Migraines are very much misunderstood by scientists, physicians, and everyday people. Migraines are either considered to be vascular disease(1), neurological disease(2), or the combination of to two(3). Some believe it is a “mental disease” that needs psychological counselling(4). Research also suggests that migraineurs suffer from hypertension, obesity, and metabolic syndrome(5). Some of these may serve as migraine symptoms or comorbidities but don’t define what migraines are. Migraine is not a headache either; migraine need not be accompanied with pain in the head, though the majority of migraine sufferers do get pain.
Migraine is only possible to be generated by a genetically different brain, different from the brains of the current majority. Migraine is a “tribal” genetic variance that poses metabolic limitation on the individual in what a migraineur can safely eat without generating a migraine. This doesn’t work well in our modern nutritional world. Take the Standard American Diet (SAD) away from a migraineur and replace it with a diet that is appropriate for her metabolic limitations, and migraines, all symptoms, and comorbidities disappear.
Looking at native tribes, we find they are perfectly adapted to their environment. Plucking them out of that and moving them into modern society makes them ill-adapted and sick—consider what has happened to the Native Americans(6). They often become ill because of their inability to adapt fast enough to the metabolic challenges the Western diet places upon them. Adaptation is a genetic process that takes time. Given that over 15% of the global population has migraines(7), it is too large of a percentage to consider it a random variation by accident. Rather, these special gene variants are connected to an advantage whose importance in modern life is non-existent. (See explanation in ‘Fighting the Migraine Epidemic: A Complete Guide’, Part IV). In evolutionary terms our modern era is a blink of an eye. As a result, genes that used to be advantageous are still passed on, even if they are currently no longer useful for the individual.
Migraines have three distinct stages:
- Prodrome – it can start from 24 hours to only minutes before the migraine and may contain one or more of the following: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness, vertigo, anxiety, heart palpitations, feeling very cold, yawning, one eye becomes very small, edema, irritability, extreme “high” and full of energy, emotional, craving salt or sweets, forgetting words and names, tingling under the skin anywhere, RLS, fight-or-flight, ataxia, coma, convulsion, muscle twitching, electrical shocks, auras, blurred vision, inability to read, inability to talk, pain in the eye area, Meniere’s disease, tinnitus, IBS, edema, changes in urination frequency, changes in urine color, increased sound volume, increased light sensitivity, increased odor sensitivity, changes in mood (to hyper or depressed or irritable), feeling exhausted and beat up, thirsty, change is the size or shape of one eye, puffy eye lid over one eye, black circle under one eye, loss of body functions on one side of the body, etc.,
- Migraine – usually lasts 48-72 hours or longer
- classic: severe pain on one side of the head—usually always the same side and same spot; steady dull pain, no throbbing and no change in intensity upon moving the head. Severe nausea, intolerance of light, sound, scent, touch, inability to focus or think. Hemiplegic migraineurs lose control over one side of their body—partial or whole. Some people may stutter, may freeze mid-sentence, forget where they are and what they are doing; may not be able to open eyes, may not be able to talk. Can mimic stroke.
- complex: may or may not have pain but has visual aura. There are over 30 different types of visual auras although only two types have been described by science.
- Postdrome – usually lasts 48+ hours; extreme exhaustion, brain fog, memory block, speech difficulties.
1 Schottstaedt, W. W. & Wolff, H. G. Studies on headache: Variations in fluid and electrolyte excretion in association with vascular headache of migraine type. A.M.A. Archives of Neurology & Psychiatry 73, 158-164, doi:10.1001/archneurpsyc.1955.02330080036011 (1955).
2 Lipton, R. B. & Pan, J. Is migraine a progressive brain disease? JAMA 291, 493-494, doi:10.1001/jama.291.4.493 (2004).
3 Fabjan, A., Zaletel, M., #x17d & van, B. Is There a Persistent Dysfunction of Neurovascular Coupling in Migraine? BioMed Research International 2015, 11, doi:10.1155/2015/574186 (2015).
4 Antonaci, F. et al. Migraine and psychiatric comorbidity: a review of clinical findings. The Journal of Headache and Pain 12, 115-125, doi:10.1007/s10194-010-0282-4 (2011).
5 Guldiken, B. et al. Migraine in Metabolic Syndrome. The Neurologist 15, 55-58, doi:10.1097/NRL.0b013e31817781b6 (2009).
6 Fallo, S. E., Mary G.;. Guts and Grease: The Diet of Native Americans, <https://www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/traditional-diets/guts-and-grease-the-diet-of-native-americans/> (2000).
7 WHO. Headache Disorders. (World Health Organization, 2012).