I wanted to do a bit of a follow up to my “How to Cure a Migraine” post because I thought I left a few key points out.
First of all, if you think the conversation has deviated too much from the idea of menopause and histamine, I wanted to reassure you that I’m still talking about the same thing, only the allergy-like reaction is a migraine instead of an itch. I believe that ultimately, the trigger for migraine is too much histamine and an intolerance to it. For years we’ve read that common migraine triggers are citrus, aged cheeses, wine, and chocolate. And guess what? Those foods are commonly found on lists of histamine trigger foods.
I’ve had migraines ever since I’ve gotten my period. I’ve also read, ever since then, that migraines can be triggered by hormonal fluctuations. This entire blog is about hormonal fluctuations and histamine intolerance. It’s not a big leap to put all these pieces together. It’s not the hormones causing the migraines. It’s the change in hormones raising the histamine levels that’s triggering the migraines. Histamine crosses the blood brain barrier. This is the post that goes into detail on what happens when your estrogen fluctuates and histamine rises.
I want to also talk about the difference between migraine with aura, classic, and migraine without aura, common, because there are some differences when it comes to how you know a migraine is coming on.
• Common migraines have three stages. Prodrome, pain, and postdrome.
The prodrome is the phase when you feel the migraine coming. You don’t have pain yet, but you know something is amiss. You might also feel depressed or irritable. This is precisely the time to go out and run or do something to avert getting a full-on migraine.
The next phase is pain, which if you’re reading this I’m sure you’re acquainted with. The throbbing, pulsing, nauseating moment you think you’d like to die is upon you. Good luck getting yourself out the door to run by this point! I am not sure it would help or hurt in this phase to tell you the truth. I haven’t let myself get there since using my exercise cure.
During the pain phase, there is such a thing as a silent migraine.This is a migraine without pain. I’ve had this a lot. This is when you think the migraine might be gone but you still feel like it’s there. Well, it is. It’s just not throbbing. But all the other dysfunctional things your brain is doing during a migraine are still going on. I found this was a real problem when I took medication. It would make the pain stop but not the migraine. This is actually a very important thing to realize.
The final phase is postdrome. This is when you feel as if a truck ran over you. This can last hours or days depending on your recovery.
• Classic migraines have auras. Auras are the sensory disturbances that happen right before the pain of the headache comes on. They manifest as light flashes, unusual tastes and smells, or even confusing thoughts.
Once the migraine really gets going, it’s very similar to a common migraine. And I’m quite sure you also feel as if you’ve been mowed down by a bus when it’s done.
The difference between the two might be what is actually going on across your brain. I say might because there are so many theories out there it’s hard to say anything definitively. The thinking is that the aura of the classic migraine is a seizure-like phenomenon in the brain known as cortical spreading depression (CSD) and that it is the underlying cause of both migraine auras and migraine pain. This website has a great explanation. But I’ve also read explanations that used the words aura and prodrome interchangeably, and wonder if there really is that much difference between the two headaches. I also question whether the cortical spreading is a cause or effect of migraine pain. It is my belief that cortical spreading is the result of brain hypoxia. And cortical spreading causes aura, and or prodrome but does not necessarily cause the migraine. The hypoxia is the cause.
I’ve based my “cure” on the theory that brain hypoxia triggers migraine. The thing that triggers the hypoxia is low blood pressure which is triggered by high histamine. It seems to be, whether you are talking about a classic migraine or a common one, the difference is if you have an aura or not. And many people think the aura is triggered by the cortical spreading. But then what is the prodome? A psychic reading? No, it’s an aura minus the sensory showcase.
If you read this abstract, it backs up the theory of hypoxia as a migraine trigger, and basically says the hypoxia triggers the cortical spreading, not that the cortical spreading triggers the migraine. From the abstract:
“Spreading cortical depression, leading to the aura, is believed to be another consequence of brain hypoxia occurring in classical migraine. There are no other genuine differences between classical and common migraine, according to the cerebral hypoxia theory.”
The reason I am going on and on about what kind of migraine you have is because ultimately how you get rid of it is the same. You have to raise your blood pressure and oxygenate your brain. And you have to know when to act. If you are a classic migraine sufferer, you better start running when you see rainbows and unicorns. If you are a common migraine sufferer, you better act when you’re sitting around thinking, “do I have a headache?” Either way, if you don’t act on it, you’ll have a migraine. And from there, classic and common don’t differ. They both throb and make you vomit.
I also wanted to touch on just how much exercise you have to do to stop the migraine. I don’t actually know. I can only tell you that it has to be rigorous and sustained enough to make you breath hard for at least a few minutes. Without that, I’ve found the headache hangs on until I try again. What you do and how long you do it is dependent on how fit you are.
I’ve gotten a lot of feedback from people who have said they’ve used exercise to get rid of a migraine. The Low Histamine Chef even wrote-in backing up the idea of using exercise. But I can tell you if you wait too long to get moving, it’s way harder to get rid of the headache. You have to do something in the aura/prodrome stage.
Before I let you go I wanted to talk about one last thing. Ever since I decided not to medicate, I’ve had some interesting observations on the duration of a migraine. When I used Advil, I’d need to take it every four hours. I’d also have the migraine for anywhere between two and five days. Now, even if it comes back in the same day it started, it only lasts maybe twenty four hours. It’s never lasted more than a day. Even a really bad one that I couldn’t nip early. And trust me, that day was no picnic. I had bouts of throbbing I thought I’d have to give in and take something. But I refused. Then the pain would go away for a while and come back. But after the day, the pain was completely gone on its own.
This was interesting to me. I always thought a migraine was constant pain. But it isn’t. Not for me anyway. It ebbs and flows until it leaves. But with medication, it leaves and then comes roaring back four hours later when the meds wear off. And it lasts for days on end.
If you don’t already know, taking medication for migraine has a nasty effect of something called rebound. A rebound headache happens when you’ve taken medication for a while. When you stop you go into a kind of withdrawal that triggers another round of headaches. If you read a site like WebMd, it states that this can happen when you overuse or misuse pain relievers, or exceed labeling instructions, but I think that’s incorrect. I think it happens even when you use them as prescribed.
I don’t think a migraine is meant to last five days. I now believe that it’s the medication that’s sustaining the migraine. In layman’s terms it’s messing with the natural healing that would otherwise occur if you took nothing. I have no proof of this other than I know rebound headaches are real. I just can’t prove that they are result of taking medication for only a day. But I also know if I don’t take any medication the migraine leaves on its own within a day, not five.
So that’s it for the follow up…for now. My last post was the most popular one I’d ever written. I’d gotten over 12oo views on that post alone. So I know migraine is a big thing with a lot of people. I know it is for me. I figured the more information I can disseminate, the better, and the more people might be helped by this kind of forward thinking.
I just think we can’t curl up in a dark room taking pills like our mothers did anymore! We have to take hold of our healing and run with it!