SUNCT Headaches Syndrome

5 Incredible tools for SUNCT headaches syndrome

Some headache conditions are extremely rare and painful.

SUNCT is one of them.

This syndrome can attack up to 200 times per day with pain frequently reported as a 9 out of 10.

In this article, we will be talking about 5 Incredible tools for the SUNCT headaches syndrome.

Let’s start at the beginning.

What is SUNCT headache syndrome?

SUNCT stands for short-lasting unilateral neuralgiform headache attacks with conjunctival injection and tearing.

This is a type of moderate to severe pain in the head, around the eye or temples with single stabs, stab groups or a saw-tooth pattern. Below is a picture describing the pain type.

SUNCT Headaches Syndrome

With symptoms often only on one side, it is related to the trigeminal nerve and comes with eye redness and tearing on the affected side.

Pain comes on quickly, peaks, generally lasts between 5 seconds and 4 minutes and on average there are 5-6 attacks per hour.

It’s a type of trigeminal autonomic cephalalgia(TAC).

It most commonly occurs in men after age 50.

There is a lack of effective drugs as well as a lack of studies on new drugs, nutritional and lifestyle therapies that are being used on other headache disorders.

But we will make some connections and talk about tools you can start using today for pain and inflammation.

See this slideshow to understand more about SUNCT:

Symptoms of SUNCT headache syndrome

The most commonly reported symptoms are:

  • Pain in the head, temple or around the eye
  • Single stabs, groups of stabs or a sawtooth pattern of pain
  • Tearing
  • Eye redness
  • Drooping and swelling eyelid
  • Nasal blockage
  • Forehead sweating
  • Facial flushing
  • A sensation of fullness in the ear

To get a better understanding of SUNCT see the video below:

Triggers and causes of SUNCT headache syndrome

There are many different triggers for SUNCT headaches and some of them the same as cluster headaches and migraines like certain lights, scents, and smoke.

These are the most commonly reported triggers:

  • Touching the face or scalp
  • Washing
  • Chewing
  • Eating
  • Talking
  • Coughing
  • Blowing nose
  • Showering

Even though we want to avoid triggers as much as possible we need to look deeper at the cause or we will continue chasing pain in an endless loop without relief.

The causes are largely reported to be unknown because of a lack of agreement on any one area. This is the same for most chronic head pain disorders and especially for the TACs.

But there are some key areas we need to look at and they include:

  • CGRP
  • Glutamate
  • Inflammation
  • Parasympathetic / sympathetic nervous system dysfunction
  • Nerve dumping
  • Structural issues
  • Hypothalamus/brainstem/trigeminocervical complex activation

We need to understand that pain is a protective mechanism by the body used to bring awareness to us. It’s used to signal danger and to force us to stop doing what we are doing that may be causing the pain.

The causes of pain are many and can come from any area of life which means we need to look at our body holistically and see a health practitioner that uses mind/body medicine.

Assessing our mind and body to find where dysfunction is coming from is a much healthier, more rounded and effective long-term care plan and doing this will give us a multidisciplinary approach we can use to find relief.

Surgery / Treatment of SUNCT headache syndrome

 SUNCT Headaches Syndrome

The classic treatments that have been found to be effective for SUNCT include:

  • Lidocaine
  • Prednisone
  • Topiramate
  • Gabapentin
  • Lamotrigine
  • Occipital nerve stimulation (Link)

But these are not always effective and don’t provide a long-term drug-free self-sustainable model of health.

We don’t want to just numb pain and reroute it to a different area, we want to address it, learn from it and heal it so that we can get back to our normal lives.

This means we need to look at all the different areas of our life that issues can be coming from including:

  • Mental patterns
  • Emotional patterns and trauma
  • Lifestyle disorders
  • Upper cervical and other structural imbalances
  • Nutrition and nutritional deficiencies
  • Parasitic infections
  • Hormonal imbalances

If we can address the root cause of what is causing dysfunction in our lives, we can often find relief from the chronic pain that plagues us.

5 Incredible tools for SUNCT headaches syndrome

1. Triggers and threshold

Before you start on the healing journey of any chronic head pain disorder it’s important to understand your trigger level and threshold level.

Trigger level is the sum total of all the stressors on your body right now.

It’s the combination of everything that adds to your body’s burden including:

  • Mental stress
  • Emotional stress
  • Physical stress
  • Environmental stress
  • Social stress
  • Cultural stress
  • Dietary stress
  • Spiritual stress
  • Electromagnetic stress
  • Chemical stress etc.

The threshold level is the level of tolerance your body has to its total stress burden.

If your trigger level crosses your threshold level, your body is no longer able to maintain normal functioning and goes into what is commonly called a flare state.

In this flare state, the body is highly aggravated and the weak area in our body succumbs. If we have chronic head pain like SUNCT then this pain will be triggered.

We want to keep our trigger levels down by reducing the total stress coming in from all areas of our life. And we want to keep our threshold level high by supporting our bodies, healing, repairing and detoxifying systems while also providing positive stress that helps build resilience like exercise and cold showers.

2. Foundation principles

The foundation principles are the main and most important systems in our bodies functioning that support health.

If we have our foundation principles working well, then they are constantly draining our trigger levels because they help our body release stress.

The foundation principles are:

  1. Thinking
  2. Drinking
  3. Breathing
  4. Eating
  5. Moving
  6. Sleeping

Thinking – Understanding when we are caught in stressful thought patterns and how to bring ourselves out of them and release tension.

Drinking – Drinking plenty of high quality water(not tap) with bioavailable minerals away from meals to support detoxification and water exchange inside each of our cells.

Breathing – Retraining our breath so that we breathe long and deep as well as noticing when stress is creeping up on our lives and causing our breathing to lock up.

Eating – Eating whole foods in proportions that are ideal for our bodies stress needs and avoiding sensitive and trigger foods that add to inflammation and immune burden.

Moving – Quality movement that helps free up our spine and detoxify our lymphatic system through pumping and opening up tight areas.

Sleeping – Getting adequate quality sleep every night so that we can synchronize our circadian rhythms and so that our brain can go through its most important detoxification phase while we sleep.

Each of these are very deep topics that the majority of chronic pain sufferers are not taking full advantage of in their healing protocol.

To get a deeper understanding of the foundation principles click here.

3. Upper cervical health and nerve dumping

SUNCT is one of the trigeminal autonomic cephalalgias and this means that it’s connected to the trigeminal nerve and related to the functioning of our autonomic(think automatic) nervous system.

This means we need to understand that any pressure put on the nervous system can cause a process called nerve dumping where the brain releases extra energy from a dysfunctional system into another nerve. This is commonly done into the jaw, eyes, diaphragm and adductor muscles.

But we can’t simply block the transmission and ignore it. The excess of energy is caused by a system having issues that are trying to fix itself. Our brain via the vagus nerve is incredibly smart and actually takes in more information from our organs than it gives out to them in a 9:1 ratio.

This means it’s constantly listening and if our organs are having difficulty because of an issue like too much liver or kidney burden from detoxification or a gut infection like SIBO…

Then there will be a huge amount of energy going to the brain, if it’s too much, it gets dumped into the trigeminal nerve.

This also happens with structural pressure like an atlas vertebrae (C-1) subluxation. Generally, it can happen with C-1 to C-3 and this is why it’s important to see an Osteopath, CHEK practitioner or NUCCA chiropractor ASAP.

Read our article on 3 secret ways of understanding trigeminal autonomic cephalalgias here to learn more about this topic.

4. The natural anti-inflammatory cocktail

If we are in chronic pain we need support. From all areas of our lives.

But using these superfoods may make a huge difference in the quality of our lives, pain, and inflammation.

They are very simple and used in the day to day of many cultures around the world but at the right time, dosage and place, they may make a huge difference.

See our article on migraine prodrome symptoms and scroll down to number 1 the anti-inflammatory 1-2 punch here and read about turmeric and migraines here.

5. St. John’s Wort

St. John’s Wort has actually been shown in studies to help with neuropathic pain and has been used for centuries for both neuropathic pain and depression.

It may be an effective tool but there are interactions with many medications like antidepressants, heart meds, antiepileptics, anticoagulants, HIV medication, and the pill. Always ask your doctor before making any changes to your treatment plan.

To understand more about St John’s wort’s effect on neuropathic pain see this article.

As you develop your treatment protocol with a holistic health practitioner you will want as much information on the different areas of stress and tension that can be coming into your life and because of this, I encourage you to join the Migraine Professional Community here.

To understand more about the trigeminally related head pain disorders read our article on the 3 secret ways of understanding trigeminal autonomic cephalalgias here and learn the 5 profound clues for chronic paroxysmal hemicrania continua here.

Have you ever experienced a SUNCT, SUNA or other TAC? Comment below and tell me what your experience was like.

Share this post with someone else who may benefit from the information.

trigeminal autonomic cephalalgias

3 Secret ways of understanding trigeminal autonomic cephalalgias

Nobody wants to have to pronounce trigeminal autonomic cephalalgias(TAC) let alone suffer from one.

In this article, we will make 3 important connections between what the TACs are and actionable items you can do about the connections we make.

What are the TACs?

Trigeminal autonomic cephalalgias are a group of primary headache disorders that are described by the Internation headache society(IHS) as:

The trigeminal-autonomic cephalalgias (TACs) share the clinical features of a unilateral headache and, usually, prominent cranial parasympathetic autonomic features, which are lateralized and ipsilateral to the headache.”

They are extreme and the only therapies commonly talked about are medications because they are so extreme.

Some like hemicrania continua are known as suicide headaches because of their unrelenting nature.

But we need to look deeper and understand what is going on here if we want long-term health.

These 3 areas will allow us to do that:

  • Oxidative stress
  • Flares and inflammation
  • Balance between the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems

We will explain how these make the difference between your body having to create pain or being able to heal as we go along.

The conditions that fall within the TACs category are:

  • Paroxysmal hemicrania
  • Cluster headache
  • Sunct syndrome
  • Suna syndrome
  • Hemicrania continua

These are all very different and everything always depends on the individual experiencing the symptoms far more than the actual label you put on it.

If you want a deeper understanding of the trigeminal autonomic cephalalgias, see this slideshow.

Oxidative Stress

Oxidative stress has been proposed as an interconnecting link between all types of triggers of head pain because of the recently found TRPA1 receptor that takes oxidative stress and transmits it to the brain into neurogenic inflammation.

What this means is that oxidative stress becomes inflammation in the brain and inflammation in the brain is bad news.

Oxidative stress in and of itself is a basic form of stress.

It is stress that happens on the cellular level where a chemical has an extra oxygen bond on it that is looking for an electron to make it “complete.”

The problem is that this electron can be very violent and if it comes into contact with body tissue such as brain cells it will steal the electron from them, causing damage.

This happens every second in our bodies as a natural process and our body has anti-oxidants to protect us and stop this from causing damage.

But when we:

– Go through a period of high stress

– Eat a food that creates inflammation

– Have a hormonal imbalance as is usually found with PMS during menses

– Have some sort of gut issue that’s constantly irritating our body

Then these create huge amounts of oxidative stress.

In a healthy person that eats well, moves well, sleeps well and follows the foundation principles, this is but a blip on the radar.

But for someone following the standard American diet living an indoor sedentary life cut off from all the de-stressors nature has for us…

And if this source of stress is constant and chronic, it creates a huge amount of oxidation and this depletes our antioxidant reserves.

Without an antioxidant defense, the oxidative particles floating around our brains and bodies steal electrons and damage tissues until we develop huge problems.

We have to prevent this and stop it at its roots.

This means we have to:

  • Stop the stressors that cause oxidative stress as much as we can
  • Give our body more of the building blocks to deal with oxidative stress

See our articles on the one common connection behind all migraines here and the foundation principles here.

Understanding flares and inflammation

Next, we need to understand how inflammation plays a part both in the brain causing problems and overload but also in the body that then gets transmitted to the brain and causes the brain to “dump” out onto nerves like the trigeminal nerve.

Inflammation in the brain can come from too many sources to list here because it’s such a primal “fix” that our body uses for everything.

Basically, if something goes wrong, inflammation will come.

A little inflammation is good but having it chronically all the time is bad news for our tissues.

What we can actionably do for brain inflammation is strengthen our blood-brain barrier and prevent leaky gut, give our brain cells the building blocks they need to create energy and run their systems of repair and regeneration and remove the stressors that cause our brains problems.

Strengthening the blood-brain barrier has been studied to be done by stimulating the vagus nerve through cold showers, getting ample good quality sleep and avoiding alcohol and EMFs.

Preventing leaky gut means we are eating foods that feed the good gut bacteria and avoiding inflammatory and sensitive foods that can create damage or immune reactions in the gut.

Some good foods for the gut include:

  • Soluble fibers
  • Vegetables
  • High quality pastured and wild meats
  • Resistant starches – these can be created through cooking and cooling foods like rice and potatoes

Giving our brain cells the building blocks is no simple task when we dive into nutritional pathways but when we turn it into something practical we can do daily with whole foods it becomes much easier.

Vegetables and meat will satisfy the majority of our nutritional needs but we can boost that with some seasonal fruit, nuts, and seeds.

Try to eat all of the colors of the rainbow as each color contains different nutrients.

When eating meat remember to not just eat muscle meats as organ meats have far more nutrition and we need to include bones, tendons, and ligaments in our diets because they provide a punch of minerals and get delivered directly into our own tissues.

Soup makes these easy.

Our body can get lazy and slow if we don’t continually ask more from it. This means exercise, proper stretching, stimulating the vagus nerve and breathing exercises are absolutely necessary to make our body try harder to raise our threshold.

Now let’s understand the two branches of our nervous system that function without our direct control and how we can directly influence them to drain our brain or heal the pain.

Parasympathetic / sympathetic nervous systems

There are two systems in our autonomic(think automatic) nervous systems.

There is the sympathetic nervous system which is built on a response to danger. When we are chased by a tiger, going through a divorce or at risk of losing our jobs, our sympathetic nervous system turns on.

This system spikes our cortisol and adrenaline causing us to receive a bunch of energy and sugar gets dumped into our blood to be used as energy for our muscles because our body thinks we are dying.

This activation of the sympathetic nervous system is known as fight or flight mode.

Our body is ready to either fight the danger or run away from it(flight).

It is built into us and activates a huge cascade of actions like:

  • Our blood being rerouted from our digestion into our limbs and muscles
  • Our sleep hormones being shut off because during danger we don’t need sleep.

The body prioritizes living right now and getting out of danger as opposed to focusing on the long-term. ie. rest and digestion.

This system is absolutely necessary and crucial to our survival but it burns a lot of resources and sends our body’s sync with natural rhythms that regulate every single one of our cells out of whack.

Then we have our parasympathetic nervous system.

This is known as the rest and digest system.

It runs our day to day healing and repair and prepares us for things like digesting food, by secreting digestive juices.

It protects us from infections, colds, and flues as well as setting our hormones up so that when the sun sets, sleep hormones are up and stress hormones are down, giving us a good nights sleep.

Our parasympathetic nervous system is the main healing system we want to be in the majority of the time so that our body is free to repair and digest without being stopped by stress hormones.

But everything we do, think, say, feel and believe influences our body into more of a sympathetic or parasympathetic state.

These systems constantly switch between each other throughout the day, we just want to avoid getting stuck in sympathetic and luckily for us, when we can feel our bodies, we can consciously bring ourselves out of it with tools like breathing techniques, progressive muscular relaxation, mindfulness etc.

  • If we did something we think our God punishes, we will be in sympathetic fight or flight mode.
  • If we are worried about making money, we will be in sympathetic fight or flight mode.
  • If we have just been told by the doctor that we have an incurable disease and are stuck on medications for the rest of our life, we will be in sympathetic mode.
  • And if our body “perceives” that there are more stresses coming into it then it can handle, we will be in sympathetic mode because it thinks we are being attacked.

Our body doesn’t know the difference between a tiger or some bills or the hormonal imbalance we have that gets worse every menstrual cycle or even the sugar-rich food we eat that gives us a blood sugar roller coaster.

It thinks there is a stress and it activates fight or flight mode.

But if we stay in this mode we will not be able to sleep, digest properly, heal properly, maintain our immune system, cool brain inflammation or detoxify waste properly.

But we can change the modes, at any point, with our own conscious connection with our bodies.

Remember our body has an autopilot and runs itself for the most part.

But our mind is the pilot and can take over whenever it needs.

So if we are stressing, we need to realize it and drop the stress.

Drop out of sympathetic and into parasympathetic.

Watch the video below to get an understanding of the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems.

The international headache society gives us a lead into how the parasympathetic system is connecting to the trigeminal nerve and how the sympathetic system plays into this by saying:

Experimental and human functional imaging suggests these syndromes activate a normal human trigeminal-parasympathetic reflex, with the clinical signs of cranial sympathetic dysfunction being secondary.”

And so what we want to understand is that these systems, the parasympathetic and sympathetic are constantly working and balancing each other out.

But we have what is called the vagus nerve which is a master nerve and connects our whole body(including organs) together.

But this nerve has a 9:1 taking-in information to giving-out information ratio.

So it’s always taking in information from our bodies systems and trying to understand what’s going on way more than it is giving out orders.

But if we have an issue in a system, let’s say an organ like the liver, our body will send a ton of energy into the liver to try and process what’s going on and resolve it.

This feedback that the vagus nerve gets can become too much and it will actually end up “dumping” any excess energy into our other nerves.

This is where the trigeminal nerve comes in. The TACs are trigeminal-autonomic-cephalalgias.

This means that are regulated by the autonomic system, think parasympathetic/sympathetic and they affect the trigeminal nerve.

So what we can experience with these TACs is that the brain is actually dumping extra energy into this trigeminal nerve.

This dump, if big enough can create a huge amount of pain and problems.

But the actual source of the extra energy can come from anywhere in the chain, from the brain down to our feet because the body is always taking in information and giving out energy to fix it.

Which is why doctors often call it idiopathic or primary headaches because there doesn’t seem to be anything wrong with the trigeminal nerve.

The technical explanation is:

The limbic system dumps neurological energy into the masseter and temporalis (muscles of mastication). Any aberrant drives returning via the vagus (which has a 9:1 afferent:efferent ratio) will be dumped into the masseter and other muscles of mastication via the trigeminal. Over-activity of the brain-stem spilling into the trigeminal nerve (often from excessive afferent vagal drives associated with gut inflammation) or limbic-emotional stress.

So what clues do we look for?

We need to look at the whole person and understand that whole body health is the goal, not just avoiding, numbing or removing the trigeminal nerve or associated symptoms.

But there are a few key areas to focus on once you’ve received a full holistic(whole body) assessment from a holistic health practitioner.

They are:

  1. Dental health
  2. Emotional health
  3. Upper cervical and vertebral health
  4. Organ health

1. Dental health

Dental health trigeminal autonomic cephalalgia

Dental health is crucial and this means having someone discover if we have infections in our gums, under our teeth and especially within any dental work we’ve had done as this is one of the most common culprits.

The way dental work is done there is a very high risk of developing bacterial infections under the material and this will leach into the bloodstream and cause a massive strain on the body but also a huge overload right into the trigeminal nerve.

You will want to find a move advanced dentist than a standard one. If you’ve had lots of dental work or dental pain then make sure to find a biological dentist that you work well with.

2. Emotional health

Trigeminal autonomic cephalalgias

Emotional stress is one of the biggest triggers and contributors to all kinds of head pain and chronic disease.

To address emotional stress it’s often important we go back in time to our childhoods and discover where we learned to respond to stress the way we do today.

Getting overwhelmed about life’s stressors doesn’t serve us and only contributes to more brain fog and problems.

But we need to take the jump and crack open the parts of ourselves that we have protected and shielded because they could be holding the tension that keeps us from living healthy fulfilling lives.

But this can be difficult especially if we have trauma so this is why it’s important to talk to skilled trauma release therapists and professionals who can help you learn to respond to stress instead of just reacting to it.

3. Structural health

Trigeminal autonomic cephalalgias

Upper cervical health and especially atlas vertebrae health is a huge part of releasing the tension our body can create if we have a problem in this area and seeing an upper cervical trained chiropractor can do wonders. Here is a link to a study that found chiropractic bring relief for some trigeminal neuralgia patients.

Here is the link to find a NUCCA chiropractor who uses gentle movements and specifically deals with the atlas vertebrae which is a major cause of body pain and dysfunction. 

4. Organ health

Trigeminal autonomic cephalalgias

And then there is organ health. This is huge and could not be covered in a blog and maybe even in a book but we need to understand there is a connection between our organs, the health of the rest of our body, and the pain in our heads.

We need to be willing to find the right practitioners that can help us make sense of this and not settle for the opinions of just the first line of medical healthcare providers like doctors, neurologists, and headache specialists.

So many patients are rewarded with health when they ask the right questions and find someone who can help them create answers to those questions, not just dead ends with medications.

This is why it’s important to see someone who will give you a full mind/body assessment which is what your GP was originally intended to do but the insurance-based model of medicine has cut down their time to do so.

Instead, see a local naturopath or functional medicine practitioner in your area or join the Migraine Professional care plan.

To get a deeper understanding of head pain conditions than you’ve ever had before and get to the root of what’s creating issues join the Migraine Professional Community here.

See our article on one of the TACs called hemicrania continua and learn 5 profound clues for chronic paroxysmal hemicrania continua here.

Have you ever experienced any of the TACs? 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.

7 Crucial questions for waking up with tension headaches

Few things are more annoying than starting your day off with a tension headache.

Especially if you think it’s going to grow or become a migraine.

I used to deal with migraines and tension headaches at all times of the day.

But there was a common thread to the days it was just a tension headache and not a migraine.

In this article, I’m going to talk about 7 questions you can use to troubleshoot why you’re waking up with tension headaches and what to do about it. This will also be applicable to waking up with migraines.

1. Are blood sugar drops causing the aggravations?

Blood sugar is a very tricky thing for the migraine brain and needs to be monitored.

If our metabolism is compromised and we are reliant on steady blood sugar levels then having the huge span of time between dinner’s meal and breakfast’s meal may be too much for our brain to handle.

This means we need to opt in to slow releasing foods that will keep blood sugar stable throughout the night and won’t cause our blood sugar to spike or drop in the middle of it.

When our blood sugar drops, our body will release cortisol to bring more sugar into the blood so that we don’t fall into a coma or die.

But cortisol is one of our stress hormones and causes the release of energy that can interrupt our sleep phases and lead to a restless night that may trigger us.

This means we need meals higher in slow carbohydrates, with enough protein and a fair share of fat to feed our brains throughout the night.

  • Yams are great sources of carbohydrates
  • Nuts like cashews and walnuts are great brain fats
  • and meats like salmon belly provide enough protein to keep digestion slow and enough healthy fats to feed our brains.

2. Are you losing more water than you can afford during sleep?

Water is one of the most essential nutrients for all life and keeps our brain cool and the electrical impulses inside of it functioning properly.

Sleep is essentially a giant detoxification process and our brain can shrink 20% during it to squeeze out all the waste products built up throughout the day.

This means it needs lots of water to fuel its ability to clean itself out.

Mouth breathers are even more so affected because they have a greater loss of fluids during sleep escaping through their mouth.

This means we need to do a really good job of hydrating throughout the day. Drinking pure clean water with enough minerals in it makes sure that it actually gets absorbed into our tissues and not just urinated out.

Pro tip: Add a little sea salt to your water throughout the day and if you have problems with getting up to urinate at night then add even more sea salt to the last water of the day.

This will keep water inside you instead of trying to get out.

3. Parasites?

Did you know most parasites have the opposite sleep cycle to us and are most active at night?

While we are trying to rest and digest, they are awake and making their rounds throughout our body, creating toxic waste products and taking our nutrients.

If they are present in high enough amounts they can actually create a cortisol reaction in our bodies all night long because our body has to work to fight them off and keep them controlled.

This means our sleep is getting chopped in half and it’s going to eat away at our body’s ability to repair from the day’s stresses.

If our body isn’t repairing properly, we are set up for musculoskeletal issues, mineral deficiencies, and tension that built up throughout the day, not being dropped while we sleep.

If you are experiencing digestive issues, skin issues or chronic insomnia then make sure to consult a specialist about parasites.

4. Are you going through a caffeine rebound while you sleep?

Caffeine is one of our favorite drugs and for good reason.

It gives us energy and keeps us awake.

It also makes some medications work faster and can save us from a full on attack.

But this amazing substance is double-sided.

It can also contribute to rebounds.

If we aren’t careful we can actually start going into caffeine withdrawal while we sleep.

As our body starts to crave the caffeine we can go through a number of symptoms like:

– Headaches

– Anxiety

– Fatigue

– Insomnia

And so much more.

It’s a tricky game with caffeine so we need to make sure we either avoid it completely or have enough to get us through the night.

It’s also important to remember that caffeine has a half-life of 6 hours and that it artificially increases our stress hormones which can push back our sleep cycles.

5. Are your circadian rhythms synced up?

Circadian rhythms are like the body’s biological clock that regulates all our hormones and cells so that they know when to wake up and when to go to sleep.

If we aren’t getting enough direct sunlight or stare at screens all day our body can begin thinking it’s daytime when it’s actually not.

This will shift our entire circadian rhythm and our hormones may start going up when they need to go down and down when they need to go up.

If our body wakes up while we are sleeping we can develop the same form of headaches that come on when we’ve had too much sleep or woken up and then gone back to sleep.

Bad circadian rhythms mean bad headaches.

Wind down before bed, cut blue light from screens 2 hours before bed and make sure you get direct sunlight into your eyes during the day.

See the foundation principles to learn more about sleep’s effect on headaches and migraines.

6. Do you sleep in too long or with 7. Bad sleep posture?

It’s fairly common to know that sleeping in too long can give us that funny morning headache but there is also proper sleep ergonomics that can either contribute to a restful sleep…

Or contribute to muscular tension in our backs and neck that can lead to trigger.

Both sleeping in too long, too late and too short can be aggravators for tension issues.

Ask yourself when you wake up:

Did I sleep in too much or too little?

Was it a bad time to go to sleep or wake up?

See our article on cervicogenic headaches where the headaches are caused by shoulder or neck problems.

Make sure you:

– Have the right mattress for your body type(soft or hard)

– Have a pillow that supports your head and neck

– Use towels under your lumbar back and neck to give it more support

– When on your side use a pillow between your legs to prevent your pelvis from tilting and straining your back

And get a sleep study done!

It’s one of the first things to do when sleep seems to trigger us and can give us some insight into what’s going on but asking yourself the above questions and resolving deeper issues can give your body the proper rest it needs.

When our body can get the proper sleep, it can give us massive resilience towards all types of migraines and headaches.

If you are trying to understand your headaches then make sure to join the Migraine Professional community where we talk about everything headache and migraine-related and how to get healthy again here.

See our video on 5 quick and easy tips for tension headaches here:

Let me know below if you experience any tension headaches and what you do for them below.

Remember to share with others who may find this information helpful.

chronic paroxysmal hemicrania continua

5 Profound clues for chronic paroxysmal hemicrania continua

We all get headaches.

And some of us get migraines.

But only a few of us experience a migraine type headache that never stops.

This is hemicrania continua and because of its rare and continuous nature, it needs some attention.

In this article we will be talking about 5 profound clues for chronic paroxysmal hemicrania continua.

Let’s start with what it is.

What is chronic, paroxysmal and episodic hemicrania continua?

Hemicrania continua is simple to understand when we break down the words.

Hemicrania is one sided “hemi” and headache “crania.”

It’s also continua because it continues without stopping usually called unremitting.

And it may be paroxysmal because even though it’s non stop and does not go away, sometimes it comes with spikes in pain known as paroxysms.

So we are dealing with a one sided “hemi” headache “crania” that continues “continua” chronically and with sudden spikes in pain “paroxysms.”

Chronic paroxysmal hemicrania continua.

But it may also be episodic in some even rarer cases where the pain fades and comes back(remitting).

The international headache society’s (IHS) definition of hemicrania continua is:

“Persistent, strictly unilateral headache, associated with ipsilateral conjunctival injection, lacrimation, nasal congestion, rhinorrhoea, forehead and facial sweating, miosis, ptosis and/or eyelid oedema, and/or with restlessness or agitation. The headache is absolutely sensitive to indomethacin.”

Indomethacin is the main standard treatment used for hemicrania continua and we will talk about it later because it’s a very strong anti inflammatory.

Here is a video of what chronic paroxysmal hemicrania feels like.

Most common symptoms of hemicrania continua

The IHS definition already covered some symptoms but let’s look at what a study of 54 patients with hemicrania continua found the most common symptoms were.

The most common presentation is for the pain to come side locked with symptoms on that side of the body.

  • It usually stays on that side and includes:
  • Teary eyes
  • Congestion and mucus
  • Red or itchy eyes
  • Eye pain
  • Drooping eyelids
  • Flushing
  • Runny nose

And many many more.

Even though it’s known to be side-locked pain, meaning it stays on the area that it starts, in some cases it moves around because as we know, the labels we put on diseases are just that, labels that we use to understand reality but not actual reality.

Below is a graph of all the areas that the attacks may happen listed by frequency found in the study.


Now lets understand what the main reported causes of aggravating hemicrania continua are.

What makes hemicrania continua worse / Triggers for flares

Before I give you a list of the most commonly reported symptoms and triggers it’s important to look at headaches and migraines as an inflammatory issue.

Inflammation is the body’s natural response to stresses whether they be mental, emotional, physical, dietary, environmental etc.

A little bit of inflammation and stress is good but having a lot, all of the time means our lifestyle is severely out of sync with our body’s needs.

When the stress builds up too high in any one system of the body, it starts to spill over to the others and inflammation results.

As the inflammation builds and more systems have to start compensating for the primary problem, your body uses pain as a way of signalling to you that you have to stop what you are doing.

This will become clearer when we get into the standard treatments and clues sections.

Here is a table showing the most commonly reported symptoms of hemicrania continua in a study of 54 patients.

Notice anything peculiar?

These are all the same triggers as headaches and migraines…

Because headaches and migraines largely fall under the same mechanisms and even though they come in many different labels and severities, they happen in the same body.

What are some of the most common causes of a leaky brain?

Look at the top 3.

Yep that’s right it’s stress, alcohol and bad sleep.

Everything’s connected and when we can understand the system that first started to go under, we can understand how our condition developed.

For some it may have been emotional stress from a trauma.

For others it may be hormonal imbalances made worse by menses.

Others it may be food triggers because of a dysfunctional gut.

Etc. Etc. Etc.

Find the root and what started it all and work your way back.

If you don’t know what it is or need help then ask a professional or start the 10 steps.

Standard treatments for chronic or episodic paroxysmal hemicrania continua

As per the IHS guidelines, one of the ways the hemicrania continua is identified is by its responsiveness to a medication called indomethacin.

Indomethacin is an NSAID which means its a non steroidal anti inflammatory drug.

The key here is to understand that it is anti-inflammatory.

If a condition is found to be responsive to an anti inflammatory drug, then shouldn’t we understand what it’s trying to stop the inflammation of?

Shouldn’t we understand why there is inflammation and look at known causes of inflammation first and reduce them?

The body does not inflame for no reason.

There is always a reason.

See our articles on complex and complicated migraines, what to do when a headache won’t go away, migraine prodromes and migraine postdromes and ocular migraines in the respective links.

5 Profound clues that you need to look into for chronic paroxysmal hemicrania continua

1. Understand trigger and threshold levels

First and foremost we have to understand that our head pain and any “flare” of pain unless it’s from an acute accident and it’s a post traumatic headache needs to be looked at through the lense of trigger and threshold levels.

Our trigger level is how high of a stress load all the stresses or “triggers” are on our body’s sensors.

Our body is always using what is called nociception which is combining the sum total of all of the stresses on it.

That may be our dairy intolerance and our love for dairy food combined with our period coming up and hormonal imbalances combined with work stress giving us bad sleep and relationship issues keeping us wound up and worried all day.

These all add to our trigger level because they are stresses on our body.

Then we have our threshold level.

Threshold is the level that if we cross, we will trigger symptoms.

This is the level that once our trigger level crosses it, our body can no longer maintain normal “homeostasis” or normal functioning and it starts to go into the flare state to protect itself and release as much stress as possible without causing permanent damage to tissues like our brain.

Our threshold is basically the amount of tolerance that our body has, just like the amount of tolerance that we have for things like children or bad jokes.

We want to keep threshold high by increasing our body’s tolerance.

This comes through two things, healing our body and our desire to change how our genes act.

Genes are constantly turning on and off and something as simple as getting direct sunlight every day influences 500+ switches on your epigenetics.

This goes hand in hand with healing our body and the integrity of our systems.

Life isn’t always easy and it’s usually not at all but when we have been building up strong resilient systems for our entire lives, just because we go through a period of extreme strain and one of our systems gets overloaded, doesn’t mean it will spill into the others and gives us a disease.

This is why healing our body goes long passed once we have gotten to a baseline of health because we can continue to build resilience and raise our threshold indefinitely.

This is why I don’t experience migraines anymore because I’ve put in the work over many years and my body can compensate for any stresses very well.

2. Look for the causal system

This is key to finding the BIGGEST win we can get towards fixing the disease.

But it can be tricky because some causes happened years and years ago and we have since start loading up other things onto our body and carry around lots of baggage.

Just like cancer is now understood to have taken 10 years to develop, being pushed to the point of chronic head pain like hemicrania continua is not an overnight occurrence unless we have a severe injury in which case it’s not hemicrania and is post traumatic headache.

So we want to ask ourselves questions and trace it back.

We need to know:

What is our pain pattern? how does it develop, what causes it and what starts it whether that be stress, foods, sleep etc. What is the series of events that ends in flare?

Which one of our systems are showing symptoms apart from the main complaints flare and which one started first?

– Whether that be PMS with menses, food cravings or bloating, sleep disturbance, structural issues like neck tightness etc. These all point to an area and this is why it’s important to look at your body integratively and functionally.

Was there any big event within a year before our head pain started?

There’s many more questions to ask and this is why I recommend speaking with a professional but these are the main ones to start and dive deeper into.

3. Get the right testing

When things don’t make sense, get tested.

If you’re not testing, you are guessing.

You could have 3 autoimmune diseases, 5 dozen symptoms and then hemicrania continua shows up into your life…

But you want to know what is underlying it all and testing shows you exactly what’s going on.

What if you’ve had a severe intestinal parasitic infection that’s progressed for years and slowly overloaded your digestion, then detoxification, then hormones and now the inflammation is running rampant in your brain?

You want to test, assess and not guess.

This is why a functional medicine practitioner is a huge help.

4. Fix leaky brain

The brain has a barrier called the blood brain barrier(BBB) that lets in nutrients and keeps out harmful bacteria, chemicals and substances.

Just like our gut has a barrier that lets in nutrients and keeps everything else in our intestines so that it can get pooped out.

But this BBB is only one cell thick and can become damaged from things like sleep, stress, alcohol, EMFs, inflammation etc.

So we want to help repair it and this is when sleep is absolutely essential.

The average person needs 7-8 hrs of sleep.

If you are sick and especially if it’s chronic, you need 9 minimum.

You have to find a way to get good, restful sleep.

And it can be so hard with chronic pain but there are many ways to go about it and you need it.

See our foundation principles and weekend headaches articles for sleep tips.

5. Do you need natural anti inflammatory support from superfoods?

When in a chronic flare, you need every tool in the box.

Food is your ultimate healing tool and without good food, medicine will do little to address the cause.

Here are 7 amazing anti inflammatory superfoods for calming the brain fire:

  • Organic virgin cold pressed coconut oil
  • Turmeric + black pepper
  • Ginger
  • Broccoli sprouts
  • Everything green and leafy
  • Celery juice
  • Pomegranate

Through understanding our body and understanding everything that happened and is connected to the main symptoms we are experiencing that are causing discomfort in our lives we can get to the root.

When we can get to the root cause and address it we will be much more successful in the long term and actually fix the issue instead of just masking symptoms with medications and hoping another system doesn’t break.

To get a deeper understanding of how headaches and migraines affect the body join the Migraine Professional community here.

Comment below and tell me your experiences with hemicrania and share with others that need some help.

Ice Pick Headache

5 Special Tips For an Ice Pick Headache

Nobody wants to feel like an ice pick is being stuck in their head.

Unfortunately, about 2% of the population goes through this pain. (1)

Luckily they usually only last a few seconds to a few minutes max.

I’ve been there.

When I was super high in inflammation and on the trigger mode road to daily migraines I’d also get these flashes of pain.

In this article, I’m going to talk about what Ice pick headaches are, what the most common drugs used are and some special tips to consider when you find yourself experiencing them.

What is an Ice Pick Headache?

Ice pick headaches are actually just a name used to describe short flashes of “stabbing like” head pain that usually occurs in the front or temple areas of the head.

This pain usually comes out of nowhere and disappears out of nowhere as well.

They fall under a category called primary stabbing headaches which can have a massively spread out total disease duration from under 2 weeks to over 52, graphed below.

The problem is they pack a punch. You can easily go from a pain level of 2 to a pain level of 9 in a few seconds. This is enough to make anyone stop and clench for dear life.

It’s recognized as an idiopathic headache which means there is no known cause.

Let’s take what is known about what doctors use to treat it and point you in the right direction.

Here is a more detailed video about a patients experience with ice pick headaches and how NUCCA chiropractic care is an amazing therapy that worked for him:

What are the most common medications used to treat ice pick headaches?


These types of headaches are known as “indomethacin responsive headaches” which means they respond to the drug indomethacin.

Unfortunately, about 35% of patients fail to respond significantly enough to that treatment method. (2)

Other common medications that get used include:

– Gabapentin,

– Cyclooxygenase-2 inhibitors

– Nifedipine

– Paracetamol

What causes ice pick headaches?

Just like most of the other headache disorders, everyone throws in the towel.

And it’s true, we know very little about our own brains and bodies.

The American migraine foundation says:

“The cause of ice pick headache is unknown but it is believed to result from transient breakdowns in the brain’s central pain control mechanisms.”(3)

Because ice pick headaches are thought of as a primary headache, they are often labelled as not usually having an underlying cause. Simply a “malfunction” in the body.

The interesting thing to note here is that if you suffer from other headache disorders like migraines, you are more likely to experience ice pick headaches.

What do we do?


Let’s look at the information and piece it together with what we know about other headache disorders.

It may be quite often that inflammation plays a role in developing issues like headaches and migraines.

After all, what is one of the first things you reach for when you get a headache?

An aspirin or an advil.

These are nonsteroidal anti inflammatory drugs…

Then there are the prescription medications…

Indomethacin and cyclooxygenase-2 inhibitors are both anti inflammatory drugs.

Then we run into one of the more commonly used supplements that have been found to be effective and we will talk more about in the tips…


Melatonin is thought of as the sleep hormone. It helps us sleep and run all our important sleep repair. Not only that but it’s also an incredibly strong antioxidant.

And what do antioxidants counter? Oxidation and inflammation.

Sleep is also the master healer in our bodies which without we would break down and die.

The majority of the repair and cooling of the inflammation that goes on in our bodies happens during sleep.

Our body temperature drops and our brain shrinks to squeeze out all the built up waste from the days thinking.

Without sleep, headaches are unavoidable and there’s a reason why.

Bringing it all together

What are the pieces of the puzzle?

  • Some of the most common medications for ice pick are anti inflammatory

  • The american migraine foundation says “The cause of ice pick headache is unknown but it is believed to result from transient breakdowns in the brain’s central pain control mechanisms.”(3)

  • Headache and migraine disorders are commonly connected by oxidation and inflammation

  • One of the most common supplemental treatments is melatonin which is a strong antioxidant

When we start to look at it like this everything becomes more clear.

Break down in the brain doesn’t happen for no reason. For a tissue to stop working and degrade, unless there is an acute physical injury, it goes through a process of chronic inflammation or “fire” first.

If we want to be healthy and avoid inflammation and oxidation that can wreak havoc on our bodies we need to follow simple steps that keep our body cleaning out waste and delivering nutrients.

Now let’s talk about the 5 special tips I have for you:

1. Melatonin

Of course first and foremost is a simple hormone that you can buy at your health food store.

Usually, a dosage of 1 or 2 mg taken sublingually is enough and studies have been done on ice pick and other headache disorders like migraine here and here respectively.

But taking melatonin sublingually(under the tongue) is just scratching the surface of what’s going on here.

If melatonin is producing relief that means our body may well be deficient in it.

How does our body become deficient in a hormone that we absolutely need for sleep, repair and keeping oxidation and inflammation at bay?

Here are a few reasons that should be corrected before you become dependent on melatonin from outside of your body:

– You aren’t actually getting into deep sleep

– Circadian rhythms are out of whack and adrenal hormones are upside down

– Blood sugar is dropping and spiking at night

– You are deficient in proteins which give you the precursors to melatonin like tryptophan

– Excess fluoride in the water supply or diet lowering melatonin(4)

– Too much blue light from screens before bed

– Stress is keeping you out of relaxation and being able to wind down

2. Hot/Cold Technique

If an ice pick style headache is lasting longer than a few seconds you can quickly go for exposure to hot/cold.

The simplest way is warming your hands but this may not be enough.

Many headache sufferers use hot or cold on their head, neck, shoulders, hands, and feet.

One of the most common methods is to get your hands really warm and put your feet into cold or ice cold water.

Showering with cold is a great way to give your body the hunters reflex and change its blood flow pattern to take any heat and inflammation off the head.

3. Some Quick Minerals

Another simple trick that has worked quite well is a quick dose of minerals.

Taking a small cup of water, juicing a lemon or lime into it and giving it a good sprinkle of sea salt(Not table salt).

This mix provides you with a massive amount of minerals, enzymes, cofactors, and important antioxidant and anti-inflammatory vitamins like vitamin C.

Juice it, stir and down.

This has been reported to work for other headaches as well and the minerals provided by the sea salt have been well studied for relief with various headache disorders.

4. The Ultimate Herb For Inflammation

There is an amazing herb out there, used all the time and for thousands of years before any of the anti inflammatory drugs existed.

This herb has an amazing safety profile but as always, make sure to check with your doctor before making any changes.

The neat thing about this herb is that its actually been studied and found more effective for inflammation than many of the drugs on the market.

It’s turmeric.

Taking a thumb sized piece of turmeric root and blending, squeezing or crushing it for fast absorption is an easy way to deal with inflammation daily.

You can also get it in a powder and in a liquid in some places for easy use.

Pro tip: If using fresh turmeric, break it down, mix it with fresh ground black pepper and some healthy fats like coconut oil and let it simmer in a pot for a few minutes.

The piperine in the black pepper extends the effects of turmeric by 300% and the fat + cooking helps to activate them and make them available by the body.

See our post on turmeric for migraines for more information on how to use it.

5. Essential Oils

Essential oils are amazing but should be used with care.

They have anti inflammatory benefits and can be used very quickly once you’re prepared.

There are a few that are all stars in the head pain game.

Peppermint and any kind of menthol have been clinically studied to be very effective.

There is also a blend called “M grain” by Young Living that many report works well.

It contains a blend of:

  • Basil

  • Marjoram

  • Lavender

  • Peppermint

  • Roman chamomile

  • Helichrysum

How it’s often used:

– Careful with the pure oils as they are very strong and can burn the eyes

– Apply a drop or 2 to the area with pain such as temples or forehead and massage in

– Put a few drops on hands, rub in and inhale

– Breathe deeply through the diaphragm into the belly and relax

– Add to bath or diffuser

When an ice pick headache hits, you want to be prepared.

If you’re lucky it will only be a few seconds, but if not, focus on bringing down inflammation.

Experiencing them regularly means you should start looking deeper at what is going on and creating stress in your body because stress leads to inflammation.

Finding the root causes of stress, supporting the body in how it functions and giving it extra boosts and support so that it can heal itself and return to normal functioning is what we work towards in the coaching I do with migraineurs here.

Your brain is constantly building new brain cells and replacing old ones, make the new ones stronger.

If you want to learn more about migraines and headaches than you’ve ever known because you want to get better, join the community here.

Let me know what works for you when you experience sudden head pains in the comments below and make sure to share this post because it helps others find new strategies.

3 Worst sins of familial / sporadic hemiplegic migraines and triggers

Going through a hemiplegic migraine can be one of the scariest experiences of your life.

My clinical practise has given me the chance to help them and today I will be sharing the 3 worst “sins” of hemiplegic migraines along with information about sporadic and familial hemiplegic migraines as well as common triggers and what to do.

Let’s start at the beginning. 

What is sporadic, familial and hemiplegic migraine? 

Hemiplegic migraine is a rare subtype of migraine with aura that causes intense throbbing pain, nausea, sensitivity to light and sound.

This type of migraine is extremely severe and one sided which gives it its rare and one sided presentation.

The paralysing effect it is known for is called motor aura and is attributed to cortical spreading depression which we will talk about further on.

It also causes numbness, tingling and extreme weakness that is comparable to temporary paralysis giving it its name.

Hemi – half

Plegic – paralysed

Hemi-plegic migraine = Half-paralysed migraine

Usually it is only weakness not paralysis but can come with a range of other stroke like symptoms such as speech loss, decreased consciousness etc that make it a very scary experience.

There are two subgroups of hemiplegic migraine:

  • Sporadic hemiplegic migraine – This is hemiplegic migraine that isn’t found to have an inherited connection from your family and happens “randomly.”
  • Familial hemiplegic migraine – This is hemiplegic migraine that has a traceable family history. The subgroups of FHM are based on genetic testing.

Is hemiplegic migraine dangerous? 

Before we talk about the dangers of HM see our video below on understanding hemiplegic migraine.

Hemiplegic migraine is easily confused with stroke as symptoms are very similar so it’s always most important to rule out this possibility.

That said, hemiplegic migraine is still a very serious form of migraine and with symptoms being so disabling it can be dangerous.

With the involvement of cortical spreading depression in hemiplegic migraine this means there is a massive inflammatory problem mixed with a lack of energy and excitation in brain cells which can cause brain cell death.

Many hemiplegic migraine sufferers are more likely to have the characteristic brain “lesions” that long term migraine sufferers have been found to exhibit.

Symptoms of hemiplegic migraine

The symptoms of sporadic, familial and hemiplegic migraine are fairly the same.

The international headache society has this criteria for hemiplegic migraines:

Attacks that fulfill migraine with aura and exhibit both:

  • Fully reversible motor weakness
  • Fully reversible visual, sensory and or speech language symptoms

Attached below is a graph showing the possible symptoms and a more complete list can be found here.

That said, the most common symptoms are:

  • One sided weakness of the body with face arm leg involvement
  • Numbness and tingling on affected side
  • Visual aura
  • Speech problems
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Loss of motor control and coordination
  • Slurred speech migraine

See the hemiplegic migraine guide from axon optics here.

Can hemiplegic migraine cause stroke / death? 

There are some very serious symptoms that happen during hemiplegic migraine that should not be taken lightly.

These include:

  • Coma or a decreased level of consciousness
  • Memory loss
  • Confusion and loss of coordination

These can be especially dangerous if you are driving, operating power tools or heavy machinery.

Though they are similar to a stroke, the symptoms usually come on slowly, build up and then go away slowly.

WebMD states that there isn’t a predictable pattern with how it generally progresses, but from my experience individuals will experience the same progression each time they experience a flare unless their health changes for the better or worse.


According to the NIH,

“Although most people with FHM recover completely between episodes, neurological symptoms such as memory loss and problems with attention can last for weeks or months.

The occurrence of FHM attacks tends to decrease with age.

The eventual neurologic outcome is often benign; however, about 20 percent of individuals with FHM develop mild but permanent difficulty coordinating movements (ataxia), which may worsen with time, and nystagmus (rapid, involuntary eye movements).

Unusually severe migraine episodes have been reported in some people with FHM.

These episodes may include fever, seizures, prolonged weakness, coma, and, rarely, death.”(Link) 

Hemiplegic migraine disability / Is it a disability?

Hemiplegic migraines are incredibly disabling but their acceptance into a disability claim will depend on how severe they are and if they keep you from working a normal job that pays equal to or more than the disability payments.

 Here is an article with information on hemiplegic migraines and disability claims.

 Here is a great article on getting approved for migraine disability.

 Hemiplegic migraines most common treatments

 According to healthline the most common treatments for hemiplegic migraine are high blood pressure medications as well as anti seizure drugs.

 In the Migraine Professional community talk we had here there are quite a few people who use triptans for their hemiplegic migraines but healthline says that they are not recommended as it can make hemiplegic migraine symptoms worse or cause permanent damage.

 For more information on hemiplegic migraine treatments go here.

 Hemiplegic migraine in pregnancy

Studies show that most pregnancies will actually reduce the chances of a migraine sufferer experiencing an attack and this is attributed to many factors including skyrocketing progesterone and DAO.

But some aren’t so lucky and this can actually mean increasing migraines.

It’s important to consider what is causing the migraines in the first place and to look at root causes.

If you’re not experiencing any digestive issues like bloating, burping, reflux, pain or loose stools…

And if you don’t experience any hormonal difficulties around ovulation or menses like pain or PMS…

Then it’s important to get a full assessment on everything that is going on from a holistic health practitioner like a functional medicine practitioner.

Do you get fatigue?

Do you have trouble sleeping?

Do you have inverted breathing?

Have you been screened for food intolerances?

Have you had your mineral levels checked?

Is there emotional stress or trauma going on in your life?

There’s many more.

These can all affect the strain that is put on your system and the likelihood that your brain will not be able to continue normal functioning which may lead to trigger.

If you are experiencing extreme symptoms like those of a hemiplegic migraine then taking every win you can get in supporting your body and lightening the brain and nervous systems burden is absolutely necessary.

Familial hemiplegic migraine genetic testing

According to the NIH, “Mutations in the CACNA1A, ATP1A2, SCN1A, and PRRT2 genes have been found to cause familial hemiplegic migraine.”

To understand which genes affect which type of familial hemiplegic migrane go here.

If you are looking for genetic testing try orphanetblueprintgenetics or ambrygen.

Hemiplegic migraine diet

The same things that can cause regular migraines to trigger, can cause hemiplegic migranes to trigger.

See this article on migraine triggers and if you want to know everything there is to know about food triggers then see this guide.

But hemiplegic migraines because of their connection to cortical spreading depression are intimately linked with epilepsy and this means that our metabolism is compromised leading the brain excitation.

One of the best ways to prevent epilepsy and many types of migraines by reducing our brain cells extreme excitability that can lead to their death is through a ketogenic diet.(Link)

The study above found 90% of migraine sufferers to respond to a ketogenic diet because of its ability to reduce neuronal excitation and cortical spreading depression. (Link)

Now for the good stuff.

The 3 worst sins of hemiplegic migraines

1. Triggers

First and foremost as with any type of migraine you need to understand what triggers and causes are.

A trigger is something that adds to your trigger level.

Your trigger level, if it goes above your threshold level may trigger a migraine.

So you want to keep your triggers low and threshold high.

Examples of triggers include:

– Weather changes

– Bright lights

– Scents

– Sensitive foods

– A stressful event

Then we have causes.

Causes are deeper issues that are going on within us that compromise our body. If a cause is strong enough, it can develop more triggers.

For example if you have a gut dysbiosis(bacterial imbalance) then this can lead to the inability to digest some foods properly and create food sensitivities.

These food sensitivities can then trigger you and get blamed when really it was the dysbiosis.

Causes can get incredibly deep like traumatic events, heavy metal toxicity, parasite infections etc.

It’s important to address the cause as well as the triggers.

Removing triggers can help you get better within a few days but if the cause isn’t addressed then your body can continue to develop triggers and you can end up with a seemingly endless and impossible list of triggers.

Start slow, work your way back through how the condition progressed, what started it, what was going on in your life when it started and what could have pushed it over the edge.

If you can’t make any concrete connections then it’s important to get a full lab panel from a functional medicine practitioner.

This will tell you all about amino acid levels, enzymatic issues, fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, heavy metals, organic acids, neurotransmitter issues, hormonal problems etc.

2. Insulin/carbohydrate roller coaster

This is huge for migraine sufferers and especially for hemiplegic migraine sufferers because of their connection to cortical spreading depression, epilepsy and the ketogenic diet.

It’s important to understand that our brain can run off of two fuel sources; sugars or fats. These get broken down into glucose and ketones.

If we are constantly eating carbohydrates and sugars we can develop high blood sugar levels which lead to a huge number of issues like obesity and diabetes.

One of the newer terms for alzheimer’s is “diabetes of the brain” because the brain becomes so saturated with empty sugars and attacks from insulin that it becomes insulin resistant and cannot produce energy from sugar anymore.

What is insulin and what does it do for us?

Insulin is a natural hormone that for the purposes of this conversation takes sugar out of our blood and deposits it into our cells.

When we eat a food full of carbohydrates(these are broken down into sugars) or sugars they get broken down and absorbed into our blood. Causing blood sugar to go up. (caffeine and other stimulants can mess with insulin as well)

High blood sugar can send us into a coma so our body tightly regulates it. When it notices blood sugar goes up it releases insulin.

Insulin takes the sugar(and other nutrients that are bound to it) and puts it into our cells.

And this is great as long as our cells need the sugar, because then they are insulin sensitive.

If they don’t need the sugar, they become insulin resistant.

If we continue to provide 24/7 sources of sugar to our body our cells get overloaded and start to resist insulin completely.

The problem is that this mechanism can become dysfunctional and then our cells stop responding to insulin at all.

We want to avoid this as sugar and insulin are both necessary to deliver nutrients and help our cells function properly.

This is where the ketogenic diet and ketones come in.

Instead of us constantly eating high carbohydrate meals(sugar, grains, too many fruits) we eat small amounts of slow carbohydrate meals (dark leafy greens, vegetables) and moderate amounts of protein along with higher fat.

This creates a switch in our body that regularly happens when we go into periods of fasting.

When the sources of carbohydrates and sugars go down, our body starts taking the fat we have in our body and breaks it down.

When it breaks it down it creates ketones which are the basis of the ketogenic diet because during the diet you are essentially living off of ketones.

This diet is amazing for lowering blood pressure and improving weight loss and insulin sensitivity…


It is phenomenal for the brain.

It lowers excitation in the brain and provides a really powerful antioxidant called butyrate that prevents brain cell damage.

Remember that the one common connection behind all migraines is oxidation.

This is huge and studies like this one show that it works for migraines and this one and this one explain how it may.

Many doctors have little to no nutritional knowledge so they need to be educated on what a ketogenic diet is if you bring it up to them.

I’ll break down the ketogenic diet in a simple way here but it requires more education on your part:

  • Stay below 25 grams of digestible carbohydrates per day

  • Keep protein intake moderate and only eat quality pastured and wild meats

  • Eat enough fat to feel satisfied with each meal

For more information on ketogenic diets go here.

Always ask your doctor before making any changes.

See our facebook conversation on fasting here.

3. Not Supplementing

Next we have some of the well studied all star supplements.

Everyone is different so only you and your doctor can determine what works for you.

We are focusing on fixing the cause and the cause is different for different people so you have to find the one that is holding you back from health.

First and foremost is one of the best ways to “cool” any fire that’s going on in the brain and this is magnesium.

Magnesium deficiency contributes to headaches by:

– Increasing muscle tension

– Promoting vasoconstriction

– Allowing NMDA sites to be activated leading to brain hyperexcitability

– Impairing cellular energy metabolism

In one study they found that, “In weeks 9-12 the attack frequency was reduced by 41.6% in the magnesium group and by 15.8% in the placebo group compared to the baseline.”

Unless there is renal failure magnesium is seen as a safe option and many places recommend starting at 200mg a day and working your way up to bowel tolerance.

Magnesium is known as the relaxation mineral and it can relax the poop right out of your bowels.

If you have trouble taking it orally then getting a magnesium spray for your skin or doing regular epsom salt baths 3-4 times a week can do wonders.

See our video on magnesium here.

Next we have CoQ10

CoQ10 isn’t as well known as magnesium but it is an essential part of the energy generation cycle in our cells.

This study found that migraines were associated with low CoQ10 levels.(as well as low vitamin D and B)

In these two studies they found that CoQ10 supplementation was able to reduce attack frequencies of migraines by 50 percent in 61% of participants and by over 50 percent in 48 percent of participants, respectively. (StudyStudy)

In the first study they used 150 mg(1x a day) and the second 100 mg(3x a day) of CoQ10

CoQ10 can come from many foods and the amount you need depends on you but I have attached a graph below to make food intake simple.

And finally is B vitamins

B vitamins are absolutely amazing and crucial for our brains. The problem is that if we take too much of them at any one time, our body doesn’t hold on to them and they end up being urinated out.

This means we need them consistently taken throughout the day, ideally from food sources but also from supplementation in severe cases.

Some migraine sufferers have methylation problems which reduces how much of a vitamin gets converted into a useable nutrient by our bodies which is why if you are taking a B complex supplement it would be important to see if methylated versions work better for you.

Riboflavin(B2) is the most common and found 200-400 mg a day to be effective for migraine prophylaxis here.

  • “68.4% of cases had a 50% or greater reduction in frequency of attacks and 21.0% in intensity.”

There is also Pyridoxine(B6) which was found to have “led to a significant decrease in headache severity.”(study) This study used 80mg per day.

B9 and B12 have also been studied to be very effective and incredibly safe because they are just nutrients.

It’s important to note that B vitamins always come in complexes and this means they require each other for absorption and utilization by the body.

There are many amazing tools we can use to reduce the frequency, severity and duration of our attacks but without assessing, we are guessing.

Make sure you get your healthcare provider to test your gut, test your hormones, look for trauma, test mineral deficiencies and more so that you can get a whole and complete picture of what’s going on.

This will allow you to focus on the most important and key areas that can(and usually do) create the need for migraines in the first place.

This is the way we do it at Migraine Professional because we understand that as long as you don’t treat the cause, you are only palliating and prolonging the pain.

To get the most holistic information on migraine care join our newsletter here.

Have you ever experienced a hemiplegic migraine?

Comment below and share with someone else who might benefit from this information.

1 Big tip for cervicogenic headaches

After I tamed my migraines the only thing that was left was these guys.

Cervicogenic headaches are a type of secondary headache that are caused by pain in the neck extending to pain in the head.

Cervico = neck

Genic = created

Cervico-genic-headache = neck created headache

In this article, I’m going to talk about what a cervicogenic headache is and what you absolutely must understand if you want long-term relief from it.

After that, we will talk about some well-known treatments for it.

What is a Cervicogenic Headache?

Cervicogenic headache is a type of secondary headache that comes from pain in the neck (usually C1, C2 or C3 vertebrae are blamed) and extends into the head creating a headache.(Link)

Those who suffer from this pain also have many trigger points in their shoulders and back that can aggravate the neck and cause a pain sensation in the head.

It’s important to remember that our body is tied together so when a pain starts in one area it’s very easy for it to aggravate other sensitive areas.

This is even more true with the neck and head because of the large amount of nerves that can convey the pain from the neck into the face or back.

Supporting proper functioning of the neck and everything that ties into it will yield the best results in treatment.

Who Gets Them?

“Prevalence estimates range from 0.4% to 2.5% of the general population to 15% to 20% of patients with chronic headaches. CGH affects patients with a mean age of 42.9 years, has a 4:1 female disposition, and tends to be chronic.”(Link)

“People with cervicogenic headache often have reduced range of motion of their neck and worsening of their headache with certain movements of their neck or pressure applied to certain spots on their neck.

The headaches are often side-locked (on one side only), and the pain may radiate from the neck/back of the head up to the front of the head or behind the eye.

The headache may or may not be associated with neck pain.”(Link)

The problem with cervicogenic headache is that neck pain is not enough for this diagnosis as tension type headache and migraine can both present with neck pain.

To really be understood as a cervicogenic headache there has to be a cause uncovered that is known to create cervicogenic headache.

The american migraine foundation states “there must be evidence of a disorder or lesion within the cervical spine or soft tissues of the neck, known to be able to cause headache. Such disorders include tumors, fractures, infections and rheumatoid arthritis of the upper cervical spine.”(Link)

Cervicogenic Headache Symptoms

Some of the most common symptoms include:

  • Pain that only occurs on one side of your head or face

  • Headaches that are triggered by neck movement

  • Awkward head positions and a stiff neck

  • Pressure on certain parts of the neck

  • Pain lasting hours or days

  • Pain from Coughing, sneezing or taking a deep breath

  • Pain from the neck extending to head or down to shoulders and back

  • Steady pain that doesn’t throb and stays in one spot(Link)

WebMD states that even though CGH and migraine are different, they can have many of the same symptoms such as:

  • Feeling sick to your stomach with nausea and vomiting

  • Pain in your arm or shoulder

  • Worse in bright light

  • Worse from loud noise

  • Blurry vision

Cervicogenic Vs Migraine

Understanding the difference between cervicogenic headache and migraine is clear on paper but difficult in practise because they present with many of the same symptoms.

Here are the criteria for cervicogenic headache diagnosis as per the international headache society’s guidelines:

1. Pain localized in the neck and occiput, which can spread to other areas in the head, such as forehead, orbital region, temples, vertex, or ears, usually unilateral.

2. Pain is precipitated or aggravated by specific neck movements or sustained postures.

3. At least one of the following:

  • Resistance to or limitation of passive neck movements

  • Changes in neck muscle contour, texture, tone, or response to active and passive stretching and contraction

  • Abnormal tenderness of neck musculature

4. Radiological examination reveals at least one of the following:

  • Movement abnormalities in flexion/extension

  • Abnormal posture

  • Fractures, congenital abnormalities, bone tumors, rheumatoid arthritis, or other distinct pathology (not spondylosis or osteochondrosis)

 Here is a video of what a physical practitioner might use to assess you:


Cervicogenic Headache Causes

These are some common causes and we will talk about how they are connected and stem from the same source:

– Forward head posture

– Poor sleep position

– Osteoarthritis

– Nerve compression

– Slipped disk

– Tumor

– Fracture

When we want to understand cervicogenic headaches and any headaches coming from pain in the neck or shoulders we have to look at the rest of the body and how it’s compensating.

The body will always try to protect itself and often does this by changing posture and creating pain.

If we have a muscle imbalance in the neck from let’s say sitting all day(who does that?) then we can develop tight and weak muscles that will continue to put our neck into a posture that will create compression on nerves and aggravate pain.

Forward head posture is one of the most common causes of this and is becoming a huge problem because we are:

– Sitting at desks

– Sitting in cars

– Sitting on couches

– Not exercising

– Looking at phones

But we are doing them with poor ergonomics and not using exercise which usually resets these muscles and fixes imbalances.

Posture matters.

Possible Red Flags If You Have Cervicogenic Headache

  • Sudden onset of a new severe headache;

  • A worsening pattern of a pre-existing headache in the absence of obvious predisposing factors;

  • Headache associated with fever, neck stiff ness, skin rash, and with a history of cancer, HIV, or other systemic illness;

  • Headache associated with focal neurologic signs other than typical aura;

  • Moderate or severe headache triggered by cough, exertion, or bearing down; and

  • New onset of a headache during or following pregnancy.

Patients with one or more red flags should be referred for an immediate medical consultation and further investigation from their doctor. (Link)

It’s important to understand all of the different symptoms that may be coming from migraines or headaches so that you can differentiate them so see our partners post on 39 more migraine symptoms you need to know here.

Cervicogenic Headache Treatments

Cervicogenic Headache ICD 10 code – [M99]G44.841

There are many treatments available for cervicogenic headaches but we want to find the root cause.

Yes you can get a botox injection that will block all nerve pain transmission and you won’t be able to feel the pain, but that doesn’t mean the cause isn’t there and progressively getting worse.

Let’s start with what one physical therapist who’s dealt with many headaches has to say.

This breaks it down and makes it simple to understand.

The functioning and posture of all your limbs depends on your core because your core is what holds everything in place.

But there is a second piece to this that is at play every second of every day, either making your head and neck have to compensate or giving them the correct posture…

And that’s breathing.

So with these three pieces, we have a place to start:

1. Correct core abdominal functioning

2. Fix the breathing pattern

3. Stretch and strengthen the neck based on its muscles needs

The process goes:

Reactivate core => correct breathing pattern =>integrate core and breathing into regular daily movement => assess neck and correct anything left over

First and foremost is the core and the weak area that often gives out from a variety of different reasons is the lower abdominals and inner core unit.

Here is a great video on correcting the lower abs:

As you can see this is really simple to do and is just focusing on reactivating the core so it’s functioning properly and can hold the head and neck in the right position.

The problem is that you will not have proper neck mobility without a functioning core and proper breathing pattern.

Breathing is very simple but many of us do it wrong for a variety of reasons like bad posture and fear.

Here is a great video on respiration and how important it is to retrain your breathing pattern for deep abdominal breaths.

Once the breathing and core are corrected you can then continue to progress them into movements so that your brain learns how to breath right, engage the core and move properly all at the same time.

Once this clicks, the neck will unlock its tension and poor posture that is protecting it from injury and you will be able to breathe easier.

It’s super simple but important you see a trained practitioner to teach you how to do it right.

You can use this to find one near you or get our 10 steps program to learn yourself.

Cervicogenic Headache Exercises

Here are three great exercises for the causes of cervicogenic headaches.

1. First off, if we have a bad breathing pattern and our breath is actually going up into our lungs, chest, shoulders and neck and not down into our abdomen then our neck is getting tons of extra tension. See breathing pattern correction video here.

2. Next off is our lower abdominals. When they don’t engage, our head compensates and brings the neck with it. See abdominal engagement correction here.

3. To stretch tight muscles and strengthen weak muscles of the neck see the video here.

Cervicogenic Headache Home Treatment

Some very common natural home remedies (that may work incredibly well) include:

– Cold or hot therapy(or both)

– Get more of the relaxation mineral magnesium through a spray on, epsom salt and a supplement

– Supplement with sulfur like MSM

– Start adding turmeric and ginger to everything in your diet

– Use essential oils like frankincense

The above tips are just briefly touched upon and you should definitely do more investigation and ask your healthcare provider before making any changes.

As we correct the cause for neck pain like bad posture and breathing and we reduce the triggers for pain like inflammation caused by food and stress, headaches may disappear altogether.

The different causes like osteoarthritis, slipped disk, forward head posture, fractures, poor sleep position and nerve compression all have this; instability in the core, causing compensation in the head, leading to excessive strain on the neck in common.


When we can correct the underlying causes we give our neck and head more support and a break from all the tension.

This, coupled with a proper recovery plan that gives you anti inflammatory nutrients and the building blocks to repair sets you up for long term health and happiness.

To understand everything about headaches that causes inflammation and leads to trigger along with 10 steps you can start taking today to get pain free see our 10 steps program by clicking below.

To learn more about cervicogenic headaches and migraines than you ever have before join the Migraine Professional Community Here.

 If you’re finding your headaches more complex and complicated than you or your healthcare provider can handle make sure to check out our article on 7 great tips for complex and complicated migraine here.

13 Powerful remedies prevent headaches from coughing

I think we can all agree that a persistent cough can be one of the most annoying things out there.

It’s right up there with persistent headaches…

But when a persistent cough is creating headaches, something has to be done to put an end to the cycle.

I’ve dealt with my fair share of coughs and once had a whooping cough for months that drove me nuts.

Luckily with a few techniques I was able to soothe it enough to get comfortable and strengthen my body with some natural remedies that gave me permanent relief.

In this article I’m going to be talking about 13 powerful tips to prevent headaches from coughing.

Before we begin, make sure you look at the avoid section below and avoid anything that can continue to aggravate your cough despite your best intentions.

Remember that coughing is a reflex used by the body to expel foreign substances and mucus.

Avoid at all cost:

  • Smoke

  • Dust

  • Perfumes

  • Pollutants

  • Second hand smoke

  • Colds or viral infections(If its caused by them, support the immune system as well)

  • Overly dry or moist air

  • Environmental allergies

  • Post nasal drip

1. Pineapple

One of the absolute all stars of the cough and health world is pineapple.

The bromelain in pineapple has amazing anti inflammatory properties and the enzymes help to break down any mucus in the throat.

Watch the video below for more information on just how good pineapple is for cough and how it may work even better than cough syrup.

2. Ginger

Ginger is one of the life savers of the natural medicine world.

It’s incredibly anti inflammatory, works well on nausea, helps with pain and is even an expectorant.

And expectorant helps the body expel foreign substances so if you’re experiencing mucus along with your cough then this may work very well.

Did you know ginger can be an amazing headache remedy?

Multiple studies have been done on ginger’s effects on reducing pain in headaches and even migraines!

Watch the video below for an amazing ginger tea recipe for cold and cough:

3. Mint/peppermint

We all know mint is amazing for opening up the airways but it also provides soothing and antiinflammatory properties to the entire body.

For coughs, mint helps to loosen mucus and calm down the throat to prevent coughs and the headaches that come from them.

Here’s a great video for a mint recipe that includes black pepper and honey which can both improve coughs:

4. Hydrate the right way

Hydration is not just drinking enough water.

Our body doesn’t just absorb water.

It needs minerals as well.

Whatever liquid you are drinking, sprinkle in a little bit of sea salt (not so much that you can taste it).

Sea salt can have almost 100 different minerals that are incredibly important for our liquids to be absorbed and add to our hydration levels.

Here’s a great video on sea salt that gives a simple description of good quality salt:

5. Steam

Steam is an amazing way to boost the humidity in your lungs so that they can loosen any mucus or harmful substances to be coughed up and removed.

Note: Avoid steam if you’re asthmatic.

Further down in this article we will talk about what you can add to your steam to make it even more beneficial.

Watch this video for an example of how to make a simple at home steam for coughs:

6. Lozenges/cough drops

Here is a classic because it’s so simple to use and sucking on something forces your mouth to produce saliva which keeps the throat moist.

There are many different brands of lozenges and it’s important to test out which one works best for you.

Luckily for us there are companies that have already done that of which one can be found below:

Best cough drops

7. Saltwater gargle

One of the simplest and oldest remedies for a cough or sore throat is the salt water gargle.

It’s one of those natural remedies your grandma would give you.

It’s really easy and can be done with any warm water and sea salt but make it salty.

The ability for salt to dry out any mucus in your throat while simultaneously hydrating  throat tissue keeps it from getting irritated.

For more information on salt water gargles for preventing coughs and the headaches that come with them watch the video below:

8. Honey

Honey acts as a cough suppressant as well as a great source of nutrition as long as you are using raw honey.

Visit your local beekeeper and steer clear of brands like billy bee which contain little to no real honey.

Honey can be used in a number of different remedies so feel free to mix and match it especially with strong flavors like ginger.

9. Eucalyptus oil

Eucalyptus is great for breaking up mucus because of its powerful aroma and and it can also silence a cough.

You can use the pure essential oil or mix it with a carrier oil to be able to rub it on your chest and back.

This oil is one of the great additions to a steam whether that be through a steam bowl or shower tablets.

See this video on how to use steam with eucalyptus oil:

10. Licorice root

Licorice is an amazing herb used in many different healing formulas but in this case it works really well as an expectorant so that those stuck particles that keep triggering our cough can get pushed out.

Licorice works really well for dry coughs and more information on it can be found through this video:

11. Slippery Elm

Slippery elm is another amazing herb and is used for:

  • Coughs

  • Sore throat

  • Colic

  • Diarrhea

  • Constipation

  • Hemorrhoids

  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

  • Bladder and urinary tract infections

  • Expelling tapeworms

Careful because it’s also used for abortions so don’t use this while pregnant.

Slippery elm is great because of its ability to cause mucus secretion.

This helps the mucus catch whatever is irritating us so that it can be coughed up.

It also has soothing properties and because of all of its amazing properties I have attached a video below:

12. Apple Cider Vinegar

This is one of my personal favourites for all types of issues as its an all star.

It can be very strong so you may want to dilute it in some water but make sure you buy it raw.

Gargling with ACV can work in seconds to reduce a cough and can also alleviate headaches caused by a sick stomach.

Below is a video of how to use ACV and honey to relieve coughs:

13. Chocolate

This is my favourite addition to the entire list.

Chocolate works for coughing because the active chemical theobromine that’s present in real chocolate may help to suppress vagus nerve activity.

The vagus nerve is a nerve responsible for producing the cough.

Eat as much as you like, just pick a brand that is organic as conventionally raised chocolate is sprayed with lindane which is a potent neurotoxin and may contribute to neurological issues.

This video talks about how chocolate may be better than cough syrup:

There are so many different options what do we try first?

My personal preference is to try what you have available first and foremost.

I always have ginger, chocolate, honey, pineapple, mint, sea salt, ACV and some essential oils with me at home so that’s the very first place to go.

If you’re feeling brave or need something urgent then this mix is a shotgun approach that may work for you.

Step 1: Make ginger + mint tea and add some honey and sea salt.

Step 2: Blend ACV with pineapple in blender

Step 3: Combine step 1 and step 2 into a glass and drink

Step 4: Eat some chocolate

This is a super easy way to try most of the remedies at once.

If you’ve tried these and aren’t getting relief from a chronic cough that keeps triggering headaches then make sure you join our community because we provide the latest and greatest tips directly to your inbox.

If your cough may be aggravating a migraine or other severe headache condition make sure to take our free quiz on if a holistic approach can help your migraines.

Make sure to share this with others who may be experiencing cough and let me know in the comments below what works for you.

Headache wont go away

The headache that wont go away and what to do about it

Every once in a while you can end up with a headache and think no big deal, I’ll just sleep it off…

But then you wake up and it’s still there.

It just keeps growing and getting worse.

Building and throbbing until you feel like you are going to break.

It’s really scary.

I’ve had a few of them throughout my life and even though they were doozies, I’m still here today and now migraine free for over 5 years.

In this article I’m going to be talking about the headache that won’t go away and 9 things to do about it.

1. Double Check

First and foremost it’s important to make sure we aren’t causing the headache with rebound drugs or medications, because these can continue to create headaches no matter what we try.

When we take a substance that causes vasodilation or vasoconstriction, if the amount taken is more than the body can compensate for then we may experience a “rebound” effect.

Chronic migraine and other chronic headache sufferers know that medications can be life savers, but when we end up taking medication:

– In excessive doses

– The wrong type

– Too frequently

We can end up with rebounding headaches.

So first and foremost double check your medications and sources of vaso constrictors and dilators like chocolate, histamine, tyramine, caffeine etc.

Watch the video below to hear Dr. David Hills advice on how to make a headache go away.

2. Remove sensitive or trigger foods

One of the first places to look and one of the biggest clinical relievers of headaches is removing sensitive foods.

There are different types of sensitive and trigger foods that can continue aggravating our brains and bodies.

But there’s a catch, they are different for everyone.

Some people do well with coffee, others are sent into rebound by it.

Some people do well with high histamine foods, others cannot tolerate them.

But there are a few common links between most people with food triggers:

– The gut isn’t functioning properly

– Immune system is aggravated

– Detoxification is overloaded or compromised

Now when we talk about sensitive and trigger foods we can get into an amazing discussion about the gut-brain connection and how the health of our gut is directly proportional to the health of our brain.

But that is beyond the scope of this article  as it would take 5000 words to cover and if you’d like to learn how food triggers can make or break your head healing program, click here to join our food triggers guide

To make it simple we can cover what are called the common 10 trigger foods.

These foods are what some food studies have found to be the most commonly aggravating foods to migraine and headache sufferers.

This list is definitely not an end all be all list but includes:

  • Wheat

  • Orange

  • Eggs

  • Coffee and Tea

  • Chocolate

  • Milk

  • Beef

  • Corn

  • Cane sugar

  • Yeast

If all of these are sensitive then it’s important to remember that something deeper is going on that is disrupting gut function which needs to be addressed first.

See our article on 7 great tips for complex and complicated migraines here.

3. Have you checked your sleep ergonomics?

One of the common contributors to headaches that won’t go away is what are medically known as cervicogenic headaches.

Cervico meaning neck and genic meaning created.

These neck-created headaches can continue giving us pain day-after-day-after-day if we don’t address the source of their caused imbalance.

Musculoskeletal imbalances, poor ergonomics and bad sleep posture can all add to tension on our shoulders, necks and heads that can aggravate pain and keep it coming back.

If you have chronic headaches it’s incredibly important to get a full physical assessment from an advanced physical practitioner like a CHEK practitioner.

They can not only help you determine imbalanced muscles but also help guide you to if they are being caused by poor organ function.

With more and more desk jobs, posture and ergonomics are at the forefront of creating health issues and helping us prevent them.

Sitting is the new smoking so we need to be wary of how we are positioning ourselves for hours a day.

If we are placing too much weight on a given area of the body we can end up with pinched nerves and this can lead to a host of problems including radiating pain, numbness, tingling, muscle weakness, and even organ dysfunction.

See the picture below for sitting posture.

Then we have sleep ergonomics.

If your mattress has a crater in the middle of it, throw it out.

Your pillow should also be ergonomically designed so that you’re comfortable and in a neutral position to not exert tension on any part of it while you sleep.

There are a few different sleep positions and your ideal position will be different from the next person depending on your needs.

Using tools like a pillow between your legs and towels rolled up under your neck and back can take 8 hours of stressful sleep off your body.

See our article on 1 Big tip for cervicogenic headaches here.

I have attached a video below from Dr. Axe that goes into some detail about sleeping positions and which ones work best and worst.

 4. Do you experience abdominal fullness, bloating, gas or pain with it?

We know everything in the body is connected and each system works off of every other system.

When 1 system is compromised, the stress from that system can spill over to all the others and tax the body.

This is often the case with the digestive system.

If we are experiencing digestive symptoms throughout the day, even little things like frequent burping or gas, it can point to a compromised system, parasitic infection, dysbiosis or help point us to another system that may be causing the issues.

This is why I always advocate and teach that you need to listen to your body.

It cannot talk to us directly, instead, it uses signs and symbols.

Mood swings, drops in energy, acid reflux, loose stools etc. are all pointing to systems that are having problems running their operations.

Start adding up the symptoms and see where they are pointing, do some research and if you need help then find a good holistic medicine practitioner that can connect the dots for you.

For a way to address all the different factors that go into the creation of high trigger levels that may lead to migraines start the 10 steps program by clicking here.

5. Is something else flaring at the same time?

This is a graph showing the percentage of migraine sufferers with comorbidities in 2017.

 There is no surprise here.

One of the most common triggers that get reported to me is emotional stress.

When we are emotionally overloaded, everything else falls by the wayside.

Because of all the hormones like cortisol released during these stressful times, our body thinks we are dying and shuts off any cleaning or digesting which severely impairs our ability to prevent other triggers from sneaking up as well.

Now take a look at this graph showing all reported comorbidities.

 These are huge.

If one of these is flaring at the same time, then you have a place to go and explore further for the cause.

Always look at the whole picture, what systems are compromised and where the big stressors are coming into your life.

6. Is there too much heat or too much cold in your body?

Do you find yourself getting really hot, have redness or inflammation anywhere?

Or are you cold, get cold easily, feel tired and fatigued?

These can both point you towards what you should work on.

When we go too far into either side of the picture above we can suffer.

But by using the opposite side we can create balance in our bodies again.

Workout a lot? Get better rest.

Feel tired often? Use energy building exercises and foods.

Think too much? Schedule time to not think.

These two forces will constantly impact us no matter who we are or where we go.

A simple trick for if you are too cold is to start regular infrared sauna sessions a few times a week.

If you are too hot and wound up then take some cold showers or try an ice plunge to help reset your body’s parasympathetic nervous system.

7. Support the brains detox mechanism

The brain goes through a process of detoxifying all of the waste that gets created, every day.

There is a system in the brain called the glymphatic system which removes waste through the cerebrospinal fluid.

When we go to sleep and our stress hormones drop(if they drop) then the glymphatic system goes to work, opens up and clears the brain of waste that accumulated throughout the day.

This is why the brain looks like it’s working just as hard during sleep as it is during the day.

It’s working really hard to clean out waste that’s linked to neurodegenerative diseases like alzheimer’s and dementia.

How do we optimize our sleep so that our brain can clear the gunk?

Watch this video then read the tips below:

  • Always sleep in complete darkness and if you are sleeping in make sure there is no morning light in your room. If light touches your skin, the stress hormone cortisol gets produced to wake you up, cut the light.

  • Caffeine has a half-life of 6 hours, this means it needs to be limited to the morning so that blood levels are low during sleep. Caffeine will prevent stress hormones from dropping and sleep hormones from rising.

  • Have a balanced meal before bed, not just carbohydrates and don’t have binge dinners. A fair amount of protein with some complex carbohydrates and healthy fats make for a deep sleep and no night waking.

  • Exercise as early in the day as possible so that the stress hormones created from it will drop by bedtime.

  • Stay hydrated but don’t drink loads of fluid before bed as this can cause you to have to pee in the middle of the night. Tip: Add some sea salt to your water before bed to prevent having to pee.

  • Keep a regular sleep schedule. Our body is run by circadian rhythms which work off of a 24 hour light/dark cycle. When we wind down with the sun setting and wake up with the sun rising, while doing it at the same time every day, our body can prepare all of our stress and sleep hormones accordingly.

See our article on the 7 vitals of hypnic headaches and 7 crucial questions for waking up with tension headaches here.

8. Stop burning the wick at both ends

We are all guilty of it but there are a few key tips that can keep your brain from breaking while still taking on life at full tilt.

– Don’t try to do more, try to be more efficient

– When stress is high, the foundation principles need to be as fine tuned as possible

– Plan your day and create outlines so that you can maximize any actual working time

– When you plan, make sure to schedule parasympathetic dominant, resting, relaxing and digesting time, you will get more done because of it not despite it

– Find out what type of burnout you are prone to

– Learn to say no

– Stop trying to be perfect, start satisficing

9. Head to the emergency room

If you are ever experiencing pain that you’ve never had before, aren’t diagnosed for or that is not going away then go see a doctor immediately.

It can save you lots of stress and potential damage to your body if it’s something more serious than a headache and needs to be addressed quickly.

But when you know it’s a typical headache or migraine that’s just not letting up then going down the natural approach and finding a solution that doesn’t cause a list of side effects is preferred.

See these articles for more actionable items you can use for relief:

Understanding Status Migrainosus with Intractable Migraine

Turmeric Curcumin For Migraines and Headaches

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