Do migraines impact you or a loved ones quality of life? There are many people who have come to me suffering with migraines with the hope of prevention. It is important to have a medical work-up, especially if the migraines are a new symptom, or headaches that has come on suddenly. If imaging and basic blood work are unable to find a cause for you or your loved ones migraines and you have the desire to avoid medications and/or figure out the possible trigger, I invite you to read on.
Here, I will walk you through my thought process when a patient presents with migraines.
First, we need to have a very basic understanding of the three phases of the liver detoxification pathways. Phase 1 breaks down hormones, substances inhaled or consumed, foods, medications, etc. and makes the substances smaller in order to move them into Phase 2. Phase 2 detoxification pathways metabolize substances into a water soluble form. So that in Phase 3 you can excrete the toxins through your bile, your bowel movements and your urination. Phase 2 is the step that is really important and is often sluggish due to a variety of genetic alterations that make it not work efficiently. If phase 2 is not working efficient, then we get stuck in phase 1, with the breakdown products of the substances that are now smaller and are in more toxic forms recycling through your bloodstream and depositing and storing in your adipose (fat cells) to be released again at a later date.
So, with that in mind, the following triggers need to be looked at when migraines are impacting your life.
- Genetic Methylation SNPs (individual mutations – reported on lab testing) impact the Phase 2 pathways. When there are dysfunctions in these SNPS, the sluggishness of phase 2, keeps your body recycling through phase 1 and triggering the migraines. For example, COMT is a SNP that impacts the estrogen metabolism pathways. MTHFR and MTRR are a group of SNPs impact methyl donors and your ability to convert and neutralize during the detoxification phases. CBS SNPs impact the ability of the body to make glutathione (an extremely important antioxidant) for your liver and body to handle the daily influx of the above stressors.
- Hormones: when hormones are cycling through the body, highs and / or lows of hormones can trigger migraines. If the body is unable to process the hormones through the liver detoxification pathways, then they recycle into the negative forms. Additionally, if you have been in a chronic stress state and your adrenals are taxed, you lose the buffering ability that the adrenals provide for keeping the balance when there are highs and lows during your cycle.
- Environmental Triggers: Unfortunately, our world is full of pollution. Pollution can be in the form of heavy metals (lead, mercury, cadmium, arsenic, etc.), PCB’s (from industrial waste found in rivers), BPA (found in plastics), pesticides and fertilizers, perfumes, cleaning products, etc. When someone who is sensitive is exposed to a chemical that they are unable to process, see methylation below, it can trigger a migraine or other reaction.
- Food Sensitivities IgG and IgA: IgG sensitivities are your delayed reactions that will present anywhere form 2-72 hours after consumption of a food or drink. The delay in reactions often make it challenging to identify the triggering foods. IgG reactions create immune system and inflammatory reactions. IgA sensitivities impact the Secretory IgA, which is the immune system of your gut and found throughout the lining of your intestinal tract, many people believe this is the source of “leaky gut” syndrome. Leaky gut is a non-specific term used to describe how substances cross over the protective barrier of the intestinal tract and trigger an inflammatory response in the body.
- Allergies: IgE: IgE reactions are immediate and indicate a true allergy. Allergies or most often experienced when levels of pollen, mold or grasses, exceed an individuals threshold to process them. People can also experience food related allergies, however most of the time these create hives and histamine reactions versus migraines. When the phase 2 of liver detoxification is working smoothly, IgE allergies often reduce dramatically.
- Blood Sugar dysregulation is also a very common trigger for migraines and stabilization is very important. Addressing food, protein and good fats will often help patients feel better too.
We would love to support you in figuring out your liver detoxification functionality, your oxidation status (how efficiently you are detoxifying and if you make enough glutathione to squelch the problematic aspects of detoxification), your food sensitivities and if you have environmental exposures, we will look at those too. We will make sure your hormones are balanced and the rest of your blood work looks stable. After we know what your concerns show up on your labs, then we can move through the supportive phase of treatment options. We will walk with you each step of the way.