7 Tips To Tame Hormonal Migraines
Do you get migraine headaches that are related to your hormones?
Migraines are one of the more challenging symptoms I see. These people know pain and have run the gamut of treatments. In order to figure out how to get rid of migraines you must search for underlying causes. This is why many migraine sufferers end up needing to constantly medicate to treat the pain — no one is figuring out what is causing the headache in the first place.
How do you know if you have hormonal migraines?
Our focus today is on hormonal headaches that occur at specific times in the cycle. These include:
- Headaches that occur right before your period or during your period
- Headaches that happen midcycle when you are ovulating
- Headaches during the week of your period while on a birth control pill
Who is at risk for hormonal migraines? Here are some clues
- If you are prone to headaches or if hormonal headaches run in the family, you may be at risk for developing this type of migraine.
- If you have other symptoms of hormonal imbalance like PMS, breast tenderness, water retention, or painful, heavy periods, then your headaches may have a hormonal component.
- If you have headaches at specific times of your menstrual cycle, you may have a hormonal headache.
Most experts agree that hormone fluctuations, rather than the amounts of hormones present, trigger headaches. That’s why you see headaches at certain times of the cycle when hormone shifts are most pronounced. All you have to do is wait until you are in menopause and you’ll be golden! I jest. Everyone calm down….
So what can I do?
👉 For starters start keeping a headache log and track your period. The Period Tracker app is a good place to start.
👉 Remove cow’s milk dairy, sugar and all gluten from your diet.
Don’t panic. I know I’m asking a lot. But I have literally cured people’s migraines by simply doing that. These two foods tend to be triggers for many migraine sufferers. Here’s a great place to start. Try it for 30 days. You will lose weight by the way. Just saying.
👉 Support your progesterone. Studies show that big estrogen drops at the start of your period can trigger menstrual migraines. Supporting progesterone can balance estrogen dominance AND lessen the effect of a steep estrogen crash at the start of your cycle.
Why would progesterone be low? Stress. Why would estrogen be high? Endocrine disrupters. Those are chemicals in our environment that act like estrogen. We are exposed to boatloads my friends.
Take some natural progesterone 2 weeks before your period to balance low progesterone levels — you will need to work with a practitioner to determine the right dosing for you.
Take some DIM or calcium d glucarate to reduce excess amounts of estrogen. I use two products: DIM DETOX or HORMONE PROTECT — take as directed on the bottle.
👉 Try vitamin E for menstrual migraines. This helps to reduce high levels of inflammatory compounds made by the lining of your uterus.
Take 400 IU of mixed tocopherol vitamin E a few days before your period is due to start.
👉 Take CoQ10, magnesium and vitamin B2. These compounds are often deficient in migraine sufferers and are needed for mitochondrial energy production.
Vitamin B2: Take up to 400 mg daily.
CoQ10: 200 mg per day.
Magnesium: Look for Magnesium glycinate, threonate, citramate types as these are better absorbed. 200-800mg daily
👉 Boost Serotonin. You may be low in serotonin if you have any intestinal issues or if you feel better on SSRI anti-depressants.
Increase your own serotonin naturally with the amino acid precursors tryptophan or 5-HTP. Start with 500 mg tryptophan or 100-200 mg of 5-HTP before bed. These are both great for sleep.
👉 Look for and eliminate other common migraine food triggers.
High histamine foods such as red wine, left over foods, nuts, avocados, eggs and cheese top the list of triggers.
Chocolate is another biggie. Y
ou can have specific food triggers so pay attention to what you ate 24 hours before your headache started.
If you have other histamine symptoms such as hives, itchy skin, hay fever, or wheezing, you may want to work with someone to figure out what is creating excess histamine in your body.
Take the natural antihistamine Quercetin 500mg up to four times a day
Funny story…..(I preface this so that you find it humorous regardless of humor merit or lack thereof)
I was a big migraine sufferer for about 20 years. And stress was a huge trigger. That and no sleep. Perfect for an OBGYN. Anyhoo I was about to deliver a baby while trying to survive a particularly vicious migraine when I just had to go puke. I told mom to just blow through her next contraction, tore off my scrubs, ran into the bathroom to throw-up, and returned to catch the baby. Good times. The parents were SUPER psyched…….Not. My neurologist kept giving me one medication after another even though I told him it happened on call, when I hadn’t slept. What is the appropriate treatment? Not Imitrex or Fioricet or Zomig or Neurontin or Topamax. It was sleep and reduce stress. Ta-Dah! And that boys and girls is how I got rid of my migraines…….
3 Nutrients To Improve Your Mental Health
Although most physicians are unaware of this connection, vitamin, mineral and nutrient deficiencies can wreak havoc on your mental health. Today we are going to look at 3 heavy hitters that if corrected, may improve depression, anxiety, sleep disturbance and focus issues.
1) Amino Acids
These are the breakdown products of proteins available once food has been digested into it’s smaller components. They are used to build and repair tissue, they are converted into enzymes and hormones needed to run our bodily functions, and provide energy to all of our organs.
They are also the building blocks for “our brain chemicals” or neurotransmitters that support a positive, calm mood. These brain chemicals include serotonin, dopamine, GABA, and endogenous opiates known as endorphins.
If you have low levels of these brain neurotransmitters, you really won’t feel so great. And if you don’t have enough amino acids, you can’t build these neurotransmitters.
Low levels of amino acids lead to low levels of neurotransmitters. Not a hard concept.
Why would Amino Acids be low?
- You aren’t taking in enough protein (typical with vegetarians and vegans who don’t eat animal protein)
- You aren’t able to break down your protein meal because of problems with digestion. This could be related to low digestive enzymes, poor chewing, low stomach acid, the use of antacid medications, drinking water or liquids with your meals or other causes of inflammation in your gut, like food sensitivities, gut infections, inflammatory bowel disease and irritable bowel.
How to improve your amino acids?
- Make sure you chew your food.
- Avoid drinking when eating (this will dilute your stomach acid)
- Consider adding a digestive enzyme with HCL before each meal
- Eat clean, organic, grassfed or wild animal protein, about 1/2 to 1/3 of your ideal weight in grams (so if your ideal weight is 100, you would eat between 30 and 50 grams of protein a day)
- If you can’t or won’t eat animal protein, consider eggs or if you are tolerant of dairy, consume that.
- You can also add amino acid supplements that are already broken down to their basic components. I like amino acid complex from Thorne Research 1 scoop in water 2x/day
Zinc levels are often shown to be low in both depressed and anxious people. Research has shown zinc supplementation can improve symptoms of depression and anxiety. It is definitely an important supplement for almost anyone with mental health issues.
Zinc is a critical cofactor for neurotransmitter production. It is needed for the amino acids tryptophan and tyrosine to be converted into the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine, two very important brain chemicals that support a healthy mood. It is also needed for the production of GABA, a brain calming neurotransmitter.
Zinc helps to regulate copper, another cofactor for dopamine production. Research suggests that low zinc and high copper levels may lead to problems with depression, anxiety, panic disorder and agitation.
Zinc is needed to make digestive enzymes and stomach acid to digest proteins effectively.
How to improve your zinc?
Supplementation is the best way to improve zinc levels. Ideally it would be great to check your serum zinc and copper levels by blood work. You want to see a level of about 100 microgram/dl for both copper and zinc, approximately a 1:1 ratio. If you can’t do blood work, then don’t take more than 30-50mg of zinc daily. High doses of zinc can increase anxiety in people with high copper because zinc can cause a dumping of copper into the bloodstream.
3) Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 is needed for so many biochemical reactions in the body, including those that support optimal brain health.
Low B12 levels can cause many different mental health issues, including dementia, multiple sclerosis, and psychiatric symptoms including depression, anxiety, fatigue and even psychosis. Improving B12 levels in some individuals has been shown to reverse severe psychiatric symptoms, even psychosis.
B12 deficiency is pretty rampant, affecting almost 40% of adults. And don’t go with the standard lab ranges of B12 of 200 to 1200 pg/ml. There are reports of psychiatric symptoms that occur in patient with levels less than 500. Most functional practitioners want to see you in an optimal zone of greater than 600 pg/ml.
How to improve your B12?
- Eating foods high in B12 is a great place to start. Eggs, clams, sardines, salmon, trout, beef, liver, kidneys (I know, yuck!!) all high in B12
- Take a high quality supplement of b12, either methyl B12 or hydroxy b12. These are readily absorbed and highly efficacious. You can easily take 1000 mcg of B12 daily.
- Consider taking B12 injections. These can get you up and running faster and feel awesome. Also make sure to avoid cyanocobalamin injections as this is b12 linked to the basic element of cyanide. Not a great option.
- Figure out why you are not absorbing B12 if you are not a vegetarian or vegan. This is a very common cause of B12 deficiency–lack of eating animal protein. Maybe you don’t have enough stomach acid or digestive enzymes? Maybe your gut is inflammed and unable to absorb well. Mayb you have an autoimmune disorder that is preventing your stomach cells from making intrinsic factor, a protein that couples with b12 to get down to your small intestine for absorption.
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For more information about my wellness programs and my practice, check out my website www.drsadaty.com. Look! You are already here.
Ready for the legal disclaimer? Information offered here is for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. As with any health recommendation, please contact your doctor to be sure any changes you wish to consider are safe for you!