Hopeless Migraine Sufferer

Healthy Livingon July 26, 20101 Comment

Dear Doctors:

I have suffered with migraines for almost 15 years now and have had MRI’s, xrays, blood work-ups, etc. The tests always say that everything is normal but I have intense headaches 3-4 times per week and I have just had enough! The doctors have prescribed various migraine meds, beta-blockers, and pain pills and I still have no relief. What would you suggest next?

Signed,
“Hopeless Migraine Sufferer”

Dear “Hopeless Migraine Sufferer”:

First of all, we’d just like to let you know that we know what you’re going through. Over many years in practice, we have see migraines affect the daily lives and relationship of those who suffer with them. The inability to plan social engagements in the future, the strain on personal and professional relationships, and the fear that the quality of your life will always be compromised are some of the most devastating and life altering effects on migraine sufferers. Often times, the loved ones in the life of a migraine sufferer don’t really understand and you therefore try to “suck it up” so as not to put a damper on things. This adds additional stress. Estimates on the number of Americans who suffer from migraines range from 28 to 45 million.

Alternative medicine has often been helpful in treating migraine headaches. It has also been helpful in treating tension headaches and the two of them need to be differentiated: migraines are caused by vasodilatation in the cranial blood vessels (expansion of the blood vessels), while tension headaches are caused by vasoconstriction (narrowing of the blood vessels). If you are on a beta-blocker for something like hypertension, it might be making your migraines worse.

Migraines can affect the whole head or just one side and can switch from one side of the head to the other. Migraine sufferers are often sensitive to light, noise and odors and can experience nausea or vomiting. Bright lights, wavy lines or blind spots (often referred to as an “aura”) precede the migraine in many instances. Migraines are often triggered by emotional stress, chemicals (like the food additive MSG), coffee, barometric changes, menstrual cycles and changes in sleep patterns.

We have seen many migraine sufferers whose migraines have been either improved dramatically, been cured or occasionally have received no help at all through the use of alternative medicine.

We will now discuss specific cases and some of the alternative approaches that I have seen help, but I would advise you to never give up hope because we believe that there is always an answer even if you have not yet found it.

There are many different biochemical, hormonal and structural imbalances that allow common migraine triggers to do their dirty work. Here are a few of the most common that we have treated in our office:

• Hormonal imbalances – Reestablishing a normal hormonal balance and menstrual cycle is often of great benefit and can be tested through either blood or saliva samples.
• Jaw problems – also known as TMJ dysfunction, can also cause migraines.
• Chronic systemic Candida (yeast) can also be the culprit.
• Food allergies and sensitivities – Simply finding out what you might be sensitive to and what may be triggering your migraines and eliminating these items might just solve your problem. Testing through various laboratory methods may be performed.

Traditional chiropractic adjustments have been found to help many migraine sufferers. We have seen that in most instances chiropractic has been able to help most migraines to varying degrees. Tight muscles in the neck and at the base of the skull and other neck problems will often result in abnormal blood flow and therefore could result in migraines. The key to successful chiropractic intervention is to seek care before you have a full-blown headache. By being treated between migraines, the frequency and severity of the headaches can often be greatly diminished.

Acupuncture is another very effective treatment for migraine headaches. By stimulating some key acupuncture points, migraine triggers can be calmed and muscular tension can be relieved which can reduce the frequency and severity of many migraines.

To sum things up, the big idea here is that there is help for migraines and it does not necessarily have to be in the form of a little pill from the pharmacy. Just because you have not gotten relief from what has been done so far, do not give up! Alternative or natural medicine often takes a different approach to identifying and treating migraines. By working with your doctor to identify potential triggers, as well as eliminating or treating them, there is help for migraine headaches.

In good health,

Dr Heather

GF/DF Mac and Cheese

Healthy Livingon July 15, 2010Leave a Comment

I get lots of Mom’s asking me for dairy free and gluten free alternatives to kids favorite dishes. He’s a goodie but an oldie:) ENJOY!!!

Ingredients

  • 16 ounces GF cooked and drained pasta
  • 3TBS salted butter or EVOO
  • 1/4-1/3c Rice Milk
  • 3 TBS minced onions
  • 1/4-1/2 cup Rice Cheese, sheep cheese or Goat cheese ( your choice)
  • Sea salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:

  • Cook pasta as directed, drain and set aside
  • Melt Butter in small sauce pan
  • Add minced onion and cook for 2 minutes on medium heat
  • Turn to low heat and add rice milk and Rice cheese
  • Stir until creamy, add sea salt and pepper to taste
  • Combine sauce with pasta , mix and serve

OPTIONS:

  1. Top with GF bacon bits
  2. Add chopped Jennie-0-Lean turkey dogs
  3. Add chucks of GF ham
  4. Tuna Casserole:
  • Add 10 ounces of tuna, mix well
  • Place in casserole dish
  • Top with 1/2 c crushed plain potato chips
  • Bake 350F for 15 min, until chips are lightly brown.

Feeling Fat??

Healthy Livingon July 12, 2010Leave a Comment

Dear Dr Heather,

I’m overweight, have no energy and am downright frustrated. I’ve been on every diet under the sun and I still can’t take off the pounds. Most people think that I’m lazy and eat too much. Please tell me that you can help me.

Signed,
“Feeling Fat”

k3446081

Dear “Feeling Fat”:

One of the most common complaints we hear in our offices is that patients want to lose weight but they just can’t. They have tried various approaches and diet plans and have maybe lost a few pounds temporarily, but they never seem to lose the weight and keep it off.

For the most part, weight loss in our office is usually not addressed as the primary problem or goal. Most people who come into our office want to lose weight yet they often have other symptoms that they do or do not associate with their weight. These symptoms could include fatigue, mental fogginess, depression, hair loss, dry skin, coldness and irregular menstrual cycles. Upon questioning the patient carefully, we find out that they have other health issues that need to be resolved. We look to solve their big issue and as a result, help them return to a more normal metabolism.

Incomplete thyroid testing can result in misdiagnosis. Patients have often said to me that they have had their thyroid tested when all that they have had tested is TSH. TSH is not a thyroid hormone, it is a pituitary hormone and is good for a general screening at best. Testing the free fraction of the thyroid hormone along with auto-antibodies should be done to definitively diagnose thyroid disease. Thyroid disease is usually tied into other metabolic problems and needs to be thoroughly investigated.

Women with systemic yeast often suffer from fatigue and weight issues. They have most likely had vaginal yeast at sometime in the past and have been on antibiotic therapy, birth control or steroids. Since yeast feed on sugar, blood sugar levels often fluctuate and this affects mood, energy and sugar craving. Sugar cravings can result in weight gain. Past history of yeast problems should be a red flag when sugar handling issues are a concern.

Leptin is a fat hormone that should be checked when weight is an issue. Leptin is a hormone produced by fat cells that signals the hypothalamus and tells the hypothalamus (the part of the brain that controls hunger) that you are no longer hungry. When Leptin becomes resistant and can no longer effectively signal the hypothalamus the body stores more fat to produce more Leptin. People who eat very little, exercise and cannot lose weight should consider having a simple test to check their Leptin levels. If Leptin is elevated there could be Leptin resistance and this could be addressed through diet and supplementation.

Not all people with weight issues have thyroid issues, yeast, hormone imbalance or Leptin resistance. Unfortunately, many people simply have not been taught how to eat properly. The food pyramid that we learned growing up was simply wrong. Carbohydrates break down into sugar rather quickly and will eventually be stored as fat. Eating the proper kinds of healthy fat and becoming a fat burner and not a sugar burner will give you more energy and help you lose weight.

If you have been trying to lose weight and are having difficulty, take a look at some of the options mentioned above. Look to improve your general health and as a result your permanent answer to weight loss and management just might be found.

In good health,

Dr Heather

LOOKING AT LABELS

Healthy Livingon July 6, 2010Leave a Comment

There seems to be a lot of confusion when it comes to reading a food label. Learning how to read food labels is like looking at a prescription for your health and your life.  Remember, we are what we eat so we should know what is in the food we are buying, preparing and eating. First,  looking for red-flag ingredients— if a Hall of Shame ingredient is listed among the top five ingredients overall, steer clear! Secondly, if you can not pronounce the word or if it does not sounds like  a derivative of anything you have eaten before, steer clear!

Food Hall of Shame

  1. Sugar
  2. High Fructose Corn Syrup
  3. Enriched Wheat Flour (White Flour)
  4. Saturated Fat
  5. Hydrogenated Oil

Food Hall of Fame:

  1. Olive Oil
  2. Garlic
  3. Tomato Sauce
  4. Spinach
  5. Raw Nuts
  6. Pomegranates

Just about every packaged food made in the U.S. has a food label indicating serving size and other nutritional information. The “Nutrition Facts” food labels are intended to give you information about the specific packaged food in question.  Such as, measurements of fat, cholesterol, sodium, carbohydrate, protein, vitamins and minerals are calculated for a “typical portion.” But, reading these labels can be confusing because you have to know the rules they are making when the food companies are creating the labels. Below are some explanations of a typical food label.

Serving Size. Serving sizes are based on the amount of food people typically eat, which makes them realistic and easy to compare to similar foods. This may or may not be the serving amount you normally eat. It is important that you pay attention to the serving size, including the number of servings in the package and compare it to how much you actually eat. The size of the serving on the food package influences all the nutrient amounts listed on the top part of the label. For example, if a package has 4 servings and you eat the entire package, you quadruple the calories, fat, etc. that you have eaten :(

Calories and Calories From Fat. The number of calories and grams of nutrients are provided for the stated serving size. This is the part of the food label where you will find the amount of fat per serving. Pay close attention! For fat, saturated fat and cholesterol, choose foods with a low % Daily Value.

Nutrients. This section lists the daily amount of each nutrient in the food package. These daily values are the reference numbers that are set by the government and are based on current nutrition recommendations. Some labels list daily values for both 2,000 and 2,500 calorie diets.

% Daily Value” shows how a food fits into a 2,000 calorie/day diet. For diets other than 2,000 calories, divide by 2,000 to determine the % Daily Value for nutrients. For example, if you are following a 1,500 calorie diet, your % Daily Value goal will be based on 75% for each nutrient, not 100%.

Ingredients. Each product should list the ingredients on the label. They are listed from largest to smallest amount (by weight). This means a food contains the largest amount of the first ingredient and the smallest amount of the last ingredient.

Label Claim. Another aspect of food labeling is label claims. Some food labels make claims such as “low cholesterol” or “low fat.” These claims can only be used if a food meets strict government definitions.

I hope this help clear up your uncertainty when reading a food label.

Shopping tips:

  1. Buy fresh fruits and vegetables, it requires no label reading.
  2. Do not buy any packaged food that have more than 5 ingredients listed
  3. Do not buy any packaged food containing words you cannot pronounce.
  4. Buy whole, fresh cuts of meat and fish, requires no label reading.
  5. Buy fresh and organic whenever possible, meats, fruits , herbs, beans, grains, yogurt, cheese….

In good health,

Dr Heather