Welcome back, ladies and gentlemen, to another mind-expanding edition of Weekly Well-Being. I hope you are enjoying the summer...this is the best time of the year (in my opinion). Today I want to talk about Migraine headaches and give you some insight into why and how it affects so many people. But first...

Updating the leg

Last weekend during the special edition of Weekly Well-Being, I wrote about my leg which had become infected in some fashion, either due to a spider bite or staph bacteria. I talked about how, rather than running to the drug store or Primary Care, I thought it made more sense to allow my body to heal on its own. Thus, I called my Upper Cervical doctor, made sure my body was functioning properly, and left it alone. Then, I put some all natural Australian Tea Tree oil on it after washing the wound really well with peroxide. (Thanks to Dr. Eddie Weller for the all natural remedies).

While I will certainly let you know if anything changes, I'm thus far happy to report that I'm pain free and that the wound is healing quite nicely. It changed colors a couple of times before settling back to my normal skin tone.

Condition of the Week: Migraines

Anyone who has ever had a migraine knows that it is a little bit different of a beast than your typical headache. Migraines carry with them several other symptoms that other types of headaches may not feature, including sensitivity to light and sound, loss of appetite, difficult with speech and thought, nausea, vomiting, numbness, tingling, and a feeling that the symptoms last forever.

Migraines are triggered by many things that are involved in every day life, such as the weather, loud noises, bright lights, missing a meal, hormonal changes, neck movements, crying, and (of course) stress. Often times the migraine, once triggered, lasts for days on end. The migraines, thus, cause you to alter how you live. Heaven forbid you get caught up at work and miss a meal. You may not be able to make it to little Suzy's band concert...the sounds are too loud. Little Timmy's Friday night football game might be out of the question, too...the lights are too bright. Thanks, but no thanks for the concert tickets you gave me. Oh, that time of the month, becomes an even worse time of the month. Plus, it rained today so it's going to be "one of those days."

You tend to dictate your life around the Migraines...

So, let's briefly discuss what actually happens during a migraine attack. First, the vessels that supply blood and oxygen to the brain become narrower, but that decreases the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain...so then the vessels expand and become wider. When that occurs, nerve fibers that attach to the vessels and tell them what to do (i.e. narrower or wider) release chemicals. This is where the sensation of pain comes from...from the nerves. Numbness, tingling, sensitivity to light and sound...these are also sensations that come from nerves.

The other symptoms come from the increased activity of the sympathetic nerve system. When we are in pain, the body recognizes it as an acute stress, which prompts the sympathetic "fight or flight" response to kick in. Your body then prioritizes what is important to get you out of the acute stress situation. Your brain focuses its activity, your digestive system stops the stomach from passing food into the intestines, and everything from heart rate to lung function gets you ready to either fight or flight. Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea occur due to the digestive stasis, as does loss of appetite (surely not going to be very hungry if you digestive system slows down). Difficulty communicating and thinking occurs due to the brain's focus on getting you out of the acute scenario.

Because of the increased sympathetic nervous system response and the effect it has on the digestive system, the medications often are not effective. You see, many of the meds for migraines target a neurotransmitter (nerve signal carrier) called serotonin, 90% of which is found in the intestines. Well, you can obviously see how that is a problem when the digestive system isn't allowing the stomach to pass anything to the intestines. The oral drugs aren't even able to reach the warehouse where most of what it is trying to affect is stored. Not to mention that the side effects are ridiculous. If you look at the side effects for Imitrex, for instance, you'll notice that, by taking it, you can actually get all the same symptoms associated with migraines as a by-product!

Something has to give, because migraines are affecting nearly 20% of the world's population. Over a billion people deal with! They affect a quarter of all women. 50% get their first attack by age 20...98% by age 50. Even 10% of all kids get migraines. They cost our economy hundreds of millions of dollars per year due to missed work days and decreased production and they are on the rise (in prevalence)...up 60% since the 1980's...

The methods used to combat migraines obviously aren't getting the job done, particularly when you consider that 8/10 people with chronic migraines reportedly will have a stroke. In fact, 45% of all strokes that occur in those under 50 years old are due to migraine attacks.

Again...something has to give...

The latest research is offering a ray of hope (depending on how you look at it). Dr. Seymour Diamond of the Diamond Headache Clinic (at the Chicago Medical Center), who also is the Executive Director of the National Headache Foundation, has announced that a malfunctioning brainstem is the underlying cause of migraines.

So, the lesson to be learned is that the brainstem subluxation has been identified, essentially, as the underlying cause of migraines BY THE MEDICAL PROFESSION. Upper Cervical doctors have the means to restore the brainstem to normal function and eliminate the true cause of migraines.

Thinking good things for you, as always,

Dr. Chad