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Montana Integrative Medicine :: Bozeman, MT

Migraine Headaches

Migraine headaches can cause debilitating pain so severe that relief is only obtained by lying down in a dark, quiet place. Migraine afflicts 28 million Americans, with females suffering more frequently (17%) than males (6%). The pain usually is on one side of the head, although about a third of the time the pain is on both sides. People suffering from migraines may also experience nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, cold hands, cold feet, and sensitivity to both light and sound. Typically, attacks can last from 4 to 72 hours.

Case: Migraine Headache / Depression / Premenstrual Syndrome

A 23-year old woman had been suffering for 7 years with migraine headaches. Up until one year ago she had been getting migraine headaches three times each year; however, the frequency had increased and she suffered migraine headaches daily now. Her migraines were accompanies by visual disturbances that manifested as seeing "little stars all over" and pain. A careful medical history revealed that her migraine headaches began when she was in high school and suffering from anorexia nervosa and intense periods of exercise. She had also been experiencing depression and fatigue. Given her medical history and chief complaint of migraine headaches, she was at high risk for underlying nutritional deficiencies. When she was evaluated she was taking three different medications for migraine headaches, Relpax, Zanaflex and Ultracet, and one antidepressant medication, Fuoxetine (Prozac). This woman also suffered from painful periods (dysmenorrhea) for which she would have to take Tylenol. One day prior to each period, she would become so emotional that she would break down in tears, and she stated that her mood was quite erratic.

Her biochemical testing revealed the underlying causes for her symptoms. She had severe amino acid deficiencies; food allergies; functional deficiencies in B-complex vitamins, of which the most severe was vitamin B6; functional deficiency in carnitine (elevated adipate), meaning that she was having difficulty burning her fats for cellular energy; liver detoxification pathway impairment (elevated orotate); and food allergies for dairy and eggs.

Amino acid deficiencies

Difficulty using fat for cellular energy (functional deficiency in carnitine)
Functional deficiencies in vitamins and minerals, specifically vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6 and lipoic acid
Low serotonin, combined with the low tryptophan (above) and elevated xanthurenate (functionally low vitamin B6), point to the underlying cause of depression being low tryptophan and functionally low vitamin B6
Liver detoxification pathway malfunction, indicating elevated ammonia (hyperammonemia), which has been associated with migraine headaches.
Food allergies (IgG 90-Antigen test)

She was placed on a therapeutic diet and specific nutrients to replete her deficiencies. After two weeks on her therapeutic diet and nutraceuticals she reported a 60% improvement in the intensity of her migraine headaches. Additionally, whereas she was experiencing migraines daily before, she had only experienced one migraine in the past two weeks. She could resume her daily activities without any interference from the migraines, and the flashes of light had also improved. With respect to her mood, she stated that her mood was "a lot better; more stable," and her premenstrual syndrome had completely resolved.

After being on the program for six weeks, continued to experience improvements in her symptoms. She had only experienced one migraine in the previous month since her last appointment, and that was after traveling and eating foods to which she was allergic. She also stated her depression had completely resolved and requested that Dr. Neustadt begin weaning her off her antidepressant medications. After twelve weeks she reported no migraine headaches, no PMS and that her mood was "excellent."