Hormones and Migraines

January 29, 2024

Hormones and Migraines

Dr. Nicole Sundene

Female Hormone Specialist

Hormonal Migraine Headaches are often caused by female hormone imbalance, which is why women suffer more often with headaches than men, especially migraines.

Mindy had a history of debilitating migraine headaches. She had so many headaches that were interfering with her work that her employer threatened to put her on a leave of absence. She worked in sales and was expected to be “ON” for twelve hours straight per day including Zoom sales presentations. Her employer said if she missed any more Zoom presentations she would be suspended. 

That is when a friend recommended she try a different approach.

Mindy was exhausted, panicking, and extremely frustrated by her severe headaches that caused visual disturbances, nausea and vomiting. She was not sure what else there was for me to do, because she had already conducted over ten thousand dollars in testing that was not covered by insurance after going from specialist to specialist for five years to try to solve her chronic pain from migraine headaches. She had been to her primary care doctor, who sent her to a Neurologist, who conducted a sleep study and a bunch of tests that were all normal. She was then sent to an Orthopedist, Physical Therapist, Massage Therapist, and even a Psychiatrist for her Migraine headaches. 

Nothing any doctor tried or tested her for ever really helped her migraine headaches. Things would seem to stop the migraines at first, but then they would just come roaring right back.

I explained to her that the symptoms would continue to come back until we “listened” to them and understood the cause of the migraines. 

She asked me if I thought she was going crazy and that is why they sent her to a Psychiatrist. I assured her that I believed she had real symptoms, and that I would test her hormones and nutrition related to headaches.  

We began my simple three step system to address migraines naturally and within a few months she reported that she had no more migraines. Still several years later she has remained completely headache free! 

After conducting her annual check up she was still in shock at how well she was doing, and how completely different life was without constant headaches. 

Let me walk you through how I approach migraine headaches in women much differently than the average headache doctor, pain specialist, or Neurologist.

Step 1: Identify Hormone Imbalance by running comprehensive Hormone Labs

Step 2: Identify and Remove Food and Environmental Triggers

Step 3: Reduce Inflammation with Nutrition and Herbal Medicine

Oftentimes with "Hormonal Migraines" the headache does not start with stress or tension but instead comes on suddenly when female hormones shift in the second half of the cycle or the "PMS Window."

By using a Period Tracker app to note symptoms, it is easy for women to determine if the headache is being triggered by imbalanced hormones or rapidly fluctuating hormones which usually happen between days 18-28 of the cycle, as well as during the menstrual period, or days 1-5.

What once seemed unpredictable may become easier to predict using a period tracker app! With this information we can determine when women will be able to be the most active with work and fitness, or alternatively when women should plan to schedule less activities during their menstrual migraine window.

Research studies show that plummeting estrogen is oftentimes the culprit behind menstrual migraines.

Some women report "Ovulation Migraines" and become incapacitated the second their ovulation hormones are released. This is much less common. The most common types of migraines I find in my Holistic Women's Health practice are occurring in the PMS window from estrogen dominance.

Along with female hormone imbalance triggering headaches we also must identify individualized diet and environmental triggers as well as work to reduce inflammation. With anti-inflammatory nutrition and herbs the cells of the body become less prone to creating inflammation aka pain.

Right sided headaches and migraines are especially associated with hormone imbalance, according to recent hormone research.

So instead of popping an Excedrin Migraine or taking a shot of Imitrex for migraine medicine, let me walk you through the process of how I help my migraine patients without medication understand their headache trigger symptoms at their "Root Cause."

My patients with headaches and migraines should be tested for Food Sensitivities using a trusted reputable test by a Naturopathic Doctor. Occasionally we must pair a Food Elimination Diet along with avoiding the laundry list below of potentially aggravating foods that cause migraines. While not every food on the below list will trigger a migraine it is important to first eliminate suspicious foods that are positive with testing as well as the ones that are the most notorious for causing headaches.

While many of my patients do not want to track their food daily, I do advise keeping a diet diary and writing down the foods consumed the two to three days prior to the migraine. This can also help your Naturopathic Doctor understand the patterns and triggers behind your headaches.

Studies show that ingestion of the following foods or substances may induce migraine headaches in susceptible individuals. Working with a skilled holistic migraine headache doctor will help you through this identification process much faster, as many women feel overwhelmed when they look at this long list of foods that may cause migraine headaches.

I highly recommend working with a skilled Naturopathic Doctor such as myself to help identify the different food, environmental, and hormone triggers for each individual patient, as unfortunately not every trigger like perfume or a certain food will be the same for each patient from my years of experience successfully treating women with migraines naturally.

MIGRAINE TRIGGER FOODS:

Fruit:
Apple, banana, grapes, melon, peach, strawberries, avocado, citrus fruits, pineapple, raspberry, red plum

Vegetables:
Carrots, corn, onion, tomato, potato, cabbage, eggplant, pickles, spinach

Beans/Legumes:
Black eyed peas, peanuts, pinto beans, soy, broad beans

Nuts:
All types

Grains:
Oats, rice, rye, wheat, gluten, barley

Animal Products:
Beef, cheese, chicken, cow’s milk, egg, fish, goat’s milk, pork, hot dogs, all processed meats
Aged Meats, canned or smoked fish, cheese, beef liver, dry pork & beef sausage, egg white, pickled herring, sour cream

Beverages:
Coffee, tea, wine (esp. red), beer, and other types of alcohol

Additives:
Benzoic acid, MSG, carrageenan, food coloring (especially red and yellow) tartrazine

Miscellaneous:
Sugar, chocolate, fried foods, garlic, yeast, yeast extracts, fermented foods, sauerkraut, soy sauce, vinegar

While some headache triggers will need to be avoided permanently, oftentimes my migraine patients find as they improve and experience less migraine headaches they can begin to eat some of the foods that they once reacted to moderately. While some of my migraine patients have headaches so severe they refuse to even bother testing the offensive food and just never eat it again.

Instead of trying to eliminate this entire list of potentially healthy foods, I recommend working with me and using a reputable Naturopathic approved Food Sensitivity Testing company to guide us through the process while we test for triggers, inflammation, hormone imbalance and nutrient deficiencies like low magnesium.

Need my help getting to the "Root Cause" of your Migraine headaches, testing and treating hormone imbalance, improving nutrition, and understanding headache triggers? Simply visit my SCHEDULE page to treat yourself to a Naturopathic visit. I would be happy to help!

Dr. Nicole Sundene, NMD

(480) 837-0900

Dr. Sundene is a Naturopathic Doctor in Scottsdale, Arizona, and is considered a Female Hormone Expert  in Women's Health and Bioidentical Hormones. She specializes in Holistic Women's Health for MenopauseThyroid, Hashimotos, PMS, PerimenopauseAutoimmune, Postpartum, Chronic Fatigue, Depression, Anxiety, Food Allergies, Digestion, Dermatology , Acne, Psoriasis, Eczema and Adrenal Hormonal Conditions. In 1999 she began working for a Hormone Doctor prior to starting Naturopathic Medical School. With over 22 years of experience in both Prescription and Natural women's health and hormones she presents to women the best integrated health solutions for their Chronic Disease. She has been an Herbalist for over 27 years and enjoys teaching women how to use herbs to balance their hormones, nutrition and optimize their health. Dr. Sundene relies on blood testing for her hormone metrics. The hormone testing is covered per the patient's insurance plan and conducted at certain points in the woman's menstrual cycle. To learn more about Hormone Testing for Women Visit: Bioidentical Hormones. Follow Dr. Sundene on InstagramTwitter and Facebook for more tips on Women's Health, Female Hormones and Naturopathy!

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