Pain. Nausea. The NEED to be surrounded in darkness and silence. Sometimes you can see your migraines coming from a mile away, and all you can do is brace yourself for the onslaught; other times, they hit out of nowhere. If you don’t suffer from migraines, you may not realize how accurate the word “suffer” really is, but chew on these migraine facts for a minute
- Migraines are the 6th most disabling illness in the world.
- 39 million women, men, and children in the U.S. deal with migraines–at least a billion people worldwide.
- More than 90% of sufferers are unable to work or function normally during their migraine.
It’s more than just a headache. It’s a neurological disease, and some people deal with the symptoms almost 15 days a month. Difficulty attending and succeeding in school, challenges keeping up with the demands of a job, stress on relationships–these are just some of the serious by-products of chronic migraines.
But aren’t there treatments?
You can attack migraines from all kinds of angles. For some people, strong doses of caffeine, like you would find in an Excedrin Migraine tablet, might help, but typically only for mild symptoms. Over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen and acetaminophen, while sometimes providing relief, also come with risks (ulcers, overuse headaches) when used too frequently. Some people can block the pain with prescription Triptans, but those aren’t great for anyone at risk of a stroke or heart attack. And then there are opioids for pain, which may work, but are notorious for addictive properties that may outweigh the benefits.
Some less traditional treatment methods for migraines and the accompanying symptoms include
- Botox injections
- Chiropractic treatment
- Relaxation techniques
- Moderate exercise (don’t jump in too intensely or too quickly)
- Butterbur (doctors say it may be effective, but it’s also an herb with a high risk of liver toxicity, so users must proceed with extreme caution and may have to search far and wide to find it)
But the big one–still underused, but gaining traction as an effective way to handle migraines…
Vitamin B2, aka riboflavin and coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), both of which reduce the frequency of migraines for some individuals, as well as magnesium, which is often low in people with migraines, are three frontrunners in the race to use vitamins as weapons against migraines. Studies on MTHFR mutations as a plausible contributor to migraine support the use of vitamins B6, folate, and B12 if MTHFR is a factor. MTHFR, an enzyme necessary to convert and transport nutrients in the body, is sometimes genetically mutated in a way that prevents that conversion and transportation. Specifically, the C677T variant of MTHFR is shown to result in higher levels of plasma in amino acid carrying substance called homocysteine.
If your MTHFR is mutated (more common than you think), specifically as the C677T variant, you may be more susceptible to blood clots. Studies indicate that blood clotting is often associated with migraines.
SOoooo…if you are a person who experiences migraines, particularly with aura (double vision, blind spots, flashes of light, colors that often accompany a migraine), it could very well be worthwhile to work with your doctor to explore MTHFR genetic mutation as a possible condition.
If it’s identified, adding methylated B vitamins, folate, and magnesium to your health and wellness regimen could be the link you’ve been missing all this time.
The Gist of Migraine Treatment
As with any medical condition, the more you know, the better you can craft a plan of attack. Keeping a headache journal to help identify patterns–times of day, seasons, foods and drinks consumed–could aid in nailing down causes or irritants. MRI’s and CT Scans, while expensive and a cost inflator for healthcare as a whole, may pinpoint a very specific cause or condition that has brought on the migraines. Statistics show 90% of migraine sufferers have it in their family history, so learning more about your own family’s medical background may shed a little light on the subject as well. All of these can lead to a more informed, comprehensive, and hopefully effective treatment plan for you and your physician to work up and follow, so you can ease symptoms, reduce the frequency of migraines (or eliminate them altogether!), and focus on living big.