THE CAUSES AND REMEDIES OF MIGRAINE HEADACHES (articles)
ARTICLE # !
Food Culprits Trigger Migraine Headaches and Depression
by Susan Laverie
(NaturalNews) Migraine headache causes include one or more triggers such as sensitivity to external stimuli, hormone imbalances, stress and a group of offending foods and additives. Prevent migraine headaches caused by food by eliminating those foods that trigger pain. Discover which foods and food additives are responsible for triggering migraine headaches and accompanying migraine-related depression.
Although it may be discouraging at first to eliminate certain favorites, the good news is culprits found in processed foods aggravate migraine headaches and are easy to recognize and avoid. The rest of the good news is migraine sufferers respond well to replacing processed food with whole foods that support their overall well being while reducing or eliminating migraine headache pain.
Processed foods containing food additives such as MSG are some of the worst offenders on the list of migraine headache causes. Other problematic substances are artificial sweeteners, chemicals such as nitrates and nitrites, flavor enhancers, foods containing tyramine, chocolate, alcohol and caffeine.
Common Foods and Food Additives Causing Migraine Headache Symptoms
Research identifies the following food groups as common migraine triggers. Some are obvious and others may be surprising. Eliminating certain foods at least for a short time is the best way to find out which of them may be causing migraine headaches and depression for each individual.
Smoked, cured and processed meats
Peanuts and peanut products
Legumes including soy
Alcohol, especially red wine and beer
Caffeine found in coffee, tea, sodas
Refined sugars and white flour products (Gluten allergies may cause migraine headaches)
Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) and chemical additives
Chemicals and Food Additives Cause Migraine Headaches and Depression
There is plenty of evidence pointing to food-additives as the source of multiple health problems including migraine headaches and depression. Most symptoms are common and easy to recognize appearing within 25 minutes after eating foods containing additives.
Flushing of face and neck
Pressure and tightness in chest and face
Tingling and numbness
Check packaged foods for MSG. MSG is a flavor enhancer and preservative used in most packaged and processed foods. It is a major perpetrator of migraine headaches.
Natural Products Replace Offending Additives for Migraine Cures
Avoid products containing artificial sweeteners, saccharine and aspartame. Use stevia, a no-calorie, natural sweetener, to sweeten foods and eliminate migraine headache symptoms. Include lots of fresh fruits, vegetables, meat, poultry, and whole grains.
Depression and Migraine Headache Symptoms are the Result of Tyramine
Aged cheeses contain high amounts of tyramine, a substance formed during protein breakdown. Studies report tyramine as the cause of migraine headaches for some. The older the cheese, the higher the tyramine content. People taking MAO inhibitors for migraines should avoid all foods containing tyramine. Tyramine also contributes to high blood pressure.
Foods containing tyramine are all aged cheeses including blue cheeses, Brie, Muenster, Cheddar, Parmesan, Mozzarella, Swiss, and Feta. Other foods containing tyramine are red wine, alcoholic drinks, aged, canned or cured meats, onions, pickles, garbanzo and lima beans, raisins and avocados.
Find Migraine Headache Relief by Avoiding Cold Foods
Some migraine sufferers report that cold foods cause migraine headaches. Consume foods and drinks at room temperature to prevent migraine headaches. Cold foods and drinks will aggravate a migraine condition if a person is overheated before eating. More than 90% of headache sufferers claim that icy cold foods are a problem.
Decrease offending foods slowly to avoid rebound reactions creating additional migraine headache symptoms.
About the author
Susan Laverie is a freelance writer whose focus is on alternative healthcare, holistic nutrition, foods that heal and green living. Laverie has written articles for Homeopathy Today, The American Homeopath, LiveStrong.com and Suite101.com, as well as elsewhere online. With a passion for history and design, her hobby has been collecting and selling antique jewelry. Having retired from practicing classical homeopathy and natural medicine for 25 years, Susan now spends much of her time writing about health, nutrition and alternative methods for healing body, mind and spirit.
Follow her at http://www.suite101.com/writer_articles.cfm/susanlavery and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/profile.php?id=100000923100399&re...
What is the treatment for moderate to severe migraine headaches?
Migraine-specific abortive medications usually are necessary for moderate to severe migraine headaches. The abortive medications for moderate or severe migraine headaches are different than OTC analgesics. Instead of relieving pain, they abort headaches by directly counteracting the cause of the headache within the brain. Examples of migraine-specific abortive medications are the triptans and ergot preparations.
The triptans attach to serotonin receptors on the blood vessels and nerves that surround them, constrict the blood vessels, and reduce the inflammation. The triptan with the longest history of use is sumatriptan (Imitrex). Sumatriptan is available in the U.S. as an injection, oral tablet, and nasal inhaler. Zolmitriptan (Zomig) and rizatriptan (Maxalt) triptans are available as oral tablets and as tablets that melt in the mouth. Naratriptan (Amerge), almotriptan (Axert), and frovatriptan (Frova) are available only as oral tablets.
Traditionally, triptans were prescribed for moderate or severe migraines after OTC analgesics and other simple measures failed. Newer studies suggest that triptans can be used as the first treatment for patients with migraines that are causing disability. (Significant disability is defined as more than 10 days of at least 50% disability during a 3-month period.). Triptans should be used early after the migraine begins, before the onset of pain or when the pain is mild. Using a triptan early in an attack increases its effectiveness, reduces side effects, and decreases the chance of recurrence of another headache during the following 24 hours. Used early, triptans can be expected to abort more than 80% of migraine headaches within 2 hours.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a warning about taking triptans together with medications of the SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) or SNRI (selective serotonin/norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor) classes. (These medications are used for treating depression, anxiety, and personality disorders.) Taking these medicines together can cause a serious condition called serotonin syndrome.
Side effects of triptans
The most common side effects of triptans are facial flushing, tingling of the skin, and a sense of tightness around the chest and throat. Other less common side effects include drowsiness, fatigue, and dizziness. These side effects are short-lived and are not considered serious.
The most serious side effects of triptans are heart attacks and strokes. Triptans are effective in migraine headaches because they narrow arteries in the head; however, they also can narrow arteries in the heart. In individuals without existing carotid or coronary artery disease, the narrowing caused by triptans usually does not cause problems. However, in persons whose carotid and coronary arteries are narrowed by atherosclerosis or who suffer from intermittent spasm of the coronary arteries (a condition called Prinzmetal or variant angina), the narrowing caused by triptans can further reduce blood flow through the arteries and has been reported to cause heart attacks and strokes. Therefore, triptans should not be used by those who have had heart attacks and strokes, or those who have symptoms of atherosclerosis such as angina, transient ischemic attack (TIAs), and intermittent claudication.
Healthy adults may have atherosclerosis and narrowing of the coronary arteries that are "silent," that is, without past strokes, transient ischemic attacks, heart attacks, or angina. Therefore, before prescribing a triptan, a doctor should evaluate patients for possible atherosclerosis if they have one or more risk factors for developing atherosclerosis. These risk factors include cigarette smoking, diabetes mellitus, high blood pressure, high levels of LDL ("bad") cholesterol in the blood, obesity, male and over 40 years of age, female and postmenopausal, or a family member(s) who has had heart attacks at an early age. Some patients who are at risk should receive their first dose of a triptan in the doctor's office while being monitored with an electrocardiogram (EKG).
Triptans can interact with other drugs. For example, there have been rare reports of triptans causing a "serotonin syndrome" when given together with a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are a class of medications widely used to treat depression. The symptoms of serotonin syndrome include confusion, fever, tremor, high blood pressure, diarrhea, and sweating. Certain triptans such as sumatriptan, zolmitriptan, and rizatriptan can interact with monoamine oxidase inhibitors. Propranolol (Inderal) can raise rizatriptan blood levels. Cimetidine (Tagamet) can increase zolmitriptan blood levels.
Triptans should not be used in pregnant women and are not generally used in young children.
Ergots, like triptans, are medications that abort migraine headaches. These may be combined with caffeine and/or other pain relief medications in combination products. Examples of ergots include ergotamine preparations (Ergomar, Wigraine, and Cafergot) and dihydroergotamine preparations (Migranal, DHE-45). Ergots, like triptans, cause constriction of blood vessels, but ergots tend to cause more constriction of vessels in the heart and other parts of the body than the triptans, and their effects on the heart are more prolonged than those of the triptans. Therefore, they are not as safe as the triptans. The ergots also are more prone to cause nausea and vomiting than the triptans. The ergots can cause prolonged contraction of the uterus and miscarriages in pregnant women.
Midrin is used to abort migraine and tension headaches. It is a combination of isometheptene (a blood vessel constrictor), acetaminophen (a pain reliever), and dichloralphenazone (a mild sedative). It is most effective if used early during a headache; however, because of its potent blood vessel constricting effect, it should not be used in persons with high blood pressure, kidney disease, glaucoma, atherosclerosis, or liver disease. Nor should it be used in those taking monoamine oxidase inhibitors.
Aspartame consumption strongly associated with migraines and seizuresby Dani Veracity
You can't walk into a convenience store, grocery store or restaurant without being offered a dose of aspartame. You can't buy a stick of gum or a box of mints without having to read the label like a hawk, because it's not always obvious that a product contains aspartame. Restaurant condiment caddies are filled with white packets of sugar, which is unhealthy in its own right, alongside pink and blue packets of NutraSweet and Equal, both of which contain known excitotoxins. Would you like some excitotoxin with your coffee?
Do you know what excitotoxins even are? Most people don't. They're chemical substances, such as aspartame, that cause neurons to fire spasmodically. This eventually burns out, or damages, the neurons. Decades of research studies support the increasingly held belief that aspartame causes these painful, often debilitating headaches.
If you're one of those people who drinks diet soda like water, you could argue that you've been drinking diet soda for years and you've never gotten a headache from it. Your experience might change, however, if you were to stop using aspartame for a period of several months. Then, your sensitivity to the chemical would probably be heightened and consuming it again would more likely cause headaches.
Dr. James Braly, an allergy expert in Hollywood, Florida, says that 90 percent of all migraine headaches are caused by food allergies or reactions caused by additives. Furthermore, according to Michael T. Murray, ND, in his book Natural Alternatives, "There is little doubt that food allergy/intolerance is the major cause of migraine headaches … Aspartame is among the most common allergens." Just as some people may develop hives from eating peanuts, some people may develop migraines from consuming aspartame.
If you do develop migraines after drinking or eating aspartame-sweetened foods, you're definitely not alone. In her book, The Doctor's Complete Guide to Vitamins and Minerals, Dr. Mary D. Eades reports that aspartame is the trigger for migraines in roughly 10 percent of all migraine patients. If that percentage sounds high to you, then you'll be floored by the results of a University of Florida study. According to Jean Carper's Food: Your Miracle Medicine, aspartame increased migraine frequency in more than 50 percent of the migraine patients who participated in the study. Additionally, Carper writes, "[The test subjects'] headaches lasted longer and some subjects experienced an increase in 'unusual symptoms' during aspartame-inspired headaches, such as dizziness, shakiness and diminished vision."
Though migraines are not fatal, even when accompanied by "unusual symptoms," they can be a precursor to potentially fatal grand mal seizures and convulsions. "Most [convulsion sufferers] had additional aspartame-associated complaints that also intensified prior to the onset of convulsions. Migraine and related headaches were the most impressive. In fact, half of the aspartame reactors with grand mal convulsions who completed the survey questionnaire had suffered prior migraine or other severe headaches," writes Dr. H.J. Roberts in Aspartame (NutraSweet): Is It Safe?
This susceptibility to seizures is biological and may be genetic. In his book, Dr. Roberts offers an anecdote about a 15-year-old girl who suffers from aspartame-induced seizures and whose mother suffers from aspartame-induced migraines. If you experience aspartame-induced migraines and you think you have them under control, be aware that they may be an early warning sign of a more serious problem, such as seizures.
Scientists do not know exactly how aspartame causes migraines, but many believe it has something to do with the biochemical serotonin, which controls everything from appetite to moods to sleepiness. According to Gary Null's book, Get Healthy Now, aspartame may lower serotonin levels, exacerbating disorders like depression and, of course, contribute to migraines. If you suffer from any of these illnesses and you want to consume foods that will raise the level of serotonin in your brain, be sure to read through the articles on NaturalNews's serotonin archive.
If you're an aspartame junky and can't imagine giving up your favorite aspartame-sweetened foods and drinks, try using a natural sweetener like stevia. NaturalNews features many informative articles on stevia so you can easily make the switch from aspartame. You don't have to sacrifice your sweet tooth to be free from migraines.
The experts speak on aspartame:Dr. Richard Wurtman (1986), a researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, stated that he had been contacted by more than 100 people with alleged aspartame-associated seizures. He also was impressed by the frequency of previous migraine in such individuals, and the intensification of their headaches prior to convulsions. Furthermore, his experimental studies indicate that low doses of aspartame enhance seizures in animals predisposed to abnormal brain activity (Wurtman 1987c).
Aspartame Is It Safe? by H J Roberts MD, page 90
The NutraSweet® manufactures have marshaled scientific studies which disclaim a connection to headaches. And, as with seizures, much of the human connection is anecdotal. In a letter to the New England Journal of Medicine, Dr. Donald R. Johns reported what appeared to be a connection between a case of migraines and the consumption of large amounts of NutraSweet®-containing beverage.458 It involved a thirty-one-year-old woman with a known history of well controlled migraine headaches, that is, well controlled until she began to drink six to eight 12 ounce cans of diet cola sweetened with NutraSweet®, 15 tablets of aspartame and other foods containing aspartame (approximately 1000 to 1500 mg) daily. Approximately two hours after ingesting the drinks she noticed stomach upset and a throbbing headache.
Excitotoxins by Russell L Blaylock MD, page 199
Can aspartame (NutraSweet) trigger headaches? Its makers say the artificial sweetener is blameless. But enough complaints received by the federal government and by headache experts make many conclude that aspartame can cause headaches in susceptible persons. "aspartame may be an important dietary trigger in a significant proportion of headache sufferers, particularly migraineurs," insists Dr. R. B. Lipton, a neurologist with the Headache Unit of Montefiore Medical Center in New York City, who studied aspartame's impact on headaches in 117 patients.
Food Miracle Medicine by Jean Carper, page 314
Based on his own clinical experience,James Braly, M.D., an allergy expert in Hollywood, Florida, states that 90% of all migraine headaches are directly linked to food allergies or to reactions caused by additives, particularly certain preservatives and colorings, caffeine, and chocolate. According to Dr. Chaitow, MSG and aspartame (NutraSweet™) have been implicated in many headache cases, as has excessive salt intake.
Alternative Medicine by Burton Goldberg, page 732
Most had additional aspartame-associated complaints that also intensified prior to the onset of convulsions. Migraine and related headaches were the most impressive. In fact, half of the aspartame reactors with grand mal convulsions who completed the survey questionnaire had suffered prior migraine or other severe headaches.
Aspartame Is It Safe? by H J Roberts MD, page 83
A 48-year-old-woman with mild migraine experienced severe headaches after drinking diet beverages. They subsided when she avoided aspartame products. Her 15-year-old daughter suffered two seizures under similar conditions.
aspartame Is It Safe by H J Roberts MD, page 85
The cause-and-effect relationship between aspartame intake and the precipitation of migraine has been confirmed in a controlled double-blind randomized cross-over study by Koehler et al (1987).
Aspartame Is It Safe? by H J Roberts MD, page 91
The continued use of moderate or large amounts of aspartame products by patients with recurrent severe migraine frequently preceded a convulsion (Chapter 9). Thirty persons completing my questionnaire (Chapter 7) who experienced headache and convulsions while consuming aspartame gave a history of migraine or other severe headaches.
Aspartame Is It Safe? by H J Roberts MD, page 98
First of all, migraines are commonly exacerbated by allergic reactions to elements in the diet or the environment. Aspartame, an artificial sweetener that reduces the level of serotonin in the body, have also been implicated in migraines.
Complete Encyclopedia Of Natural Healing by Gary Null PhD, page 198
Although some causes of migraines are beyond our control, others, such as food allergies, can be effectively combated by avoiding certain products. Caffeine and artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame, have also been found to promote migraines.
Complete Encyclopedia Of Natural Healing by Gary Null PhD, page 204
Aspartame, the sugar substitute in the sweetener NutraSweet, can trigger headache in as many as 10% of migraine sufferers. Recommendation: Undertake an elimination trial of aspartame to see if it acts as a trigger in your migraines. Totally eliminate the sweetener and all products made with it from your diet for 3 to 4 weeks. If you suffer no headaches during that period, you must challenge yourself by eating or drinking products containing aspartame. If doing so brings on a headache, you'll know with certainty that this sweetener acts as a trigger for you.
Doctors Complete Guide Vitamins Minerals by Mary D Eades MD, page 354
When she was taken off of dietary aspartame she noticed a significant improvement in her headaches, which eventually disappeared altogether. To make sure that it was the aspartame that was precipitating her migraine headaches, her doctor challenged her with a solution containing 500 mg of pure aspartame, after which her headache reappeared within one and one-half hours.
Excitotoxins by Russell L Blaylock MD, page 199
...the second letter was written by Dr. Robert Steinmetzer and Dr. Robert Kunkel of the Cleveland Clinic and pointed out other equally important shortcomings in the SchifFman study. They note that the challenges using placebo or aspartame were separated by only 48 hours, yet it is known that migraine can occur as late as 72 hours following exposure to a known triggering substance. They also criticized the study for using only a single challenge. They concluded that it was a little premature to "exonerate" aspartame as a triggering substance for migraine, and that persons with migraine and other vascular headaches should be warned to avoid NutraSweet®.
Excitotoxins by Russell L Blaylock MD, page 200
I have discovered another flaw in the study, which may also help explain their negative results. They designed the study so that the subjects received normal meals for three to five days, and then after a "washout" period, which I assume was a period of fasting lasting 24 hours, they were given the aspartame pills. It has been estimated that anywhere from 10 to 15% of persons become hypoglycemic after a 24 hour fast. Hypoglycemia is not only a trigger for migraine, but it also triggers its own headache. And indeed Dr. Schiffmann reported that those patients in the treatment group did have lower blood glucose than those in the placebo group. Unfortunately, the figures for the blood glucose were not given in the paper and since clinically symptomatic hypoglycemia can occur within the lower range of so-called "normal" blood sugar, this information would be important.
Excitotoxins by Russell L Blaylock MD, page 200
Another study, by Shirley M. Koehler, at the University of Florida, showed that aspartame boosted migraine frequency in more than half of a group of subjects. In fact, their overall number of migraines more than doubled (from an average 1.55 to 3.55) after they took four doses daily of 300 milligrams of aspartame for four weeks compared to taking a placebo. Also, their headaches lasted longer, and some subjects experienced an increase in "unusual symptoms" during aspartame-inspired headache, such as dizziness, shakiness and diminished vision. Why aspartame triggers migraines is unknown. But, like other headache food triggers, it apparently strikes those with an inborn vulnerability.
Food Miracle Medicine by Jean Carper, page 314
In a University of Parkinson's-Florida study, the incidence of migraine doubled for the majority of participants when they took aspartame, and their headaches lasted longer and were marked by increased signs of shakiness and diminished vision. Headaches are the most common side effect cited by those who consume aspartame-containing products.
Headaches by Robert Milne MD and Blake More, page 109
There is also evidence that aspartame can worsen depression in those already suffering from the condition, may cause weight gain and insomnia, worsen diabetic control, aggravate multiple sclerosis and other neurological diseases, precipitate migraine headaches…One component of aspartame is aspartic acid, a known excitotoxin. Even small concentrations in gum have been shown to precipitate headaches.
Health And Nutrition Secrets by Russell L Blaylock MD, page 197
...one example comes from another Monsanto product, aspartame, originally developed by Searle Pharmaceutical Company. Shocking testimony reveals that thousands of volunteered complaints have been received by the FDA from aspartame users, use of which has been associated with hundreds of ailments. They include migraines, seizures, vision problems, depression and memory loss.
Milk The Deadly Poison by Robert Cohen, page 136
Patients complaining of migraines or epileptic episodes are given EEGs and referred to neurologists. They are rarely asked whether they drink diet soda or use aspartame, both of which have been associated with headaches and seizures.
Milk The Deadly Poison by Robert Cohen, page 210
Dr. Richard Wurtman, a researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, reported in 1986 that he had been contacted by more than 100 persons who claimed to have experienced aspartame-associated seizures. He said that he was struck by the frequency of previous migraine headaches in these individuals. They noted that their headaches intensify prior to their convulsions. In 1987, Dr. Wurtman reported that his experiments indicated that aspartame in low doses enhances seizures in animals that are predisposed to unusual brain activity.
Miracle Of Stevia by James A May, page 187
There is little doubt that food allergy/intolerance is the major cause of migraine headaches. These same factors may also play a role in tension headaches. Aspartame is among the most common allergens.
Natural Alternatives To Drugs by Michael T Murray ND, page 192
Foods such as chocolate, cheese, beer, and wine, as well as aspartame, precipitate migraine attacks in many people.
Natural Alternatives To Drugs by Michael T Murray ND, page 192
Aspartame, the artificial sweetener sold as NutraSweet and Equal, can cause headaches and migraines, rashes, ringing ears, depression, insomnia and loss of motor control, according to a study by the Food and Drug Administration...
New Choices In Natural Healing by Prevention Magazine, page 48
After stress, food allergies are probably the most common cause of both tension and migraine headaches, especially in children. Foods that most often cause migraines are dairy products, wheat, citrus, chocolate, coffee, nuts, eggs, the artificial sweetener aspartame, the flavoring MSG (monosodium glutamate) and other artificial additives and preservatives.
Prescription Alternatives by Earl Mindell RPh PhD and Virginia Hopkins MA, page 291
All forms of estrogen are toxic to the body if not adequately balanced by progesterone. Women in this category are much more likely to be vulnerable to aspartame-related migraines and seizures as well.
The Enzyme Cure by Lita Lee with Lisa Turner & Burton Goldberg, page 208
In a study of 171 headache patients, 8.2 percent identified aspartame as a cause. Aspartame was reported as a cause three times more often by migraine patients than by those suffering from other kinds of headaches.
Woman's Encyclopedia Of Natural Healing by Dr Gary Null, page 271