energy production.
  • The treatment: Taking 400 mg of riboflavin (B2) twice a day and 100 to 400 mg a day of co-enzyme Q10 can be helpful, as can as other treatments to support the mitochondria.

Keep in mind that sometimes a combination of treatments is necessary. Other treatments can be helpful in selected cases, such as herbal therapies (like feverfew and butterbur,) acupuncture, homeopathy, massage, and osteopathic treatment to fix structural problems. The bottom line is that this problem — which affects one in five Americans and costs society $24 billion a year — is almost entirely preventable, simply by following the principles of Functional Medicine. So get to the bottom of your symptoms — and get ready for migraine relief. It’s the best way to move toward lifelong vibrant health.