Ask Dr. Stoll

Information About Combining Conventional &Alternative Medicine

Controlling Vascular and Migraine Headaches

Biofeedback has led to a simple home remedy for the pain of these headaches.

There are several factors that must come together for someone to have migraine (I am referring to classical migraine here although all vascular headaches are related in some ways):

  1. They must have a chronic hypothalamic overload of stored stress-effect (fight or flight).
  2. Most of them have a "leaky gut" which allows certain triggering peptides to get into the circulation which frequently is related to the first factor (see my articles about Modern Medical Interpretation of Stress and Leaky Gut Syndrome).
  3. They usually were born on the lower part of the "Bell Curve" of resistance to this happening. So far, the only way to cope with this happenstance of genetics is to do those things we are now discovering that anyone can do to improve general health. This inevitably moves us up our own bell curve.

These factors are covered in my book.

Look into the medical literature for one of the top neurologists in Australia who published a landmark study about 5 years ago about this. He went into the study to finally lay to rest any consideration that migraine might have anything to do with the environment. By the time the study was published, he had become a convert to the position that at least 90% of the time environment WAS one of the factors in migraine.

I have found that one of the easiest ways to improve the leaky gut is to treat the Candida-Related Syndrome which is almost invariably present. I have had MANY patients in which that was all that was necessary to at least stop the headaches.

Learning, and practicing regularly, an effective skilled relaxation technique will always help in the long run (3-6 months). However, it doesn't help much in the short run--the stored stress-effect I mentioned must be gradually discharged.

There IS an immediate biofeedback trick that works very reliably (for vascular headaches only) within about 10 minutes. It works on the basis that when hand blood vessels dilate, cerebral vessels constrict (and vice versa). That is why all migraine sufferers have cold hands. When the "aura" appears is the most effective time to use this--that way the headache never occurs. However, even after the throbbing headache starts, it still will be stopped within about 10 minutes. The procedure can be repeated if the headache starts to come back:

Run the kitchen sink full of as hot a water as one can stand. The trick is to keep the water at the limit of tolerance the whole time. It must stay uncomfortable for the full 10 minutes. Place the arms and hands (up to and including the elbows) in the water. As the skin becomes tolerant of the heat, more hot water must be added. It is not necessary to burn yourself, it just must stay uncomfortable. Within 10 minutes the headache will be gone. If, once this has been successful a few times, the headache comes on where it is not convenient to the sink; just sitting quietly, away from distractions, and imagining EXACTLY how it felt to do this will stop the headache just as quickly.

The above is not a cure. However, it works as quickly as IV morphine, is safe, inexpensive and gives the patient a sense of control they can't get any other way. Please share your experience with this with the BB participants.

The main difference between migraines and other vascular headaches is the "aura". This aura is something OTHER than pain that occurs PRIOR to the onset of the throbbing pain. ALL vascular (throbbing) headaches have similar causes and can be managed in similar ways.

Even though I have not included a chapter in my book Saving Yourself from the Disease-Care Crisis about headaches, the entire book really addresses the most common causes of this vexing problem.