Chronic headaches are a big problem. They affect millions of people and rack up millions of dollars in healthcare costs. Headaches are one of the most common reasons people go to the emergency room.
As a functional medicine doctor, I start by looking for the cause of the headache. Functional medicine, after all, is medicine by cause, not by symptom. I want to discover the underlying trigger of the headache. In my experience, and after seeing and treating hundreds of patients, I've learned the root cause of chronic headaches is not the head! In fact, hormone imbalance, vitamin deficiencies, and food allergies are some of the top factors causing chronic headaches.
Chronic headaches (including migraines) can be caused by:
Vitamin B deficiency -- some people who don't get enough riboflavin get chronic headaches. A typical American diet maybe rich in B vitamins but the question is if your gut is healthy enough to be able to absorb it all!!
Magnesium deficiency -- Magnesium helps you relax and if you are magnesium deficient, the result can be chronic headaches.
Melatonin imbalances -- Recent studies have shown that chronic headaches are related to sleep cycles and an imbalance in melatonin can affect the sleep cycle
Food allergies or sensitivities -- Foods like peanuts, dairy, and eggs can trigger chronic headaches if you are allergic or sensitive to them. By a simple elimination diet, you can discover if you have food sensitivities that might be the root cause of your chronic headaches.
Gluten allergy -- Gluten causes inflammation and many people are sensitive to gluten. Gluten is the protein found in wheat, barley, rye, oats, and spelt. Again, a simple elimination diet can determine if gluten is the cause of your chronic headaches.
Hormone imbalance -- Hormones in both men and women are very powerful metabolic regulators. Women, for example, may get premenstrual headaches, which is caused by imbalances in estrogen and progesterone -- typically too much estrogen and not enough progesterone. Hormone imbalances can be caused by a number of factors including stress, consuming too much sugar, flour and starches, and other conditions like hypothyroidism.
Finding the underlying cause of your chronic headaches starts with simple things to identify and eliminate what might be causing your chronic headaches.
Hydration, hydration, and hydration…Drink plenty of water…
Try an elimination diet -- get rid of the common food allergens including peanuts, gluten, dairy, and eggs.
Try magnesium Glycinate -- take 300 to 400 milligrams twice a day in the form of magnesium glycinate. Dr. Jadali's Essential Magnesium is a great choice.
Try riboflavin (Vitamin B2) -- 400 milligrams a day. (It will make your urine a dark yellow, but that's normal, don't worry.) It also may be taken as B-complex vitamin.
HOWEVER, TAKING VITAMINS AND MINERALS BLINDLY IS NOT ADVISED BY DR. JADALI. OUR PATIENTS UNDERGO A VIGOROUS INTRACELLULAR TESTING OF THEIR VITAMINS AND MINERALS THAT CHECKS ACTIVE AMOUNT OF THESE ELEMENTS IN THE IMMUNE SYSTEM AND NOT JUST IN THE CIRCULATING BLOODSTREAM.
There are also several FDA approved mediations (old & new) for the treatment of migraine headaches that include oral, nasal (through the nose), monthly subcutaneous (just under the skin injections at home) as well as Botulinum injection (BOTOX & Xeomin) that are typically injected every 3 months or so. Dr. Jadali's approach to these medications typically starts when all other potential causes of the migraine headaches have been investigated and other non-pharmaceutical therapies are started. The combination of non-pharmaceutical and medication therapies are often very effective.