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Could Inflammation Be Causing Your Migraines?

Could Inflammation Be Causing Your Migraines?

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Let’s talk about some new research on helping with a debilitating chronic condition that thirty-nine million Americans suffer from: migraines.

Migraines are severe headaches characterized by intense, throbbing pain throughout the head. It can last up to two days and attacks can occur several times a month— talk about a condition that can really diminish your quality of life! Women are three times more likely than men to suffer from the condition and women often experience more symptoms, such as nausea and vomiting.

Men, however, are more likely to have migraines with auras—flashes of light, a blind spot, a change in vision, or a tingling sensation in the face or hands. These symptoms can be very concerning and upsetting.

Track Your Triggers
I often recommend keeping a headache journal to record what you ate, what you were doing, and where you were when you felt a migraine come on. This can be useful in determining what’s triggering these intense headaches. But if your trigger is a change in weather or a drop in hormone levels during your menstrual cycle, it’s going to be extremely hard—if not impossible—to eliminate these triggers from your life.

New research by the Journal of Headache and Pain identifies inflammation as a key component in migraine attacks. The study found that inflammation, which is our body’s immune response, signals protein clusters to stimulate neurons and cause pain. Therefore, getting to the root of the issue and making changes to eliminate chronic inflammation can produce better results for migraine relief than limiting the medical response to triggers.

Common Migraine Triggers Caused by Inflammation
Key contributors to migraine-related inflammation, according to recent research:

  • Stress: Prolonged stress leads to elevated cortisol in the body, which causes not only inflammation, but can disrupt the digestive system, reproductive system, and growth processes in the body.
  • Inflammatory foods: These include red and processed meat, soda and sugary beverages, refined carbohydrates (white bread, white rice, pasta, pastries, etc.), refined sugars, fried foods, and trans fats.
  • Excess weight: Research from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis confirmed that fat cells inside the abdomen secrete molecules that can increase inflammation.
  • Low vitamin levels: If you’re low in vitamin D, folate, magnesium, riboflavin (B12), and CoQ10, you may be more prone to migraine headaches.
  • Not eating enough antioxidants: Foods such as berries, leafy greens, nuts, olive oil, and fatty fish are all excellent sources of anti-inflammatory antioxidants.
  • Caffeine and alcohol: Women metabolize caffeine and alcohol more slowly than men, and while every individual is different in tolerance levels, limiting caffeine and alcohol to no more than 1–2 servings a day may help limit the negative effects both these toxins have on the body.
  • Not getting enough exercise: According to the American Migraine Foundation, regular exercise can help reduce the frequency of migraines. Exercise releases endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers, and helps reduce stress, improve sleep quality, and maintain a healthy weight—all things that can contribute to inflammation and subsequently, to migraine headaches.

WellcomeMD Naples 
WellcomeMD is a concierge primary care practice focused on patient wellness. In fact, we like to call our model Concierge 2.0—as in, the next generation in concierge medicine.

Like traditional concierge practices, we offer same-day or next-day appointments, 90-minute annual physical exams, and comprehensive appointments. But we raise it to the next level by offering the most advanced laboratory testing, allowing us to treat the “whole patient” by measuring often overlooked factors including enteric health, physical activity, hormonal balance, nutrition, sleep, and stress levels.

For more information, visit WellcomeMD.com/naples-florida or contact our Membership Director Pamela Ross at 239.880.2562 or pamela.ross@wellcomemd.com. 11181 Health Park Blvd., Naples.

Diana Macian, MD, of WellcomeMD Naples, is a board-certified emergency medical physician with 9 years of experience treating patients with a wide range of medical conditions. She and her team offer complimentary consultations to answer any questions you may have on how Dr. Macian can help you achieve optimal health. To schedule a tour of our practice and a free consultation, please call Pam Ross at 239.451.5105 or visit WellcomeMD at: wellcomemd.com/naples-florida, 11181 Health Park Blvd., Naples