Migraine + Headache Tips, Remedies and Solutions
As women, we are more likely to suffer from headaches and migraine headaches than our male counterparts. Up to 85% of migraine suffers are women. This increased risk is due to hormonal fluctuations - namely, estrogen, but the whole cause of increased risk remains unknown.
While there are significant differences between headaches and migraines, you can still implement the same steps for both painful situations to ease pain and stop an attack. The most important thing to be aware of as it relates to headaches/migraines includes headache/migraine states, blood sugar, tension, malnourishment, and excess estrogen.
Prodrome is the state that the body is in before having a migraine or headache attack. This phase can last several days, and before the onset of pain, an individual can experience: excess thirst, emotional instability, frequent urination, neck pain or stiffness, light sensitivity, inability to focus, excessive yawning, and extra fatigue. If you are prone to migraines especially, it's important to be aware of this state because there is still time to prevent a migraine or headache. During this state, it's important to be mindful to eat regularly, take time to unwind if stressed, and consider supplements like magnesium (I suggest glycinate for migraines), nettle, and riboflavin.
During a migraine/headache attack state, the progression of pain has already escalated to what many consider to be the point of no return. I would agree that once you are in an attack state, it's challenging to ease the pain. Very warm showers, blue light-blocking glasses, a CBD balm (I suggest Hot Salve by Inessence), and plenty of rest are your best options. Even if appetite is low, it's still important to eat during this phase. Something easy to eat, such as a smoothie with yogurt and collagen, can be a great option. When I struggled with migraines, a grass-fed burger with plenty of carbohydrates on the side (baked sweet potato fries, and/or an organic cola) always brought relief during the attack phase. The salt, protein, carbs, caffeine (for blood vessel dilation), and quick sugar provide quick energy and trace minerals that come from beef.
The postdrome state is the period that comes after a migraine attack. This state is often referred to as a "migraine hangover". That name is very fitting, as delayed reaction time, fatigue, dehydration, and residual head pain is often present, along with increased hunger due to an increased need for calories. After a migraine or headache, it's normal to be extra hungry. During this phase, I suggest listening to your body and providing it with plenty of high-quality food, rest, and TLC.
Now that we have gone over the states, and you now know that the best time to address a headache or migraine is in the prodrome state, let's review a few key ways that you can keep headaches and migraines at bay.
Balance Blood Sugar
Having stable blood sugar is a key way to prevent migraines and headaches. Eating every 3-4 hours will benefit someone who is prone to head pain, and keeping snacks on hand while out and about is also beneficial. To balance blood sugar, it's important to eat carbs, protein, and fat together. Most animal protein contains fat (except for fat-free dairy, some types of seafood, and collagen), so you can also have "animal protein + carbohydrate" as a rule of thumb when it comes to meals and snacks. Avoid eating carbs alone, and avoid eating protein alone. Both work together synergistically to stabilize glucose, and when you make this style of pairing and this meal/snack frequency a habit, headache or migraine frequency will most likely decrease.
Keep an Eye on Estrogen
Raw carrots, cooked mushrooms, bamboo shoots, and raw apples are four excellent options to help excess estrogen leave the body. Try making these regular additions, especially around ovulation, the onset of menstruation, and the beginning of the follicular phase - all times when women are more prone to headaches and migraines.
Ease Tension and Stress
Stress and bodily tension and poor daytime posture and sleep positioning will increase migraine and headache risk. Daily stretching (especially sternocleidomastoid, pectoral and hip flexor stretching) will help alleviate tension that often triggers tension headaches. Avoiding forward head posture and downward head posture (this usually happens when looking down at a phone, a book, or a computer screen) will also aid in pain prevention. Instead of sleeping on the stomach, sleeping on your side or back will also be beneficial, and use a body pillow in between the knees to help align the lower back.
Malnourishment - Key Nutrient Deficiencies that Trigger Migraines or Headaches
Magnesium, B vitamins, coQ10, vitamin D, and zinc deficiency all pose an increased risk of migraine. A great way to make sure you are getting enough of these nutrients in the most cost-effective and minimalist way possible is to:
Make magnesium baths a habit.
Incorporate beef heart for B vitamins and coQ10 (it can be added to ground beef).
Get plenty of sun (or a mushroom-based D2).
Try adding fresh or desiccated oysters into your wellness routine.
Many times, when I have a migraine client, a DUTCH test and/or an HTMA can be very insightful. In addition, looking at thyroid health, nutrient levels, toxicity levels, gastrointestinal health, and auditing lifestyle habits can also be beneficial. There are many reasons as to why someone is suffering from migraines. As a former migraine sufferer, my low magnesium status was a significant driver of my chronic pain, but dozens of other elements also contributed. If you are suffering from headaches, especially migraines, it's ok to reach out for help. Try these tips first, and then consider 1:1 support if you are still struggling.