Tag Archives: Migraines

MY JOURNEY: THE MIGRAINE/HISTAMINE CONNECTION

By Bea Garth, copyright 2015

I just had a major realization today that not everyone who gets migraines realizes there is often a migraine histamine/amine connection. Further IMHO there is yet another connection often to gluten and sometimes corn and other grains as well as a whole variety of food additives. I should have known this particular fact since I only discovered the more full story fairly recently–i.e., just two years ago. And this was after years of investigating food sensitivities on my own due to migraines, body aches and pains, kidney issues, psoriasis and itchy skin, osteoporosis, long lasting viruses etc! Despite my best efforts to stay well.

What I figured out via diet and herbs by my early thirties kept me alive and semi functioning–but as I started getting older, my health began deteriorating again. To tell the truth, its only very recently I have been able to nut out what all is really going on for myself–although certainly I am learning more all the time. My hope is that what I present here on my blog can be of use to others in their healing journey.

I credit the Internet for helping so many make the connections in areas like this that were little known or simply unknown previously. I also credit ground breaking work on food sensitivities being done in Australia by Sue Dengate and others, as well as the work of Dr. Janice Jonega and Yasmina Ykelenstam (the Low Histamine Chef) and the work of her mentor, Dr. Theorides.

The theory is we are all different. Thus the work of the Royal Prince Albert Hospital (RPAH) which did seminal research on food sensitivities was and is very important. They suggested one keep a food journal of what one eats when, and how one feels after in order to figure out what kind of food sensitivities one has. Sue Dengate’s work has expanded on this subject. There is much one can learn from her various books on food sensitivities.

At the time back in the late seventies and early eighties, however, I didn’t even know that RPAH existed and also had not heard of Sue Dengate. Instead I saw a very similar suggestion to keep a food journal in a self help book which I think was called something like Diagnosing Your Food Allergies. I didn’t go on a fast as was suggested, since I had previously gone a couple of 3 days fast with disastrous results to my poor kidneys when I was in graduate school. I lost half of my right kidney due to scar tissue from nephritis within two years. I also became allergic to most antibiotics after several bouts of nephritis that first year. Despite my rashes, welts and ringing ears, my doctors wanted me to stay on antibiotics ad infinitum. However I realized I just could not realistically do it.

Fortunately my grandmother suggested that I might have food sensitivities similar to hers. She had discovered as a young woman that she could not tolerate eating citrus and several other foods for example. Although she never developed kidney problems, she had recurring cystitis which her homeopath suggested could be food related. Fortunately for me, my grandmother was right. By going off the antibiotics plus avoiding citrus and taking herbs, I was able to start healing.

I figured I had too many built up toxins to handle having a true fast again like the self help food allergy book suggested. So instead I decided to eat food I normally didn’t eat like turnips and rutabegas instead of other carbohydrates, along with some greens I usually didn’t eat either, and then gradually add in a food once every two days after the initial simplified diet.

Although I investigated my food sensitivities by keeping an extensive journal, there was just not enough known at the time for me to get a larger picture of what was really going on. I took my pulse (a la the Coco pulse test) along with keeping the food journal and talked to my naturopaths, which helped a lot. But I had no clue about other factors like celiac and histamine/amines. Nevertheless I did get some valuable suggestions from an amazing herbal from the U.K. called the Holistic Herbal by David Hoffman–which shows different healing systems along with their attendant healing herbs. It was a good start, but it did not complete the picture.

Although there was no way for me to really know how or even why my symptoms were truly interconnected, some part of me figured they had to be. This was why I felt it was important to use herbs not only for my kidneys, but also for my liver, intestines and lymphatic system.

At that time however there were very few doctors who knew anything at all about these matters. Even my naturopaths were dumbfounded by my long list of things I reacted to, especially since I wasn’t clinically “allergic”. Whereas standard AMA doctors practically laughed at me (while trying to pump the antibiotics!). Even now its not difficult for me to have the same unfortunate experience of misunderstanding from my doctors. However with the Internet helping aid communication, I believe there is no longer as much reason to stay in the dark and continue to suffer so horrendously with migraines and other related health issues if I do not want to. I figure help is now out there if I keep looking and making the connections that work for me. And certainly the advances in knowledge in this area continue to impress me with each passing year!

Back in the early nineties, despite the fact that my extensive self testing showed I reacted to the wheat family, I sometimes indulged in a large chocolate chip oatmeal cookie as a reward. I didn’t realize my occasional treat was destroying my intestinal villi–since I thought my food sensitivity wasn’t even up to being an allergy! Just ten years ago, in fact, I still thought my sensitivity to the wheat family was not that serious. I had read about celiac in the Merck Manual, but I still did not really realize how insidious gluten really is for the likes of me. No one said anything to me about it despite my bringing the matter up several times with different doctors–AMA and naturopathic– since even at that time celiac was considered to be very rare and severe gluten intolerance was pretty much ignored.

So in the meantime I still used herbal tinctures off and on made with grain alcohol which I put in hot water–even though I subliminally realized that tinctures never worked for me as well as using the raw herb (now I know why!–both due to trace gluten in the alcohol from the wheat family, plus amines from any alcohol, whether heated or not).

On top of that, I was working as a property manager, renovating my family’s old rental houses. I discovered the hard way that many building materials have both gluten and amines (in the glue!) holding them together–and making me sick. It took me quite a while to figure what was going on! So I now often wear a mask at a work site.

All of the above was setting me up for migraines and a host of other issues like osteoporosis and a weakened nervous system — which easily led to more migraines. I even got so bad that I started shaking when I would get up to walk to the bathroom in the middle of the night! I frequently had to crawl. Plus my heart would race over nothing at all — even waking me or start thumping on a non strenuous walk or trying to clean something up. Not to speak of extensive problems with my teeth and bones literally from not having enough usable calcium. My body was degenerating with osteoporosis and weak teeth even though I ate yogurt and took calcium supplements along with my other vitamins since my early twenties. My intestinal villi could not absorb the nutrients I so conscientiously gave myself. I didn’t realize I needed to avoid gluten entirely.

Starting in the fall of 2007, I finally discovered that even trace amounts of gluten in things like lipstick or shampoo or using someone’s else’s cutting board, or eating something baked in an oven previously used to bake gluten from the wheat family made me ill even though my diet overall was gluten free.

Fortunately I had previously figured out I should not eat pre-prepared food since it invariably made me feel puffy and achey, often with 5 to 10 pounds mysteriously added on in one day! I also figured out that vinegar and really anything that was fermented except for plain yogurt left my brain reeling and foggy!

I had no idea that my continued trouble with chronic migraines however was also due to the age of the food I was eating (since aging proteins form amines). I just did not realize that all those wonderful big pots of food I’d make ahead of time and keep in the fridge unfrozen were giving me a royal headache from the amines!!

Further, I finally discovered that histamine found in some fruit (bananas, citrus, pineapple and papaya being the worst), most nuts and a variety of vegetables and even egg-white and a few common kitchen herbs were also creating havoc with my head and skin (cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, cumin, cayenne). And that my love for tomatoes and spinach were doing me in from the heavy load of histamine. Histamine is known as the awake hormone! And apparently for me, the migraine hormone and the insomnia as well as hives, psoriasis and inflammation hormone too, more often than not.

Fortunately I am finally getting more of a handle on all this. My health has been getting a lot better. I have a lot fewer migraines, and when I do I pretty much can figure out why, as well as how to get back to feeling better sooner. My skin has improved such that I am no longer as itchy with psoriasis as I was. My teeth and bones are also improving, as is amazingly enough my short term memory. I no longer stumble as much. However I still am having trouble getting to sleep at a decent hour. I now do yoga, visualization and deep breathing several times a week, which helps create more serotonin. And yes it really does help me sleep better and have fewer reactions. But its not quite enough. I still have those hard jags now and then, though often I will discover there really is a reason why. Its either excessive stress or some food I thought was OK actually isn’t, at least not eaten as frequently as I’d like.

Its thus clear to me there is yet more to learn and do in order to heal more completely. My newest discovery this week is the healing power of super oxide dismutase (SOD), as well as my need for it due to my own particular genetics. I wonder how many people who have chronic migraines could be helped by it. I read in Wikipedia that SOD is healing for those who have IBS and even SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth)–as well as for diabetes and the heart etc. I can well imagine it may also help those who have extensive damage to their villi from celiac. Plus perhaps nerve damage such as migraines and restless leg syndrome etc. could be helped by it too.

This truly is a shamanic journey I have had to come to respect. For whatever reason(s) I have been chosen to follow it. My hope is that my healing journey can help others, just as the discoveries of others continue to help me.

___________

Note: There is more here than I can possibly contain in one essay. I plan on putting in more details in this section as I go along. Meanwhile, I am infinitely grateful to those who have made information on food sensitivities finally more known.

So for now before I develop more details in this section of my blog, I wrote up the LINKS page above. Please check out Dr. Jonega’s site on mastocytosis for the best food lists I have seen. I have also found the information on The Low Histamine Chef particularly useful. Keep in mind we are all a little different, so what applies to me or someone else, may or may not apply to you. Please consult with your doctor before you experiment with your healing diet.

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Genetic Mutations: Methylation Issues and SOD3

I just joined a site called Livewello.com. It enables one to convert one’s 23 and me genetic mutation info in a more meaningful form. If you haven’t done something like this, a service such as LiveWello could help you figure out some of the underpinnings that may be undermining your health. Services like LiveWello provide low cost interpretations of your genetic data that could help you and your doctor get to the next stage in your healing, as it hopefully will for me.

By looking at my genetic data through LiveWello, I just discovered I not only have a whole bunch of methylation issues (which I kind of suspected anyway), but I also found one in particular that could provide a key for me to feel a lot more energetic and healthier.

Apparently I have a genetic mutation that makes it difficult for me to process/make superoxide dismutase (SOD3). This mutation makes it very hard for my body to protect my cells from oxide radicals. This can increase central nervous system toxicity by inhibiting oxygen when dealing with nitrous oxide. It also can age one pretty quickly.  Apparently its somehow based on one’s copper/zinc ratios. So I want to find out more about it!

My  next step is to order some gluten free SOD. I recall taking it for a while a  few years ago and indeed it did make me feel better!

Further, I want to ask my doctor to test me for my zinc and copper ratios. Certainly I have read elsewhere that an improper copper and zinc ratio can increase histamine/amine issues and IMHO, brain fog and migraines! Who knows, maybe its even interfering with my being able to get to sleep at night.

All of this to me is good news in my quest to become more migraine and brain fog etc. free! Since after all, knowledge is power.  I will meanwhile investigate the meaning of SOD3 more thoroughly and write more about it in the near future. My hope is that this investigation of SOD3 can help a few other people who are also suffering from frequent migraines etc. too.

 

Super Energy Veggie Detox Smoothie

by Bea Garth, copyright 2015

I have started making a veggie smoothie to give myself more energy. Being 65 years old and having gone through everything that I have, I have noticed my energy has gone down the drain, especially after being ill with the flu for a month in January and still dragging through most of February. I now feel better, but want to feel better yet.

Solution: nutritious veggie detox smoothies! It is early days yet, but it really seems to be helping me feel a lot better!! So I have the energy to do the things I want to during the day with a spring in my step instead of feeling like a weight is pulling me down. And then at the end of the day I am no longer tired, wired and achey, and can finally sleep–not historically an easy task for me.

To be honest I started making this detox green smoothie in response to yet another migraine I had the other day. I felt so much better afterwards that I decided to make this part of my usual routine. I am really hoping this continues to help me avoid more migraines!!

Today I looked up the health benefits and they are astounding! Using the power of fresh green vegetables augmented by chia, flax and super green foods (moringa and chlorella or spirulina) this drink has an amazing lineup of nutritional benefits–of which I will delineate later.

This super energy veggie detox smoothie is not the only thing I am doing to improve my health, however it appears to be an important new addition!

Already I feel very satisfied. My intransigent low blood sugar seems to be far more under  control and honestly I want to finish this post so I can go out and enjoy the rest of my day!!

Ingredients (this is enough for two or more people, depending on your level of use. Halve the recipe as it suits you if its just for yourself):

Put ingredients into a blender as we proceed:

2 tbsp. chia seeds
2 tbsp fresh ground flax seed
2 cups water
1 tablespoon olive oil (optional)
Stir or blend for a moment and let sit a few minutes as you take out your vegetables and other ingredients from the cupboard and fridge.

Add in:
1 to 2 teaspoons moringa powder
1 to 2 teaspoons chlorella powder or spirulina powder (or just use more of the moringa powder if you are sensitive to the  chlorella and/or spirulina)
(Note: start with less since these are powerful green detoxing energetic foods–and not that tasty til you get used to them!)

Then lightly chop veggies and place in blender as you proceed:

1 stalk celery chopped
roughly 1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped fennel
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/2 cup fresh dandelion greens, or  some other green chopped (or skip this step if you don’t have it)
1/2 cucumber, chopped
1 1/2 cup green lettuce, chopped
1 apple (optional) also chopped

Then blend ingredients well and drink!

Note: if you can’t fit all ingredients in blender, blend some of them and then add the rest. I also add in some extra water afterwards so I can clean out the container and pour into my glass so I can get all the health benefits rather than washing some of it down the sink.

Anti-Migraine/Anti-Histamine Olive Leaf Tea

by Bea Garth, copyright 2015

Here’s a quick anti-migraine, anti-histamine, anti SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial  Overgrowth) tea I am finding helpful. Its not the only one I use, however it is a goodie:

1/4 cup dried or fresh olive leaves

1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger root

2 teaspoons dried (or better fresh!) holy basil

2 teaspoons dried (or fresh) skullcap

Boil two cups of water. Turn off heat and remove from burner. Add the above ingredients and let steep 20 minutes. Strain and drink!–or better yet, almost bring the water to a boil and pour over the ingredients in a teapot. Place on a warmer device and let sit 12 hours before drinking. This will give you the maximum benefit of the olive leaves.

Dandelion/Barberry/ Wormwood/Ginger Detox Tea

by Bea Garth, copyright 2015 

This herbal tea works great against aches and pains, aids digestion and helps against migraines in my experience, as well as that of my bf.

According to ancient and present herbals, dandelion and barberry are wonderful at helping the liver detox. Dandelion also helps with peristalsis, plus aids the kidneys by increasing urination while putting potassium back in. Recent studies reveal that dandelion is also very anti-inflammatory. My body can attest to that!

Besides being a powerful liver and spleen detoxifier, barberry also helps against food sensitivities plus helps kill off nasty infections like SIBO (Small Intestinal Bowel Overgrowth).

Wormwood is a powerful bitter that aids the digestion while helping to heal the liver and spleen. It is also a powerful vermifuge–helping to both prevent and knock out several  different kinds of bacteria, microbes and parasites. Interestingly I recently learned it also helps prevent and ameliorate migraines. It seems to be very balancing in my experience despite its bitter taste. Now I actually like it. Never thought I would!

The ginger warms up the above cool detox mix of herbs plus is on its own a very powerful anti-inflammatory.

Recipe:

Make a decoction by simmering the dandelion and barberry root 25 minutes. Then add in the chopped Ginger root the last five minutes. Use 1 tablespoon of each of the roots for 1 quart (boiling) water.

Bring the water to boil, covered. Then reduce to a simmer. Finally turn the heat off and add in 1 tablespoon wormwood. Cover and let sit for 20 minutes before straining off a cup of tea now and then.

This is a very powerful tea. Best to start slow with it to get used to it. I often dilute it half and half with water. It is worth getting used to it in my opinion despite the bitter taste. Certainly it has been a lifesaver for me.

Nevertheless, given the tea’s power, its best not to use it every day. Skip a day now and then. The old herbals I have suggest a maximum of 10 days on and then a week off. I prefer say 3 or 4 days on and then a day or two off. Or just every other day, assuming one feels one needs it of course!

I have found that besides helping me against migraines and the itchy bitchy hives and welts of histamine sensitivity, it also helps me not have so many body aches plus it protects my kidneys. I have one of those unfortunate conditions many women get with histamine sensitivity, wherein the kidneys and bladder can just get inflamed by what I eat without an infection. This tea has really helped me against that! Plus I find it guards against developing an actual infection too.

Naturally you should ask your doctor’s advice before trying anything new.

On Overcoming Yet Another Migraine

"The Poetry Genies" by Bea Garth, copyright 2015
“The Poetry Genies” by Bea Garth, copyright 2015

by Bea Garth, copyright 2015

You might think that with everything I do to watch my diet, exercise and otherwise take care of myself, I would no longer get migraines. However I still do. Usually I don’t get so very  many of them like I used to, but every once in a while I get a spate of them.

This current one that I have right now seems to be related to the fact I prepared a cake for my mother’s 100th birthday. It was a wonderful event, even though she unfortunately was too ill to show up. She was honored by at least 50 of her relatives as well as most of her children.  My partner Chris and I danced to the live jazz band. Everyone commented on how energetic and  well we looked. And certainly I felt that at the time. Later on that evening we visited my mother with my brother Donald. Mom  was soundly asleep. Apparently she had had many visitors that day. Her small table was filled with happy birthday cards, to which we added ours.

I had made a lovely gluten free rice based coconut cake for the event so we would have something safe to eat, as well as others in our large family who are gluten sensitive. And although it seemed to be just fine that day, the sugar content seems to have made my health more fragile today, two days later. No doubt eating some of the crumbs from the cake before I froze it last night after it had sat out all afternoon on the day  of the birthday celebration, did not help amine wise. No doubt it did not help my fight against the SIBO (Small Intestinal Bowel Overgrowth). Even my bf is struggling a bit, no doubt the sugar did not suit him either.  It does look like I will have to give the leftover cake to someone else. Even though it tasted great it is poison to us now!

So now I am drinking some olive leaf detox tea after having consumed a green smoothie and finally putting some attention to this blog. Its helping make the pressure behind my left eye more bearable.

Shortly I plan on doing some Hatha Yoga and deep breathing  to help too. Apparently it increases one’s serotonin, which helps in cases like migraines or what otherwise would be potentially sleepless nights.  Plus it plain calms and centers my nervous system in a way nothing else does. It truly does make me feel at one with the Universe. Similar to doing my art, but perhaps more  focused in its way…

I am eternally grateful for the work of the Low Histamine Chef to point me in the right direction in matters like this. I had already made a lot of progress on my own before reading her work, but she has done the research, talked with the leading doctors and other scientists and advocates in the field, and has documented her path from extreme low to glowing health. In addition she has written some very informative antihistamine cookbooks. Her theory is that its best to not just eat low histamine foods. Rather its important to add in other high histamine anti-inflammatory foods too–slowly of course, especially at first, while balancing it with low histamine anti-inflammatory foods and herbs–plus meditation. The idea is that this helps balance and feed the whole body. If one just eats low histamine, then one is in danger of producing too many histamines on one’s own just to get the energy one needs.

Of course, neither she nor I are doctors. If you plan to try some of these remedies/suggestions, its important to consult your doctor first.