Severe headaches and migraines can rob you of your life.
Regular sufferers find it difficult to complete tasks and remain productive in their daily activities once a migraine hits. For women, this discomfort can be compounded by PMS, but what many women do not realize is that their PMS may actually be causing their migraine. Hormonal imbalance that naturally occurs with PMS can absolutely bring on a migraine, but just as this condition can naturally occur, it can also be naturally relieved.
The Simplest Answer Is Usually the Correct One
Lifestyle affects every aspect of … well … your life! Taking care of your body is a big responsibility and having even the smallest imbalance can throw everything off kilter. Hormonal imbalance can be affected by diet, exercise, hydration, sleep, mineral and vitamin deficiency, and all of these variables can directly affect one another as well. While these seem like simple concepts (“Of course my diet and activity level affect my health, I thought we were talking about migraines”), these essential elements of our lives are generally the most neglected. The following are brief explanations of ways that each of these elements, when appropriately addressed, can help you balance your hormones, curb your PMS symptoms, and decrease or stop your next menstrual migraine from coming on.
Proper Nutrition for an Improved Condition
A balanced diet makes for a balanced body. While this is good advice for everyone, migraine sufferers need to take special care to eliminate processed foods and sugar substitutes from their diets. Our bodies are not built to metabolize these types of foods and forcing them to do so can wreak havoc on your digestive and circulatory systems.
Instead, eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, protein, and moderate carbohydrates will bring you the most relief. A great example of this is the Paleo diet which relies on real food and does not allow for processed or preservative-heavy meals.
Supplements that Complement
While most women are constantly told to monitor their calcium and vitamin D levels for osteoporosis prevention, migraine sufferers specifically need to also be mindful of their magnesium levels. In fact, high levels of calcium in your body can reduce your body’s ability to absorb magnesium, meaning that while you are trying to prevent one condition, you may actually be causing another.
And why is magnesium so important? In relation to migraines, there are two key roles that magnesium plays. First, magnesium is a natural relaxant and vasodilator. This means that it reduces the constriction in the muscles and blood vessels which allows blood to flow smoothly through the body. Second, magnesium helps your body to metabolize the nutrients you eat. This means that if your magnesium is low you are not getting the full benefits of even the healthiest of diets.
But the real key to magnesium is getting enough of it. This does not mean the recommended daily value that you read on the nutrition label of your multivitamin. Magnesium deficiency goes far beyond the labels. Daily values are really meant as a minimum that you need to keep particular diseases at bay. For migraine sufferers, you may need up to 10 times the ‘daily value’ that your multivitamin offers. The recommended daily value for the average person is merely 50 mg of magnesium. For migraine sufferers this value is actually between 500 mg and 1000 mg per day.
Hydration for a Solid Foundation
Have you had your water today? The last thing a woman experiencing PMS wants to hear is that she needs more water while she feels like she is retaining water in every inch of her body. The truth is that yes, you do need to drink more water. Drinking your eight glasses of water a day not only gives your body the proper hydration it needs to perform its basic functions, it also helps to rid your body of the toxins that are creating your fatigue and discomfort.
Do not let a day or two of water weight detour you from drinking up. Your body needs water. Your body can not live without water. Your migraine problem will not go away if you do not drink enough water. By the way, drinks like Smart Water are not an acceptable water substitute. If you need some flavor to your water add some of your favorite fruits to make the taste more interesting.
Stress Makes a Mess
First let me say that a little stress on the body is not a bad thing. Our bodies are built to function with stress, and we have natural processes in place to deal with it. But more than a little stress, for a long time, can be very bad for your health. Long-term stress can create many health issues that can make you very sick. For migraines, one of the more worrisome conditions is adrenal fatigue. Your adrenal glands sit at the top of your kidneys. They play a key role in the production of ‘stress coping hormones.’ When your body is constantly under stress, you can literally wear out your adrenal glands and cause them to malfunction. For many migraine sufferers, adrenal fatigue is an underlying issue that can go unnoticed for a long time if not properly evaluated by an astute physician.
Purposeful Lab Tests
So how do you know if you have enough magnesium, or too much calcium, or not enough water, or if your adrenal glands are not working? There are specific blood tests that can test for each of these. This is more than a run-of-the-mill blood count and metabolic panel. Your doctor needs to order specific functional medicine tests for each condition, and evaluate your actual levels of these vitamins and minerals. You also need a thorough work up to determine how much hydration and supplementation is really right for your body as some people may require more water and vitamins than others.
You have the power to stop your menstrual migraines and regain control of your life. It just takes a bit more detective work and the right doctor to help guide you.