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Migraine is a term used to describe a specific kind of headache. People usually call bad headaches Migraines. However, this term describes a neurological phenomenon that generally includes headaches, but not always.

Usually, the treatment includes staying away from triggers and using medication like B-blockers, Calcium Channel blockers, triptans, anti-inflammatories, pain medications, steroids, etc. Even with these treatments, many people get minimal, if any, relief. They continue to need drugs for much of their lives.

Migraine sufferers may have such disabling symptoms that they miss work or school regularly. They may have to stay in a quiet, dark room to try to sleep it off. From an alternative medical view, there can be many contributing causes to Migraines.

These include:

Triggers

Many substances in processed foods can be culprits. Artificial sweeteners, like Aspartame, MSG, and others, can be hidden in food. Food Preservatives like Nitrates, Nitrites, and Sulfites in bacon, dried fruit, and wine can cause trouble. Foods containing Tyramine, like chocolate or cheese, can be triggers.

To avoid these triggers, it is essential to eat a whole food diet and drink plenty of water. Your Functional Medicine Provider may order Food Sensitivity Testing or put you on a Comprehensive Elimination Diet. Testing can help identify foods or other substances that have been causing trouble.

Vitamin & Mineral Deficiencies

Magnesium deficiency is rampant! It is a frequent cause of Migraines. It’s essential to have access to gentle, well-absorbed forms of Magnesium, as diarrhea is a frequent side effect of magnesium supplements. B-vitamins also play a part in Migraines. Fixing Vitamin D deficiency has helped some.

Hormone Imbalances

Excess Estrogen is a common imbalance in men and women, followed by Testosterone and Progesterone deficiencies. Many women get Migraines at the same time every month as hormones fluctuate. They aren’t crazy! It does happen more commonly than many think.

Usually,  an imbalance or some deficiency increases or decreases a metabolic pathway. This results in too much or too little of one or more hormones. Working with a Functional Medicine Provider to assess hormone levels and improve them is invaluable.

Mitochondrial Dysfunction

Mitochondria are energy-producing powerhouses in our cells. Common deficiencies like CoQ10, B Vitamins, Alpha Lipoic Acid, Carnitine, and other Amino Acids can grind the mitochondria to a halt. This results in Fatigue, Brain Fog, and Muscle Aches. Testing Urinary Organic Acids can find these deficiencies.

Generalized Inflammation

Any source of inflammation can cause migraines and other dysfunctions. Your Functional Medicine Provider can order IgG Food Sensitivity testing, Gluten Sensitivity testing, Candida, Yeast, Parasites, Bacterial Overgrowth, Lack of Digestive Enzymes, Leaky Gut Syndrome, and other tests. These are done by blood, urine, or stool sampling.

These are a few common things we regularly find that contribute to Migraines, but there are more. Traditional medical providers may not have the tools or training to search for these causes. They may be limited to prescribing medications to just handling the symptoms.

Each person is unique and has their own set of circumstances. Seeing a provider trained in Functional Medicine can be a step towards non-traditional testing and treatment sometimes needed to help people with this and other conditions. To see Dr. Gilmore for these or other conditions, contact The Maine Center for Functional Medicine at (207) 941-0080.