Anywhere from 2 to 12.5 million people are experiencing a migraine at this very instant. Sounds unbelievable? It’s true!
Migraine sufferers live in all corners of world, but are represented disproportionately by women. Nearly 75% of chronic migraine sufferers are women!
Why does this ratio not surprise me?
A woman’s hormones are designed to undulate throughout the month and respond to the changing demands of pregnancy and menopause. Like a grandfather clock, they are all set to be working together and tuned “just-so”. An outside factor that pushes one system out of balance can throw the whole train off the tracks (think a lifetime of exposure to toxins in our food, water and air or a parasite infestation).
A hidden hormone imbalance can make you more likely to experience migraines and with the undulating hormone cycles in a woman’s month and lifetime – we seem to suffer with out of whack hormones more frequently. (for a geeky chemical engineering analogy on this subject, feel free to visit me at home - otherwise please continue...)
As you probably know, the little messengers we call hormones are produced and secreted by various endocrine glands within our bodies to regulate a large number of bodily functions and organs.
Hormones secreted by the pituitary, the thyroid, the adrenal glands, the pancreas and the sex glands may all result in migraines if not present in the just-right Goldilocks amounts in the body.
Let’s look at these one at a time…
- The pituitary, also called the master gland, secretes many of the hormones that control other glands. Some of the pituitary hormones that result in headaches when off balance include the follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), the luteinizing hormone (LH), the adrenal cortex stimulating hormone (ACTH), the thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) and Prolactin. During migraine attacks, many women have a dysfunction in their prolactin-regulating systems, resulting in the production of too much prolactin.
- Thyroid hormones are critical to the functioning of nearly every organ of your body. The thyroid hormones that result in migraines include triiodothyronine, thyroxin and calcitonin. If these hormones are deficient or overproduced within the body, you may be more sensitive to migraines. Hypothyroidism or reduced thyroid hormone production is often correlated with chronic migraines, so be sure to have your thyroid hormones checked and be sure you understand the difference between a reference range and an optimal range for the results (yes, I am asking you to be an informed consumer of healthcare).
- The adrenal glands synthesize 3 categories of hormones, including stress hormones (such as adrenaline and noradrenaline), glucocorticoids (such as cortisol and cortisone) and androgens that are converted into sex hormones in other organs. Adrenal dysfunction is often linked with migraines and quite easy to identify with an at-home saliva test (not sure how to do this? I have more details on that over here...).
- The pancreas plays a major role in maintaining glucose levels. It secretes hormones such as insulin, glucagon and somatostatin. When you skip meals or consume alcohol, you stress the pancreas (and in turn the adrenals) and set of a cascade of hormonal response that can contribute to migraines.
- Imbalance in the sex hormones progesterone and estrogen is a common migraine trigger for women. Hormonal changes in estrogen and progesterone have also been linked to insomnia – which in itself can be a risk factor for migraines! Migraines are most commonly associated with premenstrual syndrome (PMS), pregnancy and menopause. Also note that long term use of opioid pain medications have been associated with depleted testosterone, so that is something to check.
Now that you know that hormonal imbalance can trigger your migraines, you probably want to know how to support hormone balance.
Natural ways to identify and correct hormone imbalances that contribute to migraine
If you suffer from migraines due to hormonal imbalance, there are certain natural ways in which you can treat your migraine. These are:
- Talk to your migraine specialist: Have your migraine specialist take a closer look at your estrogen/progesterone balance, as well as your cortisol levels. Based on these levels you can then decide on a clear self-treatment plan.
- Follow the right diet: Eliminate processed foods, sugar, caffeine and alcohol for about 90 days, and you will very likely notice a dramatic change in your migraine symptoms.
- Consider taking nutritional supplements: Once you have a better understanding of your hidden causes in your hormone & digestive systems, you can take supplements such as magnesium or bio-available B vitamins, to eliminate nutritional deficiencies that are causing your migraines.
- Avoid stress when you are most sensitive to it: Mental/emotional stress can directly cause your migraine headaches. Find ways of proactively coping with PMS-related mood fluctuations. You can do this by yoga, meditation, and exercise.
- Assess RX list: Investigate the known side-effects of any medications that you are taking and talk to your doctor if you think they are contributing to hormone imbalances.
If you want to know whether you suffer from a hormonal imbalance that could be causing your headaches, try the Hormone Balance “Quick Check” at www.engineeringradiance.com/freegift and take the first step to help you understand and deal with your migraines better.