My journey to find the cause of my migraines
Like many of you who have landed on this website, I suffered from severe migraines for decades. At first I didn’t know that they were migraines. Rather, I just thought that I had headaches and that was normal. It was not until a few years ago that I was able to discover that I had been suffering from chronic migraine headaches all my life.
I spent countless hours with different doctors to try and find my own migraine relief. I wasted a lot of money to get to the root cause of my own migraine episodes without any real success. I became frustrated with the lack of knowledge and the increased frequency of my migraine episodes that I decided to take matters into my own hands and become my own health advocate. One thing I simply refused to do, was to take any medication for my migraines. Based on my own analysis and work, I now rarely have migraines.
I hope that the information on this site will allow you to substantially reduce the severity and frequency of your own migraine episodes and live more productive and fulfilling lives.
The night before a migraine occurred I would become fatigued, barely able to keep my eyes open. The next day, I would experience a significant amount of gas, belching, burping, and so on. My stomach would feel bloated. The day of the migraine, when experiencing the most severe episodes, I would become nauseous, sometimes wanting to throw up. The pain would amount to a 9 or 10 on a scale of 1 to 10.
The answers given to me by doctors when i first asked why i have migraines
- “It is hard to say. It would be like finding a needle in the hay stack.”
- “It can be so many things: sleep, stress, diet, changes in the barometric pressure etc.”
- “The best thing to do is to find a medicine that aborts the migraine and stick with that medicine. Triptans have the best record of success with migraines.”
The general consensus was that that it could be one or more things and that they all were intertwined somehow. I was told to start taking medication when I felt an oncoming episode and do so for the rest of my life. To me, this was not an option.
The WAY FORWARD
I had always been able to eat everything, or so I thought. Generally, I was able to get a good night’s sleep and assumed that I did not really have any stress in my life. Changes in the environment did not seem to affect me, but I had lived in the same place for many years, breathed the same air ,and consumed the same water. I was not taking any type of medication on a regular basis either that could be causing issues.
working on my diet
I would encourage everyone suffering from migraines to keep a food journal. Although it can be very tedious, especially in the beginning, it is an important starting point. I began keeping a food journal and, after every meal, I would note everything that I had eaten, down to the spices that went into preparing the meal. I also read somewhere that caffeine could be a migraine trigger .While I really enjoyed coffee, I decided to quit caffeine altogether. It was terrible and I had a constant headache for almost a week. As a result, the first week’s journal was not of much use. However, the withdrawal headache was not in the same place as compared with my migraine headaches. After approximately one week, the caffeine withdrawals subsided. I continued keeping my food journal.
migraine episodes become less frequent
It took almost two weeks before I had another migraine episode and it was the longest I had gone without having a migraine in almost a year. I was excited because it felt as though, for the first time, I was on the right track. I recalled when a doctor told me that it would be useless to change my diet because there were too many variables to consider and I would be leaving out important foods that would be safe to consume.
When a migraine episode finally occurred, it was not as strong as it had been before. Looking over my notes, I noticed that I was using milk in my cereal every morning for breakfast. I decided to cut out dairy completely from my diet and see how that affected me. By removing caffeine and dairy from my diet, I started to notice my migraines episodes declining.
getting a handle on the timing between migraine episodes
Looking over my notes, I noticed that it took me 1 or 2 days before I developed a migraine from an offending food. This made it even more difficult to determine what had caused the episode. In other words, if I had onions for lunch on Monday, my migraine could start sometime on Wednesday evening. Doctors had told me that it could not be food allergies if it did not happen the same day, within a few hours of the meal. Initially, I assumed that it was coincidental rather than causal. However, as more time went by, it became clear that I was experiencing some sort of food intolerance reaction.
THE frustrating PROCESS OF eliminating offending foods
This was a trying time. At every turn, when I thought I had found something, I suffered another migraine episode. However, I was determined not to pursue the only other option at that time, which was medication. Using a system of elimination and provocation, I was able to develop a diet that allowed me to reduce migraine episodes. However, that still did not tell me why I was not able to eat certain foods.
Food intolerance as a symptom
Of course, I was glad that the severity and frequency of my migraines subsided. However, I was dismayed that I would have to leave out so many things from my diet. While I had made some important discoveries, I wasn’t done by along shot. All I had uncovered was that something in my stomach was causing me not to be able to digest certain foods. I love grilling and smoking meat and would do so almost every weekend. One particular weekend I made rib-eye steaks, chicken drumsticks, and porterhouse cut pork chops – delicious. The next day I had pain in my extremities, in addition to my regular symptoms, including a severe migraine. I had been able to eat these food before without much reaction.
allergies to beef and pork
In order to rule out any meat allergies, I took an allergy test to screen for beef, pork, or chicken allergies. To my surprise, the tests came back positive for beef and pork antibodies but not for those of chicken. After this incident, as long as I stayed away from beef and pork, I was fine but I had to be rather creative in terms of adding protein to my diet. I started drinking protein shakes based on plant protein. In the beginning everything was fine. However, after about a week, all of the symptoms reappeared with a strong migraine. I was at a loss. I thought that I had not consumed any offending food yet another severe migraine developed.
the importance of stomach acid
The only connection between my migraines and the current diet was protein, albeit of the plant-based variety. I researched protein intolerance and came across several articles on Hypochlorhydria, or low stomach acid. I took the challenge test and had no reaction, as I increased the dosage. Eventually, I was taking 7 capsules per meal and I was starting to see some improvement. It appeared that I had gone with little to no stomach acid for years and this had been wreaking havoc on my digestive system, eventually leading to leaky-gut. The migraines I had been experiencing were telling me that something was wrong.
call to action
Based on what I have read and the feedback I have received, I am confident that I am not alone. Everyone is different and your symptoms may not resemble mine. However, I hope this will help you start the journey to correctly diagnose your own symptoms. Be your own health advocate and remain cautious of those who tell you that there is no way forward without medication.