Vascular headaches have long troubled many people, and if you have never had one, you should consider yourself fortunate. Whether it is once in your life or each week, one migraine is one too many. Many people subsist in fear of the potential triggers and factors that can bring on a migraine, struggling to try and understand what is happening, why their head hurts so badly.
The questions are why do the vascular mechanisms that supply the brain become abnormal, and then what can be done about it. The standard of care in the health community seems to focus only on symptom suppressing pain management, which, even at best, is merely a mild palliative in the real management of this malady. In nutritional practice using foundational measures to bring about balanced body physiology, a great deal of success has been achieved in learning about the underlying cause and supporting the body to prevent headaches from ever developing.
First, let’s review what we know about migraines from experience: A prodromal phase precedes the pounding pain characterized by hallucinations, visual disturbances with halo effects around objects, photophobia (light sensitivity), impaired thinking and nausea. A secondary phase follows, characterized by severe pain and pounding, more severe photophobia, and nausea. In fact, the migraine usually abates after finally throwing up. This resolution to normal following vomiting may be the greatest insight into the causative mechanisms at work.
There are two stages leading to migraine, both characterized by profound changes in the vascular (blood) supply to the brain. The first stage (prodromal), is experienced because of an initial vascular constriction or starvation, creating secondary localized hypoxia (loss of oxygen), and this is why the brain hallucinates without the necessary blood/oxygen for proper function. Then the vasculature, apparently fatigued by the effort of constriction, seems to lose its tone and simply dilate, sagging into the surrounding structures and creating the pounding pressure that is so crippling. Most drug therapies seek to interrupt this vascular phenomenon. In fact, in the past, certain drugs called ergotamines, were employed, even though they potentially compromised circulation to the heart at the same time. Even now very little is offered except to attempt to interrupt the vascular dilation, which, while it provides essential relief, is not a correction to the cause of the condition, and it also costs the person a few days of being mildly drugged.
It seems that the questions that need to be asked are: Why does this vascular phenomenon occur, and what sets it off?
We will deal with these questions in the next installment in this continuing series on migraine……………