Understanding Migraines & Learning To Make It Through Them

Migraine Therapies Information

 

THE MADNESS OF MIGRAINES

 

A million years ago when I was in middle school, I began getting searing headaches that had me getting sent home and missing school.  My parents took me to the pediatrician who diagnosed me with migraines.  It was right around the same time that my hormones started changing, which is what he chalked it up to.  They gave me medication, and eventually they started going away.  After that brief episode, I only dealt with the occasional killer headache in my adult life – until recently.

 

Two years ago, I was diagnosed with epilepsy after suffering a major seizure followed by a few smaller ones.  Just before this happened, I had been dealing with some pretty serious migraine headaches and had been seeing a neurologist about them.  After the seizures, my neurologist and I had to work to find a balance of medications and homeopathic remedies to keep both at bay.  Up until recently, we had done that, but the migraines are back with a vengeance, and I’m on a quest to find a more natural remedy to fight back.

 

So the first thing I wanted to know is, what exactly IS a migraine?  I think we all know in general broad terms it is a whopper of a headache, but I wanted to dig a little deeper than that.  Here’s how the Mayo Clinic defines a migraine headache with more in-depth information:

 

Migraines may be caused by changes in the brainstem and its interactions with the trigeminal nerve, a major pain pathway. Imbalances in brain chemicals — including serotonin, which helps regulate pain in your nervous system — also may be involved. Researchers continue to study the role of serotonin in migraines. Serotonin(*) levels drop during migraine attacks. This may cause your trigeminal system to release substances called neuropeptides, which travel to your brain’s outer covering (meninges). The result is headache pain.

There’s also hormonal changes in women. Fluctuations in estrogen seem to trigger headaches in many women with known migraines. Women with a history of migraines often report headaches immediately before or during their periods, when they have a major drop in estrogen.Others have an increased tendency to develop migraines during pregnancy or menopause.

 

There were other triggers indicated as well:  foods, drinks, stress, sensory stimuli, physical factors, changes in the environment, and medications.

 

(*)As a gastric bypass post-op, there’s always a malabsorption concern, particularly with seratonin, and in my case I happen to also be an insomniac, so that makes things even trickier.  Add to that I am 44 and in perimenopause, and I’m like a walking petri-dish for a migraine, the perfect storm just waiting to be unleashed – and in fact, it has!

 

The past two weeks have been almost unbearable, keeping me from rehearsals and needing to stay in my room with the door closed, lights off, and battling tears.  I went to Facebook and the internet to ask for suggestions.  I got many suggestions for medications, but also some more homeopathic and – interesting – ones that I thought I would share:

 

Acupuncture:

I know in this day and age it’s silly to be weirded out by the thought of the little needles, but I am.  Still, this was by far one of the MOST suggested relief tactics.  Even a quick search on Google shows the NY Times and Huffington Post listing it as a tried and true migraine relief answer.

 

Chiropractor:

Some people believe that migraine pain originates in the spine, and that getting a proper alignment can help.  There are days that I will try ANYTHING that will help.  If you tell me lining up my spine will do the trick, fine, let’s do it.

 

Daith Piercing:

This one was new to me.  I’ll be honest:  I’m not so sure about this one, but I heard about it, so I’m putting it out there for you to decide on your own. The folks who told me about it SWEAR BY IT, and there were quite a few of them.  Essentially it works a bit like acupuncture:  it’s a small ear piercing in the innermost cartilage fold of the ear.  Apparently it helps with migraines by targeting pressure points on the body’s surface to ease discomfort.  And if it doesn’t?  You can just take the piercing out and let the hole close up, just like any other ear piercing.  Still, I checked snopes.com and found it’s not confirmed either way, so I’d suggest doing some reading first.

 

Feverfew:

This is a supplement that’s a medicinal herb that’s used to treat migraines and digestive problems (but it should not be taken by pregnant women). Some people take it as a preventative treatment as well.

 

Magnesium:

The first thing my neurologist recommended and the go-to on the internet.  Most people who suffer from migraines and constant headaches are magnesium deficient and it’s generally recommended to boost your intake by 200 mg per day.

 

Peppermint:

Many people wrote in and talked about the benefits of peppermint tea, peppermint essential oils, and peppermint candies.  I haven’t personally tried this, but it was suggested so often that it definitely needed to make the list.

 

Riboflavin (Vitamin B2):

Another one my neurologist suggested.  I saw no difference once adding this, but it’s often suggested as some people are deficient.

 

The older I get, the less medication I want to put in my body and the more “real” alternative I want.  If you’re like me and you’re also dealing with migraines, hopefully you’ve found something in this list that you can talk to your doctor about and work with.  Here’s to a pain-free head for us both!

 

Taunia Soderquist is a professional musician, music educator, and radio host located in the Greater Los Angeles area.  She’s also a seven and a half year gastric bypass post-op living a healthy lifestyle after losing and maintaining 150 lbs.  Now a passionate cook, but not-so-passionate about exercise (eh, she’s trying). Check her website for live shows and more info:  www.divataunia.com.

 




Simple Weight Loss Tip: Eat Beans

 

Healthy Beans for Weight Loss

 

Boy it sure would be nice if losing weight was simply that easy, right? Well it might not be quite that easy, but along with a proper exercise regime (among other things) it seems that eating lentils, peas, beans or chickpeas daily can aide in weight loss.

 

FIBER + PROTEIN = FULLER LONGER

 

The Simple Science Research published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that simply eating ¾ cup (not even a whole cup!) per day correlated to study participants losing a ½ pound over a 6 week period. This was partly due to the fact that these high fiber foods can cause you to feel full for longer periods of time which can negate snacking. These “pulses” of food can also help reduce bad cholesterol!

 

The great part was that by adding these pulses into your diet you can achieve significant weight loss effects without making huge diet changes and reductions. The lead author of the study Dr. Russell de Souza explained “Despite their known health benefits, only 13 per cent of Canadians eat pulses on any given day and most do not eat the full serving. So there is room for most of us to incorporate dietary pulses in our diet and realize potential weight management benefits.”

 

These pulses of beans, chickpeas, lentils, and peas are a low glycemic food that breaks down slowly and can help fight hunger and cravings.

 

For instance, Dr. de Souza explained that, “This new study fits well with our previous work, which found that pulses increased the feeling of fullness by 31 per cent, which may indeed result in less food intake.” It’s all about helping people feel full and therefore eat less!

 

Integrating Beans

 

So are you going to run out and start eating 5 cups of beans per day? Well, I feel sorry for anyone around you if you do… flatulence typically follows. The point is that by adding high fiber foods into your diet (along with a home exercise regime) you can potentially lose weight in a sustainable fashion and keep it off. By adding things like hummus, bean dip, roasted chickpeas, peas, edamame…etc. into your daily diet, you can fight hunger!

 

For instance, here is my favorite homemade hummus recipe:

Ingredients:

* 1 can (15oz) garbanzo beans

* 1/4 cup tahini

* 1/4 cup lemon juice

* 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

* 2 cloves of garlic

* Cumin, salt, and pepper to meet your tastes

Directions:

* Blend all ingredients in a food processor until it is a paste and enjoy with pita bread.

* You can add tomatoes or red peppers to try different flavors.

* Experiment with different flavors and have fun with it.

 

Wrap-Up

It’s all about simple, easy to implement steps that you can add to your diet that will culminate in a new healthy you! As Dr. de Souza helped summarize, “Though the weight loss was small, our findings suggest that simply including pulses in your diet may help you lose weight, and we think more importantly, prevent you from gaining it back after you lose it.” There you go! Start today, one small bean-filled step at a time! Happy eating!

 

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Getting Ready for Summer Fun in the Sun

Sun Health Summer

 

Recently the ultra-famous Hugh Jackman posted a selfie on social media in which he had a bandage on the bridge of this nose with a caption warning of skin cancer and how to always use sunscreen. That got me thinking, with summer quickly approaching (can’t get here soon enough in my opinion) we need to start thinking about our outdoor habits when it comes to fun in the sun (or shade). There’s no better time like the present to get ready for the summer and start instilling some healthy sunscreen mindsets. Maybe we can take a page from some of the research related to our kids.

 

Multi-Step Approach to Sun Protection

 

Recently an article published in JAMA Pediatrics discussed a multicompetent approach to sun protection which included swim shirts, text reminders and other forms of communication to instill a healthy sun protection mindset in children. By using this multi-step approach, the article concluded, “As clinicians, we tend to believe that ‘less is more’ and that simplifying recommendations benefits our patients. Ultimately, sun protection programs are behavioral interventions designed to change patterns long term, and it would not surprise us to find that more complex multimodal approaches, such as those advocated by Ho et. al., may prove more effective at reinforcing healthier sun-protection habits and that, in this instance, ‘more is more.'”

 

Drawing Conclusions

 

As with any goal, it is usually better to create a series of small steps for a big goal (like changing your summer ways and wearing sunscreen) in order to ensure you at least carry out a few of the processes to help you work your way to results! Apart from applying the appropriate SPF level of sunscreen, here are 3 methods for helping you stay protected from sun damage this summer.

 

Set Reminders

 

This is one of the best ways to help remind you to put on sunscreen. If you know you have a full day (or even part of a day) on the beach, on the river, or just out in the backyard, set yourself reminders on your phone to go off in the morning and a few times during your sun-filled plans. This will help ensure you put on sunscreen to begin with but also remind you to reapply!

 

Have it Handy

 

Many times we don’t wear sunscreen or reapply it because it isn’t close at hand. For instance, if you leave it in the truck while you do a little swimming on the beach, you probably aren’t going to go back to the truck and get it (unless you are getting fried). Have some small tubes of screen always close at hand so it’s ready when you need it or get a reminder from your phone! Throw a tube in your purse, gym bag, beach bag, lunch box…etc.

 

Watch Your Friends Back

 

More often than not, you don’t even know you’re burning until you hear your friend exclaim, “Man, you look like a lobster!” Trust me, by then you are already fried! Make sure to watch your friends and tell them if they are starting to get a little pinkish and they will do the same for you. Friends need to watch each other’s backs, right?

 

Wrap-Up

These are just 3 easy approaches to ensure that you stay protected this upcoming summer. While it may seem far away, time flies and it will be here before you know it. So take the advice of a JAMA Pediatrics publication and use a multi-step approach to ensure that you stay coated this summer! No one wants to be burnt to a crisp!

 

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