Migraine Headaches: the Hammer in Your Head May Start in Your Digestive Tract

You could be anywhere when it starts: the supermarket, your desk at work, your daughter's school play. Sometimes it creeps slowly behind your eyes, other times it arrives with the fury of a hurricane. The symptoms of a migraine - jagged vision, blinding light, uncontrollable nausea, numbness or tingling, and the pulsing or pounding behind your eyes - make it impossible to continue with life's daily routine.

Abortive vs. Preventative Medications

Medical doctors generally offer two courses of action for chronic migraine sufferers: abortive and preventative medication.

1) Abortive medications are used to stop migraines once they start. Here are some examples of abortive medications:

• Almotriptan (Axert)

• Eletriptan (Relpax)

• Frovatriptan (Frova)

• Naratriptan (Amerge, Naramig)

• Rizatriptan (Maxalt)

• Sumatriptan (Imitrex, Treximet)

• Zolmitriptan (Zomig)

• Acetaminophen- isometheptene-dichloralphenazone (Midrin)

• Dihydroergotamine (D.H.E. 45 Injection, Migranal Nasal Spray)

• Ergotamine Tartrate (Cafergot)

• Metoclopramide (Reglan)

• Prochlorperazine (Compazine)

• Promethazine (Phenergan)

2) Preventative medications are used when migraines occur more than once a week, or when migraines are extremely severe. Such medications include:

• Medications used to treat high blood pressure: beta-blockers (propranolol [Inderal], timolol), calcium channel blockers (verapamil [Covera])

• Antidepressants: amitriptyline (Elavil), nortriptyline (Pamelor)

• Antiseizure medications: gabapentin (Neurontin), topiramate (Topamax), valproic acid (Depakote)

Pharmaceuticals: Miracle Pill or Dangerous Drug?

While these medications may be effective in the short term, the long term effect of pharmaceuticals is often destructive. Some potential side effects include fainting, seizures, difficulty breathing, and blue toes. It seems all pharmaceuticals have potential side effects. Is there any way we can simply remove the cause of our migraines from the start?

Food Allergies Cause Migraines

Many medical doctors and health practitioners are uncovering food allergies in chronic migraine sufferers. An allergic reaction occurs when the body’s immune system isolates and attacks an offending substance, called an allergen. This immune response may lead to seemingly unrelated symptoms throughout the body. Since over 70% of our bodies’ immune defense mechanism is located in the digestive tract, it is unsurprising that the food we eat has such a powerful effect on our overall health.

How to Resolve Migraines

With so many foods out there, how do we know what foods trigger immune system reactions? The best course of action is a comprehensive ELISA (Enzyme-linked Immunosorbent Assay) panel, which examines 96 of the most common foods. The food categories tested include: animal products, dairy, meat and fowl, grains, nuts, vegetable, seafood and fruits. Once we remove the offending substance from our diets, improvement is swift and drastic – for the better.