Last Update December 18, 2014
I don’t mean to beat a dead horse, but merely managing your chronic migraine headaches with meds is not the answer.
I am not saying that it’s not the short-term goal. If you’ve ever spent time on some of the social networking sites that relate to migraine headaches, you’ll realize just how devastating and life-shattering migraine headaches can be. Jobs, relationships and lives in general can be restricted to living like a hermit in constant pain.
I understand that controlling the pain of the headaches is the first priority for a migraine sufferer. But not everyone gets relief from medications. This group spends their lives in a constant search for relief. Medication after medication after medication. When they’re lucky enough to find a medication to help, sometimes the side effects are just as debilitating.
The other group includes the ones who do find relief from medications. But then they stop there, blissfully unaware that this is just the first step.
I have written over and over that the headaches are the symptom of a much bigger problem. The headache is NOT a problem in the head. Rather, it is the brain that is the most sensitive organ to the unbalanced state of health, with the critical dysfunction coming from blood vessel health (also referred to as “vascular health”).
Poor vascular health is at the root of migraines. It is not always the only answer, but in most it is the principle problem. If you can address vascular health and improve the health of your blood vessels, it is highly likely that you’ll find that your migraines improve as your blood vessels do.
Just in case you think I’m crazy for suggesting this merely because your neurologist has never suggested it, I would like to present as evidence this particular study.
In it, researchers looked at the relationship between the development of Parkinson’s disease in migraine sufferers in the AGES-Reykjavik study. And the news isn’t good.
The Age, Gene/Environment Susceptibility-Reykjavik Study (AGES-Reykjavik) is a study that began in 2002 and is designed to look at the relationship between risk factors, including genetic susceptibility and gene/environment interaction, in relation to disease and disability in old age.
Between 2002 and 2006, 5,764 participants from this study were reexamined to look for symptoms of parkinsonism, Parkinson disease, a family history of Parkinsons and Restless Leg Syndrome. Here’s what they found:
- People who experienced midlife migraine (especially migraine with aura) were 360% more likely to report parkinsonian symptoms.
- They were also 250% more likely to be diagnosed with Parkinsons.
- Women who had migraines with aura were 226% more likely to have a parent or 178% more likely to have a sibling who were diagnosed with Parkinsons.
- All of those who experienced headaches were more likely to experience Restless Leg Syndrome.
Parkinson’s disease has been strongly linked to prediabetes and diabetes. The damage to the blood vessels that occurs in the diabetic process is pretty bad, leading to actual brain damage and dying brain cells. I don’t know about you, but I’m hoping to keep all my brain cells intact as long as possible.
While no single study or research finding is enough to set anything in stone, the links between poor vascular health and migraines is quite extensive. Extensive enough to warrant finding a new neurologist if this has never been discussed with you.
It is equally clear that vascular problems LEAD to migraine headaches, NOT the reverse. This means that all the bang for your buck is in improving the health of your blood vessels to help your migraine headaches, not improving blood vessel health by controlling your migraines. There is not a single medication used to control headaches that does anything to improve blood vessel health.
There are quite a few ways to improve the health of your blood vessels. While it is beyond the scope of this article (you can read all about it in my Migraines and Epilepsy eBook by clicking here) here are a few short tips:
- Short-burst exercise is a must
- Cocao products like dark chocolate and cocoa, are very good for the blood vessels
- Wild caught fish
- Not smoking (smoking DESTROYS the blood vessels)
While this is the short list, it should be enough to get you started.