Saturday, January 19, 2013

How I cured my migraines

Image from
Let me start by saying that the title of this post is meant to be tongue-in-cheek. I get irritated by posts where someone has 'discovered THE cure' to whatever ailment it is that afflicts them or knows the right (and usually only) way to run/strength train/rest/stretch.

As I cast that stone, I also must admit my guilt. In fact, one of my most popular blog posts is entitled 'How to Fix Piriformis Syndrome'. I'll assume others' intent to be similar to mine--to contribute to a wider body of knowledge accessible to those who might be suffering from something similar in order to provide alternate sources of information. In fact, I have found some of my best information about running injuries from the evidence-based medicine chest called Google and feel a responsibility to give back. I leave the responsibility to you, fine readers, to evaluate whether it's crap or not.

With that intro--some of you may recall I started having frequent migraines back in October. To put this in perspective, I have become accustomed to having migraines 1-4 times per year since having my first one in 2004. Between October 5th and Dec 25th, 2012, I had 19 migraines. At one point, I was getting them 4-5 times per week and sometimes twice per day!

I had my last migraine on Christmas morning. Merry Christmas to me! I am now at the point where I don't worry daily about when I'll start to get that hole in my vision that indicates I need to brace myself for a light show and some fetal-position quiet time.

I have always done a brilliant job of tracking my migraines but, after nine years, have yet to find a slam-dunk trigger. I've tried to correlate everything from food, alcohol, stress, meds, sleep, etc., with no luck. Because the increased frequency of my migraines was interfering with my life in a pretty big way (I was even starting to get migraines during runs), I decided to look for 'natural' cures. My doctor suggested this, actually, but also told me that there are drugs that he could prescribe to decrease the frequency if need be.

In my internet research, I found information and scientific studies that suggested each of the following supplements might help decrease migraine frequency:

Magnesium (500 mg)
5-HTP (400 mg taken before bed)
Feverfew (200 mg, combined with the butterbur)
Butterbur (75 mg, combined with the feverfew)
Vitamin B-2 (400 mg)

I am taking all of those in the listed doses. In addition, I started taking the following because they had pretty labels and I was already taking a bunch of pills, so thought it wouldn't hurt to add more.

Oceans 3 Healthy hormones (combo of Omegas and herbs, sold by Garden of Life)
Potassium (99mg)
Super B-Complex (has a bunch of Bs + C)

I also take iron on a daily basis, but have been doing that for many years now. I have been taking this whole combo package of supplements every day since mid-November. I started taking some of them in October but didn't go in whole hog until November. Everything I read on taking supplements for migraines suggested a 1-2 month ramp up time for them to start working and, by the end of December, I was migraine free.

Did the supplements cure me? Maybe. I can come up with a whole host of other explanations for why my migraines have become less frequent including having less stress in my life (e.g. leaving old and adjusting to new job) and stopping hormone supplements (started in August/stopped in October). In the past month, I also started wearing cheater glasses when at my computer, recognizing that I am becoming very slightly farsighted and wondering if eyestrain might play a role.

I have thought about systematically removing some of the supplements I'm taking from my daily regimen in order to see whether the migraines return. My science brain thinks this might be a cool way to narrow the supplement playing field. But, my intuition tells me to keep on keeping on. I must admit that I hate taking pills (and it's expensive!), but my energy levels have been through the roof too. Why change a good thing?

The answer to what has cured my crazy migraines is likely a combination of all of the above. That's the thing about being your own test subject, you don't have the luxury of having a control. Despite not having answers, I will absolutely take this new supplement-laden reality over the migraines any day of the week!

There you have it, interwebs. Do with this information what you will and may we all enjoy a migraine-free night!


  1. First off, I'm truly glad to hear that you are finally enjoying a migraine-free days, Jaymee! It's been months though, did you continue with these regimen? How are you and your migraine right now? I can only wish for the best. Now back to your post. It can be the medication you take, the change in lifestyle, or the combination of both, that you finally ease off from the migraine. Whatever that might be, I thank you for sharing your story with us. Who knows just who would read your blog and find it as an oasis, right? Congratulations!
    Michael @ Palm Beach Neurological Center

    1. Thanks for your comment, Michael. I am migraine free at this point--9 months later. I think my last migraine was in March 2013. At this point my suspicion is that the added estrogen was the main culprit for triggering my migraines and once I stopped taking it, my body adjusted. I have stopped taking some of the vitamins and minerals I listed in this post, but continue taking iron, Magnesium, Vit D, and Potassium.

  2. It’s great that you were able to prevent the migraine from coming back, Jaymee. Going through it more than twice a week must've been really horrible! Anyway, have you ever figured out what triggered it in the first place? It’s just puzzling that it seemed to get more pronounced as years went by. Take care!

    Agnes Lawson @ Pain Relief Experts

    1. Hi Agnes, Thanks for your question. The migraines were caused by taking combo BCPs. I started getting them 1-2 months after starting the pills and my migraines went away 1-2 months after stopping. I have not had one since (so in roughly 2 years). I think this is slam dunk cause and effect, but my doc didn't think so. She said there was no connection. She also failed to note my history of ocular migraines when she put me on these pills which put me at an increased risk for stroke. I found that out by coincidence and that's what made me stop taking the pills. The doc basically said, "oopsie" when I mentioned this to her. I don't go to her anymore.