Confession: Headaches and Migraines aren’t an issue I’ve struggled with very much. Until 3 years ago, I’d only had 2 migraines, and a handful of headaches. Then Menopause hit, or rather the tail end of Peri Menopause, and wow, I got a serious taste of some serious headaches.
For me, it was a matter of getting my hormones tested, and getting on some bio-identical estrogen and progesterone for a year. The headaches stopped immediately. After a year, I went off both because subsequent testing showed that my hormones levels had gone from way too low to way too high. I went cold turkey on the hormones out of fear, got on some great herbs, and all was well,…for a while. Then the headaches came back.
A hormone test (January 2015) showed that my high levels had plummeted way back down to those of old Mother Hubbard, so this time I went on a natural progesterone cream(February, 2015), and added flax (oil and seed) very consistently to my diet to up my estrogen level naturally. I’m due for another test soon, and I’ll let you know what my results are, but I haven’t had a headache since February.
Point of my story: my headaches were hormone related.
What causes yours and what can you do about them? You’re gonna need to put on your detective hat, because this is a condition that has so many causes and triggers. Drugs are a bandaid at best, as they often don’t even work well with migraines; they don’t eliminate the cause of the pain, and they come with too many side effects to ignore.
Those side effects are real and scary. It’s worth the time and effort to figure out your migraine and headache causes, and then experiment with different solutions.
You already have my hormone/headache story. If your headaches are completely centered around your cycle, no matter your age, then you can assume it has something to do with your hormones. This doesn’t mean – at all – that you need to start taking hormones! That’s something for you and your doctor to figure out.
There’s other responses that could be triggering the headache (and cravings and PMS too): low B vitamins, and low magnesium. Both of which get depleted during our period. (or I should say, your period) B6 and B12 are the most commonly sited Bs when it comes to our hormones shifting and symptoms, but I recommend a good B Complex to every woman I work with. Magnesium too; as a matter of fact, Magnesium deficiency is very common. Studies show that at least 56% of our population is Magnesium deficient, but my point with Magnesium and female cycles, is that it’s easy to become deficient right before your period, even if you aren’t usually.
So B vitamins and Magnesium, recommendations 1 and 2. (These are the 2 supplements I have my girls on.)
Next, look at your life style patterns. Do you sleep enough? Do you drink alcohol? What drugs are you on? Trigger, trigger, trigger.
Here’s a biggie: do you eat gluten, or a high refined carbohydrate diet? Both can be HUGE headache/migraine triggers. For a one stop shop on this, check out the Wheat Belly blog.
MSG, artificial colors, flavor enhancers, histamine containing foods, artificial sweeteners, these can all be triggers.
Even healthy foods can trigger headaches for certain people; foods like eggs, dairy, nuts, …..pretty common allergens, and allergens can cause headaches.
One of my favorite go-to’s is America’s Pharmacist, Suzy Cohen. That woman’s awesome, and prolific with both her free advice and books, so let’s start there.
Resources: Her book, called Headache Free. A podcast where she dispenses all sorts of great advice, here. Her response to a question about tension headaches, here. Her blog, here. And finally, a great article kind of wrapping up a whole bunch of her advice on headaches, here.
One last trick to try when it comes to headaches, a Liver Detox. If you work with me, you know that I believe in always “loving my liver”. I’m constantly taking dandelion or milk thistle, or doing a Biotics liver detox or taking Herb Pharm Liver tincture. I also make sure to eat plenty of liver loving foods every single day.
If our liver is so overwhelmed with chemicals and toxins and sludge from high fructose corn syrup or trans fats or SUGAR, then of course it’s unable to perform perfectly. One of the results from that would be toxins circulating through our brain and causing headaches.
If you think this might be your problem, get in touch with me.
You don’t have to suffer! What I said in the beginning is true: become a detective. Headache meds are band aides with side effects. Figure out your causes, and then work on natural and healthy ways to eliminate them.
86% of our health care expenses are spent on Life Style Diseases, like headaches and migraines. That’s actually great news, because we can fix our life style and positively effect our health.
Have a wonderful day!