Wouldn’t you agree, headaches can be extremely painful, even unbearable at times, but did you know that migraines can actually be dangerous? When the onset of migraines with an aura, comes later in life you are 6 X’s more likely to suffer a stroke and people who suffer from migraines are more susceptible to epilepsy. I’ve mentioned more than once, that inflammation plays a key role in disease and illness but in the case of migraines there are other factors that are involved as well. Dr Russell Blaylock says recent studies have shown that four major events occur in the brains of people who have migraine headaches:
• Localized inflammation
• Reduced production of energy
• Low ionic magnesium levels
• High levels of glutamate
He says all of these also occur in epilepsy, and related neurological disorders. Not only are these people more susceptible to epilepsy but disorders of immunoexcitotoxicity such as depression, anxiety, and one that I struggled with for many years, panic attacks. Dr Blaylock, a nationally recognized board-certified neurosurgeon, health practitioner and author, says even a fall in estrogen levels can precipitate a migraine and calls this process immunogtoxicity.
Glutamate is an excitatory neurotransmitter of the brain. Studies have shown that people with migraines have elevated levels of glutamate. Too much glutamate and the brain will become over-stimulated.
Next we’ll talk about triggers for migraines and what you can do to prevent them.
The start of a migraine is triggered by inflammation and excitotoxicity which sets off a wave of electrical activity that slowly moves across the brain. Various triggers such as flashing lights, food sensitivities, a diet high in glutamates, hypoglycemia, oral contraceptives, and a drop in estrogen levels can cause this wave of depressive activity to initiate a migraine. This fluctuation in estrogen is often times why women experience migraines right before their period.
Interestingly, optimal magnesium levels play a large part in preventing migraines. High estrogen levels and progesterone levels tend to reduce magnesium levels and can bring on a migraine. This is one of the reasons I am so insistent that my clients take magnesium everyday. It can sometimes take up to 6 months to reach optimal levels of magnesium in the body, but that is another blog to come. What to do as prevention, next!
What can you do to prevent migraines?
• Avoid foods high in glutamate, some people are much more susceptible to glutamate than others, even low levels. Foods high in glutamate include anything with MSG or monosodium glutamate. MSG is disguised as natural flavoring, carrageenan, hydrolyzed proteins, isolated soy and soy protein, sodium or calcium caseinate, stock and commercial soups or foods made with broth.
• Of course natural foods are best but even some of those contain high levels of natural glutamate that may trigger a migraine. Pureed tomatoes and tomato paste, beans, peanut butter, portabella mushrooms, cheese, and condensed or dried cows milk all contain high levels of glutamate.
• Low blood sugar is a big trigger for migraines so avoid lots of sugar that can precipitate a sudden drop in blood sugar. When blood sugar drops it sends a signal to the brain to release high levels of glutamate so it’s important to be on a sugar free diet.
• Stress is a big trigger for migraines, exercising will help reduce stress.
• Supplements such as riboflavin, L-carnitine, and CoQ10 help to increase brain activity and reduce severity and frequency of migraine attacks.
• Reduce inflammation with turmeric and omega 3 fish
• Get enough sleep
• Free radical production increases inflammation, excitotoxicity and the chance for migraines so use antioxidants.
• Finally yet importantly, drink plenty of water, away from meals not with meals.