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Cool Down Migraines With Ice Therapy | DIY Ice Packs

Cold therapy is one of the simplest and most accessible natural remedies to alleviate pain and discomfort. Different cooling agents have been used as complimentary migraine therapies for more than 150 years. So much so that cold therapy is, nowadays, the most common self-administered treatment for people experiencing migraine without aura and the second most common for migraineurs with aura.

What is Cold Therapy?

Ever since humans discovered how to manipulate temperature – the measure of the average kinetic energy of a substance – we have been looking for ways to use it to our advantage. One of the most obvious applications of this knowledge today is cooking, where we use various degrees of temperature to heat or cool down different foods. Another inventive way of using temperature is as a therapeutic agent by applying heat or cold to different areas of the body to reduce inflammation, ease pain, and even loosen up stiff muscles.

Treating different types of injuries or ailments calls for using different ranges of temperature. Heat therapy – which improves circulation and blood flow – is better for treating muscle pain and stiffness, but it shouldn’t be used in swollen areas or open wounds. Cold therapy, also known as ice therapy or cryotherapy in some settings, is an affordable and easy way of reducing inflammation and alleviating sharp pain.

Cold Therapy for Migraines

The first time cold was used as a treatment for migraine headaches was in 1849 when James Arnott, an English physician and cryotherapy pioneer, documented the benefits of using a mixture of ice and salt crystals to ease headache pain. Since then, numerous clinical trials have explored the effects of this technique and tested different ways of applying cold for relieving migraines.

For instance, in a 2006 pilot study, 28 female migraine patients were asked to wear a frozen gel cap for 25 minutes during migraine attacks and record the details of their headaches in a diary. Their results showed that cold therapy alone was able to mitigate 50 percent of attacks. But the mechanisms by which cold therapy reduces migraine pain remain unclear, according to the authors of the same study.

One of the most popular theories of how this mechanism may work suggests that the cold sensations induce an anesthetic reaction by slowing the transmission of pain signals from nerves to the cerebral cortex. Cold therapy has also been shown to promote vasoconstriction, i.e., to contract blood vessels, which may lower pain sensations by limiting blood flow in the targeted areas.

Cold therapy, of course, is not a miracle treatment, and some migraineurs don’t see any improvements in their pain with this method. But if you’ve only tried applying ice packs to your head during migraine attacks, you may want to try them on your neck the next time you are in pain.

A clinical trial looking at the effects of neck cooling for the treatment of migraines, 64 participants were randomly assigned into two groups. One group received a frozen neck wrap to wear during migraine attacks, and the other wore the same neck wrap at room temperature. Their findings indicated that applying a cooling agent in the neck, near the carotid artery (a major blood vessel that supplies blood to the brain), significantly reduced self-reported pain in participants with migraine headaches.


Home Made Ice Packs – Flexible and Squishy – Do It Yourself

 1. Alcohol & Water Ice Pack:

This is a simple recipe that consists of 1 part alcohol to 3 parts water as a rule of thumb. Adding alcohol to water will keep it from freezing completely. To make this method in a quart size ziploc bag, combine 1½ cups of water with a ½ cup of rubbing alcohol. Seal and put in the freezer for several hours or overnight. Sometimes you can also find a Green Colored Wintergreen Rubbing Alcohol which gives the ice pack a little bit of color.  You can adjust the recipe for use in smaller snack size zip-lock bags or larger ones by keeping the 1:3 ratio of alcohol to water.

2.  Sponge and Water:

You can make an ice pack simply with just a clean sponge and water.  The sponge will be hard and firm with no flexibility when first taken out of the freezer.  Do not force it to bend too much at first, or it will snap.  As it warms up it becomes moist and soft again, but not drippy.  You can put it in a baggie if you want, but it isn’t absolutely necessary.

3. Dish soap or Glycerine and Water Ice Pack:

The best part of a gel ice pack is its squishy, flexible nature. The time frame for this method is more important, depending on what type of ice pack you want.  It can be soft and squishy if you freeze it for a couple of hours.  The loner you leave it in the freezer, the more icy and firm it will become.  Either way, it’s a simple method that can be made in any size Ziploc bag You can hold it against your head or  mold it to the body part in question (or in pain).  It holds its cold well. Just fill a plastic zip-lock bag with corn syrup or dish soap (no need to measure) and freeze. The corn syrup or dish soap will not freeze solid making it a perfect cooling therapy.

4.  Salt and Water Ice Pack:

Salt changes the freezing temperature of water so that your DIY ice pack is more slushy-like. Simply combine two tablespoons of salt for every two cups of water in a ziplock bag and freeze for a few hours. A quart ziploc bag is the perfect size for combining 2 cups of water and 2 tablespoons of salt.  Regular table salt is fine to use.

A final word…

Whether you suffer from chronic or episodic migraines, finding a combination of treatments that work for you can take some trial and error. Using an ice pack is an affordable and effortless way of improving migraine pain at home, but you may also want to try other approaches like keeping a migraine diary, avoiding triggers, and taking daily nutritional supplements to complement your natural regime.

CBD Oil for ADHD: Evidence, Benefits and How to Use it

These days, it seems like you can’t throw a rock without knocking over a bottle or two of CBD oil. This naturally occurring chemical derived from the marijuana plant is everywhere right now, from wellness supplements to skincare products, and even pet supplies.  

So, what exactly is CBD?

CBD stands for cannabidiol, an active ingredient found in the Cannabis sativa plant. When we hear the word “cannabis,” we automatically think of marijuana — aka weed, pot, ganja, etc. But that’s not always the case. 

There are over 100 active chemical compounds in the cannabis plant. The most abundant are CBD and THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol. THC is what gives marijuana its mind-altering effects and the characteristic “high” or euphoric sensation that also decreases pain, promotes appetite and reduces nausea. CBD, on the other hand, is not psychoactive. In other words, consuming CBD in any form (topically, orally, smoked, etc.) won’t get you high or impair your motor skills in any way. 

There’s been a lot of research on the topic of cannabis — particularly CBD oil — lately. The soundest scientific evidence is for its effects treating two severe and rare forms of childhood epilepsy that don’t respond well to anti-seizure medications. In fact, back in 2018, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first-ever cannabis-derived medication for treating individuals with these complex and devastating disorders. 

And there’s also evidence, both empirical and anecdotal, that CBD oil may help treat or at least improve many health concerns, like:

  • Arthritis or joint pain
  • Anxiety
  • Sleep issues
  • Migraine
  • Nausea
  • Chronic pain
  • Drug addiction or withdrawal
  • Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease
  • IBS and IBD

CBD oil for ADHD: What the science says

To date, there hasn’t been a ton of research done on the subject of CBD and ADHD. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, ADHD, is typically treated with a combination of prescription medications and behavior therapy. The goal is to manage disruptive behaviors and learn ways to channel energy to avoid instances of impulsivity and inattention.

 

Is CBD oil a treatment for adult ADHD?

 

Although there’s no evidence that CBD oil or cannabis use can treat ADHD, advocates of CBD hemp oil for mental health believe cannabidiol may indirectly help relieve some symptoms of ADHD. 

According to a 2020 review of studies in the Journal of Cannabis Research, CBD oil may improve many of the symptoms associated with neurological disorders. More specifically, the researchers reported that CBD showed promising results as a therapy for generalized anxiety, social anxiety, hyperactivity, and insomnia — all of which are common effects of ADHD. 

A 2013 study of more than 2,000 participants also found that adults with ADHD that used cannabis products reported less hyperactivity and impulsivity. Nevertheless, several randomized-control clinical trials have concluded with inconclusive or non-relevant results. 

Is CBD for ADHD safe? Are there side effects?

Just because CBD products are legal (when they contain less than 0.3% THC) and easily accessible, it doesn’t mean they’re always safe. For starters, it’s important to remember that there haven’t been any studies showing the safety or effectiveness of cannabis products for ADHD. 

The quality, potency, and pureness of the CBD oil you purchase will also play a huge role in how your body responds to it. Only buy products that have a third-party certificate analysis, or COA, that confirms that whatever’s written on the label are the true ingredients and concentration of the product. 

Side effects of CBD oil tend to be mild and short-lived, but until more research is conducted, we won’t know the potential long-term effects of using it to treat ADHD. That being said, top-quality CBD oil seems to be well-tolerated at doses up to 1,500 mg in both children and adults. 

Common side effects of CBD oil include:

  • Interactions with other medications
  • Drowsiness and fatigue
  • Changes in appetite
  • Upset stomach
  • Mood changes
  • Headaches

How to use CBD oil for ADHD 

If you want to try CBD oil as an alternative treatment for ADHD, it’s important to remember that:

  • There isn’t any scientific evidence that CBD or other cannabis derivatives directly improve ADHD.
  • CBD oil is not a substitute for your regular ADHD treatment, whether it is medications, therapy, or both.
  • Quality matters; just because a CBD product says it’s “natural” or “organic” doesn’t mean it’s good for you. Always buy from reputable sources and talk to your doctor before taking a new supplement. 

The easiest and most popular way of consuming CBD is as an oil extract. You may also find CBD-infused products like gummies, lollipops, and beverages online or in some pharmacies and health stores. 

ADHD and Sleep Problems

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a medical condition that affects around 8.4 percent of US children and 2.5 of adults. People with ADHD often have differences in their brain structures and neurological activities that negatively impact their attention span and impulse control.

Sleep deprivation and ADHD

Like many other neurological conditions, the exact causes of ADHD are not entirely clear. Experts know that several factors, including genetic predispositions, issues in the central nervous system, and environmental triggers like exposure to certain toxins, play a role in the development of ADHD. In school-aged kids, ADHD is often first identified in the classroom because children with ADHD often have trouble staying focused on tasks and get distracted easily.

Most children and teens only have trouble falling asleep from time to time, and chronic sleep disorders are rare in kids. Among children with ADHD, however, sleep problems are extremely prevalent. In fact, it is estimated that up to 70 percent of kids with ADHD experience sleep disturbances like having trouble falling and staying asleep, among others. Sleep issues are so common among children with ADHD, that older versions of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) listed “sleep problems” as a part of the diagnostic criteria for this condition.

Sleep deprivation and poor sleep quality can significantly worsen ADHD symptoms. One recent literature review of sleep problems among school-aged children noted that children with ADHD who reported high levels of daytime sleepiness were more likely to be rated as having poor academic competence. But poor sleep also has negative consequences on children without ADHD.

Because children react differently to sleepiness than adults, it’s not uncommon to see kids who experience chronic sleep deprivation be misdiagnosed with ADHD. While adults usually become fatigued and drowsy, kids can turn unfocused, hyperactive, moody, and impulsive when they don’t get enough sleep.

A study published by the Journal of Sleep Research looking at the sleep habits of 2,463 first to ninth graders, showed that disorders like dyssomnia (difficulty falling asleep), parasomnias (night terrors, sleep-waking, bedwetting, etc.), and sleep-related breathing problems were all associated with ADHD-like symptoms even in children without the condition. A recent study also found that poor sleep quality can mimic ADHD behaviors in children without ADHD.

Treating ADHD-related sleep problems can sometimes turn into a bit of a catch-22 situation. ADHD symptoms like restlessness and hyperactivity can delay sleep onset latency and increase the chances of waking up in the middle of the night. However, the most common treatment used to manage symptoms – stimulant medications – are known to cause side effects like insomnia. For that reason, many parents choose to avoid prescription medications or complement them with cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), social skills training, and nutritional supplements.

Fortunately, research has shown that some alternative therapies can be effective at reducing ADHD and poor sleep symptoms. These are five evidence-based supplements that have been shown to help manage ADHD and sleeplessness:

Iron: iron deficiency has been noted to increase the risk of psychiatric disorders, including ADHD. Iron-deficient children and adults who suffer from ADHD may benefit from supplementing with iron to help control their symptoms.

Magnesium: children with ADHD have been observed to have lower levels of magnesium, which is an essential mineral for brain health. In a study evaluating 50 children diagnosed with ADHD, researchers found that those who received a magnesium supplement for six months showed a significant decrease in hyperactive behaviors. Other studies have shown that magnesium can improve insomnia and reduce sleep onset latency.

Melatonin: while melatonin has not been shown to have any effects on ADHD, this naturally-occurring hormone is a popular ingredient in sleeping aids because it can shorten the time needed to fall asleep and can help regulate the body’s internal clock.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids: another brain-friendly supplement, omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to help reduce inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity in children with ADHD. Researchers have also observed that children with ADHD appear to have lower omega-3 levels than their peers.

Zinc: decreased zinc levels in children have been linked to trouble concentrating, reduced learning abilities, and ADHD. Research suggests that used in combination with amphetamines, zinc may help reduce the dosage needed to treat kids with ADHD.

Quality sleep is key to both physical and mental health. Without enough sleep, the brain cannot function properly. It is an essential function that allows the body and mind to recharge, and be refreshed and alert each day. Improving sleep quality has the potential to reduce ADHD problems and to have a positive impact on the everyday life of those struggling with this disorder as well as their families. Teens and adults with sleep issues may consider a natural sleep supplement with a combination of ingredients proven in clinical studies to support deep restorative sleep.

Ashwagandha for Weight Loss: What the Science Says

To be completely honest, most of us have gained a pound or 10 over the past year and a half.  Matter of fact, more than half of Americans have gained weight according to the latest report by the American Psychological Association. 

Experts believe that social isolation and sedentarism were mostly to blame, but the constant and unyielding stress we’ve all been experiencing during the pandemic is also a major contributing factor. 

If you are looking to lower stress and maybe help your body drop a few pounds naturally, you’ve come to the right place. This article looks at the traditional and modern uses of Ashwagandha and its potential effects on weight loss and stress relief. 

What is Ashwagandha?

There are hundreds of medicinal plants in Ayurveda. Yet, Ashwagandha is one of just a handful of herbs that successfully crossed over to modern medicine thanks to its countless benefits for health and well-being. 

Ashwagandha, an evergreen shrub of the Solanaceae family, is one of the central herbs of Ayurvedic medicine. It has been used for over 4,000 years to treat all kinds of ailments, from stress and sleep problems to inflammation and sexual dysfunction. 

Western medicine classifies it as an “adaptogen,” which are natural substances that help the body adapt to stress. Studies show that extracts from the roots and berries of the Ashwagandha plant may boost memory and cognition, support normal thyroid functioning, and may even promote weight loss. 

Stress and weight gain — is there a connection?

Nothing throws off your inner balance — i.e., your metabolism, circadian rhythm, hormones, etc. — like chronic stress. Each morning when you wake up, your adrenal glands release normal levels of cortisol, sometimes called the “stress hormone,” into your bloodstream. It also gets released when you perform strenuous activities, like high-intensity exercise which is critical to the control and regulation of energy metabolism and thus exercise performance capacity.

But your body also secretes higher levels of cortisol when you are under stress in order to activate your “fight or flight” response. This temporarily halts your regular functions and slows down your metabolism. If you are under continuous stress, this reaction becomes chronic and puts your body in a constant state of alert.  Unfortunately, many people consider stress as just a part of normal everyday life and don’t recognize it for what it is, a threat to one’s health and longevity. 

Weight gain is one of the most common side effects of chronic stress. Under normal circumstances, when your adrenal glands secrete cortisol, the hormones trigger an influx of glucose to deliver a quick shot of energy to your large muscles (in case you need to fight or flight). 

But when this process becomes chronic, your cells need more and more energy, which manifests in the form of cravings for sweet, fatty, and carb-rich foods. In fact, studies have shown that there is a direct association between increased levels of cortisol and higher calorie intake. All that unused energy (the calories you ate from that milkshake craving) is eventually stored as body fat.

 

Do you eat more when you are stressed?

 

How can Ashwagandha help with weight loss?

Although Ashwagandha is not directly associated with weight loss, experts believe that this mighty herb may support shedding unwanted body fat through the following mechanisms:

Adaptogenic effects: chronic stress wreaks havoc in each of your bodily functions, including metabolism. Ashwagandha is labeled as an adaptogen because it helps fight the physiological effects of tension in the body, including weight gain. This was demonstrated in a 2016 study of individuals under chronic stress, where participants who took 300 mg of Ashwagandha daily reported improvements in body weight, BMI, cortisol levels, and happiness scores

Antioxidant activity: when your immune system is weak or compromised, your metabolism slows down, and your body loses its ability to burn fat effectively. Ashwagandha is loaded with antioxidants that support and strengthen the immune system, promote better fat burning, and support digestion to help you lose weight in a faster and more sustained way. 

Energy boost: if your problem is that you just can’t find the energy and motivation to work out, Ashwagandha might help with that, too. In a study in the Journal of Ayurveda and Integral Medicine, 40 elite cyclists reported increased endurance and aerobic performance after taking 500 mg Ashwagandha daily. Adaptogenic herbs like Ashwagandha seem to naturally boost energy levels by stimulating the central nervous system and decreasing high cortisol levels, which can cause chronic fatigue, sleep issues, and obesity. 

Takeaway

Alongside a healthy diet and regular exercise, taking an Ashwagandha supplement could enhance your weight loss efforts and help lower stress — something we all desperately need these days! But also keep in mind that not all Ashwagandha supplements are created equal. 

 

For maximum safety and potency, opt for full-spectrum Ashwagandha supplements extracted from the roots alone and not the leaves or the stems. Like Akeso’s Calm & Clever supplement, our expertly curated formula that contains 600 mg of KSM-66 Ashwagandha — the most clinically studied Ashwagandha on the market — and a carefully curated blend of adaptogens, vitamins, and herbs that counter the effects of tension and stress on the body and support healthy cognitive function.

Vestibular Migraine | Migraine with Vestibular Symptoms

Vestibular migraine is considered one of the most common causes of recurrent spontaneous vertigo attacks.  Because of the broad spectrum of symptoms with or without headache, it is not always a clear-cut diagnosis and experts believe vestibular migraine is often underdiagnosed.

What are vestibular migraines?

The term “vestibular migraine” is not a real medical classification. A more accurate description would be migraine with vestibular symptoms.

The vestibular system in the inner ear, is one that maintains balance and equilibrium. Therefore vestibular symptoms are dizziness, vertigo (a sense of spinning or motion when at rest), or loss of balance and disequilibrium.

Basilar migraines can also present with vertigo and tinnitus. Menieres disease (a condition with similar symptoms) is often diagnosed when in fact the patient my be experiencing migraines with symptoms of vestibular disorder. It is known that people with migraines are more apt to experience Menieres and vice versa.

Up to 40 percent of migraine sufferers experience vestibular symptoms, a migraine ‘side effect’ that can make you feel like the room is spinning around you or cause severe dizzy spells that may leave you unable to get up from your bed.

Almost everybody has had a headache before, but when they happen too frequently, it can be a sign of a bigger disorder. One of the most common types of headache disorder is migraine, which affects over 12 percent of the population regardless of their age, gender, or ethnicity.

Migraine headaches are characterized by severe pain (usually in one side of the head), but many people experience other symptoms like an upset stomach, light and sound sensitivity, fatigue, and more. There are also several subtypes of migraines, sometimes called syndromes, which may have their own set of signs and symptoms that often need to be treated separately.

Vestibular migraines are a migraine subtype that causes episodes of vertigo, dizziness, light-headedness, and more. While this syndrome seems to be fairly common among migraineurs – some experts estimate that up to 40 percent of migraine sufferers have vestibular symptoms – it is significantly underdiagnosed. In fact, one research study conducted at a Center for Vertigo and Balance Disorders in Switzerland found that even though doctors had initially suspected vestibular migraines in only 1.8% of their young patients, 20% of patients were eventually diagnosed with this type of migraine.

What causes vestibular migraines?

Experts aren’t completely sure what causes vestibular migraines. Like most headache disorders, vestibular migraines seem to run in families, though that’s not always the case. Many of the same risk factors that trigger migraines can also set off a vestibular migraine, including:

  • Stress
  • Dehydration
  • Hormonal changes
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Certain foods and drinks like caffeine, red wine, aged cheese, monosodium glutamate (MSG), etc.

The term ‘vestibular’ stems from the word vestibule, which is the central part of the bonny labyrinth in the inner ear. Together with a structure called the semicircular canal, the vestibular system helps control your sense of balance and eye movements. Non-migraine-related vestibular disorders can happen as a result of infections, head trauma, aging, and genetic or environmental factors.

Vestibular migraine symptoms

Vestibular Dizzy Girl

Vestibular symptoms can happen before, during, or after a migraine, though most migraineurs report experiencing these types of symptoms without headaches. The main symptoms of vestibular migraines are vertigo – a sensation of spinning or losing your balance even if you are not moving – and dizziness that lasts more than a few seconds.

Other symptoms of vestibular migraine include feelings of disorientation, confusion, motion sickness when you move your head, eyes or body, light-headedness, and nausea or vomiting. If you have a vestibular episode during a migraine attack, you may also experience classic migraine symptoms like throbbing or pulsating pain in one side of your head, blurry vision, photosensitivity, neck pain, etc.

Symptom Checklist:

Vertigo – a sense that you or your surroundings are spinning

Disequilibrium – being unstable on your feet, feeling like the ground is moving beneath you, swaying, rocking, or tilting

Disassociative symptoms – derealization, disconnection from the environment around you, depersonalization or disconnection from your body

Ataxia – lack of coordination, difficulty walking

Lightheadedness – feeling faint or that you may pass out

Vision dependence – the brain relies too much on visual signals for balance when it is not especially relevant.    This is thought to be due to a lack of confidence in vestibular or somatosensory (body sensation) input

Photophobia (sensitivity to light) – an intolerance of light including sunlight, fluorescent light, and LED lighting

Phonophobia (sensitivity to sound) – the tolerance for sounds is significantly reduced and creates discomfort

How are vestibular migraines diagnosed?

Currently, there are no laboratory or imaging tests that can diagnose vestibular migraine. The International Headache Society (IHS), in collaboration with other medical associations, developed a set of diagnostic criteria to help clinicians diagnose and treat this type of migraine. Among other factors, the criteria are based on the patient’s migraine history as well as the frequency and duration of vestibular symptoms.

Tracking your symptoms and recording facts surrounding your episodes in a migraine diary will be helpful information you can provide to a physician to help with an accurate diagnosis. Click here to download a printable migraine diary.

Before diagnosing you with vestibular migraine, your doctor may want to rule out other vestibular disorders, like:

  • Benning paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV)
  • Vestibular neuritis (labyrinthitis)
  • Ménière’s disease
  • Acoustic neuroma

How are vestibular migraines treated?

Because there is no specific medication that can treat vestibular migraines, doctors usually recommend a combination of abortive and preventive treatments for migraine, vertigo, and other vestibular disorders.

You can reduce the frequency and intensity of your vestibular migraines by eating a healthy diet, keeping good sleeping hygiene, tracking and avoiding your triggers, and managing your stress. For the best nutritional support beneficial to migraine sufferers, consider the dietary supplement  Migrelief available in daily and as-need formulas for adults and children age 2+.

 

Magnesium for Migraines – is it Enough?

Studies have shown migraine sufferers with poor cerebrovascular tone have low levels of magnesium. Magnesium is a natural mineral that is necessary for healthy bodily function as it promotes heart health, stabilizes blood pressure, regulates nerve and muscle function, and builds bone, DNA, and protein. Magnesium is intimately involved in the control of N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) glutamate receptors which play an important role in pain transmission in the nervous system and in the regulation of cerebral blood flow. Magnesium ions plug the NMDA receptors which render calcium unable to exert its vasodilatory effects.

Magnesium has numerous effects that support cerebrovascular tone and function including the following mechanisms of action:

  • Inhibition of platelet aggregation
  • Interference with synthesis, release, and action of inflammatory mediators
  • Direct alterations of cerebrovascular tone
  • Inhibition of vasospasm
  • Stabilization of cell membranes

Numerous studies support the use of magnesium as a supplement for preventing migraine headaches.  In fact, many studies have shown that serum levels of magnesium were substantially lower in migraine sufferers than in the general population of people who didn’t get migraines. The researchers found that as serum levels of magnesium decreased the frequency of migraine attacks significantly increased.

Magnesium supplementation in the correct forms and amounts has to be part of any migraine sufferer’s regimen. But is it enough?

The answer is yes, for some sufferers, and, no, for many other sufferers.  This is because there is not just ONE malfunctioned or dysfunctional mechanism or imbalance that is known to cause migraine attacks.

Some of the dysfunctional brain processes that have been shown to be present in migraine sufferers during migraine attacks include:

  • Excessive platelet aggregation resulting in vasospasms due to serotonin release
  • Decrease in the brain cell’s mitochondrial energy reserves
  • Inflammation

So while magnesium certainly plays a role in helping to prevent or balance some of these contributing factors, by itself, it doesn’t work for every chronic migraine sufferer.

We do not know which individual factor or combination of factors contributes to migraine occurrence in each individual.  Therefore, a comprehensive nutritional approach using three natural ingredients; magnesium, riboflavin and feverfew to provide three different mechanisms of action can be extremely beneficial to migraine sufferers.

In addition to magnesium for adult and pediatric migraine sufferers, riboflavin and feverfew are listed in the American Academy of Neurology’s Evidence-Based Guidelines for Migraine Prevention. 

Riboflavin (Vitamin B-2)
Research has shown that a mitochondrial defect may reduce an individual’s threshold to migraine triggers and lead to migraines. A deficiency of mitochondrial energy reserves has been observed in many people exhibiting poor cerebrovascular tone. Riboflavin is a water-soluble vitamin that helps the body convert food to energy. It is a precursor of flavin adenine dinucleotide (FAD) and flavin mononucleotide (FMN ) which unlike CoQ10 are involved in all three cellular energy production processes; glycolysis, Krebs cycle, and electron transport. At the proper dose, riboflavin helps maintain healthy mitochondrial energy reserves which is very beneficial to migraine sufferers.

Feverfew
The herb feverfew (Tanacetum Parthenium) has been recorded as a medicinal remedy for millennia. Commonly recommended for its ability to reduce platelet aggregation which can lead to vasoconstriction and support cerebrovascular tone, feverfew is rich in compounds known as sesquiterpene lactones and glycosides.  Scientific studies show feverfew inhibits platelet aggregation and the release of serotonin from platelets and polymorphonuclear leukocyte granules. Feverfew also inhibits pro-inflammatory prostaglandin synthesis and the release of arachidonic acid.

All 3 ingredients have been recommended for years by many doctors and top headache specialists based on clinical studies.  (Read JANA Report – Journal of the American Nutraceutical Association

 

 

 

 

 

MigreLief™ and this information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or illness.   Please consult with your licensed medical practitioner if you have, or suspect you may have, a health problem.

 

 

Butterbur (Petasites) for Migraine Headaches | Risks & Benefits

If you’re a Healthcare Professional recommending Butterbur (Petasites) to your patients, it’s important that you stay up-to-date on the latest information (see links at the end of this post).

As a chemist, medical researcher, and drug developer, four of the multitudinous questions you ask yourself when trying to decide if you should invest time and money into developing, using, or recommending a particular compound are:

  1. How likely is it to be effective for the specific condition it’s being considered to treat?
  2.  Are there any known or potential side effects or adverse events that could hypothetically occur?
  3. How do the answers to question #2 impact the risk/reward profile of the compound?
  4. Are there any other competing compounds that seem to have similar benefits with lower risk?

 

Over 15 years ago when we received multiple patents describing the use of a combination of two magnesium sources, high dose riboflavin, and special extracts of feverfew for prophylaxis of migraines, butterbur had not yet been shown in a randomized clinical trial to be effective for migraine prophylaxis. Of course back in 2002, when the study by Lipton et al was published showing efficacy, I paid a lot of attention to butterbur and strongly considered creating an additional formula or adding it to our existing patented combination (now known as Akeso’s MigreLief with Puracol™).  Since the release of our Original MigreLief with Puracol™ we have formulated new products with additional ingredients, for example, MigreLief+M for menstrual/hormonal migraines and MigreLief-NOW a fast-acting “as needed” formula, yet none of our products contain butterbur.

 

Butterbur leaf

 

It was clear that the response to butterbur was favorable and by not offering it in one of our products we would be losing out on the additional revenue it was sure to generate. Nevertheless, we decided never to use butterbur in any of our products. We could never get comfortable with the fact that we had to rely on a manufacturing process to consistently remove the Hepato-toxic and carcinogenic pyrrolizidine alkaloids that are found in unprocessed butterbur. Of course, this was just our company’s decision, and many companies and healthcare professionals used or recommended butterbur.  In fact, the American Academy of Neurology and the American Headache Society supported butterbur. As healthcare professionals, we all try to stay current on as much of the medical literature and reporting as possible.

 

In the last few years, much new information has surfaced regarding butterbur and we are providing you with links to that third-party information to enable you to make the best decisions for your patients (see below).

To the Best of Health,

Curt Hendrix
Chief Scientific Officer,  Akeso Health Sciences

 

RESOURCE LINKS FOR BUTTERBUR:

2021 NIH – National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health – BUTTERBUR  | What do we know? How much have we learned? What do we know about safety?

2020 NCBI – Butterbur – Continuing Education Activity

“Butterbur (derived from the leaves of Petasites japonicus) is an herbal supplement that has been found to be effective in the prophylaxis of adult migraines in multiple studies. Based on these trials, the American Headache Society gave the herb a level A recommendation and declared it to be effective in the prevention of migraine headaches. This activity reviews the mechanism of action, adverse event profile, toxicity, dosing, and pharmacodynamics of butterbur and the recommended monitoring of patients taking the drug to avoid adverse effects.”

Kaiser Permanente – Butterbur Uses and Warning

2017 “Caution: Due to reports of liver toxicity, butterbur products are being voluntarily withdrawn from markets in the United Kingdom. Based on these reports, butterbur should not be used unless a doctor determines that the potential benefits outweigh the risks. People taking butterbur should be monitored by the doctor for adverse effects.”

Update on the efficacy and safety of Petadolex®, a butterbur extract for migraine prophylaxis – Dr. Joseph M. Prietto.
DovePress March 10, 2014

Migraine Preventative Butterbur Has Safety Concerns
NEUROLOGY TIMES – JANUARY 28, 2015

“…Despite butterbur’s potential efficacy, doubts are increasing about the long-term safety of this supplement given the risk of liver damage and the lack of an actively regulated preparation. Due to the mounting concerns, the American Headache Society is currently evaluating a position statement cautioning against its use.” Migraine Preventative Butterbur Has Safety Concerns

Addressing the Long-Term Safety Aspects of Butterbur Therapy- A Call for Immediate Action
Andreas Schapowal, MD, Ph.D., DSc, Hon

 

Daily Magnesium Decreases the Risk of All-Cause Mortality

Besides Its Favorable Effects on Migraines, Daily Supplementation of Magnesium Decreases the Risk of All-Cause Mortality

Like a best-kept secret, not everyone knows the importance of magnesium to good health and longevity.

What is all-cause mortality? The word mortality means death. Simply stated, all-cause mortality means the death from any cause, disease, accidents, disasters, etc. But with respect to medical terms, it means mortality from any disease, infection, or medical condition.

Risk Factors
A risk factor is a condition or behavior that is known to increase vulnerability to a particular outcome disease. While mortality can be random, patterns can often be found that result from particular behaviors. Many studies aim to assess which risk factors lead to specific illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, or cancer.

What This Means for You
It may not be obvious at first exactly why certain good habits help you to avoid a broad spectrum of diseases and conditions, however; as the evidence builds over time, scientists can determine which behaviors increase good health and longevity the most such as staying active and maintaining a healthy weight. For this reason, when a study references all-cause mortality, it’s a good idea to pay attention to the advice given.

Just some of the serious diseases that shorten life span include; heart attack, atherosclerosis, stroke, cancer, hypertension, diabetes II and inflammation.  Inflammation is now generally regarded as being the start of many of the diseases we contract.  Other illnesses and conditions can cause stress which leads to many of the diseases just mentioned.  They included migraines, fibromyalgia, depression, osteoporosis, kidney stones, angina, asthma, insomnia, and many others, too numerous to list. Stress is the biggest depleter of Mg and unfortunately, we are all under different types of stress including physical stress like exercise and working out.  A disease or condition also causes daily stress and daily depletion of magnesium.

The above diseases and conditions above have one thing in common. They can be caused and/or exacerbated by the lack of magnesium.

Many of our readers know the benefits of magnesium when it comes to preventing chronic migraines, but the benefits do not stop with migraines. Other very important reasons you need to consume enough magnesium on a daily basis are:

 

diabetes• Helps to maintain healthy blood sugar levels

• Helps to maintain healthy blood pressure levels

• Helps to prevent heart attacks

• Helps keep the heart beating regularly

• The citrate form along with potassium helps to prevent kidney stones

• Helps with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

• Reduces risk of heart pains (angina)

• Helps prevent spasms of breathing pathway in asthma

• Helps protect the bones against osteoporosis (may be more important than calcium)

• Helps to prevent the symptoms of PMS (Premenstrual Syndrome)

• Helps to reduce urinary urgency in women

• Helps to reduce or eliminate leg cramps

• Helps to prevent constipation

 

 

STUDY:  Magnesium and All-Cause Mortality

A study, completed in Germany, indicates that low magnesium levels are associated with thickening of the left ventricle of the heart which can lead to cardiac dysfunction and death.

In addition, low levels of magnesium lead to increases in all-cause mortality, not just heart-related deaths.

It was found that all-cause mortality was 7 times higher in the low magnesium group and cardiovascular mortality was almost 2.5 times higher than in the higher magnesium group.

Seeds, nuts, halibut, cooked spinach, milk products, fruits, and leafy vegetables are just a few good sources of magnesium.

Taking a good multi-vitamin that contains at least 350 mg of magnesium would also help to prevent any dietary deficiencies and reduce your risk for illnesses and disease.

 

To the Best of Health,

Curt Hendrix, M.S., C.C.N., C.N.S.

Prevent Migraine & Avoid Middle Age Weight Gain

Is it possible to achieve long-term menstrual migraine relief and achieve your desired weight? 

THE MIGRAINE – WEIGHT GAIN CONNECTION

90% of women gain weight between the ages of 35-55. The average weight gain is about 15-20 pounds, with a disproportionate amount of this weight being an increase in body fat.

What is unfair about this, is the fact that much of this weight gain and/or body fat increase, can occur without, increasing caloric intake. This is different than the weight you gain because you eat too much of the wrong foods and don’t exercise enough. It’s the stubborn, difficult weight gain or increases in body fat percentage (without weight gain) that occur in women, middle-aged, and beyond.

Why does this phenomenon occur in so many women in this age range, and what can you do to prevent or reduce the good chance this may happen to you?

There are specific techniques and natural supplements that can help balance a female body that is desperately trying (and in many cases with limited success) to balance many physiological processes, that by design, change with age. These changes can cause uncontrolled and undeserved weight or body fat percentage gains.

Much of this new weight will NOT be gained as much around the hips and thighs but in the stomach and waist area. Shifting/fluctuating hormones, stress, and insulin resistance are the guilty parties.

Women who suffer from migraines will also be glad to learn that controlling these same issues of fluctuating hormones, stress, and blood sugar due to insulin resistance will reduce their migraine frequency and intensity as well.

Why does this weight gain occur when hormones fluctuate and stress and blood sugar are poorly controlled?

Some women can start experiencing the symptoms of early menopause (perimenopause) as soon as their mid 30’s. The hormonal fluctuations of perimenopause and the few years after menopause (one full year with no period) can strongly influence your metabolism, appetite and increase your storage of fat.

Though your hormones will fluctuate during perimenopause, the general trend is for your estrogen levels to diminish with ultimately the cessation of ovulation.

The body is aware of decreasing levels of estrogen from the ovaries and searches for new sources of estrogen production. Unfortunately, fat cells are a source of estrogen and the body may convert more calories into fat.

Though progesterone levels also tend to decrease during this period, decreasing progesterone levels don’t cause weight gain but they may cause water retention making you feel puffy or bloated.

Testosterone levels may also decrease during perimenopause (and menopause). This could result in decreased muscle mass (as well as other things like decreased libido). Less muscle mass would lead to decreased metabolic rate and additional possible weight gain.

INSULIN RESISTANCE

As if dealing with fluctuating hormones isn’t enough of a challenge during these years of a woman’s life, both men and women (in ever-increasing numbers, mostly due to diet) are becoming “insulin resistant”.

This is a condition where your body is no longer as responsive to the hormone insulin, as it was when you were younger. Our bodies require increasing amounts of insulin to be released to maintain blood sugar at healthy, non-diabetic levels. Insulin resistance can occur whether you are overweight or thin.

When our bodies don’t respond in a sensitive way to insulin, the sugar in our blood is not absorbed efficiently by our cells and they don’t get the source of energy that they need. The cells can feel deprived and appetites increase and fat accumulation and weight gain can occur.

In the case of women suffering from PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome), the insulin resistance that accompanies this condition leads to weight gain as well. But in the case of PCOS, the women often have too much testosterone and this causes the weight gain to occur around the stomach and waist much as it does in men. Also, hair at the crown of the head can thin, and hair may grow on the face and back.

Weight Gain Belly Fat

In fact, because estrogen and progesterone levels drop more than testosterone levels during perimenopause and menopause, women may also tend to gain more around the middle than the hips and thighs. Some women tend to lose their waistline.

The fact that you can grab around your belly is NOT the problem. This is just subcutaneous fat, and though cosmetically not desirable, it is not the fat that increases cardiovascular and cancer risk.

It is the fat beneath your abdominal muscles that surrounds your internal organs that is of greater health concern. This fat is called abdominal or visceral adiposity.

It is the fat that protrudes out some men’s stomach to the point where they look like they swallowed a beach ball but yet they continue to say, “Feel how hard my stomach is!”  There is so much fat underneath the abdominal muscles, pushing them outwards, that of course, the abdomen feels hard.

Insulin resistance, as well as stress and hormonal fluctuations, can successfully be controlled and reversed and your body, self-image, emotional status, energy levels, cognition, health and overall life will improve dramatically.

How do you know if you are insulin resistant?

One measurement is to measure yourself around the smaller part of your waist (but do NOT suck your stomach in when taking this measurement). Then measure your hips around their widest part.

Divide the waist measurement in inches by the hip measurement in inches. If the resulting number is .8 or larger for women or 1 for men, then you have disproportionate weight in the waist and are at greater risk of having insulin resistance.

Your risk further increases if you have hypertension, low HDL levels (below 45 if you are a woman), or high triglyceride levels (above 150).

If you have darkened skin patches around the neck or armpits, it is extremely likely that you are insulin resistant. This is a condition known as acanthosis nigricans.

Stress

The effects of long-term stress on our overall health are very significant. One of the most important hormones that are released by our adrenal glands when under stress is cortisol. This is necessary and helps us to deal with short-term stressful events or stimuli.

But, when stress is chronic, and cortisol is being released in excessive and lasting amounts, it can also lead to weight gain and other health problems. Like insulin resistance and hormonal fluctuations, stress must also be dealt with.

Bringing It All Together

Because stress, hormonal fluctuations, and blood sugar fluctuation due to insulin resistance are major contributors to chronic migraine headaches as well as weight gain, using key dietary supplements or “natural medicines” to prevent hormonal or menstrual migraines will also help resolve the related weight gain issues just discussed.

Struggling with hormonal migraines and/or middle-age weight gain?

If you are struggling with hormonal migraines (migraines that occur just before, during, or after your period or occur during menopause), here is a list of ingredients to give you the benefits you want to achieve:

Chasteberry – A specific extract of Vitex Agnus Castus, otherwise known as Chasteberry extract has been shown in numerous human studies to naturally balance the hormonal fluctuations discussed above.

Biotin – Doses of biotin, (vitamin B7) much higher than normally found in multi-vitamin products, have been clinically proven to help regulate blood sugar irregularities that can be caused by insulin resistance.

B-6 – High doses of Vitamin B6 have been shown to decrease or eliminate the symptoms of PMS (including bloating and related weight gain) caused by fluctuating estrogen levels. This vitamin is also involved in the processing of sugar and can help protect against the effects of blood sugar fluctuations caused by insulin resistance.

L-Theanine – This amino acid derived from green tea, has been shown to be very calming and helps to reduce stress levels.

Chromium Picolinate – This essential trace mineral can improve insulin sensitivity and enhances protein, carbohydrate, and lipid metabolism

Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium) – This herb has been recorded as a medicinal remedy for millennia. It is commonly recommended for its ability to reduce platelet aggregation (which can lead to vasoconstriction & migraines) and to support cerebrovascular tone (blood vessels in the brain).

Riboflavin — High doses of Riboflavin have been proven in clinical studies to mitochondrial energy deficiencies which are common to many migraine sufferers just before an attack.

Magnesium – This mineral is needed for more than 300 processes in the body.  Magnesium has numerous effects that support normal cerebrovascular tone and function which makes it very important to migraine sufferers.  Among its many other health benefits, magnesium helps maintain healthy blood sugar levels and healthy blood pressure.  It also helps to prevent the symptoms of PMS (premenstrual-syndrome).

Regimen for long term hormonal migraine and weight control benefits

For those of you who fear that they are insulin resistant or struggling with hormonal migraines or middle-age weight gain, I suggest the following:

  1. Take the above-mentioned ingredients at the proper doses shown to be effective in human clinical studies
  2. Consume at least 50 grams of dietary fiber spread out throughout the day with meals. Fiber helps to slow the body’s absorption of sugar and prevent fluctuations. Psyllium or ground flaxseed is an excellent fiber choice.
  3. Moderate aerobic exercise of 20-30 minutes a day can also help to correct insulin resistance.
  4. A daily B vitamin complex of 50 mg of B-1, 2, 3, 5 plus folic acid and B-12 can also help with sugar metabolism and stress or consider this combination dietary stress supplement.
  5. Get proper, quality sleep.  If you need help to reestablish normal sleep patterns, here are the natural sleep ingredients you need. Your body repairs itself by releasing growth hormones while you sleep. Those hormones stimulate muscle and protein synthesis, as well as a fat breakdown process called lipolysis. Poor sleep is a major risk factor for weight gain and obesity. Poor sleep has repeatedly been linked to a higher body mass index (BMI) and weight gain.
  6. Diet-wise, lean meats, high fiber whole grains, vegetables, legumes, and fruit will help reestablish normal insulin levels. Until you see weight and or body fat starting to drop, keep carbohydrates in the form of pasta, bread, and sugar to a minimum.

What to expect?

By following this regimen over the course of 3-6 months (3 months or less for migraines) your:

1- Weight or body fat percentages should start to meaningfully drop

2- Your hair, at the front and crown of your head, if it was thinning, should start to thicken

3- Any discolored patches of skin around the neck and armpits should start to lighten or disappear

4- Migraine frequency and intensity (if you were a sufferer) should noticeably improve

5- Energy levels should noticeably improve

6- If you are still menstruating, your periods should be much more regular

7- If you were experiencing perimenopausal symptoms, they should improve

8- If you had unwanted hair on the face or back, it should lighten and thin, if not completely go away.

Read more about some of the natural medicine ingredients written about above.

To the Best of Health,

Curt Hendrix, M.S. C.C.N. C.N.S
Chief Scientific Officer, Akeso Health Sciences

 

 

Smoking Cigarettes and Migraine Headaches

Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the United States, according to the CDC. But aside from killing up to half of its users, smoking can also trigger headaches and migraines.

Smoking and migraines

Almost every person in the world has had a headache at some point or another. Some people get them sporadically, only experiencing one or two mild episodes per year. A few others, however, are more susceptible to getting frequent headaches or migraines, which may be triggered by a wide range of factors, including smoking and inhaling secondhand smoke.

A smoking headache or smoker’s migraine can happen as a result of inhaling or being exposed to cigarette smoke. People who experience frequent headaches or suffer from migraines may be more susceptible to getting a headache after smoking. Some research even shows that migraineurs who smoke may have an increased risk of stroke.

Keep reading to learn more about how smoking cigarettes, cigars, marijuana, and other tobacco products contribute to headaches and migraines, and what you can do to prevent them in the future.

Can smoking cause headaches?

No matter which way you look at it, tobacco is harmful to your health. Each year, more than 480,000 people in the United States die from tobacco-related illnesses. That means that smoking kills more than car accidents, guns, illegal drugs, and alcohol combined.

Smoking can lead to a multitude of health complications. Lung cancer, heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and infertility are among the most alarming adverse effects. But smoking cigarettes also affects many of your body’s essential functions, like immunity and circulation.

When you smoke, you inhale more than 7,000 different chemicals. The vast majority of the substances present in cigarettes and other tobacco products are toxic or poisonous, and at least 69 of them have been shown to be carcinogenic.

The number of cigarettes you smoke may influence your risk of getting a migraine. A study published in the Journal of Headache and Pain found that smoking 5 or more cigarettes a day could trigger migraines and that, in general, smokers have more migraine headaches than non-smokers.

The research involved 300 medical students who were well trained in identifying a migraine from another type of headache, like tension or cluster headaches. According to Dr. Pascual, the lead researcher in the study, “smoking is a precipitating factor of this type of headache, as the prevalence of active smokers is one third higher in migraine sufferers and there is a direct relationship between the number of cigarettes consumed and the frequency of migraine attacks.”

Though there is no proven mechanism for why smoking increases the frequency of migraines, it is possible that the nicotine and other harmful substances in cigarettes generate excessive amounts of free radicals, causing substantial oxidative stress, which is known to contribute to inflammation, which may then affect the nerves.

Harmful chemicals in cigarettes

Many of the harmful chemicals found in cigarettes are known to contribute significantly to headache disorders. However, carbon monoxide and nicotine are particularly detrimental for people who experience headaches often. This is how these two substances may be causing you headaches:

Carbon monoxide

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, flavorless gas produced by burning fuels that contain carbon, like gasoline, coal, and cigarettes. Considered highly poisonous, high levels of carbon monoxide can kill a person in a matter of minutes, though long-term exposure to low levels can be just as dangerous.

When you inhale carbon monoxide, it enters your lungs and gets carried over to your bloodstream. There, it binds with hemoglobin, reducing your red blood cell’s ability to carry oxygen to other parts of the body. Too much carbon dioxide in the bloodstream can deprive vital organs of oxygen, damage your tissues, and may cause death. Headaches are one of the most common symptoms of too much carbon monoxide in the body.

Most people have some level of carbon monoxide in their blood. Depending on where they live, their occupation, and other factors, the normal level of carboxyhemoglobin (the combination of carbon monoxide and hemoglobin) for a nonsmoker is less than one percent. Heavy smokers, on the other hand, may have levels of as much as 20 percent.

The good news is that quitting smoking can make a drastic improvement in your health. Within just two days of giving up cigarettes, your body will eliminate most of the carbon monoxide from your blood, and levels will return to normal.

Nicotine

Nicotine is a chemical compound found in the tobacco plant. It is a vasoactive substance which means it has an effect on blood vessels.  When consumed, nicotine enters the bloodstream and travels to the brain. Once there, nicotine over-stimulates the central nervous system, elevating your blood pressure, increasing your heart rate, and narrowing your blood vessels. It constricts blood vessels resulting in a reduction of blood flow towards the brain and its coverings known as meninges. Decreased blood flow causes depressed brain activity and severe pain.

Nicotine is highly addictive, and when used for an extended period, it changes the chemical balance of many brain structures. Quitting nicotine suddenly disrupts this balance, causing uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms like headaches and anxiety. Fortunately, most nicotine withdrawal symptoms – including headaches and migraines – subside after a few weeks, but the positive effects of quitting cigarettes and tobacco products last forever.

Marijuana and Headaches

Few substances are more controversial in the medical world than marijuana. Over the past few decades, the availability of medical and recreational marijuana has increased, and new evidence has shown that cannabis may be helpful for some conditions like certain forms of epilepsy and multiple sclerosis. But the research on medicinal marijuana is still in its early stages, and many questions still remain.

Little is known about the effects of marijuana, or weed, on migraines. In theory, marijuana has natural compounds called cannabinoids that bind to certain receptors in your brain and ease pain signals. In one research study published in the Journal of Pain, investigators found that using cannabis reduced headaches and migraines by 50 percent, and patients reported a reduction in migraine severity of 88 percent.

But despite what many people think, it’s also possible to get a headache from smoking marijuana. Some call it a ‘weed hangover;’ these are symptoms that show up a few hours or up to a day after using marijuana and usually go away on their own. While there is not enough research surrounding weed hangovers, anecdotal reports suggest that some people experience headaches, nausea, fatigue, and other symptoms after using cannabis.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Does smoking cause headaches?  Yes, smoking can cause headaches. Smoking increases carbon monoxide in your blood, which is a known headache trigger.

Can smoking trigger migraines?  Yes, smoking can trigger migraines. In addition to increasing carbon monoxide levels in your blood, many migraine sufferers find the smell of cigarettes and other tobacco products triggering.

Will quitting smoking cure my headaches?  If you have a headache disorder, quitting smoking will not cure your headaches. However, when you stop smoking, your body eliminates carbon monoxide from your bloodstream, your nicotine levels get depleted, and your circulation improves. All these factors

Can e-cigarettes cause headaches?  Yes, e-cigarettes or vapors can cause headaches. Vapers contain strong chemicals (including nicotine) and artificial flavoring agents that can give you a vaping headache. Propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin, two base ingredients of vape or e-juice, are known to cause dehydration, which is a known headache and migraine trigger.

Can I get headaches from second-hand smoke?  Yes!  Second-hand smoke is very dangerous and according to the researchers, undiluted sidestream smoke contains many harmful chemicals and in greater concentration than cigarette smoke inhaled through a filter.

If you are a smoker and also get migraines or headaches, limiting the number of cigarettes you smoke or quitting altogether is a healthy option.

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Try These 5 Easy Stretches to Ease Migraine Pain

If you’ve ever had a migraine before, you know that nothing can ruin a perfect day faster than a surprise attack. Nobody knows exactly why some people get migraines and others don’t; experts believe that these debilitating headaches are caused by a combination of genetic predisposition and environmental factors.

Vigorous exercise is one of those factors thought to trigger migraines in some people. However, a regular exercising and stretching routine can, ironically, also lower the frequency and intensity of migraine attacks and headaches.

Tension headaches are the most common type of headache. When you have a tension headache, you may feel mild to intense head pain and pressure around the forehead and eyes. Experts think tension headaches are caused by muscle contractions in the head and neck regions. A common triggering factor for tension headaches is bad posture and staring at the computer all day — two activities most of us are guilty of.

There is great debate on whether vigorous exercise can trigger migraines or tension headaches. Evidence suggests that intense physical activity does increase the risk for migraines in some people. However, research also shows that a regular exercising and stretching routine reduces the frequency and intensity of migraine attacks.

The importance of stretches for headache relief

Stretching is an important – yet often overlooked – form of physical activity. Most people think of stretching as something that you do before and after exercising, but a set of daily stretches can do more for your health than you think.

Taking the time to stretch every day keeps your muscles flexible and strong. This is important because flexibility is essential for performing your day to day activities with ease and without pain. Research shows that those who are less flexible are at a greater risk of losing their balance and falling.

Stretching also helps you increase your range of motion, improves blood flow to your muscles, helps you relax, and can even relieve tension headaches and migraines. In fact, research suggests that stretching exercises like yoga can be beneficial in reducing the duration, severity, and frequency of migraines as well as related psychological parameters like anxiety and depression scores.

Even though tension headaches and migraines – which can sometimes be hard to tell apart – are two different conditions, they share a major trigger: stress. We know that emotional stress doesn’t just affect the mind; when we are stressed, the body triggers an avalanche of responses designed to protect us against injury and pain. One of those responses is tensing up the muscles, which happens almost immediately after we start feeling stressed out. Chronic stress causes the muscles to stay contracted for long periods of time, which can, in turn, trigger stress-related disorders like migraine and tension headaches.

Finding relief with migraine and tension headache stretches

These 5 upper-body stretches are designed to relieve tension in the neck and shoulders, help you ease migraine pain and tension headaches, and help you relax and unwind after a long day:

Chin Tucks

Chin tucks are one of the most recommended exercises for neck pain, migraines, and headaches. The purpose is to align the head with the spine, correcting poor posture and strengthening the neck and upper back muscles. Chin tucks can be performed either standing up or in a seated position, making them perfect for repeating throughout the day.

To perform this exercise, sit or stand looking straight ahead with your back straight and your shoulders back, making sure your ears are aligned directly above your shoulders. Place two fingers on your chin and gently bend your head forwards until you feel a stretch on the base of your neck and you have a “double chin.” Hold this position for 20-30 seconds and release. Repeat three times.

Lateral Flexion Stretch

Relieve tension in the neck and shoulder by performing this simple stretch in the morning after you wake up and before going to bed at night. Lateral flexion stretches, also known as the ear to shoulder stretch, increase the angle between your shoulder and neck, and lengthen the spine.

Stand up straight and gently bend your neck to the right side as if you were trying to touch your shoulder with your right ear. Stop as soon as you begin feeling the stretch on the left side of your neck – you shouldn’t feel any pain doing this exercise. Hold for 30 seconds and change sides. Repeat 2 or 3 times on each side.

Cervical Extensor Stretch

The splenius capitis and the splenius cervicis are two pairs of deep (intrinsic) muscles on the back of the neck that are involved in movements such a shacking the head. Stretching these muscles can improve the range of motion of the neck and help elongate your spine.

To stretch the extensors on your neck, sit or stand up looking straight ahead. Gently tilt your head forward and turn your neck 20 to 30 degrees to one side until you feel a slight stretch. Don’t bend your heat too much and try not to move your shoulders – the purpose of this stretch is not to touch your shoulder with your ear. If you turned to the right, use your left hand to gently push your head forward. Hold this position for 30 seconds and change sides. Repeat 2 or 3 times throughout the day.

Shoulder Rolls

Shoulder rolls are the perfect stretch for releasing built-up stress in your neck and shoulders, and you can do it while sitting on your desk at work or when you are standing in line at the grocery store.  This is one of the most effective stretches for migraine sufferers because it promotes blood flow to the brain and instantly improves your posture.

Start by properly aligning your head, neck, and shoulders. If you are sitting, keep your feet flat on the floor and avoid crossing your legs or ankles. If you are standing, keep your shoulders back, pull your stomach in and let your arms fall comfortably to the sides.

Now, gently roll your shoulders up and back in one continuous motion. Repeat 5 times and reverse it, rolling your shoulders down and up this time. Repeat a couple of times on each side.

Neck Rotations

Neck rotations are ideal for improving range of motion and relaxing your neck when it’s feeling tight. Start this exercise by sitting or standing tall and turn your neck to look at your right side, keeping your head and your body straight. Hold this position for 10 seconds keeping your chin lifted. Repeat 5 times on each side.

What else can I do to prevent tension headaches and migraines?

Even though there are countless medications, supplements, and even yoga stretches for migraines, the truth is you may never be able to prevent all headaches. Why? Because migraines are caused by myriad triggers that can’t always be prevented or even identified.

The good news is that you can reduce the frequency and severity of these headaches by managing your triggers. We recommend trying our these tips do to start learning and avoiding your triggers:

  • Keep a migraine diary
  • Watch what you eat and drink. If you notice certain foods give you headaches write them down. If you start noticing a pattern, stay away from that ingredient.
  • Manage stress
  • Consider taking a daily supplement
  • Get enough quality sleep

HEALTHY EASTER EGGS & The Truth About Cholesterol

How many times have you heard (perhaps even from your physician) to limit the consumption of eggs because they contain a lot of cholesterol and that by eating too many eggs, you will negatively affect your cholesterol levels?

Well, for those of you who love eggs but feel guilty eating them, there is some really good news.  All of those warnings about egg consumption were JUST PLAIN WRONG!

First of all, for about 70% of people, consuming cholesterol in your diet (from any source) has absolutely no meaningful effect on your cholesterol levels! There are several studies proving this and NOT one study showing that dietary cholesterol causes heart disease.

Secondly, it has been shown in the 30% of people whose cholesterol levels rise modestly when consuming eggs, that their LDL cholesterol particle size gets bigger….AND THIS IS A GOOD THING.

 

egg and cholesterol

 

Dr. Maria Luz Fernandez of the University of Connecticut’s Department of Nutritional Sciences summarized the results of egg consumption on blood cholesterol levels. In children aged 10-12, in men aged 20-50, in premenopausal and postmenopausal women, in whites and Hispanics:  two or three eggs per day has little or no effect on the blood cholesterol levels of over two-thirds of the population. (1)

But there was even good news in the less than 1/3 of the population whose cholesterol did go up with egg consumption. Their good and bad cholesterol went up equally and there was no change in their ratio of LDL to HDL or even the ratio of LDL to total cholesterol both of which are considered much more important than total cholesterol levels.

But the good news continued. It turns out that the LDL in egg eaters actually became safer. When LDL particles are small and dense, they can more easily penetrate into the lining of your arteries and cause plaque. The LDL in egg eaters got larger and fluffier making it safer and less susceptible to damage from oxidation and less susceptible to causing plaque in the arteries.

In addition, eggs are high in a range of vitamins and minerals.

Just one boiled egg contains:

40% of your daily vitamin D requirements
25% of your daily folate requirements
12% of your daily riboflavin (Vitamin B2) requirements
20% of your daily selenium requirements
Eggs also contain vitamins A, E, B5, B12, as well as iron, iodine, and phosphorus.

Other health benefits of eggs:

1. Eye health – May help prevent macular degeneration and cataracts because of the antioxidants, lutein, and zeaxanthin levels they contain.  Both play a protective role in overcoming eye health problems. Also, Vitamin A and omega-3 fatty acids in the egg may protect eyes from retina damage.

2- Provides high-quality protein and essential amino acids.  Just one whole egg at breakfast gives you 6 grams of protein in your diet. Protein is an essential building block for your body’s tissues, including muscles, bones, nails, skin, and hair. Not only does protein help build your body’s tissues, but it also helps repair them when they are damaged.

3- Contains vitamin D.  1 hard-boiled, cooked or fried egg contains 88 IUs of vitamin D. Studies have clearly shown that adequate intake of vitamin D is essential for bone development, skeletal health, healthy muscles and teeth, and regulating the immune system.

4- Promotes healthy hair and nails due to high sulfur content.  Sulfur is a beneficial nutrient that strengthens fingernails and hair. Eggs also contain B12, vitamins A and E, iron, and biotin (also known as Vitamin B7 or Vitamin H, and a part of the B-complex vitamins). Biotin has been scientifically shown to increase fingernail thickness and reduce brittleness and splitting.

Enjoy your Easter holiday.

To the Best of Health,

Curt Hendrix,  M.S., C.C.N., C.N.S.

 

(1)-Fernandez ML. Dietary cholesterol provided by eggs and plasma lipoproteins in healthy populations. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2006;9:8-12.