Migraines are a very common issue, more so in women than men. It is estimated that 18% of women and 6% of men are sufferers.
There can be lots of different reasons why people have migraines.
Most people are aware of the famous ones like red wine and chocolate, but what if you have cut these out and you don’t feel any better?
Where do you look for answers then?
Here are 6 causes of migraines that you may not have thought of:
- Heavy metal toxicity
This is nothing to do with listening to too much AC/DC in your youth.
Heavy metals include lead, mercury and cadmium to name but a few.
If you have been exposed to these, and your body has not detoxified them sufficiently, they will build up in your body and cause toxicity.
Toxicity leads to headaches and migraines.
You may want to have a think about times in your life where you might have been accidently exposed, such as during renovations or living near a busy road.
Exposure to cigarette smoke will lead to increased levels of cadmium.
Lots of amalgam fillings, some immunisations and lots of fish consumption can lead to high mercury levels.
If you have heavy metals in your body, it is possible to reduce levels through a specialised detoxification process. A nutritionist can help with this.
- Gluten sensitivity
It used to be thought that only people with celiac diseases were sensitive to gluten.
There has been lots of research to show that this isn’t the case. Something called non celiac gluten sensitivity exists.
There are a range of symptoms associated with this, including migraines.
If you are gluten sensitive, you need to adopt a 100% gluten free diet. Just being gluten-free ‘most of the time’ will do nothing to improve your health, as it takes about 3 months for your body to recover after every gluten exposure.
Eliminating the grains normally associated with gluten (wheat, spelt, rye and barley) may not be sufficient. You may need to remove all grains due to their proteins and cross contamination.
In modern life, lots of people have a degree of low level, chronic inflammation.
This caused by eating too much of the wrong food, too much stress and not moving enough. This is at the core of many of modern diseases.
Migraines too can be exacerbated by inflammation.
Inflammation affects the blood vessels and bony structures in the neck, making them sensitive. Eating a Mediterranean style diet with adequate exercise and stress management will lower systemic inflammation.
- Medication over-use
When triptans were developed for migraine treatment, many thought that this was a miracle drug and all our migraine woes were over.
It is never that simple, unfortunately!
Triptans actually cause rebound migraines. This is one of the most common causes of migraines.
Taking a triptan will get rid of a migraine, but low and behold, a few days later you get another migraine and you need to take another triptan. And so the cycle continues.
It may be better to stop using triptans altogether and go cold turkey.
I used to use triptans regularly, until I realised they were becoming a major trigger for migraines!
- Coffee over-use
Tolerance for amount of coffee varies considerably from person to person, so it isn’t possible to say ‘stick to one coffee’ or ‘stick to two coffees’.
If you are relying on coffee for energy, you probably aren’t helping your migraines.
And if you suffer a migraine when you don’t get your morning coffee on time, you need to look at this as a trigger.
If you need to cut down on coffee, do it very gradually so you don’t trigger a migraine. There are health benefits to coffee, it detoxifies and can treat a migraine as well as medication, so no need to eliminate it entirely.
- Leaky gut
The wall of your intestine can get damaged by eating processed food, taking medication and a stressful lifestyle..
The lining of the gut can start to have small gaps in it, and this is called leaky gut.
Your gut is then permeable to parts of food that it shouldn’t be. That leads to food sensitivities and thus migraines.
By fixing a leaky gut, your body becomes less reactive to food.
Do any of these ring a bell for you?
If you would like to look beyond the wine and chocolate exclusion diet, get in touch for a holistic review of your health.