Bioavailable Copper for Healing Migraine, Histamine, Herpes, and Hormones (Video)

This past week was a goldmine for me connecting dots in my ever-deepening understanding of migraine pathology. I’ve been dancing with joy because what I’ve discovered explains a LOT about the root cause of migraine.  And it all has to do with having sufficient bioavailable copper to heal your migraines.

As you know, I’ve been looking for that root cause in earnest because while my beloved Protocol does prevent me and others from having migraine, it clearly hasn’t solved the underlying cause since the migraines return when it is stopped.

I’m in the middle of selling my house and buying a new one so haven’t had time to write blog posts, but I was so excited about this information I decided to make a video for you to summarize what I’ve been learning. I don’t have time to write a transcript so I hope you can watch or listen to the video to get the full download.

In this video, you will learn about the importance of bioavailable copper and zinc and what that has to do with histamine, herpes, and hormones.  I’d also like to share my pate recipe here for those of you adventurous enough to incorporate it into your diet.

Comforting Low-histamine Corn Chowder Recipe

If there’s one great way to get potatoes into your diet (with all their minerals and insoluble fiber), chowder is certainly an excellent one.  Chowder is the ultimate comfort food, but many chowders contain seafood or stock that can be a trigger for migraine.  This recipe is a rich and vegetal version of traditional cream chowders, full of celery and leeks and herbs.  It’s great on cold or rainy days!

In a saucepan, saute:

3 T high heat cooking fat (such as this one)
1 chopped onion
1 chopped leek
3 sticks chopped celery
1 teaspoon thyme or rosemary or both
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

When onions are translucent, add:

2 large organic potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 cups of water

Simmer until potatoes are soft. Transfer the mixture to a blender and blend on medium speed until pureed, adding water if needed, then transfer blended soup back into the pan.

Finally, add:

1 cup of fresh (or 1 bag or 1 can of organic) corn kernels
1 Tablespoon of fresh cheese-free pesto (optional) – recipe here
juice from 1 lemon
1/2 cup of heavy whipping cream or coconut milk if you’re vegan

Add more water if needed to get to desired consistency, depending on how thick you like it
Add more salt and pepper to taste
Garnish with rosemary, cilantro, basil, parsley or fresh thyme

Enjoy!

Mineralized Water with Magnesium and Sodium Chloride (Video)

In this video I share how I make my own mineralized water.

Here is the recipe:
In a saucepan, combine equal parts magnesium chloride flakes to purified water.  Save this “magnesium oil” in a container with a lid and keep it next to your water filter so you can add it to water as you drink it.

1 teaspoon of magnesium oil is approximately 500mg of magnesium.
I use 1 teaspooon of the magnesium oil with a pinch of salt twice a day in a pint of purified water for a total of 1000mg a day of magnesium chloride.

To learn more about the amazing properties of natural, structured water, check out the links below.

 

Plant Remedy Revolution Summit Interview with Marya Gendron (Audio)

I was so excited to be featured in the Plant Remedy Revolution Summit recently with Shauna Wall. In this interview, Shauna Wall and I discuss the plant-based solutions to migraine headache that I’ve discovered as part of my SimplyWell Migraine Relief Protocol.

Shauna Wall is an herbalist and natural health educator that teaches the balance of tradition and science in plant medicine. She encourages us to stay open to the healing power of the plant kingdom and learn from the time-tested, healing power of our plant allies.  In the coursework, you will learn easy, accessible practices designed to breakthrough anxiety, heal your body and be fee of toxic side-effects.

Empower Yourself to Heal from Chronic Migraine

The SimplyWell Protocol is available in our shop along with other e-books and products related to nutritional healing of migraine.

Or go to our services page to book a one-on-one coaching session or hair tissue mineral analysis with Marya.

Insanely Nutritious Cooking Oil for Gut and Brain Health

I adore butter, red palm oil, and coconut oil.  All of them support gut health and brain health in their own particular ways.  So I decided to blend them all together into a medium-heat cooking oil to get all the benefits of each in one dollop.  This turned out delicious – the buttery flavor still permeates throughout, and the coconut flavor is not as domineering as it is straight.

Did you know that the vitamin A content from the Red Palm Oil provides as much vitamin A than supplementation with cod liver oil?  I got the idea of infusing red palm oil in other cooking oils from this paper here – in India vitamin A deficiency is a big problem and in the 30’s and 40’s they discovered they could solve this problem by infusing red palm oil into mustard cooking oil.

Because migraine is caused in part by lymphatic congestion, and the lymphatic system is a lipid-based system (ie, a fat-based system), consuming healthy fats is essential to support your body’s ability to detoxify. Fats are also a superb form of energy that are easily utilized by the body and do not (contrary to popular belief) lead to weight gain.

Saturated fats are preferable because they don’t go rancid/get oxidzed as easily as unsaturated fats. Saturated fats also have many other beneficial properties.

Butter is an excellent fat to incorporate into the diet liberally. Butter contains 3-4% butyric acid, the highest source for any food. Butyric acid is an excellent source of fuel for your cells. It’s very important to buy only grassfed, pastured, or organic ghee or butter to avoid contaminants which tend to bio-accumulate in the fat of animals raised for butter.

Coconut oil is a superb oil for supporting gut health.  The fatty acids in coconut oil increase butyric acid (butyrate) in the colon (prebiotic foods, once digested, also produce butyrate). Butyrate increases GABA, the calming neurotransmitter in the brain, which also puts the brakes on glutatmate toxicity. Butyrate also increases ketones in the liver, thereby optimizing blood sugar regulation and even ATP energy generation on a neuronal level.  Butyrate also helps to maintain the integrity of the gut lining. Warning: people sensitive to salycilates may not react well to coconut.

Red Palm Oil is an amazing oil which contains tocotrienols, a rare and important form of vitamin E, as well as squalene, a potent antioxidant which aids the body’s ability to eliminate environmental toxins, including radiation. Red palm oil is beneficial for arthritis, gastrointestinal upset, and gout.  It boosts energy and improves circulation. It helps to improve absorption of vitamin D and build important hormones such as progesterone (a glutamate scavenger). This amazing oil in unrefined red form is has also been shown to help with lead detoxification in rats, and to decrease blood platelet aggregation (ie, makes blood cells less sticky).  To top it off, red palm oil is also one of the highest plant-based sources of CoQ10.  Red palm oil is a medium-heat oil.  It is important that it be sourced in a way that doesn’t destroy ecosystems.  I use Nutiva Organic Red Palm Oil, which is grown in Ecuador rather than SE Asia so does not negatively affect Orangutang habitat.

Nutrient-dense Cooking Oil Blend Recipe

The exact ratios in this blend don’t really matter, but I like to divide the oils into roughly even thirds.  First, you’ll need to buy some organic unsalted butter. I use 8 sticks of butter gently warmed, then fill my quart mason jar 1/3 full.

With the butter still warm, add in another 1.5 cups of both red palm oil and coconut oil so that it will melt nicely. Easy does it!

I used to use ghee for my high cooking but I no longer do after discovering that it contains oxidized cholesterol.  While I have nothing against cholesterol, the oxidized form has been implicated in neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimers, and higher levels of oxidized cholesterol occur during migraine attacks than not.  Yes, I realize ghee is a great traditional fat used in Ayurveda for centuries, and it is certainly a superior fat to use over oxidized, highly processed polyunsaturated fatty acid vegetable oils.  But I can’t sanction it at this point.

It’s important to note that most industrial expeller-pressed oils (even organic) are poisonous and contribute to oxidative stress in the vascular tree and brain.  This is because the levels of heat used to process them before you even cook with them damage the fatty acid chains.

Also, a high smoke point has nothing to do with whether or not a vegetable oil will be good for you.  Whether or not a fat or oil smokes is not an indicator of the point at which it oxidizes.

 

Pan-roasted Brussel Sprouts

In my family’s constant experimentation with diet and nutrition, my husband recently went ketogenic on me. He basically lived off of grilled brussel sprouts, chocolate sweetened with xylitol, and huge tubs of almond butter.  He’s 6’5″ and it was a sight to behold him fuelling his lanky frame without carbs.  I wasn’t convinced of the healthfulness of the keto diet (except the part about him growing new mitochondria – very cool), but I really did enjoy those grilled brussel sprouts.  Of course, his brussel sprouts were roasted in bacon fat, which I can now happily enjoy (thanks to the SimplyWell Protocol).  But what I enjoyed even more was drizzling balsamic vinegar on top of these brussel sprouts, because he couldn’t eat the balsamic vinegar while going keto, and it made the dish that much tastier.

Bacon is full of nitrates, even the kind without nitrates added.  So, I can’t offer you a brussel sprout and bacon recipe, or a brussel sprout and balsamic recipe.  But what I can offer you is my attempt to recreate the tangy sweet goodness of the balsamic vinegar on a bed of grilled brussel sprouts.  I am very pleased with these.  This recipe serves 2.

In a cast-iron pan, sautee the following ingredients together under medium-high heat until the garlic and onions are slightly caramelized:
1 T butter or ghee
1 T Red Palm Oil (for the vitamin E, CoQ10, and beta carotene)
1/2 Onion
3 Cloves Garlic

Next, add the following two ingredients and cook for a few minutes so the flavors are evenly distributed:
1 T maple syrup
Squeeze of 1/2 lemon

Finally, turn up the heat and throw in
10 brussel sprouts, halved
salt and pepper to taste

Grill these on the pan for a few minutes until the brussel sprouts are browned on the edges.
Enjoy!

Why You Need to Know About Niacin B3 for Migraine

The hunt for B vitamins that don’t trigger migraine

Earlier last year, in my ongoing hunt for a Folk Medicine solution to easily, safely, and affordably abort migraine headaches, I got distracted by a long and circuitous diversion when I found myself studying B vitamins.  I wanted to understand why some people with migraine who clearly need B vitamins so much can’t tolerate them. I had personally been triggered by methylated B vitamins myself and had heard stories from clients reacting poorly to them.

In the process of discovering which B vitamins may be causing the most havoc for those with migraine, I also discovered that niacin worked beautifully to abort migraine.  But the irony is that it is niacin – aka nicotinic acid or B3 – that I was initially the most skeptical of.  I wrote about my concerns that niacin might be triggering migraine in this blog post:  (“Does Niacin B3 Contribute to Migraine and Histamine Intolerance?”). Please read that blog post for a primer on Niacin.

I was suspicious of niacin as a potential trigger because niacin is a “methyl sponge” – ie, it mops up methyl.  It is generally known that high histamine is associated with undermethylation.  I had tied my own migraines to histamine intolerance and helped many with migraine to eliminate their migraine symptoms through a low histamine diet while rebuilding gut health using my SimplyWell Protocol, with excellent results.

If it is true that those with high histamine are undermethylated already, wouldn’t lowering their methylation with niacin deepen the histamine load and add to migraines? This was my concern. Surely the few anecdotal reports of people I had found online who had had success with niacin to abort migraine were not really suffering from true migraine then – or were they?

While niacin does mop up methyl, it turns out it is actually required for the breakdown of histamine:

“Alcohol Dehydrogenase (ADH) is the final step in histamine breakdown. This is the same enzyme that breaks down alcoholic beverages. This explains why some individuals flush when they drink. It is also a good reason to perhaps skip cocktails, beer, and wine during hay fever season. This enzyme actually has four different cofactors including zinc, vitamin C, thiamine (B1) and nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD—a niacin-based flavoprotein).” (Source)

Folic acid and folate trigger migraine because they contribute to glutamate load – and niacin reduces folate.

It appears there is more to migraine than histamine or methylation. I’m beginning to wonder if in fact the low histamine diet and gut healing in the SimplyWell Protocol is successful because it also raises niacin (by way of feeding gut bacteria that produce it), and lowers glutamate.  Maybe glutamate toxicity is playing an even bigger role in migraine outcomes than histamine or methylation status.  Not so incidentally, it seems that folic acid and folate supplementation is the biggest culprit in triggering migraine (even methylated folate) – and niacin reduces folate.

“Folates are comprised of numerous glutamic acids conjugates. The higher the dose of folates, the greater the propensity towards an increase in the pool of free glutamate. Hence, the “excitatory” and neurological types of adverse effects of folate in certain individuals.” (Source)

According to Dr. Albert Mensah, those who are undermethylated have low brain serotonin and also

“. . . have a genetic tendency to be very depressed in calcium, magnesium, methionine, and Vitamin B-6 and may have excessive levels of folic acid in nuclei of brain cells.” (Source)

I make a point to eat a lot of vegetables to get naturally-occuring folate since I choose not to supplement with synthetic  folic acid or folate, for reasons stated above. One concern I had with taking niacin (eventhough I take mine in my own hand-blended B complex with other Bs but without folic acid or folate) was that it might deplete folate, since niacin-derived NAD is a necessary co-factor for the enzymes dihydrofolate reductase in the folate/tetrahydrobiopterin cycles and S-adenosylhomocysteine hydrolase in the methionine cycle (Source).

A recent blood test showed no folate deficiency even while supplementing with 80mg of niacin a day (and sometimes more when I aborted a headache) for three months. It seems my concerns about taking niacin depleting folate and folic acid may be unfounded – perhaps because undermethylators are high in folic acid.

Luckily, the B-complex B-Minus by Seeking Health contains no folic acid or folate (or methyl b12).  It also contains some niacin B3, whereas many other B blends contain niacinamide or non-flushing B3, which does not have the same benefits as niacin as nicotinic acid does.

Why niacin sufficiency is so important for those with migraine

Because migraine is a chronic systemic inflammatory condition affecting the whole body, there are many angles from which to view migraine causality.  One perspective worth recognizing is that migraine is a metabolic disease caused by inefficiencies in enzymatic processes.  Because vitamins, minerals, and amino acids are all needed for enzymes to work, it makes sense to ask to what extent nutritional deficiency is playing a role in migraine.  This is especially important in the case of niacin, which is used in more biochemical reactions than any other vitamin-derived cofactor once it is converted to the enzyme NAD.

 “. .Your body uses NAD (with a hydrogen it is NADH) in over 450 biochemical reactions, most of which are involved in anabolic and catabolic reactions. Most people tend to associate NAD with glycolosis (sugar breakdown) and ATP (energy production). However, NAD is involved in many other reactions as a cofactor, including either the synthesis (anabolism) or the breakdown (catabolism) of just about every molecule our cells make: steroids, prostaglandins, and enzymes. NAD is involved in cell signalling and assists in ongoing repair of your DNA.” (Source: Niacin, the Real Story)

Technically, niacin is the third B vitamin discovered (although because it can be made from tryptophan in the body it actually should be classed as an amino acid). Niacin deficiencies in the general population but also in those with migraine may be more widespread than realized because testing for niacin deficiency is not a common practice.

Niacin B3 is vitally important, especially for those with migraine because it:

  • raises blood sugar (good for migraineurs with low blood sugar)
  • breaks down glutamates (often the cause of that migraine that starts at 4am)
  • it helps synthesizes sex hormones like estrogen and progesterone (low estrogen and progesterone lead to migraine)
  • helps heal leaky gut
  • helps metabolize excess ammonia (cause of leaky gut and also brain inflammation)
  • increases serotonin
  • removes heavy metals
  • cleans out the lymphatic system
  • helps to break down beta-amyloid lesions in the brain (common in migraineurs)
  • thins the blood – ie, has an “anti-sludging effect” (migraineurs have sticky blood)
  • mops up adrenaline, thus reducing anxiety
  • improves sleep

Causes of niacin deficiency and pellagra

Compromised gut flora due to the use of antibiotics, consumption of high-carb diets, estrogen dominance, and stress all contribute to niacin deficiency. A diet high in the amino acid leucine may also contribute because it interferes with the conversion of tryptophan to niacin. Leucine is high in whey and soy protein concentrates and is also known as the food additive  E641 as a flavor enhancer (Source). Niacin deficiency can also be caused by Hartnup’s disease, where there is a block in the tryptophan-nicotinic acid pathway. Consumption of polyunsaturated fats DHA, EPA, and linoleic acid also play a role because they activate the conversion of tryptophan to quinolinic acid, and inhibit the formation of niacin (Source).

Problems caused by niacin deficiency can range from mild to fatal, as in the case of severe pellagra. Mild niacin deficiency is characterized by mental fatigue, irritability, weakness, indigestion, and skin irritations, while mild to advanced pellagra involves headaches, insomnia, loss of strength, light sensitivity, nausea, indigestion, and hypersensitivity to smells (Source). In acute niacin deficiency, an encephalopathy is found which closely resembles Wernicke’s syndrome – a thiamine B1 deficiency disease usually found in alcoholics and discovered post-mortem.

Prior to the discovery that pellagra was caused by niacin deficiency (and subsequent fortification of flour with niacin in 1940), it was thought to be an infectious disease.  Three million pellagra cases and 100,000 deaths resulted from niacin deficiency in the US in the first half of the 20th century – with 30,000 of those deaths occurring in 1930 following the Great Depression (Source: “Niacin, the Real Story”).

Given that migraine headache is experienced by a disproportionate amount of women compared to men, it’s really interesting to make note of the fact that:

“Pellagra occurs about twice as often in women as in men, and this is because estrogen activates an enzyme that alters metabolism of tryptophan, blocking the formation of niacin . . . Progesterone inhibits the activity of that enzyme. Progesterone also . . . decreases the excitatory carcinogens and increases the formation of niacin.” (Source)

Niacin is a known – but obscured – migraine solution

From my research it appears that the benefits of niacin for migraine are known but not widely shared, realized, or emphasized.  A few websites mention niacin as being helpful along with a long slew of other substances, most notably riboflavin (B2), feverfew, butterbur, ginger, magnesium, etc etc.  With niacin mentioned in passing along with this long list of other contenders, it is easily overlooked and does not stand out as a legitimate solution. The majority of the websites I saw didn’t mention that niacin could abort a migraine outright, or how to do it, they just said it was supportive of migraine.

The two sites I did find that said migraine could be aborted with niacin didn’t mention that it could also be used to prevent migraine, or why it worked.  The authors of the book “Niacin, the Real Story” (by Hoffer, Saul, Foster) only had a very small section on the topic sharing a single report from the Scottsdale Mayo Clinic in which a patient had responded to sustained-release niacin.  They also mention that a 2005 review of nine articles investigating niacin therapy for migraine stated:

“Intravenous and oral niacin has been employed in the treatment of acute and chronic migraine and tension-type headaches, but its use has not become part of contemporary medicine, nor have there been randomized controlled trials further assessing this novel treatment . . . Although niacin’s mechanisms of action have not been substantiated from controlled clinical trials, this agent may have beneficial effects upon migraine and tension-type headaches.” (Source)

Clearly, there is benefit in the use of niacin for migraine, but for some reason these benefits have become obscured, forgotten, ignored, buried, unrealized, or just not very rigorously studied. I want to bring niacin back into the limelight.

Going off the Protocol to experiment with niacin

A nagging voice of intuition kept asking me why there would be anecdotal reports and some support from studies that niacin helped migraine if it actually exacerbated it. I’m glad I got over my initial caution with niacin so I could discover its benefits.

I’ve learned I have to stay on my SimplyWell Protocol to be completely free from migraines. But I still go off of the Protocol form time to time to test the extent to which the underlying root causes of my migraine have been healed (or not), and to experiment with new approaches to migraine.  After three weeks off the Protocol, the telltale migraines do come back. Last time I went off the Protocol, I used this as an opportunity to try out niacin. The niacin worked beautifully (usually at a dose of 500mg) to dissolve both headaches and a few migraines.  I then went back on the Protocol.  Each time I get off of it, I’m reminded that preventing migraine with the Protocol is much easier and more desirable than having to rely on a pill to abort migraine.

Now that I’m back on my beloved SimplyWell Protocol, and am migraine free again, I still continue to utilize niacin in my B complex that I make myself.  I love niacin, because it clearly stabilizes my mood, improves my sleep quality, has completely eliminated any brain fog I used to wake up with in the morning (which usually went away after an hour), and has given me more resilience in being able to eat very high histamine foods without even a glimmer of brain fog.  I take it daily, and truly appreciate it’s value for improving my quality of life. I try not to share anything with my migraine clients that I have not personally tried or use regularly myself.

Feedback from clients on niacin

I’ve received feedback from a number of clients who have used niacin for migraine, with mixed results. As with all things, diversity in response, approach, and interest is the name of the game.  That includes people who just don’t like the idea of taking a synthetic supplement, even while they rely on synthetic pharmaceuticals to abort migraine.

A few of my clients have had great success aborting migraine with niacin – these are the people who don’t mind the flush. One client even said that the flush of niacin felt almost identical to the flush she gets from her Imitrex shots. Some people, myself included, enjoy the flush.

Another client was encouraged by the research I shared but chose to do a lot more research herself and after doing so, decided to take time-release niacin before bed.  She no longer wakes up with migraine in the morning like she used to, and she has replaced her nightly triptans with niacin. Personally, I am not in favor of time-release niacin due to its potential challenges it poses for the liver to process it, but my client has done her research and made her own conclusions.

Others can’t tolerate the flush and some even find the experience downright awful (itching, burning, prickling, shivers, nausea).  From the people I’ve worked with taking niacin, I’ve observed that it is generally those who have had migraine for a longer time period, who eat a normal diet including high histamine foods, and who also take medications for migraine that have the most unpleasant reactions.  For these people niacin may not be a viable option for aborting migraine, though they may benefit from getting smaller doses in a B complex taken with food to avoid such reactions.  On the other hand I also had a client who had migraines for a long period and took medications while eating high-histamine food who felt fine with the flush and used niacin to get off her meds.

Some people don’t even get a flush even on very high doses of niacin, and also aren’t able to abort a migraine with niacin without a flush – while other people can abort a migraine with niacin even in the absence of a flush. So responses are all over the board.

Flushing from niacin usually indicates a high level of histamine (since niacin empties the mast cells of histamine), while a lack of flushing from niacin usually indicates a very high threshold for niacin and potentially a very deep deficiency and/or an excess stress manifested as adrenaline in the body.

“When an individual is stressed, their requirements for vitamin B3 will need to increase, due to increased amounts of adrenalin (epinephrine) being released from the adrenal medulla, creating more oxidized adrenalin. To convert the increased oxidized adrenalin back to original adrenalin, the reducing ability of NAD is necessary, and thus the need for more vitamin B3. Perhaps the lack of or reduced flushing among these patients was due to an increased metabolic need for vitamin B3 (i.e., a more rapid conversion of vitamin B3 to NAD within the body), necessitated by heightened periods of stress.” (Source)

Most people can abort a migraine with 250mg of niacin on an empty stomach or with only a small amount of food if the migraine is caught early on.  If it is not taken until the migraine is advanced, more may be needed for it to work.  Generally 250-500mg is sufficient to abort a migraine for most people, but individual tolerances for niacin vary widely.

Follow the money

In 2017, the global market for drugs used to treat migraine is $3 billion and rapidly growing. The money spent to pay expert practitioners to (often unsuccessfully) treat migraine is surely even more. Niacin costs about .06 cents per capsule.  Triptans cost about $28 per pill. The new CGRP receptor antagonist drugs, which use recombinant DNA, will probably cost tens of thousands of dollars per shot, and may not be covered by insurance.  The fact that niacin is available in most every drug store or grocery store and is not widely known about for use with migraine is amazing when you consider how incredibly important, supportive, and effective it is at addressing some of the root causes of migraine.

I find it inexcusable that so many people are suffering so much with migraine headache – fully 1/3 of them caused by medications themselves – even while such simple, effective, and affordable solutions such as niacin exist. The good news is that niacin is only one of many natural approaches to aborting migraine.

Want to learn more about niacin for migraine?

This blog post is an excerpt from a new e-book I am writing that includes more information on niacin, including:
  • Why not just get niacin from food?
  • Niacin, Tryptophan, and Serotonin
  • Gut flora imbalances and their effects on niacin
  • Niacin and hormones
  • How niacin works with riboflavin
  • Is niacin a replacement for the SimplyWell Protocol?
  • How to abort a migraine with niacin
  • How to prevent migraine with niacin
  • Cautions, contraindications, and safety concerns with niacin
The good news is that for those who have sensitive stomachs or cannot tolerate the niacin flush, I’ve discovered another even gentler and more effective way to abort migraine using an essential amino acid that is virtually unknown as a solution for migraine.
I have searched for over a year to find alternatives to NSAID’s or pharmaceuticals that are effective, and I’m so excited to have found them. The ability to get rid of headaches and migraines using natural supplements can be a huge leverage point during the first few months on the SimplWell Protocol because these supplements are supportive and nutritional rather than suppressive and toxic.
Stay tuned – this e-book will be available in the coming months.

Two Years on the SimplyWell Migraine Relief Protocol

How Did Migraine Become My Life?

A year into my chronic migraine saga post c-section I was bewildered to realize that my life was still completely dominated by pain, indigestion, brain fog, poor sleep, and the host of problems that stem from that.  It never occurred to me that at such a relatively young age (34) I would find myself chronically ill with migraines. That was something that happened to other people, right?

Two years after the c-section, I was still sick as a dog.  I spent all of my time researching and experimenting, trying to find my way out of the maize of hell I was in. Occasionally the magnitude of the problem and the fact that my migraines still persisted despite my best efforts became totally overwhelming.  Apparently, this was now my life. I was married to an amazing man and had the sweetest son – a son who needed my attention and energy.  But my full love of life, my full energy, and my sense of self had been very eroded.  I was a shadow of my former self.

Discovering the SimplyWell Protocol

I did not know when or if I would ever have a breakthrough, but I did. I’ve called my breakthrough The SimplyWell Protocol.  I call it this because two of the most important aspects of the Protocol (carrots and potatoes) are very simple, seemingly mediocre foods – and as such, easily overlooked.  I had not expected that my relief would come from such a humble and unexpected place, especially after all I had tried and the doctors I had seen. (I’ve considered rebranding my name because many people don’t find lifestyle change simple.  What they mean is that it’s not easy.  Simple and easy are not the same thing).

I discovered the SimplyWell Protocol in January of 2015. I still had indigestion, mild headaches, and a fair amount of brain fog, but the migraines were gone and, because I was so relieved to have a break from them and to have found a solution, I was very diligent in following the Protocol.

Refining the SimplyWell Protocol

By the time summer 2015 came around, I had decided to refine the protocol by diversifying the sources of prebiotics beyond resistant starch in an attempt to increase the diversity of flora in my gut microbiome.  That step, combined with all of the vitamin D I was getting from the summer sunlight, meant that my brain fog largely dissipated and I started to feel strangely normal.

The discovery of the six steps that I now call the SimplyWell Protocol allowed me to hold a job.  By following the lifestyle changes outlined in my Protocol, I was able to continue my life with a chronic debilitating condition while exhibiting very few of the symptoms of chronic migraine, and without the use of any pharmaceutical or over-the-counter pain meds of any kind.

Eventually, after feeling great and migraine free for six months, I started to slack off on the Protocol. I also wanted to find out what would happen if I went off it. I learned that the underlying cause of my chronic migraines was and is not CURED by my Protocol.  I had to – and still have to – stay on the Protocol to maintain a state of being symptom free.  I’m grateful for this state of normalcy while on the Protocol. (My belief is that the pathogenic and histamine-producing microbial populations which seeded my gut in the hospital post c-section got the prime real-estate of the inner gut lining and that this population remains difficult to uproot even while the Protocol helps to shift the overall biofilm towards healthier bacteria).

This is the liberty and resilience that the Protocol offers, but it is also risky. The danger of relapse inevitably arises once people start to feel good on the Protocol. They feel so good they stop taking the steps necessary to maintain resilience in the face of eating high histamine foods, getting triggered by a stressful life event, or just being overworked and too busy like most of us moderns are to properly take care of themselves.

On and Off the Protocol Over the Past Two Years

All told, I’ve taken about six months off of the Protocol in the past two years.  Four of those six months were a deliberate experiment that I took to see if I could reset my gut flora using B vitamins and vitamin D, as outlined by Dr. Stasha Gominak.  The other two months off of the Protocol represent the total amount of time that I’m estimating I went off the protocol through accident, negligence, or laziness.  These bouts of slipping off the protocol usually lasted about two weeks each. The migraines do come back after about two weeks off of the Protocol.  Currently I am on another break from the Protocol as I experiment with exploring the underlying emotional basis for migraine.  You can learn more about that here.

I have had a handful of migraines in the past two years, as compared to about 8-10 migraines a month prior to discovering the Protocol.  I will outline the causes of the migraines I have had below.  But I think it’s also important to point out that one very big difference in my life is that not only are migraines very scarce and I always know why they crop up when they do, but also the overall quality of my life is greatly improved because I have a clear head without other headaches or brain fog the rest of the time.  My quality of life and ability to function as a mother has drastically improved, and my brain and gut health continue to get better as I learn more about sleep hygiene and nutrition, especially the importance of B vitamins (all of these topics will be explored in my comprehensive online course).  This has been an amazing journey.

Over the past two years, I’ve had migraines from the following triggers:

  • Extreme stress + sleep deprivation
    The sleep deprivation has been ongoing for 7 months now that I have a second child and am breastfeeding every night.  This makes me less resilient to stress. With sleep deprivation, melatonin levels get disrupted.  Melatonin is known to inhibit CGRP, the vasoactive peptide responsible for causing migraine.  It is very hard to heal migraine with disrupted sleep.  Parenting small kids is very stressfull in general.  Stress management is a hugely important aspect of healing migraines, and it’s one that I am still learning.
  • Going off the Protocol accidentally or through negligence while eating high histamine foods
    These migraines were no mystery.  One day I woke up with a migraine and realized that in addition to being off the Protocol for almost two weeks, I had eaten nothing but high-histamine foods the day before: yogurt, pizza, dried fruit, chocolate, kombucha, spinach salad, and a bone broth soup with cayenne pepper. Ooops!  While eating high histamine foods becomes less and less of a problem while on the Protocol, eating only high histamine foods while off the Protocol very predictably leads to migraines.  No surprises there.
  • Experiment with arginine
    One disadvantage of not getting migraines often is not being able to experiment with potential solutions anymore. I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I actually tried to induce a headache with salami and cheese to see if calcium pyruvate and arginine would clear it up.  When it did, I decided to take more arginine – which gave me a migraine.  What I did find out from this, however, is that small doses of arginine with pyruvate may work very well to help the body eliminate glutamates, whereas larger doses dilate the blood vessels too much.  Valuable information, paid for dearly.  (Don’t tell my husband that that migraine was self-induced, K? And if you’re reading this babe, sorry for making you stay home with the kids on that day and missing work).
  • B12 supplementation
    This was a migraine from a single dose of methylated B12 that I took early on after discovering the Protocol.  I have since read that B12 can potentially be toxic if taken when glutathione levels are low. (Folate and folic acid are also huge migraine triggers, even moreso than B12 is).

I’ve also had a few strong headaches that were caused by viral infections.  These headaches were different in characteristics than migraine – pain was in a different place (more at the base of the skull/occiput rather than deep behind the eye).  I was still pleasantly surprised to see that these two viral headaches I had responded well to the cabbage compress.

Full Disclosure

It was never my intention to have a c-section, or to get chronic migraines, or to become a migraine relief coach (at least, it was not my ego’s intention, even while it clearly is part of my soul’s path).  Given the unintentional way that I ended up in the position I am in, I have nothing to offer but honesty and transparency in my process of healing myself.

The Protocol is quite young, and what I offer migraine clients is always evolving as I research migraine. I continue to find more solutions to migraine headache above and beyond the Protocol, but to date, the Protocol remains the best way that I’ve found to relieve migraine without meds for myself and those that I coach.

It would be nice if there was a natural silver bullet out there that acted as effectively as pharmaceuticals without the side-effects. The protocol is not a silver bullet.  It is only a tool. If there is any silver bullet, it is each individual person to the extent that they recognize that healing happens through consistent dietary and lifestyle change, accomplished through an inner motivation to live a better life.

It has been a great joy not only to empower myself to take better care of myself so as to be free from migraines, but to help others do so.  The pleasure of my work comes not just from feeling the satisfaction in knowing that low-tech, simple foods can so radically help us, but also from seeing people find the power in themseves to transform their lives.  Plants and information are only healing to the extent that people apply the information and use the plants.  The only thing that ever heals people is themselves.

 

 

Emotional Healing for Migraine with Dr. Sarno’s TMS Concept (Video)

In this video I explore my own recent reflections on healing migraine as TMS pain.  TMS, or Tension Myoneural Syndrome is a concept originated by Dr. Sarno, and reviewed by Steve Ozanich in his book “The Great Pain Deception.”

Dr. Sarno’s basic premise is that chronic pain is a clever way that the body uses to express deep-seated emotions that we as children learned to repress because we believed that expressing emotions our parent’s disapproved of would lead to use being abandoned/cut off from our source of life.

It is not a new idea to me that the body takes on the stress of unexpressed emotions, or that repressed emotions can manifest as disease. It is also not a new idea that the body actually IS our subconscious. What is new is the idea that pain is an actual diversion tactic that the mind uses to avoid unconscious rage.

I’m compelled by this idea. So I decided to go off the Protocol to see if this will really work. After all, I’d rather not have to eat potato starch every day for the rest of my life. I am happy to find a better solution to the Protocol if one exists.

Find out more about what I’ve learned in the two weeks I’ve been off the protocol as I reflect on and experiment with Dr. Sarno’s ideas in the video below.  Enjoy!

 

Here’s Part 2