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5 Steps To Solve Your Migraines

5 Steps To Solve Your Migraines

Migraines are a big problem. They affect millions of people and are responsible for billions of dollars in healthcare costs. In fact, they’re one of the most common reasons people end up the emergency room.

The question we really need to ask isn’t, “how do you treat a migraine?” but rather, “what’s causing the migraines?”

This is where Functional Medicine comes in. Functional Medicine is medicine by cause; not by symptom. It helps us discover the underlying triggers of disease. And you know what? The root cause of your migraine may not be in your head at all. In fact, it may be caused by many other factors. Let’s go through some of the things that can cause migraines, because 10 people with the exact same symptoms might have very different underlying causes.

Migraines can be caused by:

  1. Sensitivity to foods like peanuts or dairy or eggs. I had a patient who had migraines for 40 years, and we discovered that they were caused by the eggs she was eating. When she stopped eating eggs, the migraines went away; when she started eating them again, the migraines came back.
  2. Gluten allergy. This is a special kind of food allergy that creates a lot of inflammation. Many people are sensitive to gluten, the protein found in wheat, barley, rye, oats, and spelt.
  3. Hormonal imbalances. For example, many women get premenstrual migraines, which is often caused by imbalances in estrogen and progesterone—too much estrogen, not enough progesterone. This can be caused by stress; by consuming too much alcohol, sugar, flour, and starches; and by not getting enough exercise or sleep.
  4. Vitamin B deficiency. Some people who don’t get enough riboflavin get migraines.
  5. Imbalances in melatonin. Newer studies have shown that this may be related to sleep cycles, which can be improved with melatonin.
  6. Magnesium deficiency. Magnesium is the relaxation mineral. If you’re deficient in it, you can often get headaches and migraines. I once had a patient with chronic migraines who tried everything to cure them, but nothing helped. It turned out that she had a massive magnesium deficiency. I gave her a very high dose of magnesium, and her migraines went away.

So, remember: migraines are not all the same. You have to find the underlying cause. Here are some simple things you can do to identify and eliminate what might be causing your migraines:

  1. Do an elimination diet. Get rid of the common food allergens. Use my book The UltraSimple Diet as a guide.
  2. Try magnesium. Take 300 to 600 milligrams twice a day in the form of magnesium glycinate or citrate.
  3. Try riboflavin or vitamin B2, 400 milligrams a day. It will turn your urine a dark yellow, but don’t worry about it.
  4. Balance your hormones to stop premenstrual migraines by exercising; eliminating caffeine, alcohol, and sugar; and eating a diet rich in plant foods, especially the broccoli family, flax seeds and tofu as well as other vegetables, and fruits.
  5. Try melatonin, which has been shown to help relieve migraines. Take 1 or 2 milligrams at night.

These are just a few simple things you can do at home to fix your migraines, and I have many more suggestions. So, I encourage you to read my blogs on migraines and take advantage of the information on my website.

And if you like this House Call, I encourage you to share it with your friends and family on Twitter and Facebook, sign up for the newsletter, and submit your questions, so that, next week, I may make a House Call to you.

Wishing you health and happiness,
Mark Hyman, MD

Learn more:

How To End Migraines

Magnesium: Meet the Most Powerful Relaxation Mineral Available

Are your Hormones Making you Miserable?

Gluten: What You Don’t Know Might Kill You

Sweet Dreams: How to Sleep Better, Lose Weight, and Live Longer

Mark Hyman MD is the Medical Director at Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Functional Medicine, the Founder of The UltraWellness Center, and a ten-time #1 New York Times Bestselling author.

Comments (19)

  • My neurologist, Dr. Murinova of the University of Washington Medical Center Headache clinic prescribed: avoiding flourescent light (#1 migraine trigger). 20 min of pre-10 am sun exposure to get the amount of blue ultraviolet rays needed to stimulate melatonin production to sleep. To spend at least 40 min a day around plants, preferably in a park to get the right mix of oxygen- she said folks hooked up to EKG/EEG showed improvement just being in a Lowe’s garden section. Taking alpha lipoic acid & vitamin D supplements. Finally, 3 hrs of humor a day, whatever I find humorous- print, tv, movies, etc. Says it raises oxygen levels in the brain. All the above has reduced my migraines from 1 every 2 wks to only 2 a year!

  • I find it interesting that for some people low amounts of magnesium cause migraines. I never had migraines until I was in the hospital delivering my son early because of pre-eclampsia and they gave me magnesium sulfate. As soon as they gave me that, I got my first migraine and have had them periodically ever since.

  • I have been suffering from migraine for 20 years. For the past 3 years, the situation was near to out of control – i.e. I have at least 1 attack per day. I really don’t know what else I can do.

    I have tried most of the medications, both preventives (propranolol, amitriptyline , topamax, botox, etc) and pain-relieving medications (Cafergot, Synflex, Vimovo, Imigran). Nerve block procedure (with steroid) which normally useful for migraine patients only work less than 2 weeks for me. I have also trying other alternative way – chinese medication, accupuncture, massage, etc. All of the above have a short term effect.

    I have been forced to change from 1 medicine to another because of over use and of course, that also trigger medication overuse migraine. The worst time this year – I was hospitalized for a week to get rid of any pain-relieving medications. Doctor have no choice but to put me on Methadone injection as I have 3 – 4 times migraine attack a day, with pain score 8 – 9 each attack. The situation was getting better for 2 months.

    Unfortunately my work needs a lot of travel, and air travel made my migraine worse. The situation getting worse after 2 months when I have to start travel again. It begin with 1 attack per day, and after 5 months, it has now become at least twice a day, with a pain score 7 or 8 at least. As the situation is getting worse, it has become a habit for me to go to the emergency ward at night for dynastat injection, which at least give me a few hours headache free.

    1 year ago I started engagement with neurologist, hoping things will get better. But now… I am lost.. seriously. What else can I do?

    Truly appreciate your advice, Dr Hyman. Thanks.

  • “Sensitivity to foods”, as Dr. Hyman mentioned, is definitely on my list for the cause of headaches. I know this from experience because after drinking carbonated beverages (coke, pepsi, sprite, etc) I used to get migraines. And, one day I decided to completely cut down on carbonated beverages, and the headaches went away. I am writing this post because there could be others who are facing this situation, and a change in diet might do the trick.

  • I LOVE HOW CLEAR HE PUTS IT. It nearly makes me absolutely believe ALL wheat, barley, rye, and oats have gluten:

    Gluten, a protein found in such starch-base edible material.

  • I appreciate the advice in this article very much! I have been diagnosed with atypical migraines over the last two years as I have migraine aura symptoms but never get the headache. I found a chiropractor while waiting for a second opinion from another neurologist and had wonderful results from getting chiropractic treatment. He took an xray of my neck and back and found that I had lots of areas there that were causing irritation to nerve function. After going through the adjustments, I was ready to take on a wonderful fitness program and changed our diet significantly like Dr. Hyman encourages in his article. I found a neurologist who is a headache specialist who recommended the same vitamin supplements that Dr. Hyman does and implemented those as well. I have currently lost over 20 pounds and am in much better physical shape, and my migraine symptoms are significantly less frequent. My family has come along to make similar dietary changes and they have all lost weight and are exercising more as well. I am so thankful for advice like this!

  • I had premenstrual migraines for years. My doctor tried hormones, antidepressants and even had me on a seizure medication Topamax. None of this worked. My doctor suggested Dr Mark Hyman’s book,The Blood Sugar Solution. I read it and followed the diet. I am off gluten, dairy, and sugar. My migraines disappeared! I confirmed the relationship between my migraines and my diet over the Christmas holiday when I indulged in sweets, cookies and cakes- BAM-my migraines returned BIG TIME!! That was it for me- I am so happy to be off all medication and eating a clean healthy diet. Thank you Dr. Hyman- I am sharing your post with everyone!

  • He said it right there… alcohol, no caffeine, no sugar and a diet rich in green veggies and fruits. That’s good for everybody. 🙂

  • How long should a migranous patient try the magnesium at 300-600 mg2x per day before he/she tries something else? And if the migraines resolve at this dose, do you have a patient decrease their dosage?

  • Pingback: Migraine Relief and 5 Steps to Resolve Migraines ForeverHealthy Holistic Living

  • I just wanted to share my experience with magnesium in eliminating my migraines. I have not had a migraine in 15 months since I started taking magnesium glycinate. I suffered from severe migraines for over 16 years; five to six days a week with SEVERE headaches. Nothing helped – prescription medications or OTC – nothing helped. In recent years, I have resorted to drinking three to four caffeinated sodas a day (I wasn’t a soda drinker before at all) and taking three to four doses of motrin a day to get only a slight bit of relief. Someone told me about magnesium but that didn’t seem to help either. However, I was taking the wrong kind of magnesium. Fifteen months ago, I read that you have to take magnesium glycinate. I tried it and have been completely migraine free for FIFTEEN MONTHS! I still can’t get over it. I feel like I have been set free! I take two 200mg tablets for a total of 400mg a day. I feel like a new person! I have not had any motrin or prescription migraine medication in fifteen months.
    I now know of four other people who have also started taking magnesium glycinate and it has stopped their migraines as well.

  • WOW… It worked. Nearly 40 years of 2x monthly migraines diverted!

    Been taking the B2 and Magnesium Citrate for 3 months… (stopped the melatonin after one night as it gave me anxiety attacks). The first month nothing much happened. Kept with the plan… the second month I only got 2 faint headaches, that was taken care easily with Advil. The third month I got my usual sensitivity to light and neck pain to start, but a headache or a migraine NEVER CAME.

    I hope that this miracle continues. Not sure if I should just continue with the same dosage. Thank you Dr. Hyman. 🙂

  • Hi,

    I have had migranes since I was 9-10 years old I am now 33. I have tried just about everything but they are so limiting. The type of migrane I get is horrible nausea, vomiting and horrible pain. During my migraines there is no fluids no Medication if I sit up or move I’m vomiting. I can not take anything orally. Lately I have at least one a week.

    I have been dairy free, msg, no nuts, no chocolate and limit myself to 1 cup of coffee a day. I don’t drink soda and eat little to no meats. I take a multi, coq10, bcomplex, a migrane m with magnesium, and melatonin at night. I am very careful to try to get 7-8 hours of sleep and eat very regularly so no long periods of no food. I don’t or drink anything to hot or cold. I track my food and there is no pattern.

    I know I have horrible allergies. I have gone thru 2 years of allergy shots.

    When I have a migrane I try not to over medicate to avoid rebound headaches. I don’t take any narcotics as pain relievers 1. Because I cant keep them down and buy the time I can I don’t want to risk a rebound.

    I have tried topamax and all the others and have had no good results.

    I’m going to try to read your quick start and see how that works. Please reply if you have any suggestions. I am desperate I have a 6 year old and I miss so much