Today I want to talk to you about headaches and migraines because while they can be brought on by fatigue or a stressful day, by feeling dehydrated or a lack of sleep but they can also be a sign of a hormone imbalance. Especially if you notice that there is a pattern to them around your cycle. Often women are prone to headaches and migraines just before their period or when they are ovulating mid cycle and that’s because there is an imbalance in their oestrogen and progesterone levels.
Your oestrogen and progesterone naturally decline as you get older but sometimes they can become completely out of balance and the ratio of them is really important. An imbalance can actually trigger migraines at certain times of the month so when I am considering with my clients what might be causing their migraines, I’m always looking at whether or not their symptoms are related to oestrogen dominance or very low levels of progesterone and whether that is something that we can work on to help bring these symptoms down to reduce the frequency and intensity as well.
One of the first things that I always do with my clients when it comes to looking at migraines and helping to manage them is looking at the foods that might trigger them because alot of people don’t realise that they are being triggered by foods. This is something that you can do for any symptoms that you might be struggling with. Keep a food diary and mark down down each of your meals during the day and alongside them write how you’re feeling are you.
– Are you low in energy?
– Do you have a headache?
– Struggling with mood swings?
– Are you feeling really sleepy?
All of those types of things can show there is a sign that foods triggering things for you and when it comes to migraines generally it is quite easy to figure out by looking back and seeing whether there is any kind of pattern to the foods you’ve eaten that have triggered the migraine. Really common ones are gluten, dairy, sugar things like caffeine, red wine and chocolate (sorry ladies!) Also try avoiding foods that contain tyramine as that’s been found to bring on headaches and migraines. These include fermented foods like aged cheese, smoked fish and cured meats
Of course it’s important to try to naturally boost your progesterone levels because like I said a hormone imbalance is a common cause of migraines. One of my favourite ways to boost levels of progesterone is by consuming Maca, which is a plant and can be found in powder forms in health food shops. You can add it to smoothies and yogurt at breakfast time and it’s a really easy thing to take and is something that can help balance your hormones if you’re struggling with any PMS symptoms or going through the menopause. Also look at taking a herbal supplement like agnus castus which naturally helps to raise your progesterone levels because often what is happening is your oestrogen levels are too high and your progesterone levels are too low and you need to bring the ratio back into balance.
Even though your oestrogen levels are supposed to dip when you’re going through the perimenopause and the menopause because we take in oestrogen in lots of different forms nowadays whether that is through food, household products plastic food bags, Tupperware and or beauty products, these can artificially raise your oestrogen levels. We need to make sure that our liver is working well and we are helping our liver to remove any excess estrogen out of our body by making sure your liver health is optimised. Make sure you’re having plenty of foods that help support it. Like a lemon elixir in the morning, which is a glass of water with some squeezed lemon juice and apple cider vinegar that’s a really great way to kick-start your digestion and your liver health.
Fibre helps to remove excess oestrogen by binding to it and helping to remove it from the body. Making sure that you’re having plenty of fibre in the form of complex carbohydrates, beans, pulses and lots of fruits and vegetables, is important in reducing headaches and migraines.
A high level of stress in your life can mean you are more prone to them so think about trying to reduce that as much as possible to minimise the severity and frequency of the migraines. Your cortisol and adrenaline levels are really common triggers for bringing on hormonal symptoms and blocking production of hormones in the body, so making sure that you reduce levels of stress in your life is integral. Now I know I’m making that sound really easy and it isn’t necessarily but it doesn’t have to be taking full days out. Just think about trying to put a little bit of self-care into your day and taking time out to relax and recharge as it can be really beneficial.
There are also some nutrients which when you have low levels can trigger migraines and hormonal headaches.
Magnesium is one of the key ones as it helps to relax our muscles it helps to support proper nerve function so if you’re not getting enough magnesium in your diet or you think you may have lower levels of this particular nutrient then it’s worth addressing. My favorite way to do that is another way which is also self-care is to have a magnesium salt bath. Add some baking powder and apple cider vinegar, which I know sounds completely bonkers, but actually helps to draw the minerals out
the salts that you’ve added to your bath. Have a soak in them for 20 minutes 2-3 times a week and that will help to raise your levels. You can also get a spray which goes directly onto your skin or you can try and get more through food (things like beans, pulses, green leafy vegetables) are all good sources.
Another essential nutrient is B2 and there has been lots of research studies that show low levels can be genetic and trigger headaches and migraines. B2 supports the body in producing energy, and when levels dip so does your energy which can bring on headaches.
I also recommend a nutrient called CoQ10 as migrain sufferers have been found to be low in this nutrients and taking a supplement can be beneficial and so can 5-HTP which is talked about a lot when it comes to anxiety and depression but is also really beneficial as it’s a precursor to serotonin and has been found to reduce headache pains.
I hope this has been helpful for you I know that migraines can be particularly and debilitating and cause all sorts of issues for you and so I really want to help you to reduce symptoms and help you to feel better
If you’d like more advice on how to balance your hormones naturally then do come along and join my Facebook group The Hormonal Health Support Group, where I offer lots of advice, videos, recipes and tips.