Day 6 of the Migraine World Summit focuses in on Alternative Therapies. To me this is always an exciting area of focus as it serves as a strong reminder that treating migraine is much deeper than a prescription medication and requires a multi-faceted approach. These interviews focus in on supplements, CBD oil, mindfulness, and using food as fuel.
I know I’m going through these much slower than I anticipated so as I wrap up the final few days, just know I appreciate y’all and hope the information I’ve shared has helped you!
Supplements and Natural Alternatives – Interview with Alexander Mauskop MD
I found this interview to be a bit of a recap for what I learned over the summer in diving into nutrients and potential deficiencies.
Dr. Mauskop focused in on vitamins including Magnesium, CO-Q10, and Vitamin B2, along with some natural sources like Feverfew and Frankincense. For Magnesium and CO-Q10, there’s a strong likelihood that we are deficient so testing out either supplement for a month is a good, and generally safe place to start rather than going through tons of blood work. He mentioned that in some instances, the blood tests we rely on don’t necessarily provide the best insight.
One important thing to note from this interview was the stress on getting quality supplements, especially for something like Butterbur that can be poisonous. Supplements and natural treatments are great, but plants can kill us so it’s best to always strive to get the highest quality products and pay attention to the best methods for ingestion.
One area the interview didn’t touch on was sources for nutrients outside of supplements – and the best source is food. A huge area of concern regarding supplements is our body’s ability to break it down and actually absorb the rich nutrients, but by consuming these nutrients through foods, absorption becomes much easier. Other interviews touch on food, but striving to include nutrient dense foods into your daily life should be a huge area of focus for migraine treatment and management.
Dr. Mauskop also mentions the concept of shifting the locust of control. This means giving patients the option to shift from feeling as if migraine is happening to them, and instead look inwards and use the variety of therapies and alternative methods available to take back some of that control. Feeling like you have control over your health and are actively working to improve can be enough to dramatically reduce pain and symptoms.
CBD Oil For Migraine – Interview with Stephen Silberstein MD
CBD, THC, and medical uses for marijuana are all fascinating areas of research that are really changing the quality of life for millions of people. However, this interview fell short of any expectations that the title of the interview may have created.
I don’t think a single comment regarding migraine and CBD existed in the 30 odd minutes, but Dr. Silberstein did have one important talking point: The problems and confusion surrounding use often comes with potential contaminates within various tinctures rather than actual marijuana derivatives.
Perhaps the one area worth noting – rather separate from the subject of CBD for health benefits – was the painful quip regarding the increased recognition for medical uses and how gangs in turn are losing money. It may be lost on those who did this interview, and many viewers, but it isn’t lost on me that conversations regarding legalization cannot exist without decriminalization that have a direct negative impact on marginalized communities in our country.
Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction – Interview with Rebecca Wells MD
Mindfulness and meditative practices are a complex intervention that have taken hold of people across the globe in various ways. Although many practices have a root in religious and spiritual practices, mindfulness has also been touted as a cure all for chronic ailments. Both the spiritual roots and the “this will fix you” mindsets are often a deterrent for many.
I personally love mindfulness, and believe that it has strong benefits to anyone who wants to invest the time and embrace the required energy work to truly be able to engage in the intentional act of being present without judgment.
Dr. Wells was able to describe the benefits of mindfulness, the scientific research being conducted, and incorporate the idea that mindfulness isn’t a singular factor for our care. The areas she stressed as being benefited included: increased ability to regulate emotions, meta-cognition, increased self awareness, better coping mechanisms – specifically with stress reactions, and increased self-efficacy.
The self-efficacy aspect is something I think that deserves the most attention. Often during a migraine attack we feel either helpless or that we’ve done something wrong to be in so much pain. Adjusting our relationship to migraine, and feeling as if we have some level of control has tremendous benefits. In my experience, the biggest representation of this has been through self talk during the painful attacks. Being able to shift the narrative, and accept the pain without placing blame, while removing the thoughts of what I should be doing or what I’m missing out on, has had a tremendous positive impact on my mental health.
I really enjoyed this interview and appreciate how mindfulness was presented. My largest takeaway was that the act of mindfulness or meditation doesn’t present itself in one way, and there are hundreds of areas in your life where you can actively decide to be more present and more mindful. Meaning that if sitting on the floor with your thoughts racing doesn’t work for you, there are many other options that you may find success with.
Food and Nutrition for Migraine – Interview with Cynthia E. Armand MD
This interview was a perfect expansion of the first interview diving deeper into the nutrients and benefits of the food we consume every day, and how it can have a positive impact on our migraines and general well being. Dr. Armand does a wonderful job of framing this topic in a healthy way by explaining that diet itself isn’t specific but rather a way of eating that makes us feel good.
Migraine diets often revolve around foods that are anti-inflammatory in nature. Key components include unprocessed foods, fatty omega-3s, and large amounts of leafy greens. Dr. Armand mentions some super foods for migraine including some of my personal favorites: salmon, nuts, and leafy greens like broccoli and kale.
One key takeaway from this interview comes from the discussion of gluten specifically related to migraine. Studies have demonstrated that in people with Celiac Disease, when gluten is removed from the diet, migraines often decrease. Celiac and Migraine are common comorbidities. However, for people who have a gluten intolerance or sensitivity, reducing gluten doesn’t have a strong correlation to also decreasing migraine.
I personally follow a generalized version of the Mediterranean Diet, which is what Dr. Armand praised as her personal favorite. I really appreciate this entire interview and the way it was presented to demonstrate that food is meant to be our friend and a fuel source, rather than an obstacle to climb over every time we get hungry. The focus on eating high quality foods, foods that are whole and close to their natural form, and foods that make you feel good is a great message to leave with people, even beyond the migraine world.
Day Six was full of incredible areas of research and therapies that don’t require a prescription or a deep bank account to acquire. So much of medicine is inaccessible, and it’s empowering that a large portion of managing and treating migraine can be done on our own. Between getting proper nutrients from food and supplements, keeping our body moving, and focusing inward on ourselves, we’re left with powerful tools that many people simply aren’t aware are at their disposal.
If you’re interested in reading more of my own thoughts on mindfulness and natural alternatives check out the following pieces:
- Being Present – a few ways you can incorporate mindfulness into your day to day life.
- Creating Intentional Spaces – an interior designer’s advice on bringing mindfulness and intention setting into the space around you to serve as visual cues.
- Yoga for Migraine – my personal favorite source of movement.
If you’re interested in watching the Migraine World Summit interviews you can access them with an Access Pass on the migraineworldsummit.com. The views in this blog are solely my takeaways and are not intended to be a summary of any of the interviews.
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