Cautiously Optimistic

Eliminating triggers, particularly food triggers, is the main headache treatment that all the naturopaths I’ve seen use. While effective for some, only about 25% of people with migraine have food triggers. In recent years, certain supplements — magnesium, riboflavin, coenzyme Q10 and feverfew — have also been added to the naturopaths’ arsenal.

To my immense relief, the naturopath I saw yesterday wanted to move beyond the obvious (and mostly ineffective for me) treatments. The first step is to equalize my elimination pathways. That’s all I’m going to tell you about my bowels, but I think you get the picture.

While I’m glad she wants to treat different pathways (a word she used at least 20 times), I am a little skeptical about her knowledge of and beliefs about migraine. She always referred to a problem, like toxicity in the body or postural alignment, as causing headaches. The cause of headaches is a neurological malfunction, everything else is a trigger.

Foods, stress, weather, toxic blood can all trigger a particular headache, but they are not the underlying cause of the headaches. If they were, it follows that anyone with one of these issues would have headache, particularly migraine in this case. But only people with a neurological predisposition to headaches will actually have them.

But since she’s working on other areas, I’m not too concerned about this. I’m also more lenient because the friend who recommended her will only see excellent health care providers. And this friend’s recommendations, from acupuncturist to general practitioner to restaurants, are always spot on.

Before I tell you about my treatment, a disclaimer is required. I’m not recommending that you take any particular product, nor do I work for any of these companies. Infomercials and the like are evil and do nothing to persuade me. The more hyped up a claim is, the more skeptical I am of it. But I’m willing to try anything that doesn’t harm my body.

My treatment includes a “greens drink,” which are said to “contain grasses, sprouted grains and green vegetables which infuse your body with easily absorbed vitamins, minerals and amino acids.” The website of the drink I’m using, Greens First, claims that “one serving of Greens First contains more phytonutrients (health promoting chemicals in plants) than ten servings of fruits and vegetables and much more!” In any case, it tastes good and doesn’t appear to be harmful so I’m trying it.

Next I’m taking a probiotic called “Fortefy.” The best description I can find of it is on a website selling the stuff: “. . . contains elite strains of friendly Lactobacillus and bifidobacterium. . . . Proprietary blend of 20 billion organisms: lactobacillus acidophillus, bifidobacterium bifidum, lactobacillus salivarius.” Funny how the description doesn’t explain the product.

The other two things are ones that I’ve taken off and on before, magnesium and fish oil. If you’re interested, I recommend Pharmax fish oil with orange essential oils. It is good mixed in a smoothie and doesn’t make you burp fish oil. Sorry to break my promises by recommending a specific product and also mentioning digestive functions, but the orange makes this oil far superior to any others I’ve tried.

These are on top of Migratrol and Gentiana Complex, which my acupuncturist (who is also a licensed Chinese herbal medicine practitioner) prescribed on Monday. Migratrol is self-explanatory, the connection between gentiana and headache is more complicated. The quick explanation is that a blockage of chi (energy) at the liver contributes to headaches.

The naturopath also recommended having my posture checked and having craniosacral therapy. I’ll probably check these out in the future, but I’m going to focus on acupuncture for now. If I’m shelling out lots of money for all this bodywork, I want to be able to figure out which ones are worth the cost.

I’ve gotten to the point that I know so much about headache and it’s characterization in western medicine that it’s easy for me to understand it in those terms. Even if I don’t understand something I know how to learn about it and which resources are accurate. With “alternative” medicine, I’ve been plunged into the deep end without knowing how to swim. Where are my water wings?