How I Got Rid of Migraine Headaches

Photo by Aarón Blanco Tejedor on Unsplash

Although I didn’t know what the sharp pain in my head meant, I had my first migraine headache when I was 12. My parent’s and I were starting a day trip and that pain scared me — I thought I might die from it, it was that bad. As was my wont in those people pleasing just about teenage years, I didn’t want to disappoint my parents by telling them something was seriously wrong and maybe ruining the day. I crawled into the back seat and slept until we got to our destination. By that time the pain had subsided enough I could manage the meal and the rest of the day.

That headache was the first of I don’t know how many. Soon they were coming once or twice a month. Obviously my parents knew something was wrong and we began the round of doctors that we go through when looking for help with an unexplained health issue.

At first the cause was thought to be the florescent lights in the classrooms of the new high school I went to when I was probably thirteen or fourteen. And while florescent lights of all types can exacerbate an existing headache or cause one, those pains weren’t quite migraines.

Life went on and so, for the most part, did the migraines. Every now and again they would disappear for a month or so, but they always came back. I got married, had kids, and various jobs. It soon became obvious that I couldn’t expect to stay employed in the usual way because I was off work two or three days every couple of weeks. Until my 30s, when I got sober, the headache often lasted three or four days a week. Sobriety and the emotional work I did through the 12 Steps reduced them to two days, although it was during early sobriety that I was also hospitalized for three days with a humongous migraine.

Life continued. Sometimes I had insurance and could afford migraine drugs, other times, without insurance the medicine that worked for me cost over $200 for 9 tablets. I learned to do without. I experimented with alternative medicine and I looked at the periods of migraine-free living for hints. The longest period I was free from them was the five months I sailed on small boats in the South Pacific. I’ve never understood why I was headache free. I don’t think stress or the lack of it was the reason because stress was far from absent. Perhaps it was just the change. It took two or three months after returning for the headaches to drift back into my life.

Major diet change

Another part of my story is I smoked for years and years. Not surprisingly I developed some COPD which eventually caused me to quit smoking (hardest thing I’ve ever done). Smoke free, the headaches continued. Although I gained some of my breath back from quitting, not all of it.

A friend who studies nutrition, Law of Attraction, and grows her own food began to suggest I drop wheat from my diet and see if it made any difference to my breathing. I resisted; she kept after me. Eventually I agreed to drop wheat for 10 days, mostly to get her off my back. To my chagrin within three days I felt my breathing ease. These days I’m glad she was right.

That led to the wheat and gluten free Paleo diet which I mostly loved. I discovered Mark’s Daily Apple was an excellent source of Paleo information. I started feeling good and dropped 10 or 15 pounds. And the headaches continued. By this time I was way past menopause, the time when doctors said I’d undoubtedly stop having migraines. That was not true for me.

Rumor of migraine relief through Keto eating

Somehow I picked up the idea that switching to true Keto eating might also relieve my migraines. Google keto and migraine and you’ll get all sorts of information including Ketosis and Migraine. Switching from Paleo to Keto is almost easy. First I allowed myself some 30 carbs a day which helped, and then lowered my intake to 20 carbs a day. That mostly did the trick. I’ve been relatively migraine free for almost two years. I’ve lost more weight too which is a bonus.

When I say ‘relatively free’ I mean every four-six weeks I’ll get some of the symptoms of a migraine coming on. A half a tablet of the ‘triptan’ I’ve been prescribed, which insurance let’s me buy for under $5 for 9 tablets, usually does the trick. Since switching to Keto I’ve not had a head banging typical migraine. That’s been life changing for me in lots of good ways.

Will Keto eating relieve your migraines? Of course, I have no idea. Apparently going Keto works for many migraine sufferers, but certainly not all. I do get along well on a 20 carbs or fewer a day. I gather this also is not true for everyone. I’ve had one doctor tell me I could only stay on the Keto way of eating for a few months. Another has told me I can stay on it as long as I like. Go figure. I’ll take the second opinion. There’s even a vegetarian Keto way of eating that I’m beginning to explore.

If you’re curious it certainly wouldn’t hurt to talk with your doctor, but in my opinion the real test will come only if you try a Keto plan. I like Dr. Berry and Dr. Berg on YouTube for solid information about Keto eating. They certainly aren’t the only sources of good information.

Got migraines? Keto might work for you. I was and am pleasantly surprised.

Live well,

Writer, life and writing coach, book ghostwriter, Grandmother, Buddhist. Liberal who listens to the other side, political activist-www.DemocracyCounts.org

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