In our holistic approach to migrating headaches, the 3 areas of life we approach are:
how we move, how we eat, and how we think. The most difficult area by far is healthy thinking.
As I have been treating returning veterans who have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, many struggle with PTSD. One technique for dealing with anxiety and pain is area of “intentional meditation” is called “mindfulness”. A psychologist named Jon Kabat-Zinn developed this years ago.
My grandma used to say “there’s nothing new under the sun”. I thought she made it up but apparently she “borrowed it”. From what I can tell, the mindfulness approach is a well developed combination of other therapies but this is not a criticism. For instance, neurolinguistic programming included re-framing your thoughts to calm your fears or resentments. Mindfulness does similar things.
In a book called, The mindfulness solution to pain: step-by-step techniques for chronic pain management the authors have some wonderful pieces and material.
They make an excellent case for the damage that chronic anxiety and pain do to our body and mind. It includes guided meditation and simple movement meditation. I recommend this book for anyone suffering from chronic pain or panic and anxiety.
In the current bestseller “All the Light We Cannot See” by Anthony Doerr a portion of the story involves broadcasts of lectures for children about science.
The lectures are phonograph records made years before WWII and are sent out over the airwaves by the brother of the now deceased narrator. The transmissions are made from a secret home radio station built into the chimney of a huge house on the French coast. An orphan in Germany and his sister discover and repair a crude wireless radio and pick up the voice of the narrator. He tells stories about science in a way that engages children, encouraging them to “open their eyes and see what you can with them before they close forever.”
It is fascinating to jump ahead 75 years where I can reach out to you through the miracle of the internet to describe, among other things, the wonders of the human nervous system.
Keep our sense of wonder alive and the world will be a very interesting place!
Cortisol is an important hormone in the body, secreted by the adrenal glands and involved in the following functions and more:
• Proper glucose metabolism
• Regulation of blood pressure
• Insulin release for blood sugar maintenance
• Immune function
• Inflammatory response
Normally, it’s present in the body at higher levels in the morning, and at its lowest at night. Although stress isn’t the only reason that cortisol is secreted into the bloodstream, it has been termed “the stress hormone” because it’s also secreted in higher levels during the body’s ‘fight or flight’ response to stress, and is responsible for several stress-related changes in the body. Small increases of cortisol have some positive effects:
• A quick burst of energy for survival reasons
• Heightened memory functions
• A burst of increased immunity
• Lower sensitivity to pain
• Helps maintain homeostasis in the body
While cortisol is an important and helpful part of the body’s response to stress, it’s important that the body’s relaxation response to be activated so the body’s functions can return to normal following a stressful event. Unfortunately, in our current high-stress culture, the body’s stress response is activated so often that the body doesn’t always have a chance to return to normal, resulting in a state of chronic stress.
Higher and more prolonged levels of cortisol in the bloodstream (like those associated with chronic stress) have been shown to have negative effects, such as:
• Impaired cognitive performance
• Suppressed thyroid function
• Blood sugar imbalances such as hyperglycemia
• Decreased bone density
• Decrease in muscle tissue
• Higher blood pressure
• Lowered immunity and inflammatory responses in the body, slowed wound healing, and other health consequences
• Increased abdominal fat, which is associated with a greater amount of health problems than fat deposited in other areas of the body. Some of the health problems associated with increased stomach fat are heart attacks, strokes, the development of metabolic syndrome, higher levels of “bad” cholesterol (LDL) and lower levels of “good” cholesterol (HDL), which can lead to other health problems!
To keep cortisol levels healthy and under control, the body’s relaxation response should be activated after the fight or flight response occurs. You can learn to relax your body with various stress management techniques, and you can make lifestyle changes in order to keep your body from reacting to stress in the first place. The following have been found by many to be very helpful in relaxing the body and mind, aiding the body in maintaining healthy cortisol levels:
- Deep breathing exercises
- Vigorous exercise,
- Balance challenging exercise
- Going outside
A study at Duke University in 2000 showed that exercise is more effective than drugs in treating major depressive disorder (MDD). We are learning a great deal about the positive effects of movement at the level of the nervous system (chiropractic’s focus). There are many pathways in the nervous system relating movement with being happier, more energetic, and thinking clearer. Of course, when drug intervention is required as in a crisis situation, they can be a godsend. It’s hard to get a severely depressed person to exercise. Wellness care suggests however, that regular exercise may allow many patients to get off antidepressants.
Mom was right! “You kids go out and get some fresh air and exercise! If you stay in here bugging me, it will be bad for your health!”
Pathways have been traced throughout the nervous system between movement and the wonderful part of the brain called the cerebellum. For years, scientists thought this structure to be only concerned with “balance and coordination”. More recently, stimulation of the cerebellum (through exercise), has been found to have relays to other brain centers responsible for learning, memory, stress reduction, and hormones. Conversely, sedentary lifestyles or sitting all day at a computer has the opposite affect; decreased learning and concentration, increased stress and anxiety, and ultimately depression.
See the Duke study here.
The following is a blog post about magnesium supplementation for migraine. The cost/risk/benefit ratio is so favorable that I recommend patients try supplementation with Calcium and magnesium. It is unlikely that it will be fully adequate to control headaches but if it does, no one will be happier than me.
Michael Melton May 11, 2015
A recent study from Iranian researchers found that there might be a link between blood levels of magnesium and migraine headaches.1
Researchers looked at 50 migraine patients and 50 healthy subjects with no history of migraine. The migraine patients had average magnesium levels of 1.86 mg/dl, while the healthy subjects had magnesium levels of 2.10 mg/dl.
The researchers didn’t find any variation in magnesium levels in patients during or between headache attacks.
Other research has confirmed a relationship between magnesium serum levels and migraine, and some headache experts recommend magnesium supplementation for migraine sufferers.2
Chiropractic has been shown to be an effective treatment for migraines, and your chiropractor can help you choose nutritional supplements and dietary changes that might be beneficial in reducing or eliminating migraines.
1. Samaie A, Asghari N, Ghorbani R, Arda J. Blood Magnesium levels in migraineurs within and between the headache attacks: a case control study. Pan African Medical Journal 2012. 11:46.
2. Mauskop A, Varughese J. Why all migraine patients should be treated with magnesium. Journal of Neural Transmission 2012;119(5):575-579.
Those of us who are so concerned with what we put IN our bodies may wish to think about what we put ON our bodies. When doctors want to put something in you, they have a lot of “delivery methods.”
We are all “sore”ly aware of injections and as it turns out they can also deliver medication up your nose, through your mouth, in your bum, and sometimes directly through your skin.
(Try this experiment. Put some iodine on your forearm. After awhile it disappears. When you are deficient, it “soaks in” faster.)
This brings us to note that the FDA does not protect you from toxins in things you put on your body unless it kills you immediately. Lots of makeup contain toxins but they won’t kill you. They may however, accumulate in your tissues. The major store houses for toxins in your body are your liver, Your fat cells, and your skin. When you get older, your skin often shows this with spots or in some people discoloration.
The quick answer is to start studying toxins in things you put on you.
Take note: the chlorine in the shower is being absorbed. It makes sense to wash sensitive babies in filtered water.
To start with makeup, here is a list of some make up and skin care companies with natural products:
An irresponsible headline in a Science Daily says, “Migraine headaches may cause brain damage, mice study shows”. It goes on to say that migraine headaches may thicken the surface of the brain suggesting scar tissue. They later admit that they don’t know what effect this has on brain function.
So the truth is that people with migraine headaches may show changes in their brain structure but damage is too strong of a word. There are a vast amount of studies regarding the effects of all types of pain on learning, memory, thinking ability. It would be more accurate to study how actual brain function changes when someone develops migraine headaches. When researchers study something, they tend to focus on that one thing. i.e. does this medication lower blood pressure in people with high blood pressure? The term for this when applied to health is “reductionistic”. Problems arise when doctors mistakenly think that a condition like a migraine headache occurs “in a vacuum” with out considering the whole person.
There is no doubt that chronic pain reduces mental function. It may be due to over-stimulation of areas of the brain which lead to increased hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol.
It’s important to remember that there are often areas of life that you can control when another area of life is adversely affected. For instance, patients who struggle with elevated hormones from pain related stress may discover that they can “down regulate” their nervous system using methods such as biofeedback. (Biofeedback is a self‐regulation technique through which patients are trained to voluntarily control their body’s functions, such as their heart rate.)
Our focus is the whole person.
The migraine is considered by most neurologists to be a complex problem which requires comprehensive care. In our clinic, we take a broad-spectrum approach to health. Our focus is the whole person. Our migraine and tension headache patients receive multiple types of treatment including a fair amount of homework to change their lifestyle.
Living Well with Migraine Disease and Headaches: What Your Doctor Doesn’t Tell You…That You Need to Know- by Teri Robert, PhD (Author)
Review: This book is a rehash of some other sourced material, which seems to be common for about.com writers. While appearing comprehensive, they organize enough information but miss important parts. Dr. Robert gives a robust shout out to drug therapy encouraging sufferers to take their “preventative medications” which work some of the time for some people. In nearly 300 pages, she does not mention spinal care for headache which has been found to be as effective as many medications. Although nicely organized with helpful lists at the end, this is not a breakthrough book.
The Impulse adjustment is a treatment instrument used by some chiropractors to treat many types of back pain, neck pain, and headaches (both chronic and migraine).
The Impulse adjusting instrument uses a small, hand-held instrument to deliver a gentle impulse force to the spine with the goal of restoring motion to the targeted spinal vertebra or joint.
It is an alternative to the traditional manual form of spinal manipulation, known as the high velocity low amplitude (HVLA) thrust (aka Diversified Technique.) Next to the Diversified technique, the Activator Adjusting Instruments are reported to be the most common therapeutic intervention used by chiropractors.
How the Impulse adjustment instrument works
The Impulse adjustment method uses a spring-loaded, hand-held highly accurate instrument called the Impulse adjuster to provide a quick, low-force impulse at specific points.
There are two theoretical advantages of an Activator instrument-assisted treatment:
- The instrument is so quick that the body’s muscles are less likely to tense in response, and resist the treatment. The lack of muscle resistance may facilitate the treatment effectiveness.
- The applied force is localized and does not add any additional torque or bending movement to the joint.
Ask for a demonstration of the instrument. (We can demonstrate on your finger.)