12% of the world’s population can suffer from migraines on a regular basis with a variety of causes.
Headaches are on a continuum from mild pain to full blown migraines. Headaches range from tension headaches that feel like a tightness or pressure in the head and often are due to tension accumulating in the neck and shoulders. Inflammation in the sinuses can also cause headaches which are worse for bending forwards or lying down. Cluster headaches occur usually over one eye or one side of the head and are random in nature. Migraines can have additional symptoms such as an ‘aura’, visual and sensory disturbances and a sensitivity to light, smells or sounds.
What are the symptoms of a migraine?
- Sensitivity to light, sounds, smells
- Blurry vision
- Nausea and or vomiting
- Pounding pain on one or both sides of the head
- Reduced concentration
What causes a migraine?
- Inflammation – which affects blood flow to the brain causing throbbing pain.
- Low serotonin levels which contribute to pain
- Hormonal changes
- Historical head injury
- Lack of sleep
- Medication side effects
- Genetic susceptibility
- Poor posture and muscle tension
- Low blood sugar
- Lack of water
- Food sensitivities – cheese, wine, chocolate.
It is important to mention to your GP persistent headaches and have investigations for any underlying conditions. Conventional treatments usually consist of medications to control pain, reduce inflammation, control seizures if present, support sleep, anti-depressants to alter neurotransmitter issues.
Things you can do:
- Eat more anti-inflammatory foods – these are foods high in Omega 3 essential fatty acids including oily fish such as mackerel, salmon, sardines, anchovies and herring and nuts such as walnuts, chia seeds, flaxseeds and eggs enriched with omega 3. Herbs such as turmeric and ginger root also have significant anti-inflammatory properties. You can use them in cooking, smoothies and as teas.
- Eat more magnesium rich foods – essential for muscle and blood vessel relaxation, blood sugar regulation. Eat dark green leafy vegetables, nut and seeds and oily fish like salmon, sardines, herring, anchovies, mackerel. You can also take magnesium as a supplement.
- Start doing yoga – helps to increase blood flow and relaxes the muscles. There are plenty of free online classes for you to try.
- Reduce stress levels – take up meditation, deep breathing, yoga or tai chi or walk in nature daily. Stress creates tension affecting blood flow to the head.
What can Functional Medicine do to support?
- Use functional blood tests to determine specific food sensitivities you may have and guide you through an elimination diet.
- Assess hormone balance as a trigger for migraines using functional testing.
- Assess nutrient status – low levels of certain nutrients like magnesium and B vitamins can contribute to migraines. We will use food and supplements to address these deficiencies.
- Support balanced blood sugar levels through optimising diet to stop hypoglycaemic episodes triggering migraine.
- Make lifestyle medicine suggestions around other areas that may be implicated like stress management and sleep quality.
5 Pillars of Functional Medicine
Migraine and Functional Medicine
Do you suffer from migraine and have tried all the usual approaches?
Functional Medicine can help you, simply book an online consultation or arrange a free 15 minute discovery call and ﬁnd out how we can help.