Migraines can run in families and are diagnosed using certain criteria.

   At least five previous episodes of headaches.
   Lasting between 4-72 hours.
   At least two of these four: one-sided pain, throbbing pain, severe pain they interfere with, is worsened by, or prohibits routine activity.
   At least one associated feature: nausea and/or vomiting, or sensitivity to light and/or sound
   A migraine may be indicated by aura, such as visual distortions or hand numbness. (about 15% to 20% of people with migraines experience these.)

Migraines are a common, chronic, incapacitating neurovascular disorder, characterized by attacks of severe headache, autonomic nervous system dysfunction, and in some patients, an aura involving neurological symptoms. 

The exact pathogenesis of migraines still needs to be determined, however, more recently the migraine pathophysiology has shifted away from the vascular theory, and now primary neural mechanisms are thought to be the cause.
More than 37 million Americans suffer from migraines; nearly five million of them experiencing at least one migraine attack per month.2 In all, an estimated 13 percent of the world’s population suffer from migraines to a greater or lesser degree.

The pain mechanisms of migraines are not completely understood, but 3 key factors have been found to play a role:  the cranial blood vessels, the trigeminal innervation of the vessels, and the reflex connections of the trigeminal system with the cranial parasympathetic outflow.  The involvement of the ophthalmic division of the trigeminal nerve and the overlap with structures innervated by C2 explains the common distribution of migraine pain over the frontal and temporal regions, as well as the involvement of parietal, occipital, and high cervical regions by referred pain mechanisms. 

The condition is more prevalent among women, with about 15-18 percent of women worldwide getting them, compared to six to seven percent of men. About 60 percent of women affected have menstrual-related migraines, meaning they tend to coincide with their menstrual cycle.


Environmental factors appear to play a significant role in triggering a migraine attack. While there are many potential triggers (and what triggers a migraine for one might not trigger it in another), the following are some of the most commonly reported:

Food and Drink: Many people experience migraines when they eat certain foods, especially: wheat, dairy, sugar, artificial preservatives or chemical additives, cured or processed meats, alcohol (especially red wine and beer), aspartame, caffeine, and MSG. Caffeine can also trigger an attack - and sometimes excess nuts

Changes in sleeping cycle: Both missing sleep and oversleeping can trigger a migraine

Hormones: Some women experience migraines before or during their periods, during pregnancy or during menopause. Others may get migraines from hormonal medications like birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy

Allergies: Including food allergies and food sensitivities, and chemical sensitivities

Stress/Post-stress: Any kind of emotional trauma can trigger a migraine, even after the stress has passed

External stimuli: Bright lights, fluorescent lights, loud noises, and strong smells (even pleasant ones) can trigger a migraine

Dehydration and/or hunger: Skipping meals or fasting are also common triggers

Physical exertion: Extremely intense exercise or even sex has been known to bring on migraines

Weather changes, and/or changes in altitude.


Searching the medical literature in PubMed.gov using the search terms “migraine” and “food allergies” will provide you with nearly 160 different studies of this kind, so do yourself a favor and don’t dismiss this potential connection. One randomized, double-blind, cross-over study published in 2010 found that a six-week long diet restriction produced a statistically significant reduction in migraines in those diagnosed with migraine without aura. Some top migraine-inducing foods identified include:1314

  •  Wheat & Gluten
  •  Cow's Milk (including yoghurt & ice cream)
  •  Grain Cereals
  •  Cane Sugar
  •  Yeast
  •  Corn
  •  Citrus
  •  Eggs
  •  Aspartame
  •  MSG

Quick, Natural Tips to
Relieve a Migraine


Preventing migraines begins by avoiding the triggers. Most often this means eating healthy whole foods (avoiding most processed ones) and managing your stress effectively. Following my eating plan seems to reduce migraines by about 80 percent, although it does take some time to work. It’s a lifestyle switch, not a quick and easy fix. Avoiding wheat, grains, sugar, and all fluids but water seems to be particularly effective.

Regular exercise may also help to keep migraines at bay by improving your response to stress along with the underlying inflammatory conditions that can trigger migraines. Ideally, those are the things to focus on so that you can reduce your migraines altogether. That said, should a migraine strike and you need immediate relief, you could try one or more of the following:

   Stimulate your body's natural painkilling ability. By putting pressure on a nerve just under your eyebrow, you can cause your pituitary gland to release painkilling endorphins immediately

   Peppermint essential oil: rub a few drops with a tablespoon of coconut oil or olive oil on the temples and back of the neck

   Chiropractic Care: has been proven to be helpful in reducing the severity and frequency of migraines. 

   Green apple scent. One study found that the scent reduced the pain of migraines. This may also work with other scents that you enjoy so consulting with an aromatherapist may be beneficial

   Hot/Cold compress: Alternate hot and cold compresses on your forehead and/or behind your neck.

   Massage your ears, ear lobes, and the "crown" of your head -- the ring of muscles that circle your head where a crown would sit

Put Your Body in Good Hands.