Non-medicinal success stories?

Hi All:

Firstly, let me say that I am very happy to hear these success stories and that ultimately people are regaining some level of quality of life. My wife (aka M.O.M.) is a recent member of this board and has found it to be a great resource for her struggle with what we feel is MAV (going on 5 months now). Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) my wife is extremely sensitive to any medications, even something as innocuous as Dramamine. As such she is extremely intolerant to prescribed meds like 25mg of Zoloft (which she tried for 1 day and had to stop due to the adverse side effects).

She has been in VRT for the past 3 months and has had some improvement, but nothing too significant or consistent. She is doing self therapy at home as well (as prescribed by her VR therapist), walking/jogging for at least 30 mins 4 or more times a week and using the power of prayer constantly.

Her anxiety has become more prevalent and is definitely exacerbating the symptoms. Additionally, she is a very new mother (M.O.M.) and our son is 8 1/2 months. She weaned him from breastfeeding about 2 weeks ago and we are hoping this will level out her postpartum hormones, which too exacerbate the symptoms.

I would like to pose the following question to the group.

Has anyone been able to get thru this malady without the use of prescriptive drugs and if so, what was the course of treatment?

I would (as would my loving wife) be greatly appreciative of any non-medicinal success stories (even small victories) that can be shared by the group.

Thanks in advance for your time, experience and sharing.

John

Hi John,

— Begin quote from ____

Has anyone been able to get thru this malady without the use of prescriptive drugs and if so, what was the course of treatment?

— End quote

In general, once this migraine illness begins, the options go something like this:

  1. Just let it go unchecked and see if things improve on their own with time. This is usually unacceptable to most people because the daily symptoms are too much to handle and it’s soul-destroying stuff given its relentless nature. Some have gotten somewhat better over time (symptoms not so intense) and are on no meds at all but this appears to be rare.

  2. Make important behavioural and dietary changes. Perhaps by using an elimination diet and slowly introducing foods back into the diet to identify the migraine triggers. I know one lady who suffered with migraine for 30+ years. She had very bad symptoms and then one day she eliminated tomatoes from her diet and she hasn’t had a migraine since.

— Begin quote from ____

(1) Regular schedule – every day should look like every other day; regular meals and don’t skip; regular sleep and enough of it; some regular exercise (even if it’s just a walk to the end of the block and back again).
(2) General medical “tune-up” – migraine symptoms are more likely to flare if there are other medical/physiological stresses on your system. Migraineurs should work with their other medical professionals if necessary to get control of other health problems, such as allergies, thyroid, blood pressure, blood glucose, hormones, etc.
(3) Migraine diet – there are many foods that are potential migraine triggers. The joke about a migraine diet: make a list of all the foods you like … you can’t have them! The simple way to remember a migraine diet: eat ONLY fresh food. You can eat fruits, vegetables or meats. You can cook your food. But all food must be prepared fresh when you want it. If you do this, you are pretty well on the migraine diet. The list of “Thou Shalt Nots” is long and sad:

  • nothing aged, cured, pickled, or fermented (cheese, beer, wine, alcohol, vinegar, soy sauce, yogurt, sour cream)
  • no caffeine (coffee, tea, chocolate)
  • no artifical sweeteners/sugar substitutes (especially aspartame)
  • no nitrites (deli meats – proscutto, pepperoni, salami, etc)
  • no sulfites (red wine, dried fruits – raisins, apricots, etc)
  • no nuts
  • no MSG (monosodium glutamate – take-out Chinese food, and virtually every packaged food in the grocery store – usually listed as “natural flavour additives,” not MSG, in the ingredients label)

— End quote

  1. You start using medication/drugs/certain supplements (like B2, magnesium, CoQ10) to see if any of them alone or in combination will knock this out. Note that if you have to resort to number 3, you still have to stick with number 2. Meds are complementary to avoiding triggers. There is no “natural” medicinal way out of this. If you ingest something that has a biological effect whether it comes from Verapamil or some rare plant in the Himalayas, it’s still a drug and will likely have some side effects no matter what it is. The trick is to find an evidence-based treatment that makes a substantial impact on the migraine with liveable side effects (hopefully with no side effects).

  2. Doing things to avoid anxiety and depression which is so easily triggered with this junk for numerous reasons is also hugely important. Cognitive behavioural therapy for example or just practicing relaxation –– perhaps via something like getting regular massage or doing yoga or something like the “mindfulness-based stress reduction” course (http://mvertigo.cloudapp.net/t/mindfulness-based-stress-reduction-mbsr/1216).

Hope that helps … Scott

Hi John

My kids were small when my MAV flared up badly and it was very difficult to cope, soul destroying actually. I was very sensitive to all meds I tried and after a number of years I came off them all and in desparation started to follow the migraine diet as described in “Heal Your Headache”, plus I gave up wheat and dairy. At the same time I took magnesium, zinc, vitamin B complex, and cod liver oil. The improvement astonished me.

I then found out about reactive hypoglycemia and the importance of maintaining level blood sugar, as that seems to be a big part of the puzzle for me. I make sure I eat regularly, don’t miss meals, have small snacks in between meals and try to always eat protein with carbohydrates, plus a little good fat.

This regime hasn’t got me 100% well by any means but it has improved the quality of my life. My classic migraines have disappeared altogether although I still have the dizziness and as time has gone on, the anxiety that inevitably accompanies it has lessened, although the frustration has not!

I hope this helps a little. I have every sympathy for your wife as a new mum. I wish you both every success in finding a solution.

Brenda

John: You and/or your wife may want to do a search of this site. Type in keyword “estrogen”. There are many posts here of woman who have had problems with this due to estrogen levels. I would suggest that your wife get a hormone level check. Most doctors are reluctant to do this as most insurance companies won’t cover the blood test and since hormones do fluctuate daily, sometimes even hourly, the test is not always accurate but it might shed some light on this problem. My biggest trigger is hormones, but for me I am menopausal, since your wife just had a baby, I am sure that is not the case. Some have taken hormone therapy, being a breast cancer survivor, hormone replacement therapy is out of the question for me, although I was desparate enough to try it for a few months. If you wife’s hormones are off, it might be a simple as birth control pills or estrogen patch to make her feel better. In one of the threads here where Dr. Hain and Dr. Rauch answer questions, I believe it is Dr. Hain who states that MAV does strike woman around the age of 35 and starts to resolve around 55, if it is triggered by hormones. So there is a definate connection there.
I am glad you are taking part in this forum in support of your wife. I have also pointed my husband to this site and printed off some of the handouts so he can try to understand what I am going through.
Good luck to you and your wife.
Joan

John,

I just want to say that I think Joan’s suggestion is a good one. I’d forgotten that for me also there seems to be a hormone connection. I too used to have pre menstrual migraines when I was younger and my MAV flared up badly in my mid forties and the Doctors said it was due to perimenopause. I was doing relatively ok for me til I had a hysterectomy 3 years ago and that really set me into a downward spiral MAVwise. My estrogen tested very low at the time and I saw improvement with just the tiniest amount of supplemental estrogen.

I have a friend who started with migraine and dizziness after her first child was born and we compared notes. She had just given birth and I was menopausal - the common factor was hormones. She tried various solutions but in the end took nothing, didn’t change her diet or anything , just rode it out and it eventually got better of its own accord. She never had a diagnosis of MAV though.

Best wishes to you and your wife.

Brenda

Hi Brenda,

I’m curious about this hormone treatment possibility. How much do you think it removed the migraine for you? I’m wondering why it isn’t used more often in treating migraine in women particularly for those who get it bad around the time of their cycle. To be honest, I’ve never heard of it referred to as a viable treatment yet it seems to make sense.

Scott

John first of all I think it is wonderful that she has a husband that seems so very supportive of her and what she is going through with this disease. That is a very important factor that she have a support group around her during this battle.

Although I am older than your wife I too struggle with the medication sensitivity and have been unable to tolerate any medication to date other than a very and I mean very small dose of valium . I take a 5mg and cut it into quarters. Take one quarter a day. I did start with a half about four months ago.

When all of this really started full blown for me last July I was under a lot of stress with work, family and life in general. My mother was very ill and my parents lost the house they were living in at the time and had no where to go. I was dealing with that plus we were renovating our home which only added to the stress at the time. I had what I refer to as my crash last July.

I went through the VRT and them putting me on meclizine (which did nothing but put m to sleep) and I was still had the vertigo/dizzy/rocking 24/7 this lasted until October until I went to see my ENT and he gave me the diet and I tried it and started seeing tiny improvements after three weeks. Then I started walking every day and seemed to get a little better by December I was much better than in July. However the anxiety which accompanied the issue ramped up because I too like your wife was afraid to go anywhere by myself for fear I would have another attack and I would be alone. This is still a very big struggle for me.

— Begin quote from ____

This list Scott gave you (1) Regular schedule – every day should look like every other day; regular meals and don’t skip; regular sleep and enough of it; some regular exercise (even if it’s just a walk to the end of the block and back again).
(2) General medical “tune-up” – migraine symptoms are more likely to flare if there are other medical/physiological stresses on your system. Migraineurs should work with their other medical professionals if necessary to get control of other health problems, such as allergies, thyroid, blood pressure, blood glucose, hormones, etc.
(3) Migraine diet – there are many foods that are potential migraine triggers. The joke about a migraine diet: make a list of all the foods you like … you can’t have them! The simple way to remember a migraine diet: eat ONLY fresh food. You can eat fruits, vegetables or meats. You can cook your food. But all food must be prepared fresh when you want it. If you do this, you are pretty well on the migraine diet. The list of “Thou Shalt Nots” is long and sad:

  • nothing aged, cured, pickled, or fermented (cheese, beer, wine, alcohol, vinegar, soy sauce, yogurt, sour cream)
  • no caffeine (coffee, tea, chocolate)
  • no artifical sweeteners/sugar substitutes (especially aspartame)
  • no nitrites (deli meats – proscutto, pepperoni, salami, etc)
  • no sulfites (red wine, dried fruits – raisins, apricots, etc)
  • no nuts
  • no MSG (monosodium glutamate – take-out Chinese food, and virtually every packaged food in the grocery store – usually listed as “natural flavour additives,” not MSG, in the ingredients label)

— End quote

For me I have found that keeping a regular schedule is so very important and I am sure with a new baby that is very hard but go to bed the same time each night, get up the same time.

Eat the same time during the day…I eat about six to eight times a day very small meals that is what works for me.

Drink plenty of fluids …water, water and more water.

Get the book “Heal Your Headache” read it and follow it …it has worked for some people for others it has not but it will do you no harm if it does not work. You have to be very disciplined on the diet and I have not adding things back in for fear that it would cause a trigger but that is what I choose to do , others have been able to add foods back in after a while.

I would also recommend getting her hormones checked as I found out I am going through perimenopause and I think that has contributed to my issues. Plus that will also contribute to the anxiety when they are fluctuating.

I would also have her Vitamin D level check where many of us have found out that our Vitamin D levels were very low when all of this started. That is something that can be easily corrected. Take supplements or spend more time outside which is the best way to get the Vitamin D needed.

I understand what she is going through with wanting to find a way to combat this without medication since she is very sensitive and has a hard time tolerating them.

She may find a therapist that can help with the anxiety which does not have to involve medication , not to say that it is a bad thing but it can be addressed without medications in many cases.

I wish you both all the best and coming here and getting support helps to know that you are not alone in your journey , take one day at a time, one step at a time…and just keep going day by day.

Thank you Scott for relocating my post to the General Discussion area! That was key in us getting some responses from the audience and for that I thank you! I was wondering if there is an area on your (awesome) site that is for spouses/partners/loved ones to support each other? If not, it may be a good thing not only for the sufferers of this malady, but for their own personal support team at home. Just a thought, as I can attest that this condition definitely affects not only the sufferer, but those that love and care for them.

Scott, Brenda, Joan & Timeless, thanks so much for taking the time to share your experiences and suggestions. I can’t even begin to tell you how much I (we) appreciate that! We will take some time to digest & discuss your feedback and will DEFINITELY let you all know how and where this takes us.

Again, from the bottom of my heart, thank you all!!

Take care!
John

— Begin quote from "scott"

I’m curious about this hormone treatment possibility. How much do you think it removed the migraine for you? I’m wondering why it isn’t used more often in treating migraine in women particularly for those who get it bad around the time of their cycle. To be honest, I’ve never heard of it referred to as a viable treatment yet it seems to make sense.

— End quote

Yes, it’s interesting the relationship between migraine and estrogen. I’m not sure I can quantify exactly how much it removed the migraine for me. All I know is that cumatively (I began with a ridiculously small amount and increased it very gradually) I just felt better all round, including an improvement in my dizziness. And significantly perhaps as I think of it now, there has been a worsening of symptoms these last few months as I stopped my usual incremental increase in estrogen. I’m about to go back to small increases every so often, so I’ll make a point of noting whether my dizziness abates any as I do. It’s not just low estrogen that causes migraine but fluctations in levels of estrogen, that’'s the big trigger. There are so many other variables though that it’s hard to pinpoint stuff sometimes but I’ll do my best!

Brenda

I was also told estrogen is my biggest trigger as I am nearing/in menopause. I was also told it is not the level of your hormones but the flucuation factor. I went on an estrogen patch for a couple of months and it did seem to help some, but when the time came to increase the dosage, it was decided that I should not continue since I am a breast cancer survivor and estrogen can be a cause of breast cancer. So there is really not much I can do about my hormones and hopefully when then level off in a couple of years, all this will go away. I am anxiously awaiting that day.

Hi Joan

Yes, I was told my vertigo would resolve after menopause and I too couldn’t wait for that day! Unfortunatetly I was thrust rather suddenly and unexpectedly into surgical menopause and that rather put the cat among the pigeons and I’m still waiting three years on after my op for that long awaited cessation of symptoms! And since I was first told things might resolve after meno it’s been 13 years! Never mind at least it gave me hope all that time! I sincerely hope that when you come through meno the levelling out of your hormones does the trick for you. It does happen! Hang onto that thought. Best wishes :slight_smile:

Brenda

Brenda:

This is what Dr. Hain says:

“Migraine is one of the few things that gets better with age, and because of this, it usually gets less intense in both sexes. In women, migraine has two peaks – one around the age of 35, and a second at menopause. Because of the age dependence of migraine, driven by hormones, migraine typically gets better in women after the age of 55.”

I am hoping he is correct. I am 52 (tomorow) and hope the next few years go by quickly and I feel much better. I do know that this episode is not quite as intense as my first episode at 49 so hopefully it is burning out some.

Joan

Brenda and Joan,

Do you both have “episodes” of this? What happens during an episode and how do you feel in between.
This hit me bad last fall and I couldn’t even move a muscle without getting diizy then I clawed my way back to about 60% ,I think it took me at least 4 months. On may 29 this year I passed out, spent a good month in bed and know I am trying to come back. I’m praying I can at least get back to 60%. I have drugs (propranolol) now that I didn’t have before so I’m hoping it won’t take as long.

My “episodes” seem to last about 6 months or so. In between I feel 80% or so better, but I have not been back to 100% for years. I think being menopausal just will not allow me to feel 100% until my body adjusts. Hormones effect so many parts of the body’s daily functioning. MAV is just one of them. I just try to eat right, sleep enough hours, exercise, stress management, etc. But is is hard especially when you feel crappy.

— Begin quote from ____

Brenda and Joan,

Do you both have “episodes” of this? What happens during an episode and how do you feel in between.

— End quote

The episodes I had between 19 and 45 would happen about twice a year, always be upon waking, kept me in bed for 24 hours and then turned into a sinusitis type headache with unsteadiness for a week, then I was better til the next time. One such episode at 45 was different. It didn’t pass, with symptoms seeming to spiral out of control as time went on, and since then I have episodes seemingly at random.

Episodes vary. Sometimes they might only last a day or two. Sometimes weeks, sometimes months. No two are exactly the same anymore. One episode put me in bed for three weeks a few years ago when I was around 50 but more recently during a bad spell I was only bed bound for a few hours. I don’t have a headache anymore til after the worst of the dizziness has passed and then it’'s a sinusitisy, heavy type of headache which hangs around for ages, along with various stages of disequibrium.

In the middle of an episode I find that triggers that haven’t bothered me for a while start bothering me again and its back to being supremely environmentally aware again. I might have to curtail certain activites, not go shopping for a while, be extra careful about diet, not be sociable for a while etc. At worst, I’ll move about like a robot, afraid to turn my head or do anything faster than at a snail’s pace! Movement and visual stimulation are nightmares for me during these episodes and I can get a bit nauseous.

In between episodes I can be anything from feeling pretty ok to, “I’m at the odds with the world today. Please leave me alone.” Generally speaking though, I’m never 100%, probably more like 70% at best I’d say. At any given point in time, even between episodes, I’m dealing with some symptom or other. I feel that I always have to concentrate and be self aware. But latterly, until a flare up I’m in the middle of now, I’ve been doing better for longer.

Best wishes, Brenda

Brenda,
You sound a lot like me, this business never really kept me from doing much of anything until a year ago when this hit hard! I’m trying to get back to where I was this May before I passed out, 70% would be good right now! Finding all of you is a Godsend for me! I’m learning that I have to accept this BUT that there is hope! I have never actually been diagnosed as to why my head does this the docs say all my physical problems aren’t that bad and I would agree except for the vertigo, an occasional “room spinning” is bad enough but that near constant “fun house” feeling is AWFUL.
I just started taking Propranolol last Thursday, its the first headache med I’ve taken. It never occured to me that the headaches I’ve ignored could actually be the problem, I still don’t know. I do know that for a few hours this morning I felt preety good so my hopes are higher.
Do you take any meds? Which ones help? I know meclizine certainly doesn’t.
I’m thinking of adding a small dose of Valium to try and get through the rough patches. I’ve heard it can help with the stomach nausea as well as with the emotions. The doc put me on Baclofen for my neck and shoulder problems but it is too strong, makes the dizzies worse so I’ve stopped it. Maybe a little Valium would help.
Have you found a way to relieve that sinus type headache? I get that a lot especially when I’m feeling “better”.

— Begin quote from "TammyM"

Brenda,
You sound a lot like me, this business never really kept me from doing much of anything until a year ago when this hit hard! I’m trying to get back to where I was this May before I passed out, 70% would be good right now! Finding all of you is a Godsend for me! I’m learning that I have to accept this BUT that there is hope! I have never actually been diagnosed as to why my head does this the docs say all my physical problems aren’t that bad and I would agree except for the vertigo, an occasional “room spinning” is bad enough but that near constant “fun house” feeling is AWFUL.
I just started taking Propranolol last Thursday, its the first headache med I’ve taken. It never occured to me that the headaches I’ve ignored could actually be the problem, I still don’t know. I do know that for a few hours this morning I felt preety good so my hopes are higher.
Do you take any meds? Which ones help? I know meclizine certainly doesn’t.
I’m thinking of adding a small dose of Valium to try and get through the rough patches. I’ve heard it can help with the stomach nausea as well as with the emotions. The doc put me on Baclofen for my neck and shoulder problems but it is too strong, makes the dizzies worse so I’ve stopped it. Maybe a little Valium would help.
Have you found a way to relieve that sinus type headache? I get that a lot especially when I’m feeling “better”.

— End quote

A small dose of valium helps me so you might give it a try I take a very low dose.

What does the Valium do? Does it just chill you out? Can it possibly take away any of the swaying? I’m currently swaying not rocking… BIG STEP in the right direction!

— Begin quote from "TammyM"

What does the Valium do? Does it just chill you out? Can it possibly take away any of the swaying? I’m currently swaying not rocking… BIG STEP in the right direction!

— End quote

Yes it does take away some of what call my waveness…plus it does help with the anxiety that goes with this stuff. I only take about 2mg a day very low dose.

Timeless,

Thanks for the info, I called the docs office today, hopefully they will call back. I hope he prescribes it and I hope it helps some. I am really on edge, my eldest son is getting married on the 22nd and I keep stressing myself out about being able to make it to the wedding. All those people moving, all that noise is enough to get me going but I know i can handle it if I get a bit better.