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Getting Considerably More Migraines Since Going Primal

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  • Getting Considerably More Migraines Since Going Primal

    I am a long time migraine sufferer. During the last 6 months of 2009, I was losing 1-2 days per month to debilitating migraines (staying in bed throwing up all day with the pounding headache...not fun). At New Year's I gave up gluten and was thrilled that I didn't have any serious migraines for the next 3 months--and barely even any mild ones. I thought, "Eureka! I've found the cure!"

    In March I started following the PB WOE and now I am getting migraines about once per week again. Any ideas on what could be causing this?

    I know that since I am eating only 70gm carbs per day, that source of serotonin release (from eating carbs) is pretty much gone. Serotonin fluctuations are a source of migraines. The trickle down effect of having less serotonin release is that I am now more susceptible to stress and find myself getting grumpy/irritable more often than I did when eating more carbs. Also, I sometimes don't sleep very well now. Both sleep disruption and stress are migraine triggers.

    Are any of you out there migraine sufferers and have you noticed any changes after going primal? I had already given up gluten so primal-ism isn't responsible for that particular change.

    Any suggestions/ideas welcome of what I can do to beat back these nasty things. Other than the headaches, I have been slowly losing weight on PB and I have another 15 lbs or so to go. I want to make this WOE work for the long term.

    Oh, I take St. John's Wort most days and one L-Tryptophan capsule before bed. Back when I used to take SSRI's for depression I used to get a lot of migraines (they act on serotonin).
    I'm a quitter...but I'm back now.

  • #2
    Originally posted by Canarygirl View Post
    Are any of you out there migraine sufferers and have you noticed any changes after going primal? I had already given up gluten so primal-ism isn't responsible for that particular change.
    Hmm. For me, the migraines went away when I stopped eating grains and gluten (as it turns out I'm allergic to both), so I'm not sure what to tell you. Are you having any contact with gluten-free but grain-containing products?
    Primal eating in a nutshell: If you are hungry, eat Primal food until you are satisfied (not stuffed). Then stop. Wait until you're hungry again. Repeat.

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    • #3
      Griff, that's a good question. In January & February I was going kind of hog wild on gluten free baked goods with various types of GF flours in them. My "digestion" was not good at all but no migraines. Now things are much happier in the digestive tract so that indicates that I do better without grains. Here's something I just thought of...my grain consumption is WAY down since PB, but last night my husband made corn on the cob--first of the season (it's one of his favorites). I had a cob as part of my daily carb allotment. Hmmm...then I didn't sleep well, then today I was grumpy/stressed, and late this afternoon a migraine! I am thinking as I am typing because your question has possibly put things into place for me. I remember about 4 years ago I was tested by my naturopath for food allergies and I came back positive (allergic) to gluten, soy, eggs, and corn. Gluten was the strongest reaction, so that's the one I focused on quitting. But maybe now that I've cut back so much on soy and corn, maybe I've lost my tolerance to these things I'm allergic too.

      There's been one other time since I started PB that I ate corn, and that was movie popcorn. It triggered intense cravings for sugar and I felt really grumpy and stressed the rest of that day.

      The CORN CONNECTION! Could be it.
      I'm a quitter...but I'm back now.

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      • #4
        I don't know if this will be any help but, I cannot have peppers. A few snippets in a mixed food is OK but not an outright feed of peppers. I got a migraine canning salsa once. The hotter the pepper, the worse the headache. Have you tried eliminating some common triggers?

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        • #5
          Tooround, I think you posted as I was responding to Griff. I am going to try quitting all grains instead of just gluten containing grains. I had cut way back on them but now it will be none. I had a half orange with my lunch and for some people oranges are a migraine trigger. I haven't noticed that trigger before but I'll pay close attention now. Might be a good time for me to start a food/migraine journal.
          I'm a quitter...but I'm back now.

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          • #6
            Majority of my migraines have been stress related. I wasn't really able to recognize it at the time (hey, I don't feel stressed!) but later, looking back, I could see that I was in a sh*t storm. Hence, the migraine.
            Because if you didn't know, of that is life made: only of moments; Don't lose the now.
            ~Borges

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            • #7
              I know that Mark doesn't seem to think that water is a big deal. HOWEVER, it could be that you're dehyrdrated a bit. For some reason you're not as thirsty as normal... I would add a we bit more water... see how that goes... good luck... My headaches are tension related... it took a dental fix to take care of those... AMAZING!

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              • #8
                The hydration thing is a good one too. I'm not as thirsty as most people and in the past, if I got dehydrated it meant a migraine for sure. Yes, this is a real possibility. I am trying to drink more because I know that the low carb diet causes water loss. But chances are I am not doing as well as I should. Thanks for the reminder.
                I'm a quitter...but I'm back now.

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                • #9
                  Corn is a grain, actually...not a vegetable. I'd say you want to stick with fruits and veggies for your daily carb allotment, and nothing else!

                  As a fellow migraine sympathizer (one week every 3/4 months, totally incapaciated, puking, the whole 9 yards), I sympathize. I am hoping changing up my diet will help!

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                  • #10
                    Did you take St John's Wort and/or L-Tryptophan before you did PB? Just asking because St. John's Wort triggered migraines for me. Also, once I tried gingko biloba and same thing...headache.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Canarygirl View Post
                      In March I started following the PB WOE and now I am getting migraines about once per week again. Any ideas on what could be causing this?

                      I know that since I am eating only 70gm carbs per day, that source of serotonin release (from eating carbs) is pretty much gone. Serotonin fluctuations are a source of migraines.
                      Based on the increase in migraine activity *and* the sleep stuff that's coming up, I'd consider a few things:

                      • magnesium..... I have to supplement it. It's possible that you were getting most of your magnesium from grains and/or beans and that not eating them has reduced your magnesium intake to levels less than optimal for you.

                      • vitamin C - how's your produce intake?

                      • sufficient potassium from produce to balance the sodium from the extra meat consumption: potassium intake estimates in an evolutionary environment range from 5mg K:1mg Na to 16mg K: 1mg Na. Regardless, most of us aren't getting enough potassium. I've found that working to optimize this ratio is hugely beneficial for migraine prevention.

                      Think of magnesium and potassium as the relaxors and calcium and sodium as the contractors. We need both - but it's all about ratio just like it is wrt Ω3 and Ω6.

                      You mentioned that 'a lower carb diet causes water loss'. I find that when I'm getting sufficient produce (which supplies most potassium), I'm getting so much hydration from the produce that I don't need much additional fluid.

                      Here's a list of the supplements I take I can't tolerate magnesium citrate at all. MgOxide isn't a quality form (high % of elemental mg but poor absorption) so Mg supplementation is one of the few areas I go 'expensive': Jigsaw Magnesium - a time released form of magnesium dimalate.

                      neptune krill oil, for me, evens out any hormonal actions that previously triggered hormonal migraines.

                      Hoping you find an answer soon.

                      All the best,
                      Katherine



                      iherb referral code CIL457- $5 off first order

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                      • #12
                        I am also a migraine suffer, for me it is bacon and I love it, oranges
                        and chocolate, oh and also red wine.

                        I would love to find bacon without the bad stuff, but no luck
                        the other stuff doesn't worry me, if I don't have it, but looooove
                        bacon.

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                        • #13
                          Thanks everybody for your ideas, I really appreciate it.

                          I was taking St. John's Wort before PB and the increase in migraines so I don't think that's the cause.

                          My produce intake is decent on some days (like when I have a BAsalad) but less than adequate on other days. I agree that this could be contributing to dehydration and hadn't considered about the K+ factor or Vit C. I have packets of Lite Emergen-C that contain 1gm of Vit C and 200mg of K+. I take these some days but not every day. I will make a point to take it every day and work on getting more produce in.

                          Magnesium...on the weekend I picked up a bottle of Soloray chelated magnesium...mixture of chelated mg citrate, oxide, and some other kind. A dose is 400 mg. I took my first dose on Saturday night I think. I was starting to feel some cramping in my calf muscles at night so that's why I bought the magnesium.
                          I'm a quitter...but I'm back now.

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                          • #14
                            I've had 3 migraines in the 6 months since going primal, and only 2 ever before that in my whole life! Last 2 times I noticed it was after eating bacon for breakfast (maybe nitrite/nitrate build up? I had only JUST added bacon a month prior, but I've always been a wine drinker so this theory if full of holes). Last migraine was noticeably less when I drank a container of coconut water immediately after the aura started coming on.

                            For me I'm thinking that maybe there's a stress/mineral depletion component to it. Maybe for you too?

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                            • #15
                              mineral depletion...could be the case.


                              SInce we're on the subject of brain matters, my thinking has been less-than-clear also. Checking account screw ups, showing up for appointments that I've rescheduled (and forgot), mixing up two people who are in the same meeting....uggg, it's not good. I've wondered whether my brain has not adapted to burning ketones very well. Maybe it really wants those minimum 135gm of daily carbs...
                              I'm a quitter...but I'm back now.

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