LIFE’S BIG (AND LITTLE) HEADACHES: YOUR SURVIVAL GUIDE


headache, eyestrain, stress, tension, migraine, mindfulness, massage, acupuncture


Is it the eyestrain of staring at a computer screen all day?

Or, maybe it is the stress of a deadline that seems impossible to meet?

Even when the cause is hard to pinpoint, you can feel that tension headache creeping up and…

YOU KNOW

what it is going to feel like when that dull sense of pain takes residence between your temples!

Then there are the much more pervasive and troublesome types of neurological disturbances…

MIGRAINES!

Picture the kind of ache in your head that keeps you in bed, lights off, whispering, for hours if not days.

They are more than just headaches; they can often feel unbearable.

Headaches and migraines come to us for a myriad of reasons. Already mentioned were EYESTRAIN and STRESS, but there are other common causes that you may not have considered (SOURCE):

  • Stress
  • Emotional distress
  • Hormonal imbalance
  • Certain foods or food allergies
  • Environmental exposures,
  • Infection
  • Constipation
  • Blood pressure issues
  • Drugs and Alcohol
  • Fatigue
  • Eyestrain
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Dehydration


What creates a headache for one person may result in a migraine for another. There are so many factors to consider that it cannot be reduced to a one size fits all diagnosis and solution.

“As a neurological ailment, [headaches and] migraines impact the whole person, not just the head, so it follows that treatments are based on whole-person assessment, understanding and treatment.” (SOURCE)

Western medicine addresses the alleviation of many symptoms. In our headache and migraine survival guide, we would like to offer some complementary therapies from a naturopathic perspective.

Common headaches are often called tension headaches. It follows that STRESS MANAGEMENT is an important tool in relieving tension from the body.


There are a few things you can try if you suspect tension or stress may be at the root of your headache or migraine:

  1. Practicing Mindfulness – as you feel the onset of a headache or migraine, simply notice the tension in your mind and body and give yourself permission to relax in those areas.
  1. Breathing Exercises – in the most stressful moments, when you know a headache is imminent, try the “Box Breathing” pattern by inhaling for 4 counts, holding for four counts, exhaling for four counts, and then holding for four counts. Repeat as needed.
  1. Movement – try simple exercises such as stretching at your desk, taking a break at lunch for an in person or online yoga session, or simply taking a walk around the block can be helpful.


During the pandemic, you might have found yourself typing away on your laptop from the couch.

Did you know that BODY POSITIONING and alignment of the spine can affect the level and frequency of headaches and migraines?


Naturopathic doctors are trained to assess and correct physiological issues in your bodily structure that may be a contributing factor when you experience headaches or migraines.

  1. Massage – assists in relaxing tense muscles
  1. Manipulation/ Adjustments – assures that head, spine and skeletal structure are in alignment
  1. Acupuncture – increases blood flow and calms the nervous system


Systemic inflammation plays a detrimental role in overall wellness and how a body feels. Therefore, it is important to pay proper attention to your needs in terms of NUTRITION in order to prevent and/ or eliminate headaches and migraines.


The following are a few suggestions that may assist you in doing just that:

  1. Hydration – adequate hydration fluctuates from person to person, but staying hydrated makes a difference in preventing headaches and migraines.
  1. Anti-Inflammatory Diet – a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids from nuts and wild caught fish, lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, lean protein and healthy fats reduces the likelihood of headaches and migraines
  1. Herbs/ Supplements* that are known to reduce headaches and migraines:


Vitamin B-2 (riboflavin) – has been shown to reduce migraine symptoms and has long been used as a supplement option

Magnesium – often times those that suffer from headaches or migraines are found to have low doses of magnesium in their blood stream.

Feverfew – a member of the daisy family, feverfew is an herb that can be ingested and has shown to be useful in the treatment of headaches and migraines.


*Always consult your naturopathic doctor before introducing herbs or supplements to your diet.

Although there are very valid and useful treatments offered by western medicine, a naturopathic perspective can be beneficial in getting to the root cause of your symptoms for headaches and migraines.

Dr. Fisel can help you find natural solutions and relief if you are battling with problematic headaches or migraines. If you live in the Guilford/ Branford/ New Haven/ Madison/ Clinton area and would like to learn more about the innovative programs Dr. Fisel has to offer, call (203) 453-0122 or CLICK HERE to schedule your consultation.


RESOURCES:

https://aanmc.org/featured-articles/naturopathic-approaches-to-headaches/
https://naturemed.org/natural-relief-for-migraine-headache-symptoms/



HISTAMINE INTOLERANCE


histamine intolerance, bloating, diarrhea, fatigue, anxiety, headaches, IBS, naturopathic doctor, Guilford

Last night you let the babysitter order pizza for the kids.

For some crazy reason there’s one slice of pepperoni left in the box on the counter.

Thinking back to those college days…


Why does leftover pizza seem like a good idea first thing in the morning?


As tempting as it sounds, food left out on the counter overnight can wreak havoc on your body.

It’s called…


HISTAMINE INTOLERANCE.


Most people are born with an amazing defense mechanism to protect their body from the outside world. One of the built-in ways the body fights off invaders is to utilize histamines (found in food) that carry away allergens and other irritants from our eyes, noses and skin for instance.


Histamines found in foods can be:

  • NATURAL – Histamines are naturally found in fermented foods, meat, shellfish, alcohol, tomatoes, avocado, spinach, and nuts among others.
  • LIBERATED – Some foods interact with the body to liberate histamines, such as: chocolate, alcohol, bananas, strawberries, nuts, and citrus.
  • DEVELOPED –Histamines multiply in food that is “left over” and not properly disposed of or frozen after preparation. This is your warning to avoid that last piece of pizza and leftovers in general!

Sometimes we over consume, or our bodies over produce, histamines. We develop an intolerance to histamines when we cannot break them down efficiently. Histamines can become too much for our system to handle and we start to notice certain symptoms that are different from seasonal allergies; persistent. Over the long term, they are indicative of histamine intolerance, and are systemic which can lead to larger problems.


Histamine intolerance might initially look like:

  • Itchy skin and/ or hives
  • Abdominal bloating
  • Diarrhea
  • Runny nose, nasal congestion, sneezing, red or itching eyes
  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Headaches


An abundance of histamines might cause more systemic damage like:

  • Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS)
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
  • Inflammatory intestinal disorders
  • Periodontal disease
  • Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS)
  • Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO)


If you have been experiencing chronic immune responses that cannot be easily explained, Dr. Fisel can help you look into the root of your discomfort to alleviate your obvious symptoms and hopefully your overall histamine intolerance.


Initially, Dr. Fisel can analyze your unique situation using several assessment tools:

  1. Nutritional – We help tailor your nutritional habits to limit excess histamines
  2. Environmental – We can assess your environment and help you eliminate histamine stressors
  3. Lifestyle – Sleep and movement play a big part in your overall health – we can take a look at your patterns.
  4. Medications – We will help you assess what you are currently taking and advise you about interactions; we can recommend complimentary protocols to your existing regimen.


Dr. Fisel can help you find relief if you are battling with histamine intolerance. If you live in the Guilford/ Branford/ New Haven/ Madison/ Clinton area and would like to learn more about the innovative programs Dr. Fisel has to offer, call (203) 453-0122 or CLICK HERE to schedule your consultation.


RESOURCES:

Histamine Intolerance: A Common Cause of Chronic Complaints

Mast Cell Activation: Skin is Just Scratching the Surface

Gluten and the Nervous System

This is something my colleagues and I have been familiar with for quite some time, but a new report published in the Lancet Neurology demonstrates further proof that an intolerance to gluten containing foods can cause much more than just digestive symptoms.

Sensitivities beyond celiac

“Celiac disease is only one
aspect of a range of possible manifestations of gluten sensitivity. In
some individuals, gluten sensitivity is shown to manifest solely with
neurological dysfunction,” the authors of the new report explain.

Neurological
disorders that might be tied to a gluten sensitivity include a lack of
muscle coordination leading to instability (ataxia), tingling and
numbness (neuropathies), and migraine-like headaches (encephalopathy).
The authors go on to say that the tests that help to establish a
diagnosis of celiac disease may not reliably show if a person has a
gluten sensitivity that affects only their nervous system. For this
reason, they suggest other tests that may help uncover a hidden gluten
sensitivity in people suffering from certain neurological disorders.

The
report’s authors recommend, “To improve diagnosis rates, the perception
of physicians that gluten sensitivity is solely a disease of the gut
must be changed.”

If you think you have a gluten sensitivity


Get medical support. Identifying and treating a gluten
sensitivity can help you avoid serious complications.

Be
proactive
. Ask your naturopathic doctor if he or she is familiar with the tests
that are useful for identifying different types of gluten sensitivities,
or if he or she can refer you to someone who is.

Pay
attention
. If you think your symptoms might be related to gluten,
consider a six-week gluten-free diet trial. If you’re going in for lab
work, though, eat your normal diet so your test will gauge your regular
reactions.

Living with a gluten sensitivity

Gluten
sensitivity is in the spotlight, so there’s never been an easier time to
go gluten-free. New food packaging requirements mandate that
gluten-free foods be accurately labeled, and gluten-free cookbooks
abound on bookstore shelves. Ask your grocer whether they can recommend
books, recipes, and other resources to help.

(Lancet Neurol
2010;9:318-30)