In early 2014 I was diagnosed with migraine after three scary vertigo attacks. My doctor isn’t 100% certain whether the vertigo is caused by Meniere’s disease or a benign schwannoma inside my right ear. After receiving this news I began looking for a lifestyle approach, having great confidence in food’s ability to help us heal.
I’ve written the first holistic guide to living with migraine book to help others, as the information I found was confusing and frustrating.
I’ve seen my migraine attacks go from 3-5 days per week to 1-2 per month. My daily headaches are gone. I haven’t had a vertigo attack since starting my Plan. Also, check out my top ten tools for migraine relief here.
My book The Migraine Relief Plan is now available. I hope you’ll check it out.
FAQs about migraine:
What is migraine?
Migraine is not “just a bad headache.” It’s a complex neurobiological condition that likely has physical and chemical components. It can be triggered by multiple factors, and those triggers are cumulative. Understanding your personal triggers is key to getting migraine attacks under control. While triggers don’t cause migraine, reducing them in your life should help reduce the frequency and possibly the severity of your attacks.
How do I know if I have migraine?
If you have regular headaches that are severe enough that you miss out on work or fun activities, please see a headache specialist. If you have regular “weather” headaches or sinus headaches, those are likely also migraine attacks. True sinus headaches are rare; it’s estimated that 90% of what people call sinus headaches are actually migraine. If you have headaches tied to your monthly cycle, those are most likely menstrual migraine.
Can I have migraine without head pain?
Yes. Depending on where the wave of neurotransmitter activity spreads in the brain, people can have vertigo, dizziness, nausea, ringing in the ears (tinnitus) or other hearing symptoms, neck pain, light or sound sensitivity, aura and other visual disturbances, and even temporary weakness or slackness in facial or arm muscles. If you have any of these symptoms, please see a doctor right away, during the attack if possible.
I went undiagnosed for years because my migraine attacks were atypical. It wasn’t until I started having vertigo attacks that I went to a specialist. In retrospect, I believe my migraine attacks started in childhood as abdominal migraine, and weather has been a huge trigger for me.
I tried changing my diet before and it didn’t help with my migraine
First of all, good for you for trying to change your diet! It’s really challenging, especially in our culture. Here’s what I have learned:
Not everyone has food triggers, but many people do (my guess is about 30%). Food allergies (often unknown to the person) are also more prevalent in people who get migraine. If you continue to eat foods that you are allergic to you (latent allergy vs. anaphylactic allergy), that creates an inflammatory condition in your body and your brain. An inflamed brain is more likely to trigger into a migraine attack.
What most people do is eliminate a few items they know are supposed to cause migraine for a few days or a couple of weeks, like red wine, cheese, and MSG. If that doesn’t work, they think that food isn’t a factor for them. However, it takes several weeks, possibly months, to see improvement once you’ve removed all triggers. The list of food triggers is extensive and includes many common and healthy foods, like soybeans, avocados, citrus fruits, and onions. It’s very difficult on your own to navigate the migraine elimination diet, as the lists are inconsistent and no one offers recipes. When I received my list I learned that about 75% of what was in my refrigerator as a super-healthy eater contained migraine triggers. It was staggering news.
That’s where my Plan comes in. I waded through the morass of information and created a Plan that works. It’s approved by a neurologist and has been vetted by a holistic nutritionist. I walk you step by step through the process. And I explain how to do it even if you follow a special diet like paleo or vegan. My Plan also helps you get off packaged and processed foods that are by nature inflammatory, with high levels of low-quality seed oils, sugar, and salt. Any one of these elements can be a problem for people with migraine.
What if food isn’t a factor for me? Will your Plan still help me?
It should, because I didn’t stop at food. I built in all the lifestyle factors that are known to affect migraine: regular sleep, regular gentle exercise, meditation, hydration, nutritious food eaten throughout the day, healthy fats and lower carbs, no sugar, and much less sodium.
Since migraine is an inflammatory process, my Plan also reduces inflammation by removing processed food, gluten, and sugar. I give you dairy-free options for most of my recipes, as dairy can be inflammatory for many people (I personally have to avoid it). I recommend high-quality healthy fats like extra-virgin olive and coconut oil, and grass-fed/pastured animals as well as wild-caught fish if you eat animal protein.
Together, these factors are successful in reducing the migraine threshold in most people who try it. Plus, I’m a big believer in empowering people to take charge of their own health, and having a Plan to follow and learning more about what works for you helps you feel less like a helpless victim. That’s always a good thing.
What about medication?
My Plan is not anti-medication. You’ll work with your doctor on that. But it should allow you to reduce the medication you need to take, which is positive overall. I still take triptans when I need to, but I’m glad I don’t need to ration them out like I used to. I don’t want my liver to have to process any more medication than it has to, and I also want my medications to be effective down the road when I need them.
Have more questions? Join my Facebook group and ask away!