Vail, CO, Colorado
Growing up, my older sister suffered from migraine headaches. At one point each month ” or sometimes more often ” her mood got really nasty, she got sick and had horrible head pain. Along with the occasional missed day of school, these episodes often kept us from doing fun things together. I will never forget the trip to Arizona to see the Cubs in spring training, which we left early because she got a migraine; or the Elton John concert when she sat doubled over in pain, wanting nothing more than to be in a dark, quiet room. As time went by, she was prescribed various drugs (this was well before my doctor days), tried in vain to figure out what triggered her migraines, and eventually learned to cope with her debilitating affliction.
My sister is not alone. Millions of people suffer from migraine headaches, and those of you who do, know that it has caused you to miss out on many things. The cause of migraines remains a mystery to the medical community. The main theory to date is that migraines occur because of changes in the blood vessels in the brain. Research and drug development focuses on controlling those changes in order to stop the migraine once it starts. There are even natural supplements and herbs such as Feverfew, Butterbur, and Riboflavin, which I have used for years to have the same affect of controlling those blood vessels. While all of these medicines act as quick fixes, they only temporarily suppress the symptoms of disease. They are not a cure.
I have never been satisfied with this route. I want to prevent the migraine from happening again. Ever.
In my field of medicine, we believe that most disease states begin with, or are complicated by, some level of digestive dysfunction. If the body is not properly digesting and absorbing the nutrients it needs, and subsequently does not have all the essential building blocks at its disposal, than some level of dysfunction will occur. This dysfunction may affect any system or organ within the body.
Digestive dysfunction can occur over time in nearly every one. Poor nutrition, injury, infection and drugs can cause a breakdown of the intestinal lining, which is designed to absorb into the blood stream the nutrients the body needs and, just as importantly, keep out those things the body cannot use. Because this function is absolutely critical within the body even minimal digestive dysfunction may cause problems. When this lining is not in tact, your body is exposed to things it should not be. This can lead to a myriad of health effects, including the dilation or constriction of blood vessels in the brain.
Even conventional medicine recognizes certain foods can trigger a migraine in some people. Trying to find and eliminate that food can be very difficult. And what about those of you who get migraines when the barometric pressure changes, or before your period, or any time your left toe bends backwards? How on earth do you avoid those things?
My answer is this: If you want to be migraine-free ” eliminate them all together, not just stop them once they have started ” you must address your digestive system. You must heal your intestinal lining and perfect your detoxification and elimination. When this occurs, your body will stop reacting to whatever stimulus it is that causes your migraine.
This sounds harder than it is to accomplish. Yes, it is best to change your diet, which in and of itself is hard. But there are some key nutrients needed to help the digestive tract heal. I use a product that is a hydrolyzed fish protein (sounds yummy, huh?) in combination with herbs to strengthen liver and kidney function. That, combined with regular acupuncture, can bring your digestive system function back in order and prevent the recurrence of migraines.
Dr. Eliza Klearman is a Naturopathic Doctor and Acupuncturist practicing in Eagle. For more information call 328-5678 or e-mail email@example.com.