This is the first of three articles covering a conversation with Robert Kassab. He is the author of the upcoming book "The DATA Protocol". He discusses the best migraine relief for getting rid of migraine headaches without medication.
The DATA Protocol is focused on real migraine relief without medication. When was the last time you saw an advertisement for migraine treatment that didn’t involve a particular drug? It doesn’t usually happen. We’re excited to be speaking with someone who is offering a clear alternative in terms of dealing with your migraines. Perhaps it can be the best migraine relief solution out there.
LWM: Let’s start with the obvious question. What drove you to develop the DATA Protocol?
Today, over 10% of the world’s population struggle with migraines. That’s nearly one billion people. The vast majority of us don’t believe that doctors have the ability to help. And we downright despise taking medication. How many of us feel that no one is listening? Sometimes, not even our families nor those closest to us seem to care. But we try our best to go about our lives even when the challenges seem insurmountable. It’s a “reach for whatever” mentality in order to cope.
Because of this mentality, we turn to rather bizarre approaches to get rid of migraine pain
It is no secret that we employ rather strange alternatives since we’re so desperate. And like most of us, I tried everything under the sun to get help.
I remember being out in the water with my kids one day, and my then four-year old asking if I’d been attacked by a giant octopus. A few days prior, I had undergone cupping therapy, a form of alternative medicine where cups are placed on your back to create this suction action and remove toxins from your body. While funny at the time, this experience underscores a rather depressing reality in terms of the absolute lengths that we will go. Even when there’s limited evidence, we convince ourselves that a potential solution is right around the corner.
Medication was not the solution
I wasn’t getting any sleep. I was eating poorly. And I would find myself lying awake at night wondering whether or not I would be able to keep it together. When I sought help from the medical community, I kept hearing: “It’s complicated. Rather than suffer, why not take something that at least makes the pain go away?” And I tried, but the side effects were awful. When migraine medication didn’t seem to work, I turned to supplements, acupuncture, and other less conventional methods. In short, I found myself in a very difficult place. Unfortunately, the results were always the same. I wasted so much time trying to find that magic migraine solution. At some point, however, I finally realized that what I had been doing was to simply put good money after bad.
After over thirty years of suffering, I took control of my own migraines. It required lots of patience but I did it. And now I want to make sure that everyone suffering has a chance to improve their lives in a similar way. As I discovered, the best migraine relief can only be achieved by adopting a common sense approach that puts you in the driver’s seat.
LWM: Eating poorly at the height of your episodes seemed to be a problem. Does it make sense to eliminate certain foods and food groups entirely?
It’s important to consider dietary triggers, which is why the DATA Protocol centers on a fairly restrictive process in order to create a migraine-free diet specific to the individual. Where I would perhaps disagree is on the approach and the prerequisites in determining that diet. I think it’s problematic when we consider migraine sufferers as one homogeneous group. Adhering to commonly advertised elimination diets can become quite counterproductive. It’s never that simple. As a matter of fact, relying on these broadly advertised diets may cause us to eventually ignore dietary triggers altogether, due to any lack of progress. Since we tend not to follow the right steps in properly isolating and experimenting with foods that are specific to us, we often fail.
The best migraine relief is one that focuses on systematic and unique interpretation
A full chapter is devoted to the process of modifying our particular diet, and I also go through the heavily restricted diet that I started with, developing the protocol. But my diet, as one would expect, was quite unique to me. And I am fairly certain that few people would voluntarily choose that diet on their own. The word “bland” doesn’t even do it justice. The bottom line is this. If we don’t do the work on our own, I don’t believe it possible to find the proper diet. Sure, you might haphazardly move around, trying this or that. You might even think that you have found a trigger food, only to later end up with another migraine, because the proper tools have not been established ahead of time. The process is about visualizing what the goal will look like and then executing the strategy to get there.
LWM: You also mention suffering from migraines for over thirty years, essentially most of your life. What can you tell us about the challenges you faced?
One of the most significant problems has to do with people simply not being able to relate
This then causes other dominoes to fall. We’re faced with numerous challenges in the workplace. And we’re also faced with certain other ones at home.
People without migraines cannot appreciate what it’s like to suffer from them. Imagine rarely experiencing a migraine-free day, living in a constant daze, and never quite having the energy to function at a level considered normal. When people think, “It’s just a headache, we all get them”, they trivialize the condition, making matters worse and not better. And some of those people are often very close to us.
Unfortunately, the people around us have their own challenges, and it’s understandable that they might not always be sympathetic to our plight. However, we do have to realize that this is very much a team effort. It may sound strange, since we’re the ones with the migraines. But, in reality, our families get to experience the migraines with us, whether they want to or not. It’s in everyone’s interest for us get and feel better.
I think that an important feature of the book is that it helps those around us better understand the migraines and also relate.
LWM: Isn’t the focus always on us?
To some extent, I would agree. But the focus is superficial, mostly dealing with the pain once it occurs. Not only do we have to change the focus, but we also need to go much deeper than this. We have to become proactive and not reactive. The absolute reduction of our migraines is the main objective. The focus needs to be squarely on us, in order to reach the objective. However, it takes a team-based approach in order to execute the strategy. When everyone plays their part and the focus centers on us, everyone wins, as migraine frequency is reduced. Therefore, it’s important to remember that everyone has a role to play.