A Toxic Shock: Are Environmental Factors the Source of Your Migraines?
With over 12% of the national population suffering from debilitating headaches called migraines, triggers for the condition are relatively common knowledge at this point (watch the video “Foods That Trigger Migraines” if you want to learn more about some of the most common migraine triggers.) Most of the 36 million people that have experienced the condition know to stay away from loud noises and bright lights, maintain regular sleep and meal schedules, practice dietary mindfulness, and exercise regularly for fitness and stress reduction, but what else can the culprit be if those methods don’t provide relief? Science and medicine are discovering that for some, the cause of migraines may come down to environmental health risks.
Migraines and Toxic Headaches
While migraine triggers for some headache sufferers include fumes considered toxic, like those from cigarette smoke, paint, mold exposure, or “new product” off gassing like in cars or carpeting, leading experts like neurologist Dr. Charles Matthews believe there is a strong link between toxic substances in the body and headaches. Many over-the-counter combination-painkillers are frequently overused, and he believes that residual toxic chemicals from this medication use are creating many health issues, like migraines. “Medications are designed for acute, short-term issues, not long-standing problems. Taken over time, these foreign chemicals add to the body’s toxic burden.” Dr. Joel Fuhrman, MD, agrees, stating that “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. Headaches are a signal that something is wrong.”
Environmental Health Risks and Burdens
Toxic exposure also includes what’s going on around us. In a study by the Environmental Working Group, researchers found an average of 200 industrial chemicals and pollutants in the umbilical cord blood of infants born in August and September of 2004 in the US. That means that even in utero, a child is exposed to a slew of chemicals by means of the mother through her breathing and consuming. Heavy metals have especially devastating effects, because metals can compound the toxic effects of each other in the body. According to Dr. Lawrence Wilson, “High copper levels are probably the most common biochemical causes of migraine headaches.” Sources of copper exposure include the water pipes in your home, copper cookware, dental fillings, vitamins, pesticides on foods, and contraceptives.
Women and Copper Toxicity
Women experience migraine headaches more often than men by a factor of 3 to 1, and some experts believe that copper imbalances may be to blame. This potential cause of migraines is often overlooked because it’s difficult to detect on a cellular level. Copper toxicity is a build-up of copper in the body, and because it concentrates in the brain, it can affect neurotransmitter levels and can irritate delicate tissues. Since the 50’s, female contraceptive use has become mainstream, and there is a close relationship between estrogen and copper in female biochemical systems. High copper levels that coincide with monthly hormone cycles can give rise to many of the symptoms women think of as PMS, including migraine headaches. Following a physician implemented detoxification program may help provide some relief.
Seeking Migraine Relief?
Debilitating migraines do not have to be part of your life! At Health Star Clinic, our professional medical staff treats a variety of painful conditions including migraine headaches, using a comprehensive approach for managing pain and for providing a path to recovery. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help.