Follow up to the migraine cure post

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!



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Posted in histamine intolerance, menopause, migraine, peri-menopause, Women's health
7 comments on “Follow up to the migraine cure post
  1. says:

    Thank u
    Sent from my BlackBerry device on the Rogers Wireless Network

  2. Pat Ruff says:

    HI Dale. Thank you so much for both of the blogs!

    I’ve actually been diagnosed with Vascular or Vestubular Migraine Syndrome. It’s basically migraines on steroids! Ive suffered from migraines for years but this syndrome I ncludes all of the stages you explained plus vertigo and shaking. All originating from the central nervous system. I’ve eliminated the vertigo, for now thru diet modification, however still am fighting the migraine monster!

    I was sick with a cold, that turned into a sinus infection, which always triggers a migraine last weekend. I tried going on my elliptical for exercise as your blog suggested, but was unsuccessful because I was already in the pain stage. I was also experiencing the rebound and not the original. I am also past Advil as another mentioned. Excedrin is the only medication that will take away the banging! Unfortunately it is also one of the biggest culprits for causing rebounds.

    You are soooo correct about the rebound migraine though! I have always known that one migraine causes a rebound in about two days on the other side of my head. It was just something I dealt with because I didn’t know what to do to avoid it. What I have now discovered is it doesn’t stop there! The medication you take for that rebound just causes another and another until you are having daily migraines. That’s why many migraine sufferers say their migraine go in spurts. You have daily migraines until some how that cycle stops. Until the next one.

    From what I have read, it is the medication and no longer the original trigger, that causes the nerves in your brain to become hyper-sensitive. I am unfortunately at this stage. What I never realized though is that the original migraine,caused by a trigger, is not the same animal as the rebound migraine. Preventative medication and avoiding triggers, and I’m sure, even your excercise protocol, will lesson the original migraine, but only stopping the pain killer will ever stop the rebound cycle. Figuring out how to do that and be a nanny with a 13 hour day is what I haven’t yet conquered! The fact that you said the migraine goes away in 24 hours really intrigues me. It also makes sense.

    I am going to try and stick out the pain when the next migraine comes and see if it does go away in a day as well. I’ll let you know. Again thanks for all of your information and the time you take to research for all of us! Pat

    • Thank you so much for sharing. I hope you can break the chain of migraines. I’d be really interested in hearing if you do give up taking meds, even for a while, if you see any improvement. I think a lot of people don’t know about the whole rebound headache thing. Keep in touch and let me know how it goes.


  3. Pat Ruff says:

    Hi Dale. I tried yesterday to muscle through a migraine yesterday. I Wanted so much to see if it would go away after 24 hours. Unfortunately I lasted till 11 pm, and even though I had taken an Ambien to maybe sleep it off, the pain had intensified so much I couldn’t take it and took Excedrin. Hopefully another day.

  4. Melissa says:

    Hi, Dale. Thank you for sharing your research and experiences. I am glad to see some of my self-observations aren’t unique to me, i.e., the aerobic exercise component. The longest time I have gone without a migraine was a magical month in 2008…memories. At that time it just happened I didn’t have much to do, so I turned on the radio and danced my fanny off. For about four hours a day. For about a year. The migraines gradually diminished in frequency during the preceding months. They did come back though. I have tried aerobic activities as an abortive, but without much luck. I am probably not doing it early enough, vigorously enough, or long enough. But your notes are encouraging.

    From my experience, the histamine thing is a hit and miss. Some of that tracks and some doesn’t. Yeast bad, yes. Beans good, no. I can’t eat a bean to save my life (migraine). One thing that was a huuuuge OMG for me was soy. I was a vegetarian for a very long time (even during the aforementioned magic month) and relied quite heavily on soy products. Not the hyper-processed “meatless meat” stuff, but soymilk and tofu. Had absolutely brutal 3-day migraines. About 3 years ago, I read that a ketogenic diet was beneficial for epileptic children and also migraine. So I went full-on keto/paleo. I was down to less that 20 grams of carbs a day, and did well for a few weeks. For some reason, being low-carb “did something else” to my system and I was having a menstrual period every five days and the migraine to go with it. I was either at the end of perimenopause or the beginning of actual menopause. Raising my carb level stopped the periods, and they haven’t come back (no love lost there – adios). Migraines remain. Here’s the point: without soy, and eating actual fooood, I still have migraines, but they only last one day. I took a soy lecithin capsule (which I had thought was beneficial for me) and had a three-day migraine a day later. That was what told me the soy was the source of my decade-long drama.

    Advil rebound is the worst! I do find feverfew supplements and cayenne pepper liquid extract very effective. I put the cayenne in a capsule and swallow it. Magnesium glycinate helps. Don’t know how these affect or impact CSD, histamines, etc. I’m going to try the rosemary essential oil. I had not heard that. Very interesting about the nitric oxide component. I have used clary sage and lavender essential oils on a handkerchief which I dramatically flutter in front of my face. Seems to help.

    Again, thank you for furthering the conversation.

  5. lisa024293 says:

    This is going to sound nuts… I had severe migraines before my hysterectomy. Since then very rare do they happen. Doc did have me on Topamax and Propranolol. I’m trying to wean off ALL my meds (been on the meds for years even wellbutrin) and I’ve noticed that when I am getting ready to have what I think is a migraine, starts as a pressure in the back of my head and only happens at night (around 10 pm for some odd reason) and usually leads to a hot flash. I noticed it was weekly. I did stop meds for a while, but had a panic attack and took them again. But the dose I took was nothing near what the prescribed dose is… this maybe why my hair is itching, lol.

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