Savory Indian Prebiotic Lentil Dosa Wraps

The recipe below is a wonderful Indian flatbread that is delicious, savory, and incredibly satisfying for those of us who are avoiding wheat and gluten.  It is also a perfect dish for those of us wanting to improve gut health through prebiotics – since the resistant starch in the rice and lentils of this dosa batter will feed the friendly gut bacteria, thus lowering inflammation.  Lentils are an excellent source of iron!!

I have used a variety of different types of lentils to make this batter – from French green lentils to the little red lentils.  My personal favorite is the traditional yellow dal lentils that can be found in Indian markets and organic in some health food stores.

While this flatbread becomes more flavorful and fluffy the longer the batter is fermented, for our purposes in making a low-histamine wrap we will not ferment it as long.  It is sufficient to soak the rice and lentil batter covered on the counter for 3-4 hours until the grains have softened up for a smooth batter. For those who only get migraines once in awhile, it should be fine to keep the remaining dosa batter in the fridge overnight and use the next day, since the level of fermentation at that point is nowhere near as problematic as other foods that have been fermented for longer time periods.

These dosas are great used as a wrap for traditional Indian fillings like potato curry, but also good filled with any number of other savory ingredients for which you would normally use a flour tortilla.

Prebiotic Dosa Batter Recipe

1.5 cups of lentils (you can use a mixture of channa dal, red lentils, green lentils, or urad dal – or any of these alone)
2 cups of rice (basmati, jasmine, or parboiled rice)
1/4 teaspoon fenugreek seeds (optional)
1/2 t salt

Blend ingredients in a powerful blender such as a Vitamix at high speed until the grains have turned into a fine flour.  Add water gradually until the batter forms a paste, similar in consistency to crepe batter – or as desired, depending on how thick you want the dosa.  I perfer a thin crisp dosa made with a thinnner batter. (Alternately, you can soak your grains until the water runs clear and then blend the soaked grains in water to make the desired consistency).

Let batter mixture sit covered on the counter for about 4 hours in the blender, then blend again for a few minutes to make the batter extra smooth.  You can also leave the batter in the fridge for up to 8 hours before blending.  If you are highly sensitive to fermented foods and get very frequent migraines, err on the side of cooking with a fresher batter.

Heat a cast-iron skillet on medium-high heat with ghee or a high-heat cooking oil like coconut or grapeseed oil.  Pour a ladleful of batter into the pan and spread it into a circular shape.  You can add herbs sprinkled into the batter at this point if you prefer. Cook on medium-high heat until the batter bubbles or is crisp brown on the other side, then flip and cook the other side for a few seconds until lightly browned.

Eat hot and enjoy!

Another version of this recipe can be found here.

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’][/author_image] [author_info]Marya Gendron is a biodynamic craniosacral therapist, health coach, and wellness researcher. She specializes in chronic migraine headache relief and alleviation of brain fog, indigestion, and histamine intolerance through plant-based solutions.

The SimplyWell Protocol is available here, or you can book a consultation with Marya.
Learn more about Marya’s healing journey here.
[/author_info] [/author]



Low Nitrate Green Drink Recipe that Won’t Trigger Migraine

Are you aware that some green leafy veggies are high in nitrates and therefore may contribute to migraine headaches? Hence the need for a low nitrate green drink.

While higher levels of nitric oxide (and raw, green, leafy veggies) may be a good thing for people with hypertension and high blood pressure, it’s not so great for those of us with hypotension and low blood pressure.  Nitrates contribute to vasodilation and low blood pressure, and when our blood pressure is low (as most of ours are who are prone to migraines), there is insufficient blood and therefore oxygen getting to the head (as well as impingement on nearby cranial nerves). If you’re not familiar with this problem, please read my blog post “Migraine Trigger Alert! High Levels of Nitrates in Green Leafy Veggies.”

Below is the recipe I use when I want a low nitrate green drink.

It’s absolutely delicious, and the mint acts as an antihistamine! According to Anthony William, cucumber juice helps to reduce nausea.

Cucumber juice is also one of the best natural diuretics around, aiding in the excretion of wastes through the kidneys and helping to dissolve uric acid accumulations such as kidney and bladder stones. It has the ability to help reduce edema, bloating and swelling in the body.  It also has wonderful anti-inflammatory benefits which can significantly benefit autoimmune and neurological disorders such as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, Migraines, Anxiety, Depression, Shingles, Eczema, Psoriasis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Multiple Sclerosis, & Lupus. (Source).

Run these veggies through your juicer and enjoy!

1/2 head of Romaine Lettuce
1 medium sized cucumber
1/2 large pear
1/2 cup fresh mint
1 carrot
1/2 lemon without peel
1 stick of celery
1 inch of ginger (optional)
1 carrot (optional)

I hope this information will empower you to keep eating your greens in a way that is truly nourishing to you given your unique sensitivities. I will continue to update this article as I learn more about nitrates.

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’][/author_image] [author_info]Marya Gendron is a biodynamic craniosacral therapist and health coach specializing in chronic migraine headache relief and alleviation of brain fog, indigestion, and histamine intolerance through plant-based solutions. She practices out of Portland, Oregon. In January of 2016, Marya healed herself of chronic debilitating migraine headaches caused by pharmaceutical medications she received after a c-section operation. Her life purpose is to educate people about broader health-care and self-care options through promotion of specific fabulous medicinal foods that have been forgotten or ignored. [/author_info] [/author]

Rehydrate with this DIY Electrolyte Recipe to Get Rid of Migraines

DIY electrolyte recipe

The Key to Proper Hydration is Electrolytes!

Yes, we’ve all heard this one before – those with migraines need to hydrate.  What some of us haven’t heard is that drinking water doesn’t make your cells hydrated if your electrolyte balance is off.  The cells need an optimal ratio of potassium to sodium in order for the potassium/sodium channels to work (as well as magnesium and calcium, but potassium and sodium are the most important for actually getting rid of a migraine). I’m sharing my own DIY electrolyte recipe so that you can make some yourself and have it on hand to drink when you feel a migraine coming on, or preventatively.

Buying pre-formulated electrolyte powders won’t work as well because most of them are formulated for athletes who lose a lot of sodium or aren’t directly formulated for migraineurs. Migraineurs need a higher potassium to sodium ratio to help the sodium potassium channels work optimally properly. Migraineurs also lose more electrolytes due to kidney dysfunction, so must replenish more frequently than most people to stay hydrated (since their kidneys don’t reabsorb minerals as efficiently).

DIY Electrolyte Recipe for Migraine

4 parts potassium gluconate powder (I use NOW brand potassium gluconate)
1 part sodium chloride salt (I use sea salt or Himalayan Pink Salt but any kind will do)
8 parts Acerola Cherry Powder Vitamin C (I have used Terrasoul Superfoods Brand)

To make a big batch of electrolyte powder reflecting the above ratios, I tend to mix up 1/2 cup of potassium gluconate, 1/8 cup of salt, and 1 cup of acerola powder.  Then I mix approximately 1 Tablespoon of this mixture in 1-2 cups of water or juice (depending on your sensitivity to sugar).  I add 1 teaspoon of maple syrup for taste so that it’s not so tart, tho it will work just as well without it.

Alternately, if you’d like to get phosphorous and calcium in your electrolyte drink, you can also use SaltSticks. For every 1 SaltSticks capsule use 1 teaspoon of potassium powder (I use NOW brand potassium gluconate).  I just open up 30 capsules of SaltSticks, pour them into a jar and mix them with 10 Tablespoons of potassium powder and 20 Tablespoons of Acerola powder so I have a lot on hand.

Note that I’ve added Vitamin C to this DIY electrolyte recipe (which isn’t an electrolyte) because it is a mast cell stabilizer, supports brain health, and lowers histamine.  Unlike lab-created vitamin C powders which are created through a fermentation process, Acerola powder offers up vitamin C in a whole-food form.  You can make this electrolyte mix without the vitamin C but the vitamin C will greatly help those with migraines.  Vitamin C is incredibly important for both brain and adrenal health, since it helps to increase progesterone (a glutamate scavenger) and serotonin (which most people with migraine are low in).

I take this electrolyte drink for maintenance but it can be very effective if you feel a migraine coming on or have brain fog.  You may need to take this every few hours and/or drink it with a lot of extra water to stave a migraine off.

Adding in Magnesium as an Essential Electrolyte

Personally, I also like to add magnesium chloride to this DIY electrolyte recipe, because it is easier for me to take this all at once rather than separately.  I’ve found I do better taking magnesium in the morning rather than evening.  I make my own magnesium chloride at a 1:1 ratio with hot water until the chloride flakes dissolve, then add 1/2 teaspoon of this to my electrolyte drink.  Magnesium is essential for proper absorption of Vitamin D and is a precursor to Serotonin (among other things).

One of the many chemical reactions in your body is the release of serotonin.  Serotonin acts as a neurotransmitter by relaying messages from one area of the brain to another.  Of the approximately 40 million brain cells, most are influenced by serotonin either directly or indirectly.  This includes brain cells related to mood, depression, sexual desire and function, sleep, memory, appetite and some social behavior.

Serotonin is dependent on magnesium.  The biochemical reactions necessary for serotonin, which is the brains natural feel good drug, cannot function properly if you are suffering from low magnesium. (Source)

Taking supplemental magnesium will make your stool softer. Magnesium gluconate seems to be the most well-tolerated form of magnesium taken internally. Using this same 1:1 ratio of magnesium chloride flakes to water to make a magnesium oil that can be applied topically is an alternative solution to oral intake for those that have trouble digesting the magnesium.

Also, keep in mind that magnesium is necessary in the body for proper detoxification, therefore, may cause detoxification symptoms with its use. Detoxification symptoms include headache, fatigue, brain fog, body ache, and other similar ailments, so it’s important to go slow if you are just starting out with magnesium supplementation.

Test How Well this Drink is Working by Measuring Your Blood Pressure

Of course, you should know whether this drink is working for you by way of your symptoms improving or being alleviated.  But it’s also valuable to check your blood pressure.  Most people with migraine have low blood pressure.  You can buy a hand-held blood pressure cuff at your local drug store.  You need to know your normal resting blood pressure in order to see how much your blood pressure will go up after getting proper electrolytes.

For me, my normal blood pressure is 100/60.  I have brain fog symptoms starting at about 94/60.  Taking salt or electrolytes usually raises my blood pressure back to 98 or 100/60, and symptoms subside.

Happy hydrating!

Please note that this information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose or treat migraines, or act as a replacement for medical care from a medical professional.

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’][/author_image] [author_info]Marya Gendron is a biodynamic craniosacral therapist and health coach specializing in chronic migraine headache relief and alleviation of brain fog, indigestion, and histamine intolerance through plant-based solutions. She practices out of Portland, Oregon. In January of 2016, Marya healed herself of chronic debilitating migraine headaches caused by pharmaceutical medications she received after a c-section operation. Her life purpose is to educate people about broader health-care and self-care options through promotion of specific fabulous medicinal foods that have been forgotten or ignored. She is actively trying to form a Folk Medicine movement to transform the culture of suppresive and poisonous medications to one of holistic health accomplished through an educated, pro-active, and mutually-supportive community.[/author_info] [/author]


Hypertensive Essential Oils for Migraine & Headache (DIY)

You’ve probably noticed that it’s not just synthetic fragrances that are a horrible trigger when you have headache and migraine symptoms – some essential oils (especially the more floral and low-note oils like jasmine and patchouli) can wreak havoc on your fragile brain too.  That’s because those and many other oils are hypotensive (ie, vasodilating) oils. Therefore, migraineurs may want to avoid geranium, jasmine, marjoram, rose, valerian, lemon, melissa, neroli, nutmeg, vetivert, and ylang ylang essential oils, especially when they are symptomatic.

As we know, migraine for many of us is triggered by vasodilation  – which means blood vessels impinge on nearby cranial nerves in the neck leading up to the head.  This blood vessel dilation is responsible for low blood pressure and a lack of blood flow and oxygen to the brain.  In order to constrict our blood vessels and improve blood flow to the head, we need vasoconstrictive (ie, hypertensive) essential oils.  And it turns out that there are many more oils aside from the classical headache treatment using peppermint oil that can help us, which Mother Nature has so kindly provided!

In this blog post, I want to share with you my recipe for a vasoconstrictive/hypertensive essential oil blend.  The oils I’ve chosen to use in my own SimplyWell Migraine, Headache, & Brain Fog Support Blend are only a few of the vasoconstrictive essential oils out there. My friend Lauren over at AroMed essential oils noted to me that all of the oils chosen in this blend are also great for digestive issues.  No surprises there, since most migraines are digestive migraines!

So Which Essential Oils are Hypertensive?

The research into the properties of most of these oils is seemingly straightforward, but we need to keep in mind that many plants are adaptogenic – meaning that a single plant can respond to us in a way that is not static, but rather catered to what our particular imbalance is.  For example, some plants can raise blood pressure in someone with low blood pressure, and lower blood pressure in someone with high blood pressure. Neat, huh?  Seriously folks, plants are magical, kindred helpers!  This adaptogenic ability of some plants may explain some of the discrepancies when reading about an oil being both hypertensive AND hypotensive.

From my research, I’ve read that the following oils will help to constrict blood vessels and thereby raise blood pressure: grapefruit, black pepper, frankincense, cypress, orange, rosemary, peppermint, basil, thyme, balsam of peru, hyssop, geranium rose, and holy basil. (I’ll be sure to add to the list as I uncover more research).

Here’s my personal take on the recipe:

I believe that true Folk Medicine is medicine that is created by and accessible to the people – which is why I am sharing my own personal blend here for those of you who like to make your own products rather than buy them.  Feel free to tweak the ratios of the oils presented here and share what you’ve learned in the comments below if you feel called.

3 parts organic grapefruit essential oil
3 parts organic black pepper essential oil
2 parts basil organic essential oil
1 part organic rosemary essential oil
1 part organic peppermint essential oil
1 part organic frankincense essential oil
2 parts or more organic olive oil (depending on how concentrated you want this)

I decided to make my blend with 20% organic olive oil.  Why?  Who want’s diluted essential oils?  Well, because of the fiery quality of the peppermint and because some people are more sensitive to straight essential oils when applied neat to the skin.  Everyone’s different, so I’ve added organic olive oil to the blend to buffer some of the intensity of the oil while applied topically, but keeping it potent enough to be very aromatic and effective simply by inhaling.

The olive oil doesn’t serve here as a base carrier oil though – it has many therapeutic properties.  I’m madly in love with olive oil, and here’s why: olive oil is high in oleic acid, which increases DAO by 500% (thereby helping to bread down histamine, but only relevant when ingesting).  It’s been demonstrated that olive oil raises serotonin levels, and that just the smell of olive oil can positively affect blood sugar and satiety. A phenolic compound contained in virgin organic olive oil, named oleocanthal, shares unique analgesic and anti-inflammatory characteristics with Ibuprofen.

Olive oil has also been shown to reduce neuro-inflammation from pesticide exposure in rats. That might be why consuming some olive oil will help to eliminate migraine symptoms if you happen to indulge in something made with wheat flour from grain doused in roundup or other pesticides. I’ve personally noted a big difference in my reaction to wheat, and I wonder if this is due not to the gluten in wheat, but to different farming practices for wheat grown in different regions. (Wheat grown in damper regions is more likely to be sprayed with roundup to “finish” the wheat, since roundup is a dessicant and will dry kernels out evenly.  Roundup is also regularly used on oats, barley, and beans for the same reason – even though these are not genetically-engineered, roundup-ready crops).

How to Use the Oil

Although I am not marketing my blend for internal use due to liability issues, the oils are organic so they are therapeutic grade – and I know that some people (such as myself) are comfortable with using organic oils internally and probably will.  In my own case, I have used this oil blend successfully to mitigate some brain fog that I got after indulging in a bowl of spicy New Mexico green chile.  I placed a single drop of this blend on the roof of my mouth in the area where the soft palate begins.  This is also an area right below the pterygopalatine ganglion (also known as the sphenopalatine ganglion). Stimulation of this ganglion has recently been shown to diminish cluster headaches. The fibers that go through this ganglion also go through the trigeminal nucleus along with the trigeminal nerve. The vagus nerve goes through the trigeminal nucleus as well. The glossopharyngeal nerve may also be affected by essential oils placed on the palate. This nerve innervates the partotid gland, which is directly responsible for vasodilation.  All of the nerves mentioned here are implicated in migraine.

Important Note: One reason that I am not recommending this oil for internal use even though many could and might benefit from it that way is because grapefruit is known to affect many pharmaceutical medications – the juice, at least, can increase the absorption of the drug into the bloodstream.  I have no idea if the compounds in the oils would do that too, but if you are on meds, it is best to be cautious ingesting this oil or drinking grapefruit juice or eating grapefruit.

To use the oil aromatically rather than topically, place 4-8 drops of it onto a tissue or your hand and inhale until symptoms improve. For migraine at night, place the tissue near your pillow and sleep on your side to breathe the aroma continuously.


Don’t want to make it yourself? You can get the blend in our shop!

Vasoconstrictive Blend of Organic Essential Oils

For those of you who aren’t really into DIY, I’ve made my blend available for sale as a service.  Buying all the oils in bulk to produce your own blend can get expensive, so if you don’t want to go that route of investing upfront in all the oils, I’ve done that for you.

We’re so excited to make this essential oil blend available in our shop after receiving great feedback from those who tested it out for us. This blend of oils can help to alleviate brain fog and headaches and reduce the severity of migraines. It is a great tool to have on hand while you are working to heal your gut with the SimplyWell Migraine Relief Protocol (at which point, you shouldn’t need this oil anymore!)

How nice of Mother Nature to make all this medicine available to us!

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’][/author_image] [author_info]Marya Gendron is a biodynamic craniosacral therapist, health coach, and wellness researcher. She specializes in chronic migraine headache relief and alleviation of brain fog, indigestion, and histamine intolerance through plant-based solutions.

The SimplyWell Protocol is available here, or you can book a consultation with Marya.
Learn more about Marya’s healing journey here.
[/author_info] [/author]


The Cheese That Won’t Trigger Migraines: DIY Almond Feta Recipe

A few years ago, my parents decided to experiment with going vegan for three months.  They loved it so much, they are still vegan now.  Whenever I go home to visit them, my father serves up this delicious almond cheese with many meals.  He makes it a few times a week, and many of his non-vegan neighbors also make it now just because it tastes so good.

This exquisite vegan cheese has a lot to offer those of us who are migraine prone (even if we are not vegan) because it is not fermented and therefore won’t trigger a histamine response like most cheeses or fermented dairy will.

Through all of my experimenting with different ways to eat, I’ve learned that anything that is perceived as a limitation (such as not being able to eat cheese) is really just an invitation to explore a whole new world of options that would have never been discovered otherwise.

This almond feta cheese shows us that we can avoid fermented dairy products and still enjoy creamy, savory, “cheese”. This cheese is also great for those of us who are migraine-prone because the almonds are full of magnesium and oleic acid, the olive oil increases DAO and reduces histamine, the salt improves electrolyte balance, and the rosemary reduces CGRP, an inflammatory neuropeptide implicated in migraine.

Yes, it will take some time to make this cheese (more than going to the store to buy some cheese) – but the more involved we are in our own food production, the more we are likely to savor and appreciate every bite.  And yes, almonds are more expensive than cheese (thanks to big subsidies for corn and soy fed to milking cows), and require a ton of water as well as imported pollinating bees to produce.  All the more reason so appreciate every single morsel rather than gorge on it.  Bottom line: I think we can all agree that having this cheese substitute is much preferable to caving into a cheese craving and then spending the next day with brain fog or a migraine headache.

So enjoy this recipe from Vegetarian Times!


1 cup whole blanched almonds
¼ cup lemon juice
3 Tbs. plus ¼ cup olive oil, divided
1 clove garlic, peeled
1 ¼ tsp. salt
1 Tbs. fresh thyme leaves
1 tsp. fresh rosemary leaves


1. Place almonds in medium bowl, and cover with 3 inches cold water. Let soak 24 hours. Drain soaking liquid, rinse almonds under cold running water, and drain again.

2. Purée almonds, lemon juice, 3 Tbs. oil, garlic, salt, and 1/2 cup cold water in food processor 6 minutes, or until very smooth and creamy.

3. Place large strainer over bowl, and line with triple layer of cheesecloth. Spoon almond mixture into cheesecloth. Bring corners and sides of cloth together, and twist around cheese, forming into orange-size ball and squeezing to help extract moisture. Secure with rubber band or kitchen twine. Chill 12 hours, or overnight. Discard excess liquid.

4. Preheat oven to 200°F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Unwrap cheese (it will be soft), and transfer from cheesecloth to prepared baking sheet. Flatten to form 6-inch round about 3/4-inch thick. Bake 40 minutes, or until top is slightly firm. Cool, then chill. (Cheese can be made up to this point 2 days ahead; keep refrigerated.)

5. Combine remaining 1/4 cup oil, thyme, and rosemary in small saucepan. Warm oil over medium-low heat 2 minutes, or until very hot but not simmering. Cool to room temperature. Drizzle herb oil over cheese just before serving.

Why I Adore Prebiotics

To put it simply, I adore prebiotics because they literally saved my life.  They cured my migraines, reduced my overall inflammation, got rid of my brain fog and insomnia, improved my sleep and blood sugar metabolism, and generally peeled me off the floor so I could stand upright again, engage with my son and husband, and hold a job again.

If this is what carbs and sugars (specifically, fructo-oligosaccharides) can do for me, I can’t help but adore them. The potato, being the first prebiotic I consciously ate knowing its properties, deserves a rightful place on my altar.  I don’t exaggerate when I say that I bow down to the potato (and the carrot, and the radish) in humble appreciation.

Why did it take me so long to find out about prebiotics?  Why did none of the practitioners who I saw know or tell me about the miraculous properties of these humble starches? Could it be that, unlike the glorified probiotics, prebiotics aren’t as popular because they can’t be packaged and sold at such a great profit?  Have prebiotics been needlessly vilified because of people’s aversion to carbs and sugars? Could it be that many people suffering from digestive issues triggered by carbs actually really need them?  Yes.  Chris Kesser agrees. 

Prebiotics are foods that feed friendly bacteria in our colon (as compared to probiotics, which introduce friendly flora.  Many probiotic supplements and foods will cause migraines for people with histamine intolerance, because they are made through a fermentation process and contain tyramines).  There are numerous kinds of prebiotics, including FOS (fructo oligosaccharides), GOS (galacto-oligosaccharides), arabinogalactans, inulin and resistant starch.  The SimplyWell Migraine Relief Protocol focuses on the use of inulin, arabinogalactans, and resistant starch.

Initially, the SimplyWell Migraine Relief Protocol only utilized resistant starch as prebiotics.  It then dawned on me that if I wanted to feed as diverse an array of healthy bacteria in my colon, it would probably be beneficial to diversify my sources of prebiotics.  Which is when I started to include inulin and pectin (with the Garden of Life brand of prebiotics).  Arabinogalactans were featured already in my protocol before I even knew about them, as I had through chance chosen two foods that are highest in arabinogalactans: carrots and radishes.

Below are some notes I’ve taken on each of my favorite prebiotics.  As I avoid dairy animal products, GOS (Galacto-oligosaccharides) are not included in this list.

Resistant Starch

(This info was adapted from an article in Mark’s Daily Apple called “The Definitive Guide to Resistant Starch”).

>> Resistant starch is “the sum of starch and products of starch degradation not absorbed in the small intestine of healthy individuals.” So, resistant starch remains intact until it reaches the colon, where gut flora there metabolize it and convert it into short chain fatty acids.  Actually, the word ※starch§ is misleading because resistant starch is actually a type of fiber.

>> There are four types of resistant starch. RS Type 1 〝 Starch bound by indigestible plant cell walls; found in many beans, grains, and seeds; RS Type 2 〝 Starch that is intrinsically indigestible in the raw state due to its high amylose content; found in potatoes, bananas, plantains. (Type 2 RS changes its starch structure upon heating and at that point is digestible in the small intestine.  Since we want to be feeding the colonic bacteria, and not the bacteria in the small intestine, cooking these foods will diminish the therapeutic effect since it converts the starch type to non-resistant starch with heat); RS Type 3 〝 Retrograded starch.  This includes cooked and then cooled potatoes, rice, and beans.  While cooking Type 2 starches and eating them hot removes the resistant starch, this third type of resistant starch will develop once the food has cooled and provide benefit if the food is eaten cold and not reheated; RS Type 4 〝 Industrial resistant starch; type 4 RS doesn’t occur naturally and has been chemically modified; commonly found in “hi-maize resistant starch.”  This is generally not used as a form of resistant starch by those seeking the benefits of resistant starch.

(IMPORTANT NOTE: Currently, we do not know if RS2 or RS3 is more effective at reducing migraines, whether both are equally effective or if RS2 is more effective.  We’ve definitely seen people using RS2 (raw starch) recover.  Those who have been relying on RS3 (cooked and then cooled starch) are not seeing the same benefit but those who have been relying on that form so far have been on more medications.)

>> For the purposes of healing the colon, RS types 2 and 3 are relevant.  The best fresh food sources are raw potatoes, green bananas, tiger nuts, plantains, cooked-and-cooled potatoes, cooked-and-cooled-rice, parboiled rice, cooked-and-cooled legumes.  Resistant starch is also available in the form of dry powders and flours, including raw potato starch, plantain flour, tiger nut flour, green banana flour, and cassava/tapioca starch.  These starches can be added to juice or into smoothies for a quick and easy dose of resistant starch.

>> RS Preferentially feeds “good” bacteria responsible for butyrate production. Once the bacteria in our colon eat the resistant starch, they produce butyrate as a byproduct.  Butyrate is the prime energy source of our colonic cells.  Resistant starch promotes more butyrate production than other prebiotics.  However, the amount of butyrate produced will depend on which kind of gut flora live in your colon when you introduce the starch, so it varies from person to person.  Presumably, people who have received antibiotics will have smaller populations of beneficial bacteria, so a gradual process of repopulation will occur with the introduction of resistant starch.

>> RS Improves gut function and integrity. Resistant starch basically improves the functionality of the gut by increasing colonic hypertrophy.  Because it reduces leaky gut, RS also helps to prevent endotoxins from getting into your blood circulation. And thanks to this improved gut integrity, RS also helps to increases magnesium absorption (and by extension, probably other essential minerals and vitamins as well).

>> RS improves insulin sensitivity, even in people with metabolic syndrome.  RS also lowers the post-prandial blood glucose spike, which may also extend to subsequent meals. RS also reduces fasting blood sugar.

>> RS increases satiety, making it easier to maintain other healthy eating habits and avoid snacking on junk food.

>> RS may preferentially bind to and expel ※bad§ bacteria. This is only preliminary, but there’s evidence that resistant starch may actually treat small intestinal bacterial overgrowth by “flushing” the pathogenic bacteria out in the feces. It’s also been found to be an effective treatment for cholera when added to the rehydration formula given to patients; the cholera bacteria attach themselves to the RS granules almost immediately for expulsion.

>> Anecdotal reports also confirm that regular RS intake may be associated with better sleep, lower body fat and increased lean mass,  improved thyroid function and mental calm.

>> Due to all of these benefits, many people take too much RS too fast and get gas, bloating, cramping, diarrhea or constipation.  These side-effects are a result of the population of bacteria in the gut changing from “bad” bacteria over to beneficial bacteria.  Going gradual and slow seems to work best (especially if you have SIBO).  Butyrate production usually increases at three weeks, when most people will experience some degree of gas and bloating, which usually subsides.  More episodes of gas and bloating may occur as the intake is increased.  These side effects usually stabilize and diminish in a few days.

>> The average intake of RS in China is 14.9 g/day from wheat, rice and starch products; compared with average USA 3-8 g/day intake.

>> One medium organic potato, juiced, yields one tablespoon of resistant starch.

>> Organic tiger nut flour is one good source of RS and is available through Organic Gemini brand but is more expensive than organic potato starch.  8 Tablespoons of tigernut flour are needed to get 3 tablespoons of starch.

Inulin-based Prebiotics

>> Inulin is a heterogeneous mixture of fructose polymers found in nature as plant repository carbohydrates.

>> The best natural food sources of inulin include bananas, asparagus, Jerusalem artichoke, jicama, leeks, onions, garlic, chicory, dandelion greens, stevia, and dandelion root.

>> Being a prebiotic, inulin confers many of the same benefits that resistant starch does mentioned above.  It creates greater diversity of beneficial gut flora in the colon, increases butyrate production, supports healthy blood sugar and bowel regularity, improves cardiovascular health, increases nutrient absorption and boosts immune function.

>> Inulin helps to decrease serum cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

>> Those who have taken antibiotics may need more inulin. Those who eat a lot of sugary foods, alcohol, and processed foods benefit more from inulin, since these foods deplete our body of healthy bacteria.

>> Ancient hunter-gatherers used to eat up to 135 g of inulin fructans per day.  The average intake in the US is 1-4g.  Experts like Dr. Perlmutter recommends at least 12 g of inulin per day.

>> Daily intake of inulin significantly decreases disease activity and significantly increases the amount of IL-10-positive mucosal dendritic cells and toll-like receptors 2 and 4 of these cells in those with Crohn’s disease.

>> Inulin is used for rehydration and remineralization after loss of water from diarrhea and diaphoresis.


>> Arabinogalactans are present in carrots, radishes, coconut meat and milk, echinacea, astragalus, shitake mushroom, black gram beans, pears, maize, red wine, rye, tomatoes, sorghum, bamboo grass, and larch fiber.

>> Like all prebiotics, arabinogalactans help feed healthy bacteria in the colon which produce butyrate; they help improve insulin sensitivity, sleep, and nutrient absorption.

>> They function as immune activity normalizers. If your body is battling an infection, arabinogalactans power up the attack against the invading organism or virus. If your immune system is too revved up, arabinogalactans can help suppress this over activity.

>> Arabinogalactans inhibit the ability of toxic bacteria to adhere to the intestinal wall, thereby preventing infection.

>> They boost the activity of natural killer cells, which attack tumors.

>> In animal studies, arabinogalactans have reduced the spread of tumors to the liver by coating the binding sites that cancer cells would otherwise attach to.


>> Pectin is found in higher amounts in the rinds and peels of some fruit, which is why you will sometimes see orange or apple peel listed in the ingredients of prebiotic products.

>> Pectin can help to lower blood cholesterol levels, particularly very-low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (VLDL) particles which gets converted into low-density lipoprotein (‘bad’ cholesterol) in the blood.

>> Pectin from citrus is also capable of turning inflammatory immune cells into anti-inflammatory, healing cells, which helps in recovery from infection.

> pectin has been shown to reduce levels of pathogenic bacteria and support higher amounts of friendly bacteria in the gut.

>> Kiwifruit pectin has been shown to help Lactobacillus rhamnosus adhere better to intestinal cells than inulin, while reducing the adhesion of undesirable bacterium Salmonella typhimurium.

Want to Make Your Own DIY Prebiotic Mix?
Here are some good sources for raw ingredients.

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’][/author_image] [author_info]Marya Gendron is a biodynamic craniosacral therapist and health coach specializing in chronic migraine headache relief and alleviation of brain fog, indigestion, and histamine intolerance through plant-based solutions. She practices out of Portland, Oregon. In January of 2016, Marya healed herself of chronic debilitating migraine headaches caused by pharmaceutical medications she received after a c-section operation. Her life purpose is to educate people about broader health-care and self-care options through promotion of specific fabulous medicinal foods that have been forgotten or ignored. [/author_info] [/author]





Migraine Trigger Alert! High Levels of Nitrates in Green Leafy Veggies

When people with migraines think about foods to avoid, green leafy vegetables aren’t usually on their radar as a migraine trigger.

After all, veggies and especially greens are important foods that you’ve gotta love. They’re packed full of blood-building and cleansing nutrients and exemplify all that is healthful and wholesome.  Most people with migraines and food sensitivities see vegetables as one of the safest food groups to eat from.  Spinach is occasionally recognized as a migraine trigger but usually the explanation given is that it contains high levels of oxalates or triggers histamine.  Both of these explanations may be true, but nitrates are usually not described as a migraine trigger when it comes to eating spinach.

The original SimplyWell Migraine Relief Protocol addressed the issue of nitrates – though not explicitly – by suggesting that you avoid nitrate rich foods such as lunch meats and cured meats along with most other aged and fermented foods.  What is news to us is that many fresh vegetables also contain significant amounts of nitrates – some naturally-occuring, some a result of how the plants are fertilized, and some a result of the time of year of harvest, growing conditions, and how the food is prepared.

The natural human tendency is to think that when something is good for you (ie, vegetables), more is even better for you. So our enthusiasm for taking responsibility for our health may result in us getting really amped about the practice of drinking fresh green smoothies every morning (for example)!   Unfortunately, if you get overzealous with them, raw leafy greens high in nitrates eaten in excess can be a migraine trigger, for reasons explained below.

Before moving forward, I want to point out, however, that my migraines went away before I knew about this connection and while eating nitrate-rich veggies.  I didn’t drink many green smoothies though.  My impression is that drinking green smoothies high in nitrates once in awhile should not pose too much of a problem for people who only get migraines occasionally.  But for those who have almost constant migraines, this nitrate issue may be a game-changer and reducing their consumption may improve symptoms and quality of life.  So as you read this, think of this info in light of how severe your migraines are before deciding to change how you eat greens.

The new research into nitrates and migraines

Recently there’s been some new research coming out showing that people with migraine headaches have more nitrate-reducing bacteria in their mouths and nitrate-producing bacteria in their guts.  This is important information, because:

“Nitrates, such as cardiac therapeutics and food additives, are common headache triggers, with nitric oxide playing an important role. Facultative anaerobic bacteria in the oral cavity may contribute migraine-triggering levels of nitric oxide through the salivary nitrate-nitrite-nitric oxide pathway. Using high-throughput sequencing technologies, we detected observable and significantly higher abundances of nitrate, nitrite, and nitric oxide reductase genes in migraineurs versus nonmigraineurs in samples collected from the oral cavity and a slight but significant difference in fecal samples.” (Source)

While higher levels of nitric oxide (and raw, green, leafy veggies) may be a good thing for people with hypertension and high blood pressure, it’s not sp great for those of us with hypotension and low blood pressure.  Nitrates contribute to vasodilation and low blood pressure, and when our blood pressure is low (as most of ours are who are prone to migraines), there is insufficient blood and therefore oxygen getting to the head (as well as impingement on nearby cranial nerves). If you’d like to learn more about this, read my blog post here, under the section “Why do so many people with migraine headaches have dilated blood vessels, low blood pressure, and electrolyte imbalances?”

I know this isn’t something you really wanted to hear.

The last thing you need is to start being afraid of yet one more food group. In addition to alcohol, cheese, chocolate, and fermented and aged foods and supplements, you may (or may not be) already aware that you’re probably also to some degree triggered by glutamates, histamine, tyramines, benzoates, oxalates, and/or salycilates.  Now also nitrates!?!?  This news is hard to be receptive to, I realize.

The only consolation I have to offer is that by being educated about the properties of foods, we can actually be less fearful and more empowered in how we eat.  We don’t have to avoid these foods entirely (that would be impossible!), but by making discerning decisions about which foods we eat and how we prepare them, we can stop overloading our system with them.  The even better news is that once your gut flora starts to get rebalanced with help from the SimplyWell Migraine Relief Protocol, your body just won’t get overloaded quite so easily, and you’ll be more resilient.

I’d imagine that even among people who are prone to migraines, there is still a diversity in their gut (and oral cavity) microbiome and these differences among us may explain our different levels of food sensitivities and capacities to handle glutamates, histamine, tyramines, benzoates, oxalates, and/or salycilates. There may be differences in our individual capacities to handle nitrates as well, so please test these foods out on yourself to gauge your own sensitivity levels.  What does seem clear is that nitrates ultimately reduce blood pressure, and this is generally undesirable in those with migraines.

So what are the veggies highest in nitrates?

That’s not a straightforward question to answer, because of the variability in factors that contribute to nitrate content (soil, plant type, growing conditions, fertilizers, time of year harvested, how old the plant is, part of the plant consumed, etc).  I’d love to be able to provide you with a very neat list outlining fixed nitrate levels for each vegetable, but doing so would be deceptive. In addition to the factors just described, we probably each have diverse nitrate reducing gut and mouth microbe communities, meaning nitrate levels as a migraine trigger may vary in intensity for each of us as individuals.

So let’s just simplify this.

Generally it appears that there is agreement that spinach, kale, arugula, chard, cilantro, and beet greens are highest in nitrates.  These foods doin’t have to be avoided – but will be better for you to eat cooked.  Cabbage, celery, bok choy, romaine, and radishes seem to be generally in the medium range of nitrate levels.  Cabbage and bok choy are usually cooked anyway, but radishes should still be good for you in moderation because unlike the more leafy green veggies high in nitrates, radishes contain prebiotic fibers and other properties beneficial to people with migraines (which is why they remain an optional but important part of the SimplWell Protocol).  According to some lists, potatoes and carrots are on the lower end of the nitrate spectrum (and also contain prebiotics, so we want to eat them raw).  Cucumbers, iceberg lettuce, and mesclun greens are also in the low to medium range.

Fruits also contain nitrates, but nowhere near the amounts that green leafy veggies do.  It’s my personal conclusion right now that its not important to stop eating any fruits, especially since fructose breaks down into a variety of waste products, one of which is uric acid. Uric acid drives up your blood pressure by inhibiting the nitric oxide in your blood vessels.  We want to increase our blood pressure to get more blood to the head (again, since people with migraines usually have low blood pressure).  Of course, always consider this information in light of what  you already know about your own particular food sensitivities.

Here’s a quick primer on how to minimize nitrate load from greens in your diet:

  1. Always choose organic greens.  Organic greens generally have fewer nitrates than conventionally-raised greens (which are more likely to to be a migraine trigger).
  2. Greens harvested during the spring and summer have lower nitrate levels than those harvested in the fall and winter.  Eating locally in season is one way to reduce nitrate levels.
  3. Cooking greens significantly lowers nitrate content, so eating cooked rather than fresh veggies will be less of a trigger, especially for the greens that are still healthful, like kale and spinach, but are very high in nitrates when fresh.
  4. Vegetables lower in nitrates should be chosen when you are eating fresh vegetables in the form of salads or green smoothies.  Mesclun greens, romaine lettuce, and cucumbers are lower in nitrates, but still contain nitrates.

A reminder: this info on nitrates is preliminary.

The research on higher nitrate-reducing bacteria in the mouths of those with migraines, and higher levels of nitrate-producing bacteria in their colons, just came out a few weeks ago. The implications of this research has not been tested out in large numbers of people with migraines to see how reducing nitrate-rich veggies and greens will impact their migraines.  But the mechanisms for how and why nitrates would affect those of us with migraines (and attendant low blood pressure) is pretty clear.

It just so happens that recently, when I experienced an unusual week of headaches and cloudy brain fog, I had been choosing to drink a lot of green drinks (normally I just rely on my carrot potato juice).  I had attributed my headaches to hormonal changes in my pregnancy, and low blood pressure from weather changes.  But then I found this research on nitrates. It’s almost as though the universe decided to perfectly time my green drink experiment with the releasing of this information so that I would make the connection.  So I stopped drinking the green drinks, and my headaches went away.  I’ve briefly tested this again and noticed fresh salads high in nitrates seem to give me headache symptoms.  Because my gut flora are more balanced from the prebiotics and improved electrolyte balance, high-nitrate greens aren’t a migraine trigger for me – but they do seem to give me a headache and other milder symptoms that would otherwise turn into one without implementation of the SimplyWell Migraine Relief Protocol.

Scientific Research + Experiental Learning + Sharing Insight = Folk Medicine

The validity of this insight as it pertains to those who are prone to migraines should be tested more, and we have other members in our SimplyWell Protocol Community currently testing out this insight.  So if you normally drink a lot of green drinks, and decide to stop after reading this, please let me know what you find out.  You’ll be contributing to Folk Medicine knowledge by sharing your anecdotal evidence.  The combination of insights and explanations gleaned from scientific research which is then applied through personal experimentation – followed by the sharing of your observations with those who are also asking the same questions – is the best of both worlds.

Important! The goal is NEVER to be more afraid of food.

The goal is to be educated enough about food and how it affects us that we can actually feel well and function while we do the important work of healing the underlying imbalances that are causing the food sensitivity in the first place.  The body knows how to heal if we support it properly, and we can do so through better understanding of the properties of foods including this new information on nitrate migraine triggers and how to eat veggies in a way that won’t overload us or lower our blood pressure to much.

Check out my delicious recipe for a low-nitrate green drink made with romaine, cucumber, mint, and pear!


5 Ways to Get Migraine Relief without Drugs – Quick!

Back in the day, when I lived with the weekly beast of migraine headaches gnawing at my skull or looming nearby, I experimented with a wide variety of ways to get migraine relief without drugs.  When I felt one coming on, I’d frantically start going through my arsenal of tricks, and usually ended up succeeding one way or another in keeping it at bay or dissipating it entirely.  I refused to take pharmaceutical pain or migraine meds – because I understood that my migraines were actually caused by pharmaceuticals, especially antibiotics, that threw off my gut flora balance.  I’m not sure that my strength to stay away from pain meds would have persisted had I not finally discovered the plant-based solution to migraine headaches that I now call The SimplyWell Migraine Relief Protocol.

Some of the ways I’ve succeeded in getting rid of migraines were not only not replicable at all, but highly esoteric (visualizing sacred geometry – specifically, the torus symbol below).  Other attempts were successful but extremely hard to pull off while in so much pain (such as giving myself a craniosacral therapy treatment, or making love with a splitting headache, eventhough they worked!).

torusSo I want to share with you the five most common ways that I consistently managed to stave off or get rid of a migraine.  Obviously, these techniques are the most effective when applied the soonest you feel a migraine coming on.  However if you are like I was and constantly have some kind of a headache more or less all the time, there’s the tendency to hope that early signs of a migraine will just resolve themselves with a little sleep or rest.  Better to be proactive before things ramp up too much.

I offer these tips as a temporary measure for those of you who have not managed to get your dietary triggers figured out or who have not done the SimplyWell Protocol for long enough to see results yet.

In order to understand why the approaches below can often work to get rid of a migraine, we need to understand what migraine is and why it manifests.  My belief is that the majority of migraines result from 1) compromised kidneys which affects blood pressure and electrolyte balance, 2) imbalanced gut flora with a predominance of histamine and nitrate producing flora, which makes eating foods high in these substances overwhelming and activates inflammation in the gut and brain, and 3) congested lymph, especially in the neck area.  There are of course other factors involved, such as liver health, thyroid health, and issues with nutritional absorption all of which also affect migraines, but for the sake of brevity, we’ll just focus on these main points.  I’ve listed the most effective solutions here first.

1. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate – and Raise Your Blood Pressure

Yes, we’ve all heard this one before.  What some of us haven’t heard is that drinking water doesn’t make your cells hydrated if your electrolyte balance is off.  The cells need an optimal ratio of potassium to sodium in order for the potassium/sodium channels to work (as well as magnesium and calcium, but potassium and sodium are the most important for actually getting rid of a migraine). Therefore, have a DIY electrolyte powder on hand that you can drink when you feel a migraine coming on.  Buying pre-formulated electrolyte powders won’t work as wel because most of them are formulated for athletes who lose a lot of sodium or aren’t directly formulated for migraineurs.

Click here for a DIY Electrolyte Drink Recipe!

So, in order to be hydrated you need both electrolytes and water.  Water contains oxygen but also increases blood volume, which is important because increased blood volume will mean there will be more blood to permeate all the extremities as well as the head even in the midst of low blood pressure. After you’ve taken 1 T of the elecrolyte mixture in water, drink a minimum of 3 pints of fresh water to raise your blood volume.Low blood pressure and dilated blood vessels will mean that less blood and oxygen will get to the head, so we need to constrict the blood vessels and raise the blood pressure (in addition to raising blood volume).  Getting sufficient sodium will also help to raise blood pressure (in addition to hydrating the cells), while potassium will help to relax tense muscles (in addition to hydrating the cells).

2. Move Your Lymph

People with migraines often have congested lymph, especially in the head and neck area.  Contrary to popular belief, muscular contraction during exercise is not what moves lymph along.  It’s actually deep diaphragmatic breathing (which can also occurs during exercise).In order to move congested lymph from your head, first massage under the jaw.  Use deep firm pressure under the lip of the jaw bone moving medially inwards to outwards towards your sternocleidomastoid and jaw (putting pressure directly on the submental and submaxillary glands).  Next, massage your cervical glands by gripping your sternocleidomastoid muscle in a pincer grip from top to bottom.  Here is a video demonstrating manual lymph drainage.

face-and-neck-lymph-nodes-5514bd716d393Once you have the muscular tissues and lymph moving in your neck and head, do a few deep breathing exercises, making sure to emphasize a complete and full EXHALE.  Get all the stagnant air out of the lungs.  This is just as important as a deep inhale.After this, go outside for a vigorous run, ideally up a steep hill or up a flight of stairs.  Do this for at least 20 minutes.  The exercise will increase blood flow to the brain, move stagnant lymph, and oxygenate your entire body.  The headache should subside, especially if you have also taken electrolytes prior to running.  It can be hard to push yourself during a migraine, but it’s well worth it.  If you don’t have stairs or a steep hill, do jumping jacks or any kind of vigorous movement that gets the heart pumping hard and the diaphragm moving vigorously for 20 minutes.  Dancing works too!

3. Calm Your Vagus Nerve

The vagus nerve acts as the communication link between the gut and the head.  When the gut is inflamed, the vagus nerve sends alarm signals to the brain.  There are simple ways to calm down the vagus nerve.  You can take an alternating hot/cold shower.  The heat will increase blood flow, and the cold will constrict blood vessels, encourage deep inhalation, and calm the vagus nerve.  Get the water as cold as you can, and make sure you are proportionally staying under the cold water at least twice as long as the hot water.  Make sure you get the cold water on your head, face, back and torso.  Definately end with cold water, not hot.  (In general, avoid soaking in hot water while you have a migraine, as this dilates blood vessels and lowers blood pressure).If you cannot take a shower, you can calm your vagus nerve by splashing cold water repeatedly on your face (a minimum of ten times).  This may not get rid of a migraine by itself, but it can really help especially in conjunction with other approaches outlined here.For more ideas on how to calm your vagus nerve, read this article here.

4. Constrict Your Cranial Blood Vessels

When vertebral arteries and blood vessels are engorged (dilated) and blood pressure is low, blood does not get to the head and the blood vessels impinge on the plexus of cranial nerves leading into the head from the neck.  Therefore, constricting these blood vessels is an important way to get rid of a migraine. The cold shower should help with this, but in addition, you can place an ice pack or pack of frozen peas on the base of your skull, thereby creating more space for the cranial nerves going into the skull at the foramen magnum.In addition to the ice pack, you can constrict your blood vessels by drinking a frozen drink (getting a “brain freeze” can help constrict the blood vessels by cooling the back of the mouth).  Some people find more success using a frozen coffee drink, since caffeine also constricts blood vessels.  You can also drink chilled peppermint tea (peppermint is a vasoconstrictor).  This alone is not likely to get rid of a migraine but may help to tip you away from it when used in conjunction with other methods outlined here.58qv-2804

Another way to constrict your blood vessels is to use a blend of hypertensive essential oils. You’ve probably noticed that it’s not just synthetic fragrances that are a horrible trigger when you have headache and migraine symptoms – some essential oils (especially the more floral and low-note oils like jasmine and patchouli) can wreak havoc on your fragile brain too.  That’s because those and many other oils are hypotensive (ie, vasodilating) oils. Therefore, migraineurs may want to avoid geranium, jasmine, marjoram, rose, valerian, lemon, melissa, neroli, nutmeg, vetivert, and ylang ylang essential oils, especially when they are symptomatic – and instead opt for hypertensive oils.

To learn more about hypertensive, vasoconstrictive essential oils, head on over to my blog post on that topic, where I share with you my recipe for a vasoconstrictive/hypertensive essential oil blend.  The oils I’ve chosen to use in my own SimplyWell Migraine, Headache, & Brain Fog Support Blend are only a few of the vasoconstrictive essential oils out there. All of the oils used in this blend are also great for digestive issues.  No surprises there, since most migraines are digestive migraines!

5. Remove Fermentation & Histamine From the Colon with an Enema

This is a last resort, but it has worked for me many times.  It is not an optimal solution, because we don’t really know how enemas affect the gut flora.  However, some people may find it to be a solution preferable to taking a pharmaceutical medication (which also negatively affect gut flora).  Coffee enemas tend to be the most effective, perhaps because they help to stimulate the hepatic nerve of the liver and thereby reduce liver congestion (which is also implicated in migraine headaches).Most importantly, an enema will help to remove food that has reached the colon that is triggering inflammation, perhaps because this food has not been sufficiently broken down through DAO (diamine oxidase). Many people with migraines have low DAO levels, and DAO receptor sites on cells are also affected by electrolyte balance, so the electrolyte mixture above will help with that as well.When food which has not been properly broken down by DAO reaches the colon, it starts to feed unfriendly bacteria which produce histamine, thus adding to your histamine load.  Removing this histamine burden through an enema can often make a migraine go away.While I won’t be going into a tutorial on how to do an enema here, it’s important to emphasize that the water or coffee be lukewarm and not hot, and that the water be purified.  A full quart bag is usually needed to clean out the colon, and multiple enemas may be necessary.

I Hope These Tips Are Beneficial to You!

None of these ideas are long-term solutions, they are merely singular ways that I’ve found to consistently get rid of migraines.  The important point is to get to the root of your migraine problems by avoiding trigger foods and healing your gut, as outlined in the SimplyWell Migraine Relief Protocol.  Luckily, we do have very powerful plant food allies that can help us so powerfully that over time, we will no longer need to resort to any of the techniques above to get rid of a migraine.

Please note that this information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose or treat migraines, or act as a replacement for medical care from a medical professional.

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’][/author_image] [author_info]Marya Gendron is a biodynamic craniosacral therapist and health coach specializing in chronic migraine headache relief and alleviation of brain fog, indigestion, and histamine intolerance through plant-based solutions. She practices out of Portland, Oregon. In January of 2016, Marya healed herself of chronic debilitating migraine headaches caused by pharmaceutical medications she received after a c-section operation. Her life purpose is to educate people about broader health-care and self-care options through promotion of specific fabulous medicinal foods that have been forgotten or ignored. [/author_info] [/author]

Resuscitating Folk Medicine

Folk Medicine

My Accidental Discovery of Folk Medicine

In the first few months after I discovered what I am now calling the Simplywell Protocol, I would catch myself noticing that something felt decidedly weird: my head felt clear, my energy levels were normal, I could finally fall asleep at night, and the migraines that had been torturing me literally for years due to medications after c-section were now suddenly and completely gone.  What felt strange to me was feeling normal.  It had been that long since I had known what it was like to go through the day without being compromised with brain fog, indigestion, and some level of headache from mild to severe.

The euphoria I felt at being able to simply function was intense.  This euphoria escalated when I realized that in discovering the healing properties of a few humble roots that singlehandedly dissolved a huge constellation of otherwise intractable health problems, I had participated in and contributed to Folk Medicine.  Not only had I healed myself, but my determination to reclaim my life had resulted in a rather unusual discovery of safe, affordable, and effective food-based solutions that apparently no-one else had seemingly yet discovered because they were burdened with the luxury of having healthcare and therefore of outsourcing the solution to others supposedly more knowledgeable on the topic than they were.  After a few out-of-pocket investments in seeing various doctors, I had decided it was up to me to heal myself, and had transformed my lack of health care into an intense form of self-care that involved years of research and self-experimentation mixed in with some grace and luck.

I’ve spent the past nine months since the time of this discovery researching the how and why my protocol works as well as it does. In coming to understand the ways that these culinary folk medicines have helped me, I’ve also come to better understand the nature of migraine headaches, and how and why they developed in my life.  So this form of Folk Medicine I’ve accidentally become a practitioner of has involved an inverse sequence of logic in terms of my diagnosis and treatment of myself.  First I found a solution, then the solution clued me in to what the deeper problem was by way of understanding what the medicinal properties of these foods are.

The irony was not lost on me that the solutions to my years long struggle with migraine headaches were not only in my kitchen right under my nose the entire time I was suffering, but that the little old Ukranian lady who lives down the street who doesn’t speak any English could probably have given me a few important clues along the way.

Now, having helped a number of people regain their clear heads after years of debilitating migraines, I find myself incredibly enamored of Folk Medicine but also so excited to articulate what Folk Medicine means to me, why it is so important right now, and what can be done to resuscitate it.

What happened to Folk Medicine?

Folk Medicine is also known as “traditional medicine”,  “indigenous medicine”, “native medicine” and “ethnomedicine.”  It is still the dominant form of medicine practiced by indigenous, place-based, and rural people in third world countries.  This indigenous medicine is declining and under threat as indigenous people are displaced due to habitat or ecosystem destruction and along with it the loss of plant biodiversity that these people rely on for their source of medicine.

Ethnomedicine is the mother of all other systems of medicine . . . The traditional medicinal knowledge is thought to be within everyone’s reach and does not require any study or training to practice it. (Source)

In so-called “first world” countries, the history of folk medicine looks different.  In the United States, for example, a huge diversity of folk medicine traditions converged as immigrants from all over the world came here with their respective cultural indigenous folk medicine traditions and knowledge.  This knowledge has gradually been eroded due to political maneuvering (especially by the Rockefeller Foundation) that succeeded in stamping out alternative and plant-based medicines and molding the new practice of medicine to favor medical institutions, societies and doctors as the exclusive source for medical advice, expertise, patented, chemical-based medications and “evidence-based” medicine.

The Flexner report, written by Pritchett, concluded that only medical schools that committed to using synthetic based medicines and avoided plant based treatments (homeopathic and naturopathic protocols) should be offered large grants that were created by Rockefeller and Carnegie. Some 17 years after the Flexner report had been written and published, almost half of the previously existing medical schools had been forced to close due to an inability to attract students that would pay tuition. In a nutshell, these schools were unable to compete with the medical institutions that were regularly funded by the large foundations set up by Rockefeller and Carnegie. From that point forward, only medical schools philosophically aligned with petrochemical companies would become successful in graduating medical physicians. Presently, the same petrochemical companies have great influence and control over most components associated with modern medicine. (Source)

Along with this trend came a demonization of both alternative medical practitioners and anyone practicing medicine without a license, which would include local community folk healers.

Through expensive and extensive PR campaigns, folk-medicine began to be viewed as dangerous and ineffective quackery. The use of food and herbs for healing made way for the use of pills and synthetic compounds mimicking nature. Part of the reason for this push towards petrochemical drugs was patents. You cannot patent a plant, therefore you cannot make money from it. Since money is the bottom line for the industrialists it is obvious why they invested so much time and energy into creating an entirely different paradigm around health care. (Source)

This new way of practicing medicine shifted the role of the doctor from that of teacher (from the Latin verb docere, to teach) to that of “doer” or performer of specialized diagnostic and therapeutic procedures. Our new sense of the word “doctor” when it is used as a verb, means roughly to “tinker” or “fool around with” . . . Dr. Moskovitz says in his article “Plain Medicine”,

Especially in a profession dominated by science and technology, it provides our best assurance that health and illness, improvement and worsening, and the success or failure of our work as physicians will be judged according to the patient’s own standards, rather than others imposed arbitrarily or coercively by and for the profession itself.  Our failure to keep these priorities straight is a lot of what I hear from patients about what they think is wrong with the medical system today, and it is difficult not to agree with them. (Source)

Welcoming the Wake Up Call

Currently, we’re reaching an apex in our culture where many people are waking up to the horrifying reality of systemic chemical pollution to our bodies that this form of corporate chemical “medicine” has created, which manifests as a huge variety of chronic inflammatory diseases.  In general, people are more and more interested in and open to exploring alternative healing modalities, and taking responsibility for the self-care and lifestyle choices that are the foundation of wellness.  We are arriving at this wake up call through the very uncomfortable realization of just how incredibly sick we’ve become.

Because the damage to our basic bodily systems by pharmaceutical medicine has been so severe, it has become imperative that Folk Medicine traditions be not only rediscovered and resuscitated, but also upgraded to address this relatively recent damage that our ancestor’s particular form of folk medicine traditions had never encountered.  This is just fine, because even if they had known or did know how to address it, we have basically lost their knowledge at this point anyway.

One way that we know that real medicine (which results in healing) is different from medications (which can create even worse problems through masking of symptoms), is that the body doesn’t know how to selectively heal. So, real medicine will usually have a number of unexpected but desirable “side-effects” that include the dissolution of various other seemingly unrelated (but apparently related) niggling health issues falling away simultaneously.  For me, this meant that in addition to my migraines clearing up, my skin also did, the ringing and ache in my ears subsided, brain fog, PMS, and bloating also disappeared.  Now these are the kinds of “side-effects”, (ie, systemic holistic effects) I can get behind.  Real, plant-based folk medicine heals by way of supporting the body as a whole system.  Migraine medications – which are not medicine in the sense that they suppress rather than cure – do the opposite: they target specific symptoms at the expense of the whole.  Our bodies did not evolve to process pharmaceuticals.

The Courage to Care

There is no clearly defined professional scope of practice for folk medicine (or, therefore, malpractice), because folk medicine is by definition an untrained, unstandardized and unstandardizable, mutable, and informal tradition of healing practices.  Not only are both the practitioners and practices of folk medicine highly diverse depending on the culture and person practicing them, folk medicine itself, as a practice, can’t be controlled or regulated because folk medicine is simply the inevitable process of people taking care of themselves and their communities with the most common solutions available to them.  And we’re starting to do it – we’re starting to learn to care about our quality of life again and realize we are our own most powerful agents in our state of wellbeing.

Caring is not only an emotion, but an activity.  Physical pain and suffering requires physical acts of care to alleviate.  The use of plant foods, spiritual practice, human touch, and sharing of helpful information are all native, indigenous forms of folk care that naturally arise out of the process of being a human being who cares about herself or himself and those he or she lives around.  The results of this care, especially when food (which is generally regarded as safe) is used to care, usually don’t have very disasterous consequences.

(This brings up the converse but important point that one reason that allopathic medical practitioners need the specialized education, standards, and scope of practice that they do, is because the medicines they use can be extremely dangerous if used improperly – and even when used properly.  Serious systemic damage to the body is not impossible, but less likely to happen with the use of time-tested herbs, but even less likely to happen when common foods are used in the practice of culinary folk medicine as compared to herbal folk medicine or other alternative healing modalities.)

The scope of practice of actually caring is infinite.  Caring cannot be embodied by standardized treatments or pills, but it is called forth in the healing process. As Dr. Moskovitz clarifies here, treatment and healing are decidedly different.

1. Healing implies wholeness.
Etymologically, the English verb “to heal” comes from the same root as “whole,” meaning essentially to make whole [again], and refers to a basic attribute of all living systems, which is evident both in wound healing and in spontaneous recovery from illness . . .  Like the metastatic cancer patient who pulls off a regression against every probability or expectation, healing represents a concerted response of the entire organism, cannot be achieved or ascribed to any part in isolation, and implies a deeper level of integration than could be defined or approximated by any mere assemblage.

2. All healing is self-healing.
As a fundamental property of all living systems, healing proceeds continuously throughout life, and tends to complete itself spontaneously, with or without external assistance.   This means that all healing is ultimately self-healing, and the role of physicians and other professional or designated healers must be essentially to assist and enhance the natural healing process that is already under way.  However useful and necessary it may be, merely correcting abnormalities will also have to be judged in relation to that fundamental standard.  Finally, a self-healing orientation transforms the doctor-patient relationship itself, from a hierarchy of knowledge and command into a partnership of consensus and trust.

3. Healing pertains solely to individuals.
Always possible but also inherently problematic and even risky, healing applies only to individuals, to flesh-and-blood creatures in unique, here-and-now situations, rather than to abstract “diseases,” abnormalities, principles, or categories.  In other words, whatever else it may be, it is inescapably an art, and should never and can never be reduced to a mere technique or procedure, however scientific its foundation. (Source)

With Folk Medicine the scope of practice is contained within caring and supportive rather than manipulative and corrective activities. Folk Medicine is passed on by word of mouth as a form of gossip, such as “this worked for me” and “I heard that this works well for that,” or “I heard that this worked well for so-and-so.”  The gossipy or second-hand nature of Folk Medicine, rather than being dangerous and ambiguous, forces any person wanting to implement it to use common sense, discernment, and their own faculties of intelligence, cautious experimentation, and research to integrate the information, probably customizing it along the way according to their own specific knowledge of their body’s sensitivities and vulnerabilities.

Folk Medicine is generally the most empowering, gentle, affordable, accessable, time-tested, common-sense form of health care that exists.  It is born from attention, relationship, and a belief in the resilience of the body if given the right support.  It involves self-responsibility and ownership, and the ability to communicate with one’s body intelligence.  Let’s breathe some life back into Folk Medicine, and be conscious that whenever we take good care of ourselves or someone else, we’re practicing it.

The art of healing comes from Nature, not the physician . . .
Every illness has its own remedy within itself . . .
A man could not be born alive and healthy were there not already a Physician hidden in him . . .
~ Paracelsus

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’][/author_image] [author_info]Marya Gendron is a biodynamic craniosacral therapist, health coach, and wellness researcher. She specializes in chronic migraine headache relief and alleviation of brain fog, indigestion, and histamine intolerance through plant-based solutions.

The SimplyWell Protocol is available here, or you can book a consultation with Marya.
Learn more about Marya’s healing journey here.
[/author_info] [/author]

FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions

When was the Simplywell Protocol developed?

The SimplyWell Protocol was discovered in January 2016 by Marya Gendron and has been refined since that time.  It is an entirely plant-based approach to migraine.

The SimplyWell Protocol relies initially on elimination of tyramine and histamine rich foods.  How long does a person have to eliminate these foods from the diet with this protocol?

Luckily, the elimination phase of these foods is only temporary.  A gradual reintroduction of histamine and tyramine rich foods is possible, and usually within 3-5 months people can eat all fermented and histamine rich foods again without migraine being triggered.  Everyone is different but generally, the histamine “bucket” just doesn’t get as full once the gut flora imbalances (ie, excessive histamine-producing gut flora) are addressed.

Which kinds of migraines is this protocol effective at addressing?

Currently the protocol has been successful at relieving chronic migraines, hemiplagic migraines, so-called “hormonal migraine” or “menstrual migraine” and migraine with aura – as well as chronic headaches and brainfog. We’re excited to have people with other types of migraines try the protocol out to see if it helps them.

How long does it take to see improvement on the SimplyWell Protocol?

This varies from person to person depending on how many meds they are taking and how they eat when they start the Protocol.  People who are eating a whole foods diet and are on very few (3-5 doses of meds per month) to no meds respond quickly, with improvement in symptoms usually seen within 1-2 weeks, and stabilization starting around 3-4 weeks into the Protocol.

Migraineurs who have a very long history of chronic migraines along with heavy use of medications need a lot more time to heal, and can expect to start to see results in 4-6 months, especially if they are doing the Protocol in combination with Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis.

Can the protocol address symptoms other than migraine?

Yes, the protocol is effective at addressing many different Histamine Intolerance symptoms and symptoms of inflammation and indigestion in general.  Anyone who has compromised kidney function, low energy, insulin sensitivity, leaky gut, electrolyte imbalances or imbalanced gut flora caused by antibiotics and other meds may benefit from the protocol.

Is the SimplyWell Protocol contraindicated in any conditions?

Yes, the protocol could possibly temporarily exacerbate symptoms of SIBO (Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth).

The radish portion of the Protocol is contraindicated for those with duodenal ulcers, but consumption of radishes is an optional step of the Protocol.  Some people who have compromised sulfation pathways cannot tolerate the taste of radish or get itchy when consuming them.  This is useful information especially for those doing private coaching as it allows us to then help support sulfation pathways so that sulfur sensitivities are healed.

I have special dietary considerations and can’t consume carbs/nightshades/fruit, etc.  Are there ways to adapt the Protocol for individual needs?

Yes.  This topic is covered in the e-book.  However, the Protocol involves consumption of prebiotics, therefore people who are intolerant to prebiotics will not be able to follow the Protocol.

Can the Protocol be used for kids?

Currently the Protocol has not been used with kids.  It is recommended that one-on-one coaching is done with Marya to help alleviate migraine in kids so that the Protocol can be personalized and adapted to the child’s size and special needs.


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.