What You Didn’t Know Was Giving You Migraines

Obesity increases migraines by 81 percent. Losing weight decreases migraine frequency.

Pulsing temples…throbbing head…nausea…sensitivity to light and sound… Migraines are an agonizing way to spend a day.

More than 37 million Americans  battle these symptoms on a regular basis.1 A full-blown migraine attack can leave you in bed for not only hours, but days.

Migraines happen when blood vessels swell on the surface of the brain and press on nerves.  That’s what causes the pain.

Most sufferers have a family history of headaches and migraines. However, simple things can trigger an attack… A change in your sleep pattern, skipping meals, the weather, and stress can all bring on that excruciating pain.

But there’s another migraine culprit you probably don’t know about. This one trigger increases your risk of getting migraines by over 80 percent.2

Have a headache or feel a migraine coming on? Skip the aspirin and reach for your partner. Sexual activity may help relieve severe headaches and stop a migraine in its tracks. During sex your body releases natural chemicals—dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin—that have both pleasure-enhancing and pain-relieving effects.

If you can control it, it will help not only your head, but your whole body.

Your waist size is your biggest risk factor. As it increases, so does the likelihood you’ll suffer from migraines. Johns Hopkins University studied nearly 4,000 adults and found that the obese ones have an 81 percent increased risk of migraines. If you’re obese and younger than 50, it’s 86 percent.

“It’s possible that being obese and having migraines activates shared neural pathways that lead to inflammation and ultimately pain,” says lead study author Lee Peterlin, D.O.

Fat tissue (adipose) creates inflammation based on how much tissue there is and where it is located. The more fat tissue, the more inflammatory substances in your system. Excess weight increases inflammation in the body by limiting blood flow.

A study in Neurology followed severely obese patients with a history of migraines.3 As their weight decreased so did their migraine frequency. Some by more than half.

How can you cut the weight and inflammation?

For starters, cut out all processed foods and grains, and limit your alcohol intake.4  Not only will this help trim your waistline, but these items are common migraine triggers. So eliminating them from your diet lowers your risk in two ways.

Exercise also helps. It burns that inflammation-causing fat. But remember, over-exercising will increase inflammation. So find a healthy medium.

Stay active. Eat smart. Exercise. And watch those migraines melt away. No, it’s not always easy. But it’s certainly worth it.

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1 http://www.headaches.org/education/Headache_Topic_Sheets/Migraine
2 http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/806930
3 http://www.headachemag.org/Articles/FitnessAndNutrition/Losing-Weight-Can-Decrease-Migraines
4 http://www.newsmaxhealth.com/health-news/obesity-migraines-weight-headaches/2013/06/26/id/511967

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  1. Jasmer Singh says:

    Hi While going through the presumptive triggers of migraine I would like to straighten the conundrum of migraine cause and treatment. First, the ‘vascular theory’ of migraine has been denounced with logical facts and its cause has been determined as of neurological origin. The prevalence of migraine is almost similar before adolescence but after menarche it is higher (70%) in women than men (30%)-a clear sexual dimorphism. Hormones play a pivotal role directly/indirectly as causative agents for the induction of migraine. Hormones stimulate directly their receptors in the human body and indirectly influence the homeostasis of trace minerals particularly: copper, iron, zinc, magnesium and selenium in the occurrence of migraine. Hence, the role of triggers, if any, could only be at best in the exacerbation of already existing the ailment and the present study-the subject of debate, has proven that fact. The list of ‘Triggers of migraine’ is endless and is rather impossible to adapt by any stretch of chalk as a routine.We have investigated the cause and conceptually logical treatment of Migraine and the results are published in internationally reputed journal Medical Hypotheses July, 2011; 77:147-51. Our observations appear to have been overlooked inadvertently as the journal publications usually do not have public access.The abstract of our paper is presented below for general information.

    A new horizon into the pathobiology, etiology and treatment of migraine

    Kundan Singh Dhillon, Jasmer Singh ⇑, Jarnail Singh Lyall
    Punjab Agricultural University, Ferozpur Road, Ludhiana, 141004 Punjab, India
    a b s t r a ct

    Sexual dimorphism in the prevalence of migraine (70% women 30% men) suggests the involvement of
    reproductive hormones in a women’s life. Excessive estrogen during menstruation directly stimulate
    estrogen receptor alpha thickly populated in trigeminal ganglia and periaqueductal gray which manifest
    as menstrual migraine. In contrast increased progesterone during pregnancy evokes progesterone receptors
    A/B, which coexist with ERs, providing complete remission from migraine episodes. Moreover, estrogen
    also increases nociception through extracellularly signal-regulated kinase (ERK) stimulation and
    down-regulating antinociceptive GABA, IL-R1 and Zn-fingers.

    Hormones may provoke migraine indirectly by disrupting mineral homeostasis. Estrogen enhances the
    absorption and half-life of copper which in turn inhibits the absorption of zinc. Zinc is required for the
    synthesis of melatonin and CoQ10 essential for growing women. Excess of copper exacerbates the deficiency
    of zinc, melatonin and CoQ10 typically low in migraineurs. Melatonin is an antioxidant, free radical
    scavenger and activates antioxidant enzymes like CuZn-superoxide dismutase, catalase, glutathione
    peroxidase (a Se-enzyme) and glutathione reductase. Zinc deficiency reduces activity of CuZn-SOD. Magnesium
    and vitamin B6 modulates the level of NO in the cell, both of which are deficient in migraineurs.
    Magnesium is essential for the removal of trapped NO from within the cell which does not occur under
    low magnesium levels, which reacts with superoxide generating dangerous peroxynitrite. Iron stimulates
    nitric oxide synthase producing more NO which is inhibited by zinc, thus, antagonizing peroxynitrite generation.
    Female hormones lowers magnesium but increase calcium levels which enhance migraine ubiquitousness.
    Accumulation of copper and iron in deep areas of brain and peripheral nerves typically
    catalyses the oxidation of catecholamines and generate free radicals involved in lipid-peroxidation,
    demyelination, denudation of axons and neurodegeneration in specific areas exposing hyperalgesic axons
    provoking Classical migraine. Furthermore, zinc is an essential component of Zn-fingers (Krox20 and
    Krox24) which play a pivotal role in the differentiation of Schwann cells-the mainstay for the myelination/remyelination of peripheral nerves.

    Taken together, conceptually and logically, 30 migraineurs were administered 75 mg of zinc sulfate
    orally in water daily for 6 weeks + one capsule of vitamin B-complex + one capsule of vitamin A or E (first
    10 days) which almost cured all of them. Placebo controlled trials with incremental doses of zinc sulfate
    along with magnesium and selenium are proposed to augment recovery involving large population of
    migraineurs. Monitoring of hair and blood mineral analysis for rational therapy is recommended.

  2. Vonnie says:

    Great article about migraines. Sexual activity can benefit in two ways: releasing natural chemicals and a providing a little workout.

    I’ve also found that moderating the humidity can also be helpful. When the weather man says the humidity is going up or down, i pop my migraine med before the pain starts and voila, no migraine.

    Meditation can help as well, if you’re under a lot of stress.

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