Vegan Health ArticlesHeadaches and Migraines
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From Dr. Joel Fehrman, M.D.

Demystifying the Causes of Headaches

The standard theory that tension headaches are caused by widening of the blood vessels and migraines are caused by constriction of the blood vessels has been disproved in recent investigations. The evidence now illustrates the similarities between migraine and other types of headaches rather than the differences. The major cause of both tension headaches and migraines is the retention of toxins or tissue irritants within the central nervous system. These chemical irritants may cause an over sensitivity of nerve tissues to other stimuli. Rather than saying that tension headaches and migraines are caused by differing mechanisms, it would be more accurate to see them on a pain and symptom continuum, differing only in severity of symptoms.

Many factors may trigger or aggravate an attack of migraine. Common precipitating factors include physical activity, menstruation, alcohol consumption (especially red wine), too little or too much sleep, a missed meal, or a change in the weather. A high protein diet is one of the most common reasons people suffer from chronic migraines. Protein breakdown and digestion causes the production of multiple toxins, especially nitrogenous wastes that can cross over the blood-brain barrier.

Certain foods and food allergies can also trigger migraine in many patients. Salted foods are frequently noted as a trigger, as are chocolate, cheese, ice cream, nuts, eggs, banana, herring, fatty foods, citrus fruits, NutraSweet® (aspertame), MSG (monosodium glutamate), nitrates (often present in processed meats), and concentrated sweets.

The use of medication, even in quantities as low as ten aspirin tablets per week, can be the cause of a chronic daily headache syndrome. Besides the typical toxic drugs that physicians routinely prescribe, exposure to toxins such as lead, arsenic, morphine, carbon monoxide, pesticides, and noxious fumes can also be a cause.

Likewise, other unhealthful practices – drinking coffee and soft drinks, eating sweets and other foods devoid of nutrition – contribute to the problem. Even drinking milk and cheese can add to our discomfort, as they frequently contain antibiotics and other contaminants, which are given to the cow.

Headaches are a signal that something is wrong. Typically they result from retained wastes or toxins in the body. The pain usually begins when the body attempts to mobilize and remove the noxious agents. It is when you stop drinking coffee that the headache comes. It is when you stop consuming noxious food that the headache begins. It marks an effort of the body to dilute and remove the injurious agent. Drinking more coffee, eating more noxious food, or taking drugs may offer some temporary relief but eventually will turn an occasional episode into a deep-seated chronic problem. Therapies and remedies are not the answer to headaches. Removing the cause and letting the body accomplish its self-cleansing tasks can result in a migraine free life, without the need for medication ever again. When these metabolic waste products are eliminated, people can regain their long-sought-after freedom from pain.

Headaches may also be a result of high blood pressure or rare diseases such as brain tumors, meningitis, tuberculosis, head injuries, and diseases of the eyes, nose, teeth, and ears. Allergic conditions and chronic sinusitis are also uncommon causes of headaches. Because most physicians have no clue about dietary detoxification, they have trouble discerning the cause. Most headaches respond within a few days of a careful detoxification program. A physician should also properly evaluate the sudden onset of a severe headache that is unlike one ever experienced before.

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We began this archive as a means of assisting our visitors in answering many of their health and diet questions, and in encouraging them to take a pro-active part in their own health. We believe the articles and information contained herein are true, but are not presenting them as advice. We, personally, have found that a whole food vegan diet has helped our own health, and simply wish to share with others the things we have found. Each of us must make our own decisions, for it's our own body. If you have a health problem, see your own physician.