Hello everyone and welcome back to the RHS blog! This article is all about migraine “triggers”. We all know someone who has a glass of red wine and is down for the count with a migraine for days. Sometimes a piece of dark chocolate can take someone out of the game almost immediately. Most migraine sufferers know their “triggers” and do their best to avoid them.
“But what if I told you your triggers are NOT the cause of your migraine? You would likely laugh in my face, but let me explain.”
Root of the Issue
Migraines are a neurological condition caused by an area of cells in the brain that are too excited. Basically, your nerve cells over respond to some kind of stimulus like bright lights or even food. Depending on the area of the brain that isn’t working right, this could mean a myriad of symptoms. What triggers these symptoms is different in everyone. Whatever it may be, you know pretty quickly if you’re getting a migraine or not. So, if this trigger gives you a migraine, how is it not the cause? Think of your migraine as a bucket.
Filling Your Bucket
If red wine or dark chocolate caused migraines, everyone would get them! To those of us who it does cause a migraine, there is a reason. That reason can be a genetic predisposition, a food reaction, or over sensitive nerve cells, among other things. When you eat that dark chocolate or drink the glass of red wine or even get too stressed at work, you are making your “bucket” overflow. Think of your migraine as a bucket. Let’s say you’re stressed at work – this fills your bucket up one quarter of the way. Add in poor sleep and an issue in your gut and you’ve got a full bucket. Now lets say you decide to have a glass of wine at the end of the week and you get a migraine. You have officially overflowed your bucket!
Now lets say we reduce your stress at work, so your bucket is only a quarter of the way full. You are able to sleep better, eat healthier, and resolve your gut issue and then you have a glass of wine at the end of the week and now you don’t get a migraine. We have now been able to reduce the load in your bucket! The next step to decreasing migraines is increasing the size of your bucket.
How Big is Your Bucket?
Our brain is made up of neuronal pools. This means each section of our brain has a certain threshold as to how much it can handle. If our neuronal pools are small, this causes our brain to be hypersensitive to our environment and therefore we have a smaller bucket. One way to increase the size of our bucket is to increase the size of these pools! Basically, we are making the brain more stable and better equipped to handle our environment. This could mean being less tired, reading better, or simply making it through a stressful day. So, how can we make your bucket bigger?
Brain rehabilitation exercises, such as gaze stability exercises, are a great way to stabilize neuronal pools. In a nut shell, we are teaching the brain better ways to be more effective! This will help your brain to better handle stimulation from your environment, whether that be light, sound, food, or even computer screens (which no one can avoid these days). In turn, this will decrease trigger symptoms and decrease the likelihood of your bucket overflowing.
How we can help.
Functional medicine gives us great tools to help lessen the load in your bucket. This could mean managing blood sugar, improving sleep and energy, getting rid of an infection, or taking care of your gut. On the other hand, functional neurology can help to increase the size of our bucket! The combination gives us the tools to significantly decrease migraine days and keep it that way.
If you or someone you love has known triggers for their migraines, gives us a call at 952-479-7801 for a free consultation with one of our clinicians. During the phone call, the doctor will give you a better idea of how we can help you as well as pricing.
Let us help you get back to living your life without worrying about migraines!
-Dr. Ellie Stauffer and the Restorative Health Solutions team
Want to learn more about migraines? Check out the beginning of our migraine series by clicking here!