Suffering from a migraine every month around the time of your period? Likely there is a hormone imbalance contributing to these PMS headaches. I have had women who had suffered with these every month for 16 years, who were amazed to find that their period could come and go without a migraine after naturopathic treatment.
What Causes Migraines?
There are a number of theories as to the origin of migraines:
- Serotonin imbalance
- Histamine – excess or intolerance
- Lack of B vitamins
- Lack of magnesium
- Muscle tension
- Hormone imbalance
What Can I do About Migraines?
The solution to migraines is to address some or all of the factors listed above, all of which can be done through naturopathic medicine.
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is produced in the brain, it is a chemical that the brain produces that influences how the brain works. It is considered to be the “happy” neurotransmitter and it’s one of the key neurotransmitters addressed in people who suffer with depression. The brain requires vitamin B6, magnesium and an amino acid called tryptophan to make serotonin. Supporting these nutrients can sometimes allow the brain to rectify a serotonin imbalance on its own.
Histamine is a substance released by white blood cells called mast cells. It’s part of how the immune system defends you against viruses and bacteria, but excessive histamine can cause inflammatory conditions like allergies. People with allergies will take anti-histamines to try to prevent histamine release or histamine binding to receptors. Vitamins C and B6 are natural anti-histamines. In the gut, we produce an enzyme that helps to break down histamine, called DAO. Some people aren’t genetically programmed to produce enough DAO, for those people sometimes supplementing DAO helps.
Lack of B Vitamins
Vitamin B2, B5 and B6 supplementation have all been shown to help migraine sufferers.
Lack of Magnesium
Magnesium serves a dual purpose for those with migraines: it helps muscles to relax and helps calm down the nervous system. Both B vitamins and magnesium are also essential to help the body cope with stress.
Tightness in the neck and shoulder muscles can compress nerves, cause misalignment of the spine (subluxation) and contribute to migraines. Massage therapy, chiropractic treatment, proper posture, yoga, pilates, a more ergonomic work environment, acupuncture, craniosacral therapy and magnesium may all help with migraines that originate from muscle tension.
Menstrual migraines are obviously related to fluctuations in hormones or hormone imbalance. What has worked most effectively in my practice for these types of migraines has been enabling efficient phase I and phase II liver detoxification through supportive nutrients like pyridoxal-5-phosphate, 5MTHF, vitamin B12, indole-3-carbinol, calcium-d-glucarate, N Acetyl-cysteine, and magnesium. Herbs like Vitex agnus-castus combined with vitamin B6 will also sometimes help in the event of insufficient progesterone production.