July 12, 2023

A Functional Approach to Migraines

Migraines … the first word that comes to my mind is OUCH!  If you have ever had a migraine you know what it is and what it feels like – intense pain, throbbing, stabbing and achiness in your head, sometimes right behind your eyes.  Light makes it worse, food makes it worse, some people experience nausea and vomiting from a migraine.  Migraines can knock you down for hours to days stopping you from enjoying your family, friends and even going to work.  

What causes a migraine? 

While the exact cause is unknown, migraine attacks are linked to nutrient deficiencies like magnesium, b vitamins, COQ10, alpha lipoic acid and vitamin D.  Migraine can also be linked to impaired detoxification within the body and lifestyle factors.  1

Some foods that may trigger a migraine:

  • Chocolate
  • Caffeine
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • MSG
  • Fermented foods I.e pickles, sauerkraut, kimchi
  • Aged meats and cheeses

If you suffer from migraines, doing a trial of removing these foods could be helpful.   

Typical migraine treatment

There are many medications on the market that are used to prevent migraines from happening or to abort them once they have started.  The thing is, all these medications come with side effects.  For example, triptans which are used as abortive medication for migraines are contraindicated in those with a history of high blood pressure, angina, stroke, diabetes, peripheral vascular disease, or heart disease.2 The funny thing is, the contraindicated conditions associated with triptans are contributing to the cause of the migraines in the first place.  

Functional approach to migraine treatment

  • Address lifestyle factors:  Diet, exercise, sleep, and stress management.  As a functional provider, I work to help my patients make changes to their diet, exercise, sleep and stress to optimize their cellular communication and function.  
  • Address INFLAMMATION:  I listed many nutrient deficiencies that can be contributory to migraine development.  Without these nutrients our cells do not work the way they should leading to increased inflammation in the body.  As a functional provider, I look for nutrient imbalances and deficiencies as well as toxin overloads and treat accordingly.
  • Optimize gut function:  Aim to eat whole foods full of color and phytonutrient but also, and maybe more important, is optimizing your digestion, absorption and bacterial composition in the GI tract.  Decreasing inflammation in the GI tract will decrease inflammation in the brain I.e Gut-brain connection.  There is a higher prevelance of headache in those with reflux, diarrhea, constipation and nausea 3nd a higher prevelance of migraine in those with IBS. 4

If you suffer from migraines and are looking to get the cause schedule a FREE consultation with me today.  If you would like to stay up to date with news and articles subscribe here. 


  1. A.H. Aamodt, L.J. Stovner, K. Hagen, J.A. Zwart. Comorbidity of headache and gastrointestinal complaints. The head-hunt study. Cephalalgia, 28 (2) (2008), pp. 144-151
  2. F.Y. Chang, C.L. Lu. Irritable bowel syndrome and migraine: Bystanders or partners? J. Neurogastroenterol Motil., 19 (3) (2013), pp. 301-311
  3. National Headache Foundation.  Facts About Triptans. https://headaches.org/facts-about-triptans/
  4. Nattagh-Eshtivani E, Sani MA, Dahri M, Ghalichi F, Ghavami A, Arjang P, Tarighat-Esfanjani A. The role of nutrients in the pathogenesis and treatment of migraine headaches: Review. Biomed Pharmacother. 2018 Jun;102:317-325. doi: 10.1016/j.biopha.2018.03.059. Epub 2018 Mar 22. PMID: 29571016.
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