Tic Douloureux Headaches and Trigeminal neuralgia

3 Secrets of tic douloureux headaches and trigeminal neuralgia

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Neuralgias can be some of the most painful and suicidal experiences we ever go through. Luckily we are beginning to understand a lot more about what causes them and how inflammation plays a massive role in all sorts of head pain.

In this article, I will be covering 3 secrets of tic douloureux headaches and trigeminal neuralgia which will give you a far more in-depth understanding of what is going on than just seeking a diagnosis may.

Definition / What are tic douloureux headaches and trigeminal neuralgia?

These conditions are one and the same, just different names.

Tic douloureux means a painful tic because of the sudden and severe pain that may cause you to wince.

Trigeminal neuralgia is a form of neuralgia(pain along a nerve) which specifically affects the trigeminal nerve.

It often presents as extremely severe and one-sided, usually coming suddenly in spurts and lasting only minutes but sometimes hours.

Generally, they are experienced in clusters over days, weeks or months followed by pain-free periods. (Link)

As we age, these pain-free periods tend to get shorter and the painful periods tend to get worse.

This would lend itself to suggesting that the body is having a harder and harder time coping with whatever physiological stress is causing the problem and taking resources away from healing it such as all of the nutrients needed to rebuild myelin sheath.

Trigeminal neuralgia or tic douloureux headaches are more common after 50 years of age as the body becomes less adept at recovering from injury, absorbing nutrients and maintaining normal function in the nerves.

The jaw, cheek or lip are the most common areas to experience the pain which is usually triggered by small things like touching the face or mouth during routine habits like:

  • Washing the face

  • Eating

  • Shaving

  • Brushing teeth

  • Eating

  • Putting on makeup

  • Drinking

  • Talking

  • Smiling

See the video below to get a better understanding of what tic douloureuxe headaches and trigeminal neuralgia are.

3 Secrets of tic douloureux headaches and trigeminal neuralgia

There are many different perspectives we can take on what is causing trigeminal neuralgia but there is likely no one single cause and this means we need a multi-factorial approach.

We need to approach it from a number of different areas including nutritional, inflammatory and systemic which means we need to look at the whole body and understand what’s going on.

1. Understanding the trigeminal nerve

The trigeminal nerve is the fifth cranial nerve and directly enters the brainstem through the pons.

This means it connects right into some of the oldest and most basic functions of the brain.

The brain stem controls all of our basic survival functions and is called the reptilian brain because of it.

Heart rate, breathing, digestion, sleep, equilibrium, facial expressions etc are all controlled here and lead it to be coined the main area for:

– Sex

– Survival

– Sustenance

The trigeminal nerve is composed of three main areas, the ophthalmic, maxillary and mandibular or more simply the eye/forehead section, the cheek section and the jaw section.

But this part of the brain, because of its constant need to pump out energy to run all of our base functions is also susceptible to overload.

The trigeminal nerve is essentially a slave to other more important systems of the body because the body puts systems into priorities.

Just like muscles, arms and legs are a much lower priority than our organs.

See the picture below on the trigeminal nerve:


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2. Brain venting

If we are under a huge load and our body is constantly strained in simply running the most basic of functions then our brainstem can actually end up having to vent and will use nerves as a sort of “breaker” to let off steam.

This is often seen when organs are overloaded and cause problems like viscero-somatic-inhibition where the musculature around the organ is shut off or put into pain as a sign of a problem in the area. (ie. During periods the abdominal muscles will turn off and back will hurt)

But it also happens with the brainstem because of its key role in all of the body systems regulation.

Even though there is a massive amount of “energy” and “information” coming out of the brainstem, there is much more going from the organs back up into the brain. (It’s actually 9:1 through the vagus nerve)

This can become too much and the closest and easiest way to vent is to go through the cranial nerves.

This means we want to bring down our brains and nervous systems total load which ill talk about towards the end.

3. Body excess on brainstem

I covered it briefly above but the body and brain are always communicating and when an area of the body, for example, the liver or intestines or uterus are having trouble, going through inflammation and increasing its level of activity to speed up healing, it will also increase its output to the brain.

Because of the brainstems role in regulating autonomic functioning, there is a massive demand on it to provide enough support and keep everything running at full capacity.

Stress compounds and so if for example liver function goes down, then toxic load will go up which will cause energy production to go down making adrenaline go up and as adrenaline goes up intestinal circulation will go down causing endotoxin production to go up eventually circling back and causing liver function to go down even more.

It is a vicious circle and we want to lower the load that is put onto our nervous system but this has to be done holistically, mind and body.

Our mental and emotional stresses and the way we react to things take priority because they control everything all the way down the chain.

When we are in a good place mentally and emotionally, in tune with our body then we can address:

  • Electromagnetic stress from EMFs

  • Chemical stress from offgassing products, clothes, furniture, cleaning agents, foods

  • Dietary stress from an imbalanced diet (See the food triggers guide)

  • Musculoskeletal stress from structural imbalances

  • Hormonal Stress

  • Visceral Stress from organ issues

  • Immune Stress

  • Infections

  • Tensions

  • Exhaustion

To read into more depth about some of these see our articles on

What are the most common migraine triggers?

The foundation principles

3 Ways of understanding trigeminal autonomic cephalalgias

If you need help with what you are experiencing right now and want more specific information then join the Migraine Professional community here.

Have you ever experienced tic douloureux headaches or trigeminal neuralgia?

If so, let me know below what worked for you and what your experience was like.

Remember to share this post with others to help those in need by clicking the social media links.

[/et_pb_text][et_pb_team_member name=”Mark Canadic” position=”Holistic Health Practitioner” image_url=”https://migraineprofessional.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/Zoomed.png” facebook_url=”www.facebook.com/migraineprofessional” _builder_version=”3.13.1″ header_font_size=”22″ body_font_size=”18″ border_radii_image=”on|1000px|1000px|1000px|1000px” saved_tabs=”all”]Mark Canadic is a writer, speaker, holistic health practitioner and migraine community leader. Read Mark’s inspiring comeback story, “My Burnout and Brain Fires that Lead me to the Root.” Feel free to send Mark a message here.

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sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia and ganglion nerve block

3 sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia and ganglion nerve block differences

There are many large and confusing words within the medical community that can help us unlock and understand more about our migraines and headaches.

One of these is the sphenopalatine ganglion.

In this article, we will cover 2 differences between sphenopalatine ganglion nerve block which may be used for headaches or migraines and sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia which is something completely different.

What is sphenopalatine ganglion nerve block?

The Sphenopalatine ganglion is a hub for nerves that stem out from it.

It is located near the sphenoid bone and palatine bones. This is just above our palate and inside our sinus which makes it easily accessible through the nose.

This nerve has been blamed as the central point for some types of head pains and neuralgias so the basic concept is to block the action of this nerve with an anaesthetic so that it stops transmitting pain signals and we experience relief.

This ganglion(hub of nerves) is connected to the pons of the brainstem through cranial nerve 7 which can be seen here:

Sphenopalantine Ganglion Block for Migraines

It is important to note the pons and brain stems involvement as they are key regulators in all of our autonomic functions.

Autonomic functions are all of the systems in the body that function without our conscious control like breathing, blood pressure, digestion, sleep, heart rate etc.

So we may even be able to draw some connections between how much pressure the regulation of these systems causes on our brain stem and certain types of pain that radiate out of the sphenopalatine ganglion.

Migraine anyone?

So the sphenopalatine ganglion nerve block is simply a nerve block that is done to this specific nerve.

It can be a very simple procedure involving only some lidocaine/bupivicaine and a long cotton swab placed into the sinuses.

It’s much less invasive than other nerve blocks but still doesn’t address the root of what’s causing the headaches which is what we should always strive for.

See the video below for a visual demonstration of a sphenopalatine ganglion nerve block:

What is sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia?

Sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia is something completely different.

Simply put, it’s a brain freeze or ice cream headache.

A brain freeze is when you ingest a cold food or drink quickly.

When the temperature of the arteries on the back of your throat quickly drops because of quick ingestion then the arteries constrict.

The constriction of these arteries causes a drop in blood flow to the brain and signals pain nerves to trigger.

Remember: pain is a protective mechanism in response to a stimulus

In migraines that stimulus may be food triggers or nutrient deficiencies causing chaos in the brain but in sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia it is the cold of a food or a drink that constricts blood vessels, restricts blood flow and triggers an alarm.

Lots of cold food/drink ingested quickly ->

= Cold arteries at the back of the throat

= Constricted blood vessels

= Restricted blood flow

= Alarm

See the video below to understand why ice cream headache, brain freeze or sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia happens:

Why it’s blatantly clear they are different but why they are also similar.

  1. A brain freeze is different from a nerve block.
  2. You would never get a nerve block for an ice cream headache.
  3. You may use a brain freeze as a method to reduce a preexisting migraine or headache but a nerve block would mostly be to prevent a future occurrence.

The most interesting piece of this for migraine and other chronic headache sufferers is that the cause of the ice cream headache is because of a constricting of blood vessels and the reduction of blood flow to the brain.

When blood flow is lowered the brain is starved for oxygen and cannot produce energy to run itself.

Supporting the brains energy generation systems and all of the different nutrients it needs like oxygen, magnesium, coQ10, B vitamins, butyrate etc may be one of the most important methods by which we can prevent our brain from turning on these pain responses.

This helps us understand why supplementation with nutrients works so well for migraines and other head pain conditions.

Want a deeper understanding of what’s going on?

Join the migraine professional community because you do by clicking here.

If you want to understand more about migraines then read our article on the headache that won’t go away and what to do about it here.

Have you ever experienced a brain freeze or ice cream headache?

Have you ever had a sphenopalatine ganglion nerve block?

Have you ever used a brain freeze to take the edge off a migraine?

Let me know in the comments below and share this with someone else suffering who may benefit.

9 Easy remedies for cervico occipital neuralgia

9 Easy remedies for cervico occipital neuralgia

It’s very common to experience tension and different types of muscular pain with migraines and headaches of all kinds.

But Cervico occipital neuralgia is another beast altogether.

These pulsating, stabbing, shooting or lightning like pains can be anywhere from a mild disturbance to an incapacitating and crippling pain.

In this article, we will talk about cervico occipital neuralgia and 9 easy remedies for pain.

What is cervico occipital neuralgia?

Cervico occipital neuralgia is a condition in which the occipital nerves which run from the top of the spine up the back of the head get triggered.

When they are triggered they can create pain which can present in a number of different ways but is most often intense and sharp.

Some other symptoms include:

  • One sided pain
  • Sensitivity to external stimulation like light
  • Scalp and occipital nerves that are tender to the touch
  • Pain from moving the head or neck

Cervico occipital neuralgia is very commonly confused with tension headaches and migraines but there are differences and proper diagnosis is important for the right drugs.

That said, when we really want to understand why our body is triggering these pains, the diagnosis may not be as important because they are often just a label put on symptoms and don’t give us any value in understanding the etiology and cause.

Some of the most common causes of this condition are when the nerves get pinched, trapped or damaged, triggering pain sensations throughout the entire nerve.

Contributors and causes of this can be:

– Trauma to the head (falls, whiplash etc)

– Chronic tension in neck muscles

– Osteoarthritis or damage to your vertebral discs

The key difference that separates cervico occipital neuralgia from other types of headaches is that on physical examination if someone presses up against the nerve it is usually painful.

See the infographic below to understand what the occipital nerves are and the vertebrae that impact them:

9 Easy remedies for cervico occipital neuralgia

As with most conditions we have to make sure we address the deeper underlying causes to our dysfunction otherwise we run the risk of continuing superficial therapies for life and spending thousands of dollars and hours on just palliation.

We want to make sure that:

  • Postural patterns are corrected
  • Core function is fixed
  • Gut or viral infections are resolved
  • Stress is managed in a meaningful way to improve quality of life
  • As well as fixing the foundation principles that without, our body will struggle through any healing or repair

This is not medical advice and is only for informational purposes so seeing your doctor should always be the first place to go to make sure there isn’t something more serious going on.

1. Stabilize your head holder

Our neck needs balance to be able to function properly and take any pressure off our nerves.

In a normal, balanced and functional individual there is harmony between front and back neck muscles but the more and more our culture leans forward with their heads, the more common neck dysfunction becomes.

The advent of electronics has increased the speed at which we hump over and lose our postural integrity so it is always important to correct posture as one of the first areas to go and it is often helpful to see people like an alexander, feldenkrais or eldoa practitioner.

What often ends up happening is that because we lean forward so much, the muscles on the back of our head and neck get increasingly tight, to hold our heads on our bodies.

And inversely, the muscles on the front of our neck get weak because they are never used. This causes them to not be able to keep our head up and back.

The simplest place to go from here is stretching the muscles on the back of the neck and head to release any tension they have and then using exercises to strengthen the muscles on the front of the neck.

See this video to get an idea of the simple exercises you can use with your health-care provider.

2. Kill inflammation

Whenever we are dealing with a chronic pain we need to look for inflammation.

Inflammation is the sister of pain and when inflammation is present it causes the body and nerves to become aggravated, often triggering pain.

Healthy inflammation is acute, comes for a short while until the problem is solved and then leaves.

But unhealthy inflammation is chronic and signals that the issue is still there or the body does not have the resources to deal with the problem effectively.

Long term inflammation means we need to take action and add support.

One of the all stars in the inflammatory game and especially in the headache arena is turmeric.

Turmeric is an amazing herb used for thousands of years because of it color, flavor and benefits.

But it can also be used therapeutically for inflammation in the right doses.

See our article on turmeric curcumin for migraines and headaches here.


3. Relieve the stress

Stress is a leading killer and should never be underestimated.

Especially when it stems from issues in our childhood.

Patterns of stress from our childhood can create an almost permanent epigenetic expression of fight or flight system activation in our bodies.

This means our body will always be wound up, tense and not healing properly.

This is a recipe for inflammation and chronic pain.

And it really messes with our posture…

When we are healthy and happy, we have a much easier time staying up right, breathing properly and avoiding any infections.

But when stress creeps in, it lets all of the other non optimized systems in our body loosen up and provides holes for problems in our life to leak in.

Do you feel overwhelmed or stressed?

Do you feel like you have to be doing things and productive 7 days a week?

Are there unresolved emotions that you can’t fully get out but you find creep into your life whenever you’re not distracted?

These are all possible signs you need to significantly lighten your load and do some emotional releasing therapies.


4. Undo poor posture destroying patterns

There are some very common patterns that contribute to excessive strain on your neck and head.

They are fed by a dysfunctional core.

See infographic on kyphosis and lordosis here:

How to Improve Posture? Posture Exercises to Correct Bad Posture.

The body is interconnected, like a web so that if anything happens in one part, it affects and is felt in others.

When our core destabilizes, our feet aren’t functioning or our hips or shoulders are off etc…

Our neck and head take the burden because our body prioritizes senses like seeing and chewing over others.

This shift can put unnecessary strain on our vertebrae and lead to trapped nerves, creating pain.

Take a picture of your profile or get someone to assess your posture and see if and how you are compensating. If you don’t know, then you won’t even know you need support in this area as it can often go on and build over years.

Read our article on 1 big tip for cervicogenic headaches to understand the biggest cause of poor posture, creator of poor posture and contributor to strong posture and health here.


5. Cool it down

Inflammation is synonymous with heat, redness and swelling.

The body is showing there is too much heat here, it is bringing more blood flow to the area to resolve the issue and filling it will water creating swelling to cool it down and take away waste.

We can support this.

Increasing water intake is essential to supporting the hydration of our vertebral sponges and the flushing of lymphatic fluid.

Our vertebrae are separated by these sponge like structures that are constantly exchanging and requiring water to stay springy and supportive…

Give them what they need.

Our lymphatic system is the waste management system of our bodies and is filtered out through our kidneys, constantly requiring clean fresh and pure water to do its job properly.

You can also physically “cool it down” and it’s very common to do so with ice packs.

Even more effective is a cold shower and using alternating cold and hot.

This is a great way to increase circulation and resources to the area for free and without taking time out of your day.

Pro tip: Do not use excessive cold immediately after injuries

20 seconds at a time, alternate hot and cold for 10 repetitions each or until you feel pulsing in your body or relief.


6. These homeopathics

When drugs don’t work we can often be given injections…

When injections stop working we can often be pushed into surgery…

Surgery is a major decision and we should try whatever else we can before we go to these ends and this is where homeopathy may provide some solutions for us.

The homeopathic Magnesium Phosphoricum is commonly used for:

  • People with very sudden and violent neuralgias
  • As well as those with cramping pains that come with menses and are better the more menstrual flow there is and worse as the flow subsides
  • Generally the magnesium phosphoricum individuals will have pain on the right side that is relieved by warmth applied externally like a hot pack
  • The pain is generally worse 10-11am

The homeopathic Sanguinaria is commonly used for:

  • Individuals whose headaches begin in the back of the head and spread upwards, sometimes settling in the eye
  • They wants lots of pressure in the area of pain and are better from a quiet dark room, lying down and being perfectly still or from sleep
  • Generally the pain comes with nausea, vomiting and lots of bodily heat

The homeopathic Bryonia Alba is commonly used for:

  • Those with sharp stabbing pains whose heads feel bruised and are worse from even the slightest eye movements
  • The headache is usually only in the back of the head or will always end up in the back of the head
  • They are usually worse from motion, moving their eyes and warmth but find relief from resting

Taking homeopathic medicine shouldn’t be done long term unless under the supervision of a homeopath or naturopath.

7. Use post isometric stretching

Post isometric stretching is how we should all be doing stretches.

It ensures that all of our muscle fibers, tendons and ligaments are engaged before we put the stress of stretching on them so that we get a more even and therapeutic stretch.

Post isometric stretching simply means a stretch after a flex.

So whatever muscle it is we want to stretch, we need to flex and contract it, ideally as hard as we can first, before letting go and loosening it.

One of the first reflexes when we get the pain and tension in our necks is to stretch it, but this is minor if at all effective.

Really, we want to go into a strong flex and then release into the stretch, holding for a few seconds, longer if we are trying to take the kinetic tension out of the muscle completely.

If we need to use our neck, its better to use shorter stretches, if we are getting ready for bed then a longer one may work better.

8. Heal your nerves

Nerves are always trying to repair themselves and function properly.

Sometimes we can get into an accident or have a viral infection that attacks and damages our nerves.

In these cases, the more we can fire the pathways of the nerves and provide the nutrients they need to repair, the better our chances.

Our entire head has muscles and fascia and we can flex it, forcing our body to create new connections through the neurons in the nerves.

But we also need to provide the proper nutrients.

The basis of this is good healthy fats, sufficient amino acids and nutrients for the building blocks.

To support this we want to avoid all hydrogenated and spoiled fats like vegetable oil, canola oil and rancid fats like old fish oils.

But making sure we get enough omega 3s in the forms of EPA and DHA is paramount.

We need lots of them and the best sources come from fish, ideally wild caught as farmed fish are not raised well and fats have a tendency to hold onto poisons. Nuts and seeds also provide a great supplement as well as healthier oils like olive oil and coconut.

Amino acids are crucial and getting enough of them is easy. But getting them in the right proportions means we need complete sources of protein (like those found in meat) and the digestive capacity to break proteins down into amino acids.

Nutrients are found all throughout the two areas above but we also want to set a foundation of 9 cups of vegetables a day.

This is best done through:

– 3 cups of leafy greens

– 3 cups of cruciferous vegetables, the onion family and mushrooms

– 3 cups of full colored fruit or veg, not the ones with white insides like potatoes

Following this simple formula is a great way to begin nutritional support for your nerves.

9. Tackle the three big systemic causes of injury to nerves

Gout, diabetes and arthritis are massive problems for out entire body and need to be dealt with by an experienced holistic or functional health practitioner.

If your health-care provider has only recommended drugs for these conditions, fire them and find someone more educated in the many daily things you can do to ease off the stress on your body.

These are complex diseases so any one or two things I would list here would not be doing them justice but they are primary sources that need to be addressed and supported first.

At the very least, they need to be stabilized or we will continue experiencing nerve damage and problems running rampant and out of control.

As we add more resilience to the system and take off the burden caused by the many different areas that can be compromising our spinal and nerve health we may see how amazing the healing systems in our body actually are.

To get a deeper understanding of how our most vital system, breathing is, read our article on 1 big tip for cervicogenic headaches here.

If you want to learn more than you ever have before about migraines and headaches because you want to benefit from the information then join the Migraine Professional community here.

Do you experience cervico occipital neuralgia or know someone who does?

Share this article with someone who may benefit by using the buttons below.

THunderclap headaches vs migraines

3 Huge distinctions between thunderclap headaches vs migraines

Head pains can be some of the worst pains known to man.

Some, like cluster headaches can even be called suicide headaches because of their persistence that may lead to madness and dark thoughts.

But they can be hard to differentiate.

In this article, we will cover thunder clap headaches and how they are distinct from migraines.

What is a thunderclap headache?

The international classification of headache disorders defines a thunderclap headache as:

A headache of high intensity that comes on quickly and has the characteristics of a cerebral aneurysm but without one”

These headaches come on quickly and reach their peak within 60 seconds.

They last for longer than 5 minutes

These headaches are associated with a brain hemorrhage and have similar symptoms except brain imaging is normal.

The conditions they resemble that need to be ruled out include:

  • Intracerebral haemorrhage
  • Cerebral venous thrombosis
  • Unruptured vascular malformation (mostly aneurysm)
  • Arterial dissection (intra- and extracranial)
  • Reversible cerebral vasoconstriction syndrome (RCVS)
  • Pituitary apoplexy

Some other organic causes of thunderclap headache are meningitis, colloid cyst of the third ventricle, spontaneous intracranial hypotension and acute sinusitis (particularly with barotrauma)

Watch this quick video to understand what a thunderclap headache is and the implications it has on your health:


Receiving the diagnosis of a primary thunderclap headache is very rare and everything should be done to rule out other possible causes that can be creating the pain. Only once they have all been exhausted is thunderclap even thought of.

Some other headaches similar to thunderclap are:

  • Primary cough headache
  • Primary exercise headache
  • Primary headache associated with sexual activity

What is a migraine?

Migraines are a headache disorder that generally lasts between 4-72 hours, are one sided, pulsate, are moderate to severe, are worse from physical activity and present with environmental sensitivities like a sensitivity to lights, sounds or smells.

Migraines generally have 4 phases but you may not experience each phase distinctly.

The initial phase of a migraines can happen hours to days before the attack and is called the prodrome.

The prodrome can present with symptoms like:

  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Loss of concentration
  • Yawning
  • Fatigue
  • Cravings
  • Increased urination, etc.

After the prodrome we have a phase called an aura which differentiates the migraine with aura sufferers from the migraine without aura sufferers.

The aura is a set of symptoms that happen before the head pain phase and the most pronounced aural symptom is a visual blur, spots, dots or colors.

There may be other symptoms that present with the aura including:

  • Photophobia
  • Phonophobia
  • Photopsia
  • Allodynia
  • Increased or decreased alertness
  • Cravings
  • Other sensitivities, etc.

The aura is most often associated with cortical spreading depression which can be thought of as a power surge throughout sections of the brain followed by a blackout.

This is most often caused by instability in neurons because of oxidation, inflammation and a lack of energy generation.

If this “blackout” goes on in the visual centers of the brain, we may experience visual symptoms and so we should work towards improving nutrient availability to the brain and reducing stress on it.

The aura is usually immediately followed by the head pain phase but many experience an aura without ever having head pain.

This can be seen in cases of mild stress where our trigger levels do not rise high enough above our threshold for the heads pain receptors to be triggered.

The head pain phase is generally the most exhaustive phase of the migraine but everyone’s is different.

After the head pain ends there is a post-dromal phase or “hangover.”

The hangover is a series of symptoms thought of as a burn out or exhaustion phase.

For the average migraine brain there are a number of factors that are going on which contribute to the high levels of stress on the brain and lack of nutrients being delivered to deal with that stress.

Recent science has actually been finding that the migraine is a protective mechanism by the brain which is triggered by the body to protect the brain from damage that is already being done to it.

It is not so much that we are doing fine and our brains are fine until a migraine is triggered at which point our brain is put under stress.

Actually, our brain is continually being stressed out, raising our trigger levels.

Then once we are subjected to a stimulus that is more than our brain can handle and maintain balance or homeostasis with, a migraine triggers.

The body says it cannot maintain a normal state and goes into protection mode, revving up the body to bring repairing and growth factors to the brain.

Pain has been used as a protective mechanism by the body since the earliest of times.

When something is hurting us, our pain receptors are triggered and our reflexes pull us away from the danger.

For example when we put our hands on a hot stove, we don’t even have to go through the process of thinking to come to the conclusion to pull our hand away. Our body and its reflexes automatically do it for us and we instantly jerk.

The entire body is wired this way and our brains are the same.

What better method is there to make us stop what we are doing than to put us into migraine pain?

With all of the hormonal imbalances caused by bad lifestyle habits, food allergies and chronic burnout our culture is experiencing… Migraines are just our bodies way of saying “no,” enough is enough.

How are symptoms different between thunderclap headaches and migraines?

1. There are a few main differences between thunderclap headache and migraine but because thunderclap is really rare and mirrors many other types of head pain causes, it is not often diagnosed.

The biggest difference is in time duration.

2. A migraine may come on slowly, with pro-dromal symptoms, and aural symptoms long before the head pain. The head pain will also come on slowly and last between 4-72 hours.

But a thunderclap headache is very sudden and severe with no warning.

It rises to its peak pain within 60 seconds and can last from a few minutes to hours.

3. Migraines can be incredibly severe and crippling but a thunderclap headache is regarded as the worst headache you’ve ever had in your life and a notch above migraine.

Thunderclap headache vs migraine infographic
Understanding thunderclap headache, its signs and related conditions can be the difference between minutes of minor brain degeneration and days of unrecoverable brain damage.


If you are constantly experiencing headaches and migraines of all sorts then make sure to read our article on status migrainosus and intractable migraines here.

To get the most current holistic information on the mind and body causes of head pains then join the migraine professional community here.


Have you ever experienced a thunderclap headache? What was it like? How long did it take to get diagnosed? Let me know in the comments below.


Share this article with someone who may be experiencing a thunderclap.

13 Secrets of Cervicalgia Headaches with exercises and treatments

13 Secrets of Cervicalgia Headaches with exercises and treatments

Our headaches and pains have causes and fixes, even if they aren’t immediately apparent.

We need to know what to do, but we also need to apply it. All of the knowledge in the world is useless if not applied and turned into wisdom.

The neck is an incredibly supportive structure for our heads and in this article we will cover 13 secrets that may be leading to or improving neck pain that creates headaches, also known as cervicalgia headaches.

What is a cervicalgia headache? / Definition

The international headache society describes cervicalgia headache or more commonly known as cervicogenic headache as:

Headache caused by a disorder of the cervical spine and its component bony, disc and/or soft tissue elements, usually but not invariably accompanied by neck pain.”

It’s simple. Neck pain or problems with the neck that create a headache.

But it can be complicated because other conditions like tension type headache and migraine also come with neck pain, making their diagnosis more likely unless there is a specific cause for cervicalgia headaches.

This can often be an injury or some sort of trauma to the neck.

This is where the diagnostic criteria come in.

These are the two main differentiating areas:

  1. Clinical and/or imaging evidence of a disorder or lesion within the cervical spine or soft tissues of the neck, known to be able to cause headache.
  2. Evidence of causation demonstrated by at least two of the following:
    1. Headache has developed in temporal relation to the onset of the cervical disorder or appearance of the lesion
    2. Headache has significantly improved or resolved in parallel with improvement in or resolution of the cervical disorder or lesion
    3. Cervical range of motion is reduced and headache is made significantly worse by provocative manuvers
    4. Headache is abolished following diagnostic blockade of a cervical structure or its nerve supply

As we get into the 13 secrets you will understand more about how the body can contribute to the neck, the neck can contribute to the head and the head can contribute to the neck pain and how they can all contribute to head pain.

Cervicalgia Headaches exercises treatments Infographic

Symptoms of cervicalgia headaches:

  • Stiff neck
  • One sided head pain
  • Radiating pain
  • Shoulder or eye pain
  • Pain while coughing or sneezing
  • Aggravation of pain by movement of head or changes of posture

13 Secrets of cervicalgia headaches + treatments and exercises

It is critically important to get a good assessment and testing done to rule out anything more serious, especially if you’ve had neck trauma or find a lump of any sort.

As we go through the 13 secrets of cervicalgia headaches I will list practitioners to see and exercises or other techniques.

  1. Your head is actually contributing to your neck pain

Our neck is there to support our head and keep our head on our bodies.

Our most important nerves go through our spinal vertebrae and this makes spinal health at the very top of the priorities list for the body.

Our neck will sacrifice itself to keep the head supported but when we are constantly put into forward head posture we can develop things like dowagers hump.

This hump is very common and with the advent of electronics will become even more so.

Our head weighs about 10-12lbs when it is situated directly on top of our bodies.

For every degree that the head comes forward, this weight increases because our neck is like a lever.

See the picture below:

Text Neck

Not only do electronics contribute to this but so do our mental and emotional states.

A confident, strong and open person has an open chest and this sets the head on top of the body preventing it from coming forward.

But someone who is shy, reserved or closed off is more likely to be looking down and be closing their shoulders/closing themselves off from the world which contributes to forward head posture.

Does the way you think or feel about yourself or your life get reflected in your posture and appearance?

If you can change the tightness in your body, the tightness in your mind will change as well.

Where do you hold the most tension?

2. Atlas and axis misalignment

The atlas and axis are also known as C-1 and C-2.

They are the set of vertebrae at the top of the spine that hold the head up, hence the name “atlas.”

The problem is that the main nerves of our body go through these vertebrae.


But these two are easily offset and even a small degree off misalignment like 3mm can have a huge impact on your entire body.

The body will make sacrifices if this alignment is off, often causing the head to tilt, shoulders to tilt and hips to tilt, even making one leg longer than the other.

Injuries and accidents like whiplash, birth and falls are all strong enough to malign these vertebrae for a lifetime of pain and dysfunction.

The most commonly seen spinal joint that will create pain in the head is C1-C2.

Studies have demonstrated that provocation of the first cervical joint provides a variable referral pattern and C1-C2 joint consistently refers pain to the occiput.”

But the assessment and correcting system that regular health-care providers and physiotherapists have is usually not adequate to find the problem and fix it.

On top of that, we do not want someone who isn’t trained dealing with these as we can end up with a stroke or worse.

This is where CHEK practitioners and NUCCA chiropractors come in.

They are both well trained on assessing you and finding if there really is a discrepancy.

Some migraine sufferers swear by their atlas adjustments and if you’re getting neck, shoulder, hip, knee, head or foot pain then this is something important to look into by using the nucca directory here.

3. Neck injury

If you were in an accident or suffered an injury, only to have head or neck pain show up days to weeks to even months later, then you have to get it checked out. The problem is that not many MDs can properly screen you for problems with your vertebrae or musculature.

This is why I recommend finding a highly qualified chiropractor or osteopath. They will be able to help you correct and problem and then give you exercises so that your body can be re-trained.

When something gets shifted, over time our body gets used to this and develops a compensation pattern that works for that particular problem.

But patterns are hard to undo and if you’ve had a problem for years then it can actually feel very foreign to start functioning normally again.

Correct any problem and then retrain the nervous system and it will let go of any tension it is holding onto that can be pulling the musculature in the neck, back or head.

Using feldenkrais or alexander technique can help you restore normal functioning through the feeling of movement.

4. The wrong muscles are tight and supportive muscles are loose

Next we have the standard problem of overuse and under use.

We are pulled forward and down now more than every before because of our reliance on tables, chairs, electronics, cars, phones, desks and couches.

We are no longer predominantly walking up right.

This means the muscles in the back of our neck are getting too strong and the muscles in the front are not being used.

But not only do the muscles get tight, they pull other musculature and fascia they are connected to. We have muscles all the way from the bottom of our neck attached over the head and down onto the forehead eyes and cheeks. It’s a recipe for head pain.

We want to undo this.

When we want to deactivate a muscle, we can use a strong held stretch to take the tension out of it.

When we want to strengthen a muscle we simply need to use and contract it more.

In the video below are exercises you can use to stretch the tight and strengthen the weak muscles in your neck to restore balance.


5. You’re sleeping wrong

Sleep is huge and poor sleep is a huge source of stress.

We spend a third of our lives doing this activity and not moving, if we are not supported well, we will create imbalances that are hard to undo with a few minutes of stretching or strengthening.

How often do you wake up with head pain?

Our neck needs support so that it’s not being strained.

Our back needs support so that it’s not being stretched.

Our legs need support so that they are not creating torsion or twisting in our back.

If we have a crater in the middle of our bed we need a new one.

If our pillow isn’t holding our head in a neutral position like when we stand, we need to try some new ones out.

And if we sleep on our side and have one leg out, we need to keep our knee raised so that it doesn’t pull the side of our pelvis forward.

It’s simple, but often overlooked.

See this info-graphic on sleep position.

6. Your phone

It has become the largest postural mutation in our history.

Phones are like an extra limb and connect us to the limitless information available to us.

But we are not well suited for them.

Our weak arms make us hold phones low, causing our heads to come forward and necks to have to compensate, causing stretching and grinding of our vertebrae.

It’s a big problem and any effort we can make to lift our phones up in front of our faces will take the load off and stop the programming of the pattern into our bodies.

Not only that, but we may develop nicer shoulders as well.

Go hands free, wireless devices shouldn’t be near your body anyway as they have been linked to tumors and increased temperatures within cells.

7. Abdominal wall weakness

Our body is highly integrated, just like a web, if our abs are weak or non functioning, our body will cave in.

This will bring our chest down, shoulders in and head down.

Not only can repeatedly doing forward head posture behaviors do this because our body is trying to give our neck extra room to compensate, but this can also happen as a result of closed off breathing which we will cover further down.

First we have to make sure it’s not deep tension that is causing the problem. We hold emotional baggage in our abdomen but thankfully we can stretch and breathe it out.

First start with stretching, loosen up your body, make it supple.

After a few weeks of stretching and learning how to breathe deep, if the problem has not corrected itself then you can start using strengthening exercises like hanging leg lifts, stomach vacuums and other core exercises that help you integrate your arms, legs and head with your abdomen.

Try to avoid isolated abdominal movements as the body doesn’t isolate and everything works together so using isolated exercises may make the problem worse.

8. Organ inflammation

Piggybacking on abdominal wall weakness is organ inflammation.

Our organs take priority over our bones, joints and muscles.

If they are having a problem, the body will choose their needs first.

When we have inflammation in an organ like our liver or intestines, they need lots of oxygen, nutrients and blood.

If our muscles around them are tight, they don’t have the free blood flow they need.

So the muscles get shut off.

Back gets disengaged, abs are loosened.

This causes problems up and down the chain of our bodies.

If it only happens for a few days it’s usually okay, like when we drink for example.

But if this is chronic, we lose the integrity of our body.

Everything else starts trying to compensate, we cannot breathe deeply, neck and shoulder muscles get overworked and our head doesn’t get the support it needs.

Queue tension and pain.

This is one of the countless reasons finding a holistic health practitioner for your journey is crucial and why I help those who need advanced help here.

9. Estrogen dominance

Estrogen dominance is almost synonymous with ligament laxity.

As we get more estrogen in our bodies, our protein fibres get looser.

The problem is that estrogen is everywhere in our modern environments.

Petroleum products contain estrogens and everything is made from them like plastics and rubbers.

Heard of BPA? It’s a huge problem and in most plastics. Luckily it’s starting to get banned and awareness is being brought to it, but far too slowly.

Now its simply replaced with BPS, which has the same problems.

These compounds that are in makeup, hygiene products, packaging, foods, clothing and more are endocrine disruptors.

They disrupt the function of our endocrine system which is our glands.

Glands release hormones and are incredibly sensitive.

These endocrine disruptors are also known as obesogens…

Why? Because they make you obese.

How prevalent are hormonal problems, PMS, excessive fat and other estrogen related problems?


Plus, as a bonus, if you have ligament or muscle laxity, your atlas and axis adjustment won’t stick.

It will keep coming out of place until the imbalance is corrected because the muscles are too loose.

10. You don’t know how to breathe(Most of us don’t)

You can live weeks without eating and days without drinking.

But only minutes without breathing.

It is the most essential of systems and connected to everything, like the way we think, feel and act.

It also influences our posture and vice versa.

We need to be breathing deep and down.

If we raise our shoulders when we breathe, we are doing it wrong.

Shoulder breathing means lots of anxiety problems and a huge amount of neck tension.

Our neck should not be supporting our breathing.

Our lungs go down, not up.

Retrain this immediately as I see it every day causing unnecessary head pain.

For more information on breathing make sure to read our article on 1 big tip for cervicogenic headaches here.

11. Blame your couch, car and chair

We love them, they are comfortable.

But they are this way because this is the pattern we’ve programmed into our bodies.

Just like how a professional cyclist preparing for a marathon has a rough time standing.

The pattern that we train is the one that becomes the norm.

Our body is compensating and trying to get better at what we are doing, no matter if it’s hurting us or not.

The problem is, it is hurting us.

Our breathing gets restricted, organs cannot function properly, nerves are impeded, we become lazy and sedentary…

This leads to even deeper issues like only wanting to be soothed and comforted which is the express lane for chronic disease. We need a balance of both and this means we need to function well in multiple modes.

Run, jump, walk, squat, lunge, push, pull and lift.

Use these to undo the patterns of sitting, it doesn’t have to be heavy or complicated, but it does have to move you.

As you get better at switching you will get more energy, your posture will fix and your neck will get stronger and be able to brush off any functional problems.

Use full body movements because everything in the body has to be integrated…

A bicep curl does nothing for your integration unless you turn it into a shoulder press and lunge etc.

12. Neck strain means inflammation which = anti-inflammatory support is needed

When in doubt, give the body some supplemental support to help speed up healing and take the burden off.

Some of the signature ways to do this are:

Turmeric – See our article on turmeric curcumin for migraines and headaches

Alternating hot-cold showers – It’s really simple but takes some will power, repeat hot and cold for 2-3 minutes

Magnesium for tension – See our article on magnesium glycinate for migraines and headaches

13. Locked shoulders

By now, you know that the body is highly integrated and everything talks to everything else.

The closest neighbour of the neck and head is the shoulder.

When the shoulder is having issues it is a surefire sign that we need to look at the neck as a possible cause.


We need to have a great range of motion whether we have headaches or not.

But when our shoulders are frozen and we have a severely limited ability to move around, our life and options deteriorate.

See the video below to understand more about frozen shoulder.

Cervical headaches can be a pickle, especially with doctors who just want to drug you and physiotherapists who’s exercises do nothing to address the actual cause.

By understanding these 13 secrets we are much better equipped to deal with any kind of head or neck pain from a holistic perspective because we known that the mind and body are interconnected.

Click here to understand the most important connection we have to our neck pain in our article, 1 big tip for cervicogenic headaches here.

Do you get neck pain with your headaches or head pain with your neck-aches?

Let me know in the comments below and send this to someone who’s experiencing them.

5 Avoidable sins of idiopathic stabbing headaches

5 Avoidable sins of idiopathic stabbing headaches

A head pain is not a head pain is not a head pain.

They are all very different because the causes are different and our bodies are different.

When we can personalize our approach to our situation we can heal the cause and take the load off of the weak areas that fail and cause us pain like our heads.

In this article we will be talking about idiopathic stabbing headaches, how we can define them, what causes them, the standard treatments as well as the 5 avoidable sins we can use today.

What are idiopathic stabbing headaches? / Define

Idiopathic stabbing headaches can be broken down into their root words to understand them more clearly.

Idiopathic – something that arises spontaneously or for which the cause is not known

Stabbing – the most common presentation of these headaches as if something like a knife or screwdriver has been stuck into your head

Headaches – pains around the head, upper neck and face

So an idiopathic stabbing headache is a pain in the head that feels knife like and comes on spontaneously for which the cause is not known.

But the last part is a bit misleading because we know many of the causes of headaches even if we don’t necessarily know the triggers.

Generally what happens is that out of nowhere you will experience a stabbing pain in your head which can be anywhere from mild to extremely crippling. This can last from seconds to hours but is usually only minutes at max.

See the graph below for the characteristics of these headaches also known as primary stabbing headaches below:

Characteristics of Primary Stabbing Headache

What causes idiopathic stabbing headaches?

Idiopathic stabbing headaches can be caused by a number of things because the body is interconnected.

This means that things that happen far from the site of the pain may be contributing and this is why getting a holistic assessment from your health-care provider is essential as simply medicating usually doesn’t fix the issue going on.

For example,

Stress in the digestive system can cause the vagus nerves afferent pathway to overstimulate the brain stem causing the trigeminal nerve which is implicated in headaches to be used as an outlet for energy.

You may feel the pain in your head, but pain is simply a message caused by a nerve and we have to be tuned in to our body to understand where it is really coming from.

This poses both amazing solutions as well as tricky problems.

Medical science is still a baby and chronic pain sufferers known the trouble of getting an MRI and blood work back showing that they are perfectly healthy when they feel like they are on the edge of death.

This means we have to rely on a really solid assessment by a holistic health-care practitioner, with proper referral to physical therapists, functional medicine laboratory testing and more to look at deeper areas.

All head pain triggers have been connected by oxidation and so this is one of the first areas we need to learn to avoid, support and counteract.

We will go deeper into it in the 5 avoidable sins.

What are the standard treatments used for idiopathic stabbing headaches?

According to healthline, two of the standard treatments for these types of headaches are indomethacin and gabapentin.

But with the nature of these drugs you will likely be on them for the rest of your life and they cause nutrient deficiencies that need to be properly supplemented for.

If you experience any sudden pains out of the blue make sure to contact your doctor immediately and rule out anything more serious.

If you’ve been getting these pains frequently over the last few weeks, months, years or even decades it is important to do the avoidable.

The 5 avoidable sins of idiopathic stabbing headaches

The symptoms we experience have causes and reasons as our bodies are highly complex and intelligent.

When we can avoid these “sins” we will not only be much better off for reducing our risk factors for head pain, but we will also think more clearly, live longer happier lives and feel real health in our bodies.

1. Nutrient deficiency

The absolute first and foremost most important issue we need to understand and work to resolve is nutrient deficiency. Unless we are living below poverty and live far away from any source of natural and sustainable farming or gardening, we have to choose health as a priority and fix these.

Nutrient deficiency is rampant across the entire globe and especially in the most advanced societies.

If your body is lacking a building block, the entire chain of events that the building block is supposed to allow, stops.

With long term nutrient deficiencies you can lose IQ, lose emotional resilience, lose any physical strength or health, lose brain function and make brain degeneration happen faster and faster.

Do not gamble with nutrient deficiencies.

See the picture below on the most common nutrient deficiencies present.

% Americans with Intake Below Recommended Daily Allowance

But how do we go about starting the mend and refilling our bodies reserves?

There is a simple diet created by Dr Terry Wahls which she used to reverse her chronic progressive unremitting multiple sclerosis after she was already completely handicapped by it.

It goes like this.

Each day get:

3 Cups of nutrient dense leafy greens or micorgreens such as kale, parsley, cilantro etc.

3 Cups of Sulfur rich vegetables such as those in the cruciferous, onion and mushroom families

3 Cups of full colored fruit or veg that covers the colors of the rainbow you’re missing such as berries

Organ meats such as liver, kidney, stomach, sweetbreads etc.

Sea weeds such as dulse, nori, kombu etc.

Its really simple but profoundly powerful.

Start here and watch your health transform.

2. Inflammation

You need to stop it, wherever it is. If it’s in one area of your body, it is likely everywhere. Telltale signs are heat, redness, swelling and pain.

A little bit of inflammation in the body is good and normal. But every day and chronically will start to destroy tissues and if its in the brain, it may be destroying the brain.

Inflammation is a large topic so read our article on the headache that won’t go away and what to do about it here to get in depth information on inflammation.

One of our best tools against inflammation that has actually been shown to improve dozens of different conditions because of how powerful it is, even making it migraine professional article worthy is turmeric. Click here to read our article on using turmeric curcumin for headaches.

3. Stress/tension and anxiety

These three go hand in hand, come from the same sources and perpetuate each other. Find them in your life and go out and find the solutions to them, they are there you just have to look.

Stress does not serve you. It is a primal reaction used by the body to make you fight, flee and get frightened.

In today’s world, it brings nothing but negative consequences. We need to learn to switch out of fight or flight mode that creates even more stress than the stress that caused it and switch into rest and digest mode. See the parasympathetic section of this article.

Tension is a tell tale sign of non stop stress, bad posture, bad movement(or no movement) and nutritional deficiencies like a lack of magnesium. Stretch it out using post isometric stretching, use a roller or a ball to massage it out or even pamper yourself and get to know a masseuse, you deserve it and require a tension-less stay to function at your best. See our article on cervicogenic headaches here to learn about tension created pain.

Anxiety inflates problems that have not even happened yet. Problems that usually never do.

It is the fear of future events and an exaggerated stress response to them.

You will wreck your sleep, destroy your ability to digest and ruin any possibility of thinking intelligently if your are constantly anxious. It can be fixed and the solutions are there.

Dealing with trauma and learned patterns of compensation is a big piece.

When you begin reducing one of these three, the others reduce as well.

When you begin taking steps for all three, you can switch off the bodies fear response that keep it on the edge of trigger.

Often times, the things that are causing these three can come from deeply held beliefs and ideas about our life or what we should or have to do.

If we step back, become objective and reflect on what is going on we can begin to see the “problems” we experience as minor.

This is where mindfulness comes in really handy as a tool you can use for the rest of your life to give you peace day after day.

Watch the video below to learn about mindfulness from the creator of mindfulness meditation Dr Jon Kabat Zinn:


4. Circadian malfunction

We can encounter many toxic problems in this world, but the majority of them are a blip on the radar as long as we can sleep properly.

Studies show, most people don’t.

Circadian rhythms are the bodies 24-hr clock that regulate the cycles within every cell and hormone in our bodies.

Circadian rhythms determine when we wake up, when we go to sleep, if we repair, if we can think clearly, if we produce new healthy cells and if our pain will come back today or not.

Circadian cycles are as old as the very first single celled organisms in our universe.

They are deeply ingrained into us and one of the reasons that shift work is classified as a carcinogen.

We need these to be regulated and it requires a few different pieces:

  • Direct sunlight onto our eyes and skin during the day
  • Avoidance of artificial sources of blue light at night
  • Balanced blood sugar
  • Low mental/emotional stress
  • 10pm-6am sleep
  • Winding down starting 2 hours before bed
  • 20 minutes of exercise during the day
  • Proper melatonin levels

Melatonin is one of the most effective alternatives to medication for these types of headaches.

But melatonin is more than a drug, its a neurohormone. It regulates our sleep-wake cycles.

And it works inversely to cortisol, our stress hormone.

When the sun comes up, the light triggers our body to release cortisol which wakes us up and makes us alert.

When the sun starts setting, the blue light spectrum from the sun disappears and the stress response creating cortisol drops.

This allows melatonin to start climbing and preparing us for sleep and repair.


(Cortisol level is the black line and melatonin the white line)

Melatonin is also a critical antioxidant in the brain, preventing damage from any free radicals or antioxidants that can be made through improper metabolism or waste removal.

If we continue exposing our body to the blue light spectrum like that from screens and fluorescent lighting, our body thinks it is still day and keeps releasing cortisol.

This causes our entire sleep cycle to shift and become disrupted. Our body loses touch with the natural cycles.

We need to implement things like killing electronic use 2 hours before bed and using blue light filters apps, blue light filter glasses etc.

One small study found that in 3 patients suffering from idiopathic stabbing headaches, taking 3-12mg of melatonin nightly gave them complete freedom from pain.(Link)

That is only a very small number of people but it is a fairly rare disorder and comes with many co-morbid disorders like tension, cluster and migraine headache of which there have been many studies using melatonin as a preventive for them.

Remember a supplement is only a supplement to an already solid program, do the big things first, your body will thank you.

5. Dental trigger

This is rarely talked about because of the large dental monopoly that has protected from any scrutiny of dental practises.

But the chronic illnesses that are created by bad teeth are huge.

Our trigeminal nerve which is the main nerve throughout our head and face that triggers pain is connected right into our jaw and teeth.

If we have a root canal, cavity or bridge, it can leech an infection into our blood stream 24/7.

It has become very common to have disimilar metals in our mouth which when you add a solution like saliva creates an electrical charge.

Remember our body runs on bioelectrical energy, all of our nerves impulses are electric.

Having dental work that accidentally kills a piece of a tooth and leaves it to rot for years…

Eating sugar laden foods that cause our lymphatic system in our mouths to reverse and stop draining waste properly leading to dental decay…

And getting things like root canals that are notorious for developing infections which can create a huge strain on the body…

These are all direct stressors and triggers for activating the pain in our trigeminal nerve.

We need to take care of our teeth and mouth.

See the chart below on what areas of the body and organs are connected to what teeth and see if you can make your own connections.

Our mouth has its own microbiome that actually affects our guts microbiome.

We can eat sweet food, but not food that has been sweetened with bare sugar. Sugar is a waste product.

We need to make sure we have lots of the necessary minerals in our diet and lifestyle like vitamin D, silica, collagen, calcium and zinc.

And we need proper dental hygiene(brushing, flossing, tongue scraping, oil pulling etc)

By combining a good checkup to make sure there isn’t anything more serious going on, a full holistic assessment to rule out major mind/body causes of chronic pain and by steering clear of the avoidable sins we can become free of head pain and the pieces of our life it can ruin.

Along with the avoidable sins, there are 5 special tips for ice pick headaches that are absolutely invaluable in your journey for relief which you can find here.

To learn more about healing head pains than you have ever known before and be empowered to overcome pain then join the migraine professional community here.

Do you experience idiopathic stabbing headaches or another primary stabbing pain? Let me know in the comments below.

Do you know someone that does? Share this article with them.

Melatonin for cluster headaches prevention dosage

Melatonin For Cluster Headaches / Prevention / Dosage

We can all agree that a cluster headache is definitely not just a regular headache.

Luckily, the etiology of a cluster headache is very similar to a migraine so by applying the same principles we can get amazing relief and healing.

In this article, I will be talking about melatonin for cluster headaches, what studies have shown, why it helps and how it’s used.

Melatonin For Cluster headaches prevention dosage

What is melatonin?

Melatonin is a hormone that works oppositely to cortisol.

Whereas cortisol is one of the main stress hormones that give us energy, wakes us up and in times of need sends us into fight or flight mode to protect us from danger.

Melatonin is the opposite. When cortisol levels fall, melatonin levels rise.

In a healthy individual, when the sun rises, cortisol shoots up and awakens us. Then in the afternoon cortisol starts falling and melatonin starts to rise.

Melatonin helps our body prepare for sleep and all of the regenerating and repairing our brain does during sleep.

Melatonin is absolutely essential for regulating our circadian rhythms which control the 24 hours cycle that every single cell in our bodies goes by.

Our cells need a time for activity and a time for detoxification, rest and repair.

If our circadian rhythms are off or if we are overly stressed, melatonin will not be created and secreted properly which may lead to problems.

The darker we can make our environment before sleep, and the better we can create a sleeping environment with 100% darkness, the greater our chance of increasing our body’s production of melatonin.

This study says that “Melatonin levels have been found to be decreased in cluster headache patients.”

See the picture below for more information on melatonin’s cycle.

Regulating Circadian Rhythm (and why that’s important) ~ The Paleo Mom

What is a cluster headache?

A cluster headache is a severe headache that most often comes with one-sided head pain usually around an eye. This pain is so severe that they are often given the name “suicide headaches.”

This pain may come with other symptoms like eye-watering, sinus congestion and swelling.

Symptoms usually last a few minutes to a few hours and come in clusters.

See the video below for more information on cluster headaches.

It is important to understand that patients with cluster headaches show a greater percentage of increased work-related stress, self-employment, tobacco smoking, and alcohol use or abuse.

Lifestyle factors like the standard American diet, over-consumption of caffeine and alcohol and the use of tobacco all result in mitochondrial impairment, nutrient deficiencies and toxicities which may all continue cluster headaches despite treatment.

Why may melatonin help cluster headaches?

Melatonin has been used in a few studies with varying levels of effectiveness.

In one study, 10mg of melatonin taken at night relieved cluster headaches in approximately 50% of patients with results beginning 3-5 days after the start of treatment and continuing for the duration of treatment. But the 2 chronic cluster headache patients in the study didn’t respond.

Another study found that “For cluster headache, melatonin 10 mg was superior to placebo.”

But melatonin is an amazing hormone and has a great safety profile.

Melatonin helps:

  • Reduce oxidative stress and excitotoxicity which are some of the leading causes of headaches

  • Counter the melatonin reducing effects of blue lights that come from screens like phones, TVs and computers

  • Cooldown inflammation which is a common cause of full body and brain stress

If our cluster headaches are coming from a disrupted circadian rhythm, increased inflammation, oxidation, disrupted sleep or a lack of melatonin secretion, melatonin may prove to be helpful in finding relief.

See the pin below for the many benefits of melatonin.

benefits of melatonin | … Melatonin Controls Our Cycles, Mood, Reproduction, Weight and Even

How to use melatonin for cluster headaches

Only small amounts of melatonin are generally needed. The most effective way to take melatonin is sublingually where a small tab melts on your tongue and absorbs through your mouth tissue right into your bloodstream.

It is important to note that melatonin may cause mild headaches or daytime drowsiness if too much is taken so starting with a low dose such as 1 or 2mg and working your way up may be best.

Generally, melatonin levels will slowly start to rise around 6 pm as cortisol drops and this is a good time to take it but anytime before bed works for some.

Some supplements have incredibly large amounts of melatonin like 100-200mg but studies have found that 3-10mg are effective.

If we can combine the reduction of lifestyle factors that contribute to clusters along with support for our body’s own production of melatonin along with supplementation, we will be much more effective in finding relief and long-term health.

If you want to learn more than you ever have about headaches and different head pains, join over 15,000 other members in the community here.

Have you ever experienced a cluster headache or tried melatonin? Let me know in the comments below.

Share this with someone you know who might be thinking of trying melatonin or currently experiencing cluster headaches.

Nummular Headaches temples treatments

3 Practical tips For nummular headaches / temples / treatments

There are so many different types of headaches, many of which are very rare but they all have common causes.

Oxidative stress is a linking connection to all triggers of head pains and understanding how to stop it, avoid it and protect from it is the key to freedom from pain.

In this article, we will cover 3 practical tips for nummular headaches which are often found around the temples.

What are nummular headaches?

Nummular headaches are a much less studied and rarer condition.

The word nummular means coin-shaped or coin-sized and this is exactly what nummular headaches are.

Headaches that are usually the size of a small to large coin.

The size usually ranges from a penny to a lime and most often occurs on the sides of the head and temples.

I could go into more details about how nummular headaches present but it’s important to understand that the naming behind headaches is not because this has actually been found to be different from other headaches in what is causing it and treating it but because different pictures of symptoms require different “labels.”

It is strictly for the purposes of medical doctors having labels to classify things under that some headaches like nummular headaches exist.

This means that even though it sounds like a different headache, the causes, contributors, and ways to relieve it are largely the same.

Research also shows that those with nummular headaches will often experience migraines as well, only supporting the fact that the individual that has the headache is much more important than the headache the individual has. (Study)

Nummular Headaches temples treatments

3 Practical tips for nummular headaches

1. Flip the switch

When we are understanding headaches we need to understand that the trigeminal nerve often plays an important role.

But this nerve, just like all of our nerves are on a “chain of command.”

This means that they are slaves to everything the body prioritizes above them.

If our brain is having issues, it can “vent” the problem out into the nerves, just like a breaker would, to prevent overload in the brain and a power outage.

This is very common with head pains as well as other chronic pains like back pain.

So if our brain is running on “high” and this is causing a massive output of energy that it can’t handle. It has to let go of it somehow which can end up as head pain…

This means we need to turn our brain down. Flip the switch from high to low.

This is most often caused by sympathetic overload.

Our body has two modes that it is constantly switching between if we are healthy.

1. Fight or flight mode

2. Rest and digest mode

Fight or flight is lead by our sympathetic nervous system and activates when we are stressed, in danger or even when our body thinks we might be in danger. This is the mode that is on when our brain is overloaded and can contribute to pain.

Rest and digest is lead by our parasympathetic nervous system and activates when we are calm, relaxed, sleeping, meditating etc. This is the mode that switches off the high output.

So we want to stay in rest and digest and out of fight or flight, simple.

But staying in rest and digest means a few things.

  • High-quality breathing throughout the day

    This means we should be breathing through our nose most of the day and night with deep belly breaths. No raising the shoulder when you breathe and little to no mouth breathing.

  • Low toxic load from food pesticides, junk foods, environmental toxins, hygiene products, heavy metals etc

    Our body takes in stress as a “total.” If there’s a heavy burden on its detox systems because of poisons, it will think it is in danger. Use natural products and eat whole foods. Read labels. (See article)

  • Quality restful sleep

    Do you feel refreshed? See our article here on sleep.

  • Stable blood sugar

    No yoyoing. If your waist measurement is over 80% of your hip measurement then your carbohydrate intake should be low and only include complex carbohydrates.

  • Enough exercise to send yourself into sympathetic for a short time but give yourself a strong parasympathetic rebound

    When we exercise, our body gets very fight or flight because it thinks we are stressing. But this is good if used the right way because when the exercise is over, our body will rebound the opposite way, causing us to go into a repairing and regenerating rest and digest state much better than before.

Keep the switch on calm, cool, collected and “yin.” Stay out of the aggressive, stressed, reactionary mode that drains your body’s resources.

2. Understand migraines

Instead of thinking of migraines as a condition, it’s much more useful to think of them as a mechanism.

We all have this migraine mechanism that can be triggered in the right conditions. (Study)

Just like we all get pain if we put our hand on a hot stove.

Keep it simple and address the cause of the load on your body. You most likely know what it is.

Tune in to yourself, stop for a moment and get out of your “monkey mind” and get into your body.

What is it saying and what is it asking for?

Migraines function on a trigger level and threshold. If our trigger level which is the total of stresses on our body crosses our threshold which is the amount of tolerance our brains have, we will get a migraine.

Take some time, preferable right when you wake up and right before bed to tune in. Don’t reach for your phone because this just causes you to tune in to other peoples lives.

Tune into your own and ask yourself how you feel and what’s going on.

What emotions are the first to come up?

Are you stressed? Most likely…

What is it about?

Stress is like an open tab on your computer. It will keep draining the total energy of the computer unless you deal with it.

Take the thought and emotion to the end, find a logical conclusion or solution that will put your mind at ease, at least for now.

Stressing over an issue will do nothing but take away from your ability to actually deal with it when it is most important.

Save yourself for the most important time to deal with something that is stressing you. Do not hold on to it.

Mental and emotional stress is one of the biggest factors that add to our trigger level and trigger the migraine mechanism which may be responsible for your headaches.

Tune in every day, at least once but ideally when you wake up and before bed.

Nobody will be there for you more than you.

If you need to know more about the migraine mechanism see this article.

3. Kill inflammation

Inflammation is one of the very first and last pieces of disease and pain.

Where there is pain, there is inflammation.

This is especially true for headaches.

Even though the exact area of the pain may not necessarily be inflamed because our bodies are highly integrated, the source of the pain usually is.

Inflammation is a reaction used by the body to repair itself, but when this inflammation continues over a long period of time it can actually become counter-productive and cause our tissues to break down.

This is often seen in the brain where inflammation responds to the break down of our brain cells but then if the source of the breakdown isn’t fixed, this inflammation continues and our migraine brain can end up with those scary white spots. (See below)

MRI Brain White Spots Cause | Mri Scan Images

We need to stop this.

This means stopping the cause but also soothing the inflammation that is already there.

Here is a simple step by step to start with:

1. Do you have food triggers?

One of the most common causes of headaches is food sensitivities. This is an absolute must area that you have to spend time investigating. A minimum of 1-3 months of intensive dietary testing should be done because one of the root causes of inflammation is from food. See our food triggers guide here.

2. Are your hormones out of balance?

Hormones are huge players in our health, they are the big signalers behind our entire body’s systems and if they are out of balance, they can take a small inflammatory spark and turn it into a large inflammatory firestorm. Have them tested. See our 5 mistakes of hormonal migraines guide here.

3. Have you been checked for structural issues?

Function follows structure. If our structure is out of balance we can literally be causing a chronic short circuit. Our body functions on bio-electricity and because of this, it needs to be wired properly. Get a NUCCA chiro to check your cervical spine and see our article on cervicogenic headaches here.

4. Did an accident start the pain?

If this all started after a physical trauma, you know where to look. But you have to find the right practitioners to deal with it and only seeing a GP and a physical therapist usually is not enough. See a CHEK practitioner, osteopath, cranio-sacral therapist and neuromuscular therapist.

5. Could trauma have begun the process?

The patterns of mental and emotional behavior we experience when we are young get imprinted onto us. If we don’t recognize unhealthy patterns and work to release and replace them, we can literally continue acting ourselves into trigger day in and day out. If you think trauma plays a role make sure to see a trauma release therapist.

6. Brain metabolism break down?

When the above seems to be okay and we’ve been inspected by some of the best integrative medicine practitioners, then we need to look at brain metabolism. If our brain is not receiving the right nutrients to go from A to Z then it will create by-products at B and C and D and E and these byproducts can literally result in the death of brain cells and a “blackout.” This needs to be resolved and you can learn more about it in our article on how to stop a migraine with aura here.

Headaches can be complicated if we go to the wrong sources who don’t investigate what is actually causing the issue and instead just numb pain.

But when we can understand the root causes and give our body support, we may become completely free of chronic pain and because of this, you should join the migraine professional community here.

Have you ever had a nummular headache? Comment below and share this post with someone who may be experiencing headaches right now.

Hypnic Headaches

7 Vitals of hypnic headaches

Sleep is a sacred bond between us and our beds.

When that bond gets broken, we suffer.

Learning what causes hypnic headaches can keep us from ending up with those 3 am head pain wake up calls.

In this article, I will be talking about what hypnic headaches are, what causes them, and what studies have found works really well for them.

What is a hypnic headache?

A hypnic headache is known as the “alarm clock headache” because it wakes you up at night with head pain. Even though it will usually wake you up at the same time each night, it commonly happens between 1-3am or 4-6am. It can be one-sided or on both sides of the head, is sometimes throbbing and lasts between a few minutes and 6 hours.

Watch this video to learn more about hypnic headaches.

7 Vital hypnic headache causes

Before we begin, we need to understand the clock that our cells live by.

This clock is similar to the clock that we use, but different in that it synchronizes itself based on the amount of light our skin and eyes are perceiving.

It is called our circadian rhythm and functions off of 2 main sources of light.

The bluish hue of the morning light that stimulates our body’s stress hormone cortisol to wake us up…

And the orangish hue of evening light that stimulates our body to drop the stress hormone cortisol and raise melatonin, our sleep hormone.

So cortisol wakes us up out of sleep and gives us energy and focus.

Melatonin is the opposite in that it makes our body wind down, prepare to rest, digest and repair our brains and bodies.

Here is an image showing our circadian clock and how it functions in a normal healthy person.

The black line is cortisol and the white line is melatonin. In the morning, cortisol spikes with the sunrise, and in the evening it drops with the sunset allowing melatonin to spike.

But our stress hormone cortisol may also go up any time we stimulate our body or mind.

  • If we work out, cortisol goes up.
  • If we go through a traumatic event, cortisol goes way up.
  • If we have caffeine, cortisol goes up.
  • If we are staring at sources of blue light like screens, cortisol goes up.
  • If we are stimulated by an action movie or another event that makes our heart pump, cortisol goes up.

But these aren’t bad, in fact, they are fairly normal. What matters is when this happens and how we respond to it.

It’s normal for cortisol to go up in the morning so we want to maximize our mornings for everything that requires lots of energy and stress.

This allows us to leave our relaxing and winding down activities for the evening, preventing us from raising cortisol.

It is easy to drop cortisol if we are consciously trying to do it(as long as it’s not artificially stimulated).

Only a few minutes of specific breathing can halve our cortisol levels after a stressful event.

See the video below to learn about how circadian rhythms work.

1. Optimize circadian rhythm sleep-wake

Our circadian rhythms are the most important cycle in our body because they regulate every single cell and bacteria we have.

There are a few keys to making sure they stay synchronized so that our hormones and cellular metabolism like our brain cells detox and repair properly.

They are:

  • Get direct sunlight every day for at least 15-20 minutes

  • Avoiding sleeping in late as once light is coming into your room, your melatonin drops

  • Sleep in blackout conditions with no light, street lights, lights from electronics and minimal stimuli like sounds and odors

  • Have room temperature be cool but not cold and warm your hands and feet before bed which has been shown to improve sleep cycle quality

2. Melatonin

Melatonin is our sleep hormone and has been shown in studies to help some hypnic headache sufferers.

But be careful with melatonin supplements…

1-3 mg taken sublingually(under the tongue) has been found to be effective whereas some supplements can have hundreds of mg of melatonin and this may cause drowsiness during the day.

3. Sleep foods

When we think of sleep, we have to understand that blood sugar and food quality plays a very large role.

Melatonin, our sleep hormone, is made from tryptophan which is an amino acid that comes from proteins.

The best food sources of tryptophan are:

  • Dark chocolate
  • Dates
  • Red meat
  • Fish
  • Poultry
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Spirulina
  • Squash seeds
  • Lamb

For blood sugar, we need to know if we have blood sugar handling problems and most of us do.

Do you get irritable when you haven’t eaten for a few hours?

Do you get headaches if you miss a meal?

Do you get severe cravings or other symptoms if you miss a meal or don’t keep your blood sugar up?

These need to be handled through a nutritional protocol to rebuild your body’s ability to use food.

When blood sugar drops, we can actually go into a coma and die so our body regulates this very closely.

To compensate it uses cortisol because cortisol, as a stress hormone, puts sugar into our blood.

Throughout evolution whenever we entered fight or flight mode, our body would need lots of resources so that it could fight or run whatever was causing danger. It uses cortisol, our stress hormone to release sugar into our blood and make it available as fuel.

But this causes more problems if we suffer from head pain and have bad circadian rhythms because when blood sugar drops, cortisol goes up and this causes sleep quality to go down.

We want to avoid this.

Which means we need to balance blood sugar before bed by giving our body foods that support long-lasting energy.

Think of our metabolism as a fire. We want to put logs on it, not twigs, so that it lasts us throughout the night.

Good foods for this are:

  • Nuts and seeds

  • Wild fish

  • Dark leafy greens like spinach and collard greens

  • Vegetables with complex carbohydrates like yams, carrots and beets (not potatoes or grains)

  • Fatty pastured meats

See our article on blood sugar stabilizing foods here.

Hypnic Headaches Study

4. Kill blue light

Blue light is a 21st-century problem and has contributed to a massive amount of sleep dysfunction.

It is normal in the morning to have lots of natural blue light from the sun.

But in the evening and at night, blue light confuses the body into thinking it is still daytime.

This pushes back circadian cycles and keeps our body from being able to repair and detox when we fall asleep because it still has to raise sleep hormones and drop stress hormones enough to do it.

The best option here is to avoid all screens at least 2-3 hours before bed but it is unrealistic since we are culturally glued to our “smart” phones.

Instead, use these tips:

  • Get apps like twilight or night shift on your phone which drop the amount of blue light coming from your screen

  • Use apps like fl.ux on your laptop and desktop to prevent blue light from them

  • Use physical blue light filters on your screens

  • Sacrifice looks, for health, with these blue light blocking glasses

5. Liver, lung and large intestine

Do You Wake Up At The Same Time Every Night? Chinese Body Clock Explained!

When we want to understand what thousands of years of medicine can do for us we need to understand traditional Chinese medicine. This is one of the areas I use to interpret my client’s symptoms and it is very effective for dealing with root cause issues.

Our entire body goes by the circadian clock and our organs have specific times they go through their detoxification phases.

Between 1am and 7 am our body is going through liver, lung and large intestine detoxification and if these organs are having any trouble, we are going to get symptoms when it’s their time to clean themselves up.

This means we want to pinpoint which one is having issues and support them.

Do we feel congestion in the right side of our abdomen under our ribs?

Do we have loose stools, gas, diarrhea, constipation or unfinished feelings after bowel movements?

Do we have a cough, weak lungs, phlegm or live in an environment with poor air quality?

We want to take these systems into account and look deeper into them to understand if the issues they are having are overflowing into other systems like the brain, creating stress in the body and waking us up with pain.

What Your Body Clock is Trying to Tell You

6. Caffeine

According to this study,

“Caffeine taken as a cup of strong coffee seems to be the best acute and prophylactic treatment option.”

Caffeine can be amazing for hypnic headaches both before bed and on waking up with pain.

But this begs the question, is it because our body needs the boost in stress hormones? Is it because we are withdrawing from caffeine? Is it because our cycles are lopsided and need tuning?

Either way, coffee has been found to work well for hypnic headaches as acute and prophylactic solutions…

But this can be bad and cause more problems for those who are already exhausted.

If our body is so depleted in stress hormones that we have to squeeze even more out of it with caffeine, it is not a solution.

Remember, caffeine doesn’t give us more resources, it just attaches to our stress receptors and releases more of the resources we either do or do not have.

It is not a nutrient, just an empty stimulus.

But we can improve that with some tweaks.

Coffee is the most common way to get caffeine into your system so:

  • Use a high-quality organic coffee as coffee is highly sprayed with brain-damaging chemicals

  • Add some grass-fed butter, coconut oil or MCT oil to your cup to add a ton of nutrition and slow down the “burn”

  • Use a nutrient-filled sweetener like raw honey or real maple syrup instead of sugar

  • Add cinnamon or cacao for an extra boost

  • Avoid coffee after 2 pm if possible and not using it as a before bed prophylactic

  • Figure out if you are becoming dependant on caffeine

7. Sleep is brain detox time

In one study, 50% of hypnic headache patients had a previous history of migraine and 40% had underlying sleep abnormalities.

This means we need to figure out what caused our migraines because it could be causing our hypnic headaches and we need to fix our sleep abnormalities.

Migraines are often a protective mechanism used by the brain to make us stop what we are doing and increase the number of resources going to our brain to heal whatever is causing the damage to our brain cells.

See this article to learn more about complicated migraines, see this article to learn about what to do when a migraine or headache won’t go away and see this article to understand the migraine brain.

Sleep abnormalities are a huge issue and obviously connected to hypnic headaches so having a sleep study, fixing circadian rhythms, creating a wind-down routine before bed and reducing stress on the brain may all help.

When we sleep, our brain cells can shrink up to 20% so that they can rest, repair and “squeeze” out any waste products created during the day.

We want to make sure we support this process by taking the burden off our brain, lowering inflammation in our bodies, supporting our lymphatic system to remove waste and providing the nutrients our brain cells need to repair, grow and create stronger pain-free connections.

Click here to become part of the community where you will learn more about migraines and headaches than you ever have and what to do about them.

Share this post with others who need help with their sleep and let me know:

Have you ever experienced a hypnic headache?

See our video on hypnic headaches here:

Phantom Smells and Headaches

Understanding Phantom Smells and Headaches

Migraine auras are fairly common and said to happen in 20-30% of the migraine suffering population.

But auras and prodromes with phantom smells account for less than 1% of the migraine suffering population. (Study)

Some of the smells can be pleasant, and some can be painful to have to endure.

In this article, I’m going to be covering what phantom smells with headaches are and where they come from.

What are phantom smells?

Phantom smells, called phantosmia are a hallucination inside your olfactory or smelling system.

When the brain is affected by something like cortical spreading depression then wires can get crossed and signals can be sent through the part of the brain that processes smells.

Phantom Smells and Headaches width=

This can results in the sensation as if we are inhaling an odor. But it does not actually exist, hence being called phantom.

These can also be created by brain tumors, epilepsy, temporal lobe seizures or head trauma so it is important to see a doctor if you experience phantom smells.

In migraine sufferers, phantom smells usually comes as part of the migraine aura or prodrome.

When the brain has been sufficiently damaged by stress then it will go through a cascade of responses creating cortical spreading depression and triggering migraine.

What is cortical spreading depression?

Cortical spreading depression has become the biggest buzz around migraines with aura in recent years.

It actually gives us a way to understand what is happening during a migraine aura and why.

I’ll keep it simple to make it understandable as the brain can get quite complex and there is a lot about cortical spreading depression we still don’t know.

Cortical spreading depression is a wave of electrical activity that goes throughout different parts of the brain depending on what is affected.

This wave is a series of “blackouts” where the electrical activity drops and “restarts.”

This event may be very damaging to the brain and is present in conditions like migraine and epilepsy.

To tie it to a metaphor, its like you are running your house on a gas generator.

But this gas generator is running out of fuel so the electricity coming out of it is uneven.

This causes the lights in your house to flicker on and off.

The fuel is running low and we need to fix it.

The brain protects you from this energy shortage by ramping up its protective mechanism we call migraine.

It uses the migraine to increase the delivery of nutrients and amplify its ability to repair damage and improve energy generation throughout the brain.

Just like all of our other pain reflexes, they are there to signal to us there is danger, make us stop doing what we are doing, and focus on what is going on.

To understand more about migraine auras see our article on the 3 truths of frequent ocular migraines with images here.

To learn more information than you’ve ever known about migraines, headaches and what to do about them, join the migraine professional community here.

The FREE 5 Most Common Mistakes Of Hormonal Migraines E-Guide teaches you:

– Why hormones are the most important focus around why your migraines and headaches keep triggering

– How PMS is common but NOT normal and why it needs to be addressed to be pain free in the long term

– The 5 most common mistakes why hormones stay broken, why so many women become migraine free with pregnancy and why birth control is not a solution