Migraines are Horrible

They are often debilitating, sending you straight to bed, to lay in the dark for hours and hours, until they abate. Often there are visual symptoms and extreme sensitivities to smells and sounds. The current medical consensus is that migraines are caused by changes in brain activity, which may be influenced by changes in blood flow, inflammation and dietary triggers. Also, certain nutritional deficiencies have been noted in many migraine sufferers (magnesium, B vitamins, CoQ10, and Vitamin D). For anyone suffering from migraines, a thorough assessment of possible dietary triggers and deficiencies should be undergone.

Migraine Journal for Migraine Triggers

A migraine journal is a great way to isolate trends in onset, including what was eaten immediately preceding the migraine, and in the hours before that. A migraine journal can also help differentiate between the intensities of migraines and frequency. Keep track of what you have eaten before the migraine, what happened at the onset of the migraine, and what were the actual symptoms during the migraine (pounding, throbbing, stabbing; light sensitivity, smells; and what made the migraine better). Some common food sensitivities which have been associated with migraines are listed below.

Trigger Foods for Migraines

Alcohol –alcohol has the highest prevalence as a trigger for migraines.

Baked Goods– for those with a gluten sensitivity, baked goods could be wreaking havoc on many aspects of health, migraines certainly being one of them. For people with undiagnosed celiac disease, even a small amount of gluten can cause neurological symptoms, such as migraines. There is no way of testing for gluten sensitivity, but it may be worth getting tested for celiac disease if you and your doctor have reason to suspect gluten as a culprit.

Processed meats –the nitrates and nitrites in processed meats are broken down into nitric acid, which has been linked to an increase in migraines. Steer clear of hot dogs, sausages, bacon, deli meats and smoked fish.

Aged cheeses –a substance in aged cheeses called “tyramine” has been linked to increase in migraines.

MSG– Monosodium glutamate has a long history of association with migraines and other neurological symptoms, such as hyperactivity. MSG is in all sorts of processed foods, being disguised under the label of natural flavoring, hydrolyzed plant protein, and komu extract to name just a few. Unless you’re an expert at reading food labels, chances are you don’t know if you’re getting MSG, and if you’re eating things that come out of boxes, cans, and other packages, you’re likely getting more than you’d likely want.

Artificial sweeteners –similar to MSG, artificial sweeteners have been associated with many neurological symptoms such as migraines.

Citrus fruits – strangely, a chemical in citrus called “octopamine,” has been associated with migraines for those who are sensitive.

Node Smith, associate editor for NDNR, is a fifth year naturopathic medical student at NUNM, where he has been instrumental in maintaining a firm connection to the philosophy and heritage of naturopathic medicine amongst the next generation of docs. He helped found the first multi-generational experiential retreat, which brings elders, alumni, and students together for a weekend campout where naturopathic medicine and medical philosophy are experienced in nature. Three years ago he helped found the non-profit, Association for Naturopathic ReVitalization (ANR), for which he serves as the board chairman. ANR has a mission to inspire health practitioners to embody the naturopathic principles through experiential education. Node also has a firm belief that the next era of naturopathic medicine will see a resurgence of in-patient facilities which use fasting, earthing, hydrotherapy and homeopathy to bring people back from chronic diseases of modern living; he is involved in numerous conversations and projects to bring about this vision. 

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