Migraines and causes
Migraines are severe headaches that affect more than 37 million Americans. Among whom, 18% are women, 6% are men and 19% are soldiers of the Iraq/Afganistan war. Previous research shows that excessive dilation or contraction of brain’s blood vessels can trigger migraines. However recent studies show that other factors including inflammation can cause migraines. However, inflammation by itself doesn’t cause the pain and it is the abnormal nerve activity that results in pain.
In people with migraines, the trigeminal nerve which goes from the brain to head and face triggers the release of a substance called Calcitonin Gene-Related Peptides (CGRP) which results in inflammation and triggers pain receptors in meninges. Meninges are three membranes including dura mater, arachnoid mater and pia that envelope the central nervous system.
Migraine can cause other symptoms such as visual problems, sensitivity to light, nausea and headaches. Women are more susceptible to migraines than men and one of the reasons is the fluctuations and especially low levels of hormone estrogen.
Also migraines usually happen in people aged 25 and above and the occurance of migraines usually tends to decline with age. However children can suffer from migraines also. The first symptoms of migraines in children might not be headache but it can be abdominal pain, dizziness, severe motion sickness, vomiting and colic.
Factors that can trigger migraines
There are a number of factors that can trigger migraines in a person such as ,stress liver malfunction, hormonal changes, too little or too much sleep, allergies, flashing or flickering lights, constipation, lack of physical activity, changes in barometric pressure, alcohol and menstruation. Other factors including dental problems, certain foods and low blood sugar levels can also cause severe headaches. Studies have shown that during a migraine attack the blood sugar levels are really low. In fact the lower the blood sugar level, the more severe are the headaches.
Foods that can trigger migraines and diet recommendation:
Certain foods with artificial coloring, additives or preservatives including MSG and aspartame can trigger migraines. Other preservatives that are added to canned foods and processed meats such as sodium nitrate and nitrite and fermented or marinated foods can also trigger migraines.
Avoid foods that have amino acid tyramine including bananas, beer, cabbage, canned fish, eggplant, dairy products including cheese such as brie and cheddar, potatoes, red plums, wine and yeast.
Excessive citrus, chocolates, wheat and soy can also trigger migraines. In fact many people who try to quit soy or wheat can get severe headaches after quitting. Eliminate your soy consumption, especially soy milk that has been linked to breast cancer in women.
Even peanuts, peanut butter, dried fruits, avocados and papaya can trigger migraines.
Adopt a diet low in simple carbohydrates and high in protein. Wild Sockeye Salmon is the lowest mercury fish and great source of protein and omega 3 fatty acids which is good for your body. Also include organic almond milk, coconut milk, parsley, garlic, cherries, fresh pineapple and kale in your diet, if you are not allergic to any of these.
Avoid salt, cereals, fried foods, greasy foods and grains and eat smaller portions. Also have more nutritional snacks in between meals (such as carrots or celery) and do not skip your meals.
Feverfew can help to reduce migraine pain. Do not take feverfew during pregnancy.
Ginkgo biloba has been known to improve circulation.
Other herbs including chamomile, ginger, peppermint, valerian, willow bark, wormwood, cayenne and rosemary can be effective for migraines. Do not take wormwood during pregnancy or for long term.