How to Treat Menstrual Migraines and Headaches
Did you know that over 80% of menstruators report experiencing some sort of PMS throughout their cycle? So no, you are not alone AND you are not doomed. In this blog post, I will teach you what hormonal migraines are, why they happen, and how to treat them naturally.
To listen to my podcast episode on this, click here.
Migraines, for centuries, were explained as a woman’s problem due to depression, stress, or neurological issues. Our hormone disturbances have been historically dismissed by the medical institute, but we know now that it’s no joking matter. Women are 3x more likely to experience migraines than men.
WHAT ARE THEY? Let’s get nerdy for a moment!
- Tension headaches (located in the temples/behind the eyes) and migraines are the two most commonly experienced PMS during our menstrual cycles.
- Some women are predisposed to migraines and of those “migrainers”, 70% experience cyclical migraines.
- Hormonal causes: Estrogen decline and lowering serotonin levels.
- During the first half of our menstrual cycle, estrogen is on the rise in order to thicken your uterine lining to nourish the embryo if pregnancy occurs. If pregnancy doesn’t happen, estrogen drops significantly post-ovulation which can cause a migraine. Additionally, serotonin (key mood-stabilizer neurotransmitter) declines because it relies on estrogen for its production. This leads to more sensitization of the meningeal nerves (nervous system nerves) AND releases substance P, which causes blood vessels in the brain to dilate, causing migraines.
- We also have a lower threshold of pain around our period. Estrogen regulates pain through chemicals in the body and brain called endorphins. When estrogen is high, the brain is more efficient at releasing endorphins. This is why everything hurts more before your period when estrogen has dropped to its lowest.
- Hormonal birth control
- Histamine intolerance
- Histamine response is tied to reproductive function (not just immunity, but also hormones/neurologic functions and is very active around ovulation and menses)
- Histamine is tied to estrogen production which causes mast cells to release more histamine. Estrogen also reduces DAO enzyme which clears histamine. This triggers the ovaries to produce more estrogen. Can be a vicious cycle for headaches and migraines.
- Processed sugar and excess sugar
- Lack of sleep
- Toxin exposure
- Impaired detox capabilities
- Gut dysbiosis
- Low blood sugar
- Neck and shoulder tension
- Medications, even your migraine medication - I know right?! (Also known as MOH: medication overuse headache)
I BELIEVE THAT THERE IS ALWAYS A NATURAL WAY. I always use a bio-individualized, integrative approach. With any lifestyle/nutritional/supplement change, I allow for 3-4 months to let the natural method do its healing!
- Track your cycle and any PMS (especially those migraines)
- Lower histamines
- Histamines are released from immune cells (mast cells) in response to exposure to toxins and allergic reactions.
- Triggers: Headaches, dizziness, abdominal pain, eczema, insomnia, loose stools, etc.
- Stress reduction
- Address estrogen imbalance (Estrogen is lower with women who are very restrictive diet, over exercising, low carb, low BMI)
- Look into functional lab testing with an Integrative practitioner, such as myself.
- Adequate filtered water + electrolytes
- Chiropractic care + acupuncture
- No alcohol or coffee (don’t hate me!)
- Bupleurum / dandelion indirectly as it supports liver estrogen detoxification
- Lavender and peppermint essential oil. Apply to temples / wrists or inhale. Straight up or diluted in almond oil if you’re sensitive. Or in a bath!
- Soothe contains my favorite herbs for migraine + headache reduction. Shop here.
- Nutrition: anti-inflammatory plan (red meat, poultry, dairy, oils, eggs got to go). Focus on fiber and lots of plants as this will help to regulate your estrogen and hormone levels.
- Gut + liver support
- Supplements: Reminder for 3 months to see full effects. Hang in there!
- B complex
- B2 - riboflavin
- Trauma work. Develop healing coping therapies and practices.
- Track your cycle
- Balance hormones (especially estrogen)
- Fun extras such as massage, acupuncture, chiropractor
Podcast Episode Guest:
Body Bliss Latte Blends code “peacelovehormones” for 10% off here