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Did you know that more than 10 million Americans suffer with migraines? Did you know that this also creates a burden of mostly unnecessary suffering? Migraines costs society $24 billion a year, which is almost entirely preventable, simply by following the principles of Functional Medicine.

These disabling headaches can occur anywhere from once a year to three-to-four times a week, lasting from hours to days. They are often associated with an aura, light sensitivity, nausea, vomiting, and severe throbbing pain on one or both sides of the head. In the most serious forms, migraines are even associated with stroke-like symptoms or paralysis.

The problem with migraine treatment is the same problem we see time and time again: We treat the symptoms, not the cause. We deal with only the effects of something and not the underlying causes. Thankfully, functional medicine has made it easy for us to get nearly 100% of our patients migraine free within days to weeks.

To help you on that journey, here are the most important causes of migraines, their associated symptoms, tests to help identify problems, and treatments you can start using today.


Finding the Causes of Your Migraines


Hidden Food Allergy or Sensitivity

  • Symptoms: Fatigue/brain fog, bloating, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), joint or muscle pain, postnasal drip, and sinus congestion, among others.
  • Testing: Check an IgG (not IgE) food allergy panel through an outside lab such as Genova Diagnostics or Great Plains Laboratory.  These tests cannot be run by hospital laboratories or conventional labs such as LabCorp or Quest Diagnostics or through skin testing often performed by an allergist. Check the stool for yeast and bacterial imbalances since they are often associated with  underlying food intolerances.
  • Treatment: Eliminate the biggest food culprits such as red meat, poultry, eggs, dairy products, and fish since they are now loaded with heavy metals, hormones, antibodies, and industrial toxicants due to today’s agriculture irrelevant if pasture-raised, cage-free, grass-fed, or organic.  Eliminate GMO crops such as wheat, corn, soy, and rice since the seeds are no longer recognized by human cells as safe, and are sprayed heavily with toxic pesticides. GMO crops are loaded in all processed foods, condiments, and animal products. Try not to jump to ready-made gluten-free products, breads, or flours since they are not that much better.  Cut down drastically on sugar, alcohol, and caffeine (in coffee, black tea, green tea, chocolate) since they damage the stomach and liver quickly causing difficulty easily digesting food, absorbing critical nutrients, and eventually weaken the immune system along with all other organ functions.


Synthetic Chemical Triggers

  • Causes: Processed-foods (both organic and inorganic) are rich in synthetic additives, GMO crops, and void of nutrients.  They have become a staple in the standard American diet (SAD) which is known for being rich in pesticides, chemicals, additives, sulfites, and sweeteners masked in all animal products, GMO grains, cereals, alcohol, sugar, processed food, and bread and labelled as “natural”, “organic”, “healthy” by the food industry.  Focus on having only whole fresh plant-based foods rich in green vegetables, legumes, mushrooms, with sparing consumption of nuts and fruit.


Hormonal Imbalances

  • Causes: Liver is overworked trying to process too much sugar, alcohol, caffeine, nicotine, hidden food sensitivities, large meals, or frequent eating. Food cannot be adequately used for energy and hence, asked to be stored in the liver for future use. In the setting of frequent stress signals, the liver will never be able to use the stored fat for energy.  The other challenge is today’s standard American diet is also loaded with heavy metals and other industrial toxic chemicals which harm the liver.

When there is a constant stress signal elicited, the production of thyroid and sex hormones becomes disrupted leading to poor regulation of normal physiologic functions. For example, chronic liver congestion leads to excess production of estrogen and progesterone which leads to breast tenderness, fibrocystic dense breasts, and breast cancer. It can also cause ovarian cysts, heavy irregular menstrual bleeding, painful menstrual cramps, lower abdominal pain, and/or bloating.

Oral contraceptive pills and hormone replacement therapy also cause liver congestion and depletion of critical B vitamins.  B vitamins are critical antioxidants and necessary for the production of neurotransmitters dopamine, serotonin, melatonin, and epinephrine. B vitamin deficiencies causes anemia, headaches, fatigue, neuropathy, brain fog, mood shifts, and decreased blood flow to all organs. Testing: Blood or saliva testing to check for thyroid hormones, cortisol levels, sex hormones estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. Check blood for liver cell death and intracellular nutrient deficiencies.

  • Treatment: Drink 1 liter of water upon awakening and again after 9 hours.  Try to eat a few small plant-based fresh meals in between this time and not thereafter.  Focus on foods grown above ground (versus not grown from the Earth or man-made). Be fully immersed in whatever you do and do not multi-task.  Value sleeping before 10 p.m. and awakening with the sun. Be connected with how well you exhale -- strive to take 8 to 10 deep, slow breaths per minute.


Magnesium Deficiency

  • Symptoms: Anything that feels tight or "crampy" like headaches, constipation, anxiety, insomnia, irritability, sensitivity to loud noises, muscle cramps or twitching, and palpitations.
  • Testing: Since Magnesium is primarily intracellular, it cannot be accurately tested by blood.
  • Treatment: Take Magnesium citrate in doses that relieve symptoms. There is no unsafe maximum dose until you reach the point of developing diarrhea.


Mitochondrial Imbalances

  • Symptoms: Fatigue, muscle aching, and brain fog, although sometimes the only symptom can be migraines.
  • Testing: Checking urinary organic acids can be helpful to assess the function of the mitochondria and energy production.
  • Treatment: Riboflavin (B2) twice a day and Co-enzyme Q10 can be helpful, as can as other treatments to support the mitochondria.

Keep in mind that a combination of treatments may be necessary along with herbal therapies (i.e., Feverfew, Butterbur extract,) BEMER, acupuncture, massage, and/or osteopathic treatment dependent on the specific case.


To learn more, contact our office today and schedule a consultation.

Each person is unique. Their treatment is personalized at Advanced Health.


Advanced Health Integrative Functional Medical Center
2201 Webster Street
Pacific Heights

San Francisco, CA 94115
Phone: 415-483-7080
Fax: 415-872-1140

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