wellness

These 5 Triggers Could Cause Your Migraine Attack

We still don't understand what causes migraine. All we can do is be aware of our triggers and try to avoid them.

Science still can't accurately explain what causes migraine. Researchers now believe that migraine is a neurological disorder involving nerve pathways and brain chemicals. 

According to the Migraine Research Foundation, before puberty boys are statistically more likely to experience migraine than girls, however between the age of 10 and 40 women are three times more likely to experience migraine than men, which is attributed to hormonal fluctuation. 

If this is the case for you, you may need to be aware of what triggers your migraines. It helps to keep track of your migraines in a diary. Unlike headache, those that suffer migraines report an 'aura' - from seeing fuzzy spots to faint headache-like symptoms - that is apparent for anything between a day and a few hours before the migraine hits.

If you know you are in the 'migraine zone', avoid any of the following potential triggers:


TIP # 1 - Eating (Or Not Eating):

It may come as a surprise that eating certain foods and/or fasting for long periods of time without food are migraine triggers. A 2008 Brazillian study found that most patients experiencing regular migraines reported having at least one trigger that was food-related.

Common foods that were identified as migraine triggers contained tyramine or phenylethylamine, which are two amino acids found in chocolate, aged or fermented cheese (including all the delicious stinky blue cheeses), salami, soy foods, nuts and vinegar (both red and white).

Unsurprisingly, alcohol was cited to be a high trigger substance. Interestingly, red wine was a trigger among women but not men. Red wine triggered migraine in just eight percent of men, but among women the number jumped to 22 percent. White wine was associated with migraine in just 10.5 percent of patients.

Before you abstain from vino and stinky cheese for life, the study uncovered the number one source of diet-related migraine triggers to be fasting. Skipping meals is not recommended for a number of health reasons; however, if you are experiencing regular migraines and regularly skip meals in the name of 'dieting', it's time to go back to at least 3 balanced meals a day with interval snacking on fresh foods. Your body - and your head - will thank you for it.

 

TIP # 2 - Stress

This one shouldn't come as a huge surprise. A dramatic increase or decrease in physical or psychological stress is a major migraine trigger.

A recent study from Denmark discovered a majority of migraine patients reported that stress was linked to the onset of migraine attacks. Other researchers have reported that between 50 and 80 percent of migraine patients say stress triggers their migraine headaches.
Some patients experienced migraine in the aftermath of a stressful event, while others experienced a new attack in the midst of a stressful event.

If you are experiencing stress, gentle physical exercise like Hatha Yoga or pilates is a great way to let off some steam. Practicing mindfulness or mediation twice a day - 20 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes before bed - is another way of helping your mind and body to effectively 'switch off'. If symptoms persist, see your GP.

 

TIP # 3 - Lack of Sleep or Jet Lag

Insufficient sleep is one of the most common factors linked to migraine attacks. Conversely, excessive sleep is a frequently reported trigger as well.

Insomnia is the most common sleep disorder associated with chronic migraine. Chronic migraine patients who suffer from insomnia are also at increased risk for anxiety or depression.
Jet lag and extreme changes in your work schedule can also be linked to the onset of migraine. Discover my jet lag travel hacks here.

The good news is, many patients report that sleep often relieves their migraine headaches. Make your boudoir a place you want to spend time. Invest in a comfortable memory-foam latex pillow. Dim the lights 2 hours before bedtime. For more sleep hacks, read this.

 

TIP # 4 - Highly Caffeinated Beverages

Uh oh. Your morning coffee (or 3) has a high chance of triggering migraine.  Coffee isn't the only culprit - watch out for excessive consumption of tea, soft drinks and energy drinks where caffeine levels are surprisingly high. Equally, some researchers have noted that caffeine withdrawal may also trigger a headache. 

Keep in mind that many over-the-counter headache preparations contain significant amounts of caffeine. One recent study concluded that a drug combining acetaminophen, aspirin and caffeine was better at relieving the symptoms of migraine headache than ibuprofen alone.

If you need a warm cup of goodness to start each day, try substituting coffee for warm water with lemon. The vitamin C in fresh lemon is a fantastic and effective natural energy boost that also doubles as a detoxifier. For a caffeine-free-kick with an abundance of benefits, try a numeric latte.

 

TIP # 5 - Dehydration

Dehydration has also been suggested as a possible migraine trigger. Failure to drink enough water has been linked to the onset of headache.

A small survey of migraine sufferers revealed that “insufficient fluid intake” was linked to headache onset in about 40 percent of responders.

There are loads more trips and tricks on how to stay hydrated here. For starters, try to drink 3 glasses of water in the morning (warm with lemon is the most quickly absorbed - and great for your digestion). Then, try to drink another glass before and after each meal throughout the day. Your head (and the rest of your body) will thank you for it.
 

References

Armstrong, L.E., Ganio, M.S., Casa, D.J., Lee, E.C., McDermott, B.P., Klau, J.F., et al. (2012, February). Mild dehydration affects mood in healthy young women. The Journal of Nutrition, 142(2), 382-8. doi: 10.3945/jn.111.142000. Epub 2011, December 21. Retrieved May 1, 2014, from
http://jn.nutrition.org/content/142/2/382.long

Baad-Hansen, L., Cairns, B., Ernberg, M., Svensson P. (2010, January). Effect of systemic monosodium glutamate (MSG) on headache and pericranial muscle sensitivity. Cephalalgia, 30(1):68-76. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-2982.2009.01881.x. Retrieved April 29, 2014, from
http://cep.sagepub.com/content/30/1/68.long
 

#AltMeds: Physiotherapy

Curious about alternative therapies? You’re not alone! It’s a vast world of drug-free health practice and can be confusing at the best of times.

As with any professional, it's important to see the right person for the right job. You wouldn't go to a hairdresser for a toothache (!) so it makes sense to familiarise yourself with the vast range of practitioners out there.

As a GP, I am frequently asked about what a Physiotherapist does. Read on to learn more about Physiotherapy and how it could potentially help you.

 

What Is Physiotherapy?

Originating in Ancient Greece with massage techniques and hydrotherapy, today physiotherapy utilises non-surgical procedures to lessen pain, improve movement and restore functionality to the musculoskeletal system.

Physiotherapists assess, treat and prevent disorders caused by injury or disease. They conduct examinations of patients and work towards alleviating any impairments and limitations.

A typical session with a physiotherapist is unique to a patient’s needs and their health condition. Physiotherapists will also educate their patients to prevent further injuries, or assist them to live with ongoing conditions.

 

Qualifications & Education

According to the Australian Physiotherapy Association, Physiotherapy courses vary across the country and entry may be through a bachelor, masters or professional doctorate program.

Physiotherapists are required by law to be registered with the Physiotherapists Registration Board in the state or territory in which they are practising.

 

Who Should See A Physiotherapist?

All Australians can benefit from physiotherapy at some point in their lives. While it is well-known that physiotherapists treat injuries, increasing numbers of Australians are coming to physiotherapists when they want to take control of their health and stay well.

Physiotherapists work closely with GPs and other health clinicians to plan and manage treatment. Indeed, GPs refer more patients to physiotherapists than any other healthcare profession.

As far as alternative therapies go, I refer my patients to Physotherapists as they back up what they do with both diagnostic imaging and scientific evidence. Important!

Make sure you shop around for the right practitioner and chat to your GP about whether physiotherapy is the right treatment for your symptoms.

What are Peptides and How Do They Work?

There has been a great deal of discussion in the media around the use of peptides. In my clinic, I am asked several times a day by patients whether they can have them. The interesting thing about peptides is that most people who ask for them think of them as simply the latest in the ever-growing market of quick-fix magic potions. When asked by patients and friends for peptides - and other weight-augmenting substances - I always ask (and you should ask yourself): What do you want to achieve? Read on to learn more about putting some 'pep' in your step...

WHAT ARE PEPTIDES?

Before looking at whether peptides are right for you, let’s look at what they are. Put simply, they are small proteins made up of fewer than 50 amino acids. In the world of health and fitness, peptides are used and recommended for increased energy, burning fat, building muscle and improving athletic ability.  If you think ofa hormone as a tree made up of many protein branches and even more peptide twigs it’s easy to see how a hormone can have many side-effects if used wrongly.  Peptides on the other hand are much smaller and have been designed to stimulate specific receptors for growth hormone so you can attempt to tailor your results.  So essentially they can be used for muscle gain or weight loss and a range of other things.

When we eat carbohydrates or sugars, our blood sugar levels increase. The pancreas senses this and is stimulated by the rise in blood sugar to release insulin. This insulin then triggers the body to transport the digested sugar into cells from our bloodstream. The bane for many of us with less-than-ideal metabolisms is that this sugar is then converted into fat and transported to problem areas such as the stomach, love handles and our butt for storage. Normally our body prefers to use fat for fuel, but with so many of us having a high sugar and carbohydrate intake it becomes very easy for our bodies to simply use this sugar for fuel and keep turning the excess into fat and storing it. This makes it very hard to burn that bootie.

HOW DO PEPTIDES WORK?

Peptides work on different areas of the body with some stimulating the pituitary gland to naturally release more hormones, including Human Growth Hormone (HGH), to make more of the same. HGH and the peptides that stimulate it help to stop our bodies using the readily available sugar floating around and instead make our bodies burn more stored fat while at the same time limiting more fat being made. The results of this can be great, especially when coupled with good dietary habits and exercise. You will have more energy (gained from using the fat) and also see the results of normal daily activities burning even more off your problem areas.

HANG ABOUT! SOUNDS TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE. DO I NEED TO GO TO THE GYM IF I'M USING PEPTIDES?

Compared to steroids and testosterone, with their large potential for fast benefits and potential side effects, these are not magic beans that will turn you into a ripped mega-buff guy overnight. Peptides are more of a medium burn for those of us that know that the body we want is one of lifestyle enhancement and that the hours at the gym are necessary.

Most people, when asked what they think a peptide is, simply don’t care. They’re results-driven, and it doesn’t matter to them that their method might be madness. Peptides are not some genie that leaps out of a newly rubbed lamp, ready and waiting to know exactly your heart’s desire, even if you can’t say what that is. Like most things in life, in order to be able to achieve what you want, you must be able to articulate it. Simply saying you want to look better is not going to cut it and can have serious harmful consequences.

HOW DO I KNOW IF PEPTIDES ARE FOR ME?

When asking what you want to put in your body, you must always ask whether the benefits outweigh the side effects. Like any substance that you know nothing about, they should not be bought online from unregistered suppliers or borrowed from a friend and then injected (yes, most peptides need to be injected) or consumed. Peptides can have great - but potentially serious - side effects and you should have a chat to a doctor before even considering their use. Many people are making a lot of money from selling what you want, so always remember to ask what it does, how long to take it, how to take it and what side effects it has so that you have realistic expectations of what it can do for you. While peptides can help you to burn fat while working, eating, talking and even sleeping, they must be combined with other lifestyle factors over several months to see the best results.

The Lowdown on Vitamin Infusions

YOU MIGHT HAVE HEARD ABOUT VITAMIN INFUSIONS ON THE GRAPEVINE AND THOUGHT, 'WHAT THE HECK IS THAT?', 'DOES IT REPLACE FOOD' or 'DO I STILL NEED TO TAKE VITAMIN SUPPLEMENTS AFTER HAVING ONE'?

READ ON TO LEARN MORE ABOUT VITAMIN INFUSIONS AND WHETHER IT COULD BE SOMETHING TO DISCUSS WITH YOUR DOCTOR.

WHAT IS A VITAMIN INFUSION?

Vitamin infusions for the most part are a great addition to an already healthy life-style where you’re already getting good nutrients.

For some people - especially those with poor nutrition or in other disease states – vitamin infusions can have hugely beneficial qualities.

As we know when we take things orally, many nutrients are not absorbed completely. Vitamin infusions are essentially giving your body a high dose of good vitamins that don’t depend on you bodies ability to absorb.

Many of the vitamins used are found in many foods we consume - or should be consuming regularly.  It’s important to note that you should always consult your doctor about any kind of therapies to make sure it is right for you and to ensure that your practitioners are appropriately experienced and qualified.

I ALREADY TAKE VITAMINS - SO WHY DO I NEED THIS TREATMENT?

Vitamin infusions allow us to have higher doses of many vitamins in our circulation for a short time period, than we would otherwise be able to absorb.

This is extremely important in disease states where there is a large amount of clinical data supporting the use of high dose vitamin IV infusions for a variety of disease states, including cancer, burns, septic shock, thiamine deficiency, Rickets and Vitamin D deficiency to name a few.

For those of us who are well this is a great way to try to either prevent or end that cold that just won’t go away or I have it regularly before I travel to prevent getting sick.

WHO CAN BENEFIT FROM VITAMIN INFUSIONS AND WHAT RESULTS CAN BE EXPECTED?

Anyone feeling run-down or tired will benefit from an IV vitamin infusion.  If you always get sick when starting a holiday, vitamin infusions can help a lot.  People with chronic fatigue and many other diseases can also benefit from a vitamin infusion, in consultation with their doctor.

Whilst there have been no large population studies around the use of IV vitamins for skin benefits, there is large amounts of anecdotal advice that suggests vitamin infusions can help with brightening complexions and strengthening skin, nails and hair.

POST-TREATMENT, WHAT'S THE BEST WAY TO KEEP THE BENEFITS GOING?

It is best to drink a couple of litres of water both before and after the treatment - and of course to continue your normal healthy diet.