Dr. Bob was a MD internal medicine, orthomolecular doctor, MD psychiatrist, chiropractor, and healer 65 years.  He was a diabetic who lived to 108 years with only 1 side effect 2 years before he passed away. 

Migraine is a complex headache disorder caused by swelling of the covering around the brain.  Migraines are considered to have many clustered causes.  There are events occurring in the bloodstream or vascular walls that result in the pain of migraine.  Whatever the exact chemical effects result in migraine, there are likely toxic products that produce the negative chemical effects.  The toxic products likely result in the production of free radicals.  Free radicals are considered by many scientists and researchers to be the primary cause of degeneration, aging, and disease.  The production of free radicals and other toxic compounds will attract macrophages (a type of immune cell) and other immune modulators.  Macrophages produce nitric oxide.  Nitric oxide is crucial in relaxing the smooth muscles of blood vessels, thus producing vasodilatation.  Excess production of nitric oxide by macrophages, however, is associated with inflammation and various inflammatory diseases, including arthritis and atherosclerosis.  If macrophages drawn to the vascular walls produce too much nitrogen oxide, the result is damage to the lining of the blood vessel.  In addition there is a histamine release associated with migraines.  Histamine also attracts inflammatory immune system modulators.  

In addition excess glutamate in the brain leads to up-regulation of excessive nitric oxide (1).  The net result of free radicals, excessive nitric oxide, histamine release, inflammatory immune cell modulators, and toxic effects on vascular walls is hypoxia, the deficiency of oxygen in body tissues.  These all can likely contribute to symptoms of migraines.

Dr. Bob considered allergenic food molecules to often be involved with migraines.  He also advised heavy metal testing and to check for chemical toxicity.  Environmental doctors specialize in metal and chemical toxicity.  Many allergenic food molecules can be the result of improper digestion.  Thus you had to improve digestion, as well as be aware of foods you are highly reactive to them.  Dr. Bob advised to use methods that reduced allergenic foods to non-allergenic foods, neutralized improper digested food molecules, and other ideas to help address migraines.  

Important - at the beginning of any headache or migraine:

A.      Dr Bob advised drinking bicarbonate immediately at the first symptoms of impending migraine or headache.  He advised bicarbonate every 3-4 hours and at bedtime.  Bicarb can reduce stomach acid.  Histamine releases stomach acid, thus bicarb may be antagonistic to histamine.  Bicarb also adds oxygen back into the tissues, which is needed in states of hypoxia.  Dr. Bob found bicarb could help reduce migraine pain rapidly.  Consider 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda (bicarbonate) mixed in a glass of distilled water.

B.      Consider supplementing zinc lozenges at the first sign of symptoms.  Dr. Bob said sometimes supplementing zinc immediately could stop migraines and headaches.  The lozenges can get the zinc in the system rapidly and help stop an attack.  Supplementing capsules or tablets of zinc will not be absorbed as rapidly as lozenges.  Dr. Bob found tablets or capsules were not as effective as lozenges.

For A and B to be of help, they need to be used as soon as symptoms appear.

Additional ideas to consider:

1.      Inflammatory pathways that can lead to histamine release and other inflammatory modulators can involve the anachronic acid pathway.  Meat, butter, and other diary products stimulate the anachronic acid pathway.  Furthermore the excessive production of the hormone insulin can stimulate this pathway.  Starchy carbohydrates such as grains and pasta, and starchy root vegetables such as potatoes and carrots, along with simple sugars can excessively overstimulate insulin and the anachronic acid pathway.  Thus you want to watch what you eat once you have a migraine and you want to watch if these types of foods are initiators of migraine symptoms.  Furthermore compounds that inhibit the enzyme cyclooxygenase-2 result in inhibiting the anachronic acid pathway.  Pycnogenol, bilberry extract, and aspirin are a few compounds that can inhibit the cyclooxygenase-2 enzyme.

2.      Consider supplementing glutathione.  Glutathione is well documented in medical research to protect the health of smooth muscle cells on vascular walls and arterial endothelium (cells lining the inner surface of blood vessels).  However supplementation of oral glutathione is controversial because of uncertainty as to its absorption in the reduced state.  Consider supplementing bilberry extract, alpha lipoic acid, and n-acetyl-cysteine to raise glutathione levels.  If you supplement glutathione it might be a good idea to take a high dose of bilberry extract with the glutathione in order to help prevent glutathione from being oxidized right in the gastrointestinal tract.  Additionally vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium, and alpha lipoic acid help recycle glutathione.  Furthermore these are all antioxidants and antioxidants add oxygen back to tissues, which is needed in cases of hypoxia.  They also help reduce levels of free radicals.

3.      Consider the value of neuroactive steroids in modulating stress such as migraine symptoms. 

A.     Neuroactive steroids – Steroids that accumulate in the brain and regulate neuronal function. The study of neuroactive steroids is a developing science.  Neuroactive steroids in physiological concentrations regulate neuronal function through their concurrent influence on transmitter-gated ion channels and gene expression. (2) They help modulate and balance the central nervous system and are involved with modulation of GABA.  Progesterone, pregnenolone, DHEA and metabolites made from them are vital neuroactive steroids of the central nervous system that accumulate in the brain after local synthesis or after metabolism of adrenal steroids.  You can check with a hormonal specialist to laboratory test your progesterone, pregnenolone, and DHEA levels.  If the levels are improper consider hormone replacement therapy to restore levels to optimal low youthful levels.  Many hormonal specialists consider normal ranges adequate for laboratory measurements of hormones.  Consider hormonal specialists who restore hormone levels back to optimal low youthful levels, since this may result in optimal benefits.  A group of doctors called the A-4 anti-aging doctors are tested on the cutting edge ideas of the hormonal sciences before they can become A-4 doctors.  We recommend them.  Their national phone number is 773-528-4333.

B.     The mounting evidence is neuroactive steroids help modulate the effects of the neural inhibitory neurotransmitter (chemical messengers of the brain) GABA.  GABA helps control neural excitability, as may be the case in anxiety and panic attack.

C.     The hormone pregnenolone contains the highest amounts of hormones in the brain.  The infinite wisdom of creation suggests pregnenolone is important in the brain, as the hormone present in the greatest quantities.  Pregnenolone-derived neurosteroids positively modulate the GABA (A) receptor complex.  Pregnenolone can be considered to enhance and modulate GABA (3) (4).  Check with a hormonal specialist on pregnenolone supplementation.

D.     The hormone progesterone is involved with neuroactive steroids that modulate and enhance GABA (4).  Consult with a hormonal specialist such as an A-4 doctor.  Men may also need progesterone.

Many more women seem to have migraine attacks as compared to men.  This is often associated with menstrual pain.  Often progesterone therapy can be used to help correct hormonal imbalances and the progesterone may help alleviate migraine attacks as well.  Perhaps the progesterone as an effect as a brain modulator as well as hormonal balance.  Thus, men may even benefit by checking their progesterone levels and restoring optimal levels if imbalance.   Helping to optimize the neurosteroids with progesterone for men and women may help modulate migraine symptoms.  (Men take note – consider measuring your progesterone levels.)

In summary of the neurosteroids, they can help modulate excess glutamate excitation, excess nitric oxide production, help modulate GABA, lead to the reduction of free radicals, decrease hypoxia, decrease inflammatory immune modulators, and many other positive benefits that may help reduce migraine symptoms.

4.      Consider a protocol for GABA supplementation.  GABA helps control neural excitability, as may be the case in migraines.  GABA may have low absorption qualities so consider methods that enhance GABA.  The inhibitory amino acid taurine is a supplement considered to enhance GABA. (2) For an orthomolecular protocol see the article “Panic Attacks/ Anxiety,” listed in section Mood Disorders.  A building block of GABA is glutamine.  Before considering glutamine supplementation as a method to build up GABA or glutathione (glutamate is a building block of glutathione) levels, consider that glutamine can be neurotoxic.  Note – Glutamine is a precursor of GABA.  Glutamine is first synthesized to glutamate, then glutamate is synthesized to GABA.  However, glutamine in the conversion process to glutamate, can result in neurotoxicity.  If you already have poor brain health, glutamine supplementation may not be proper.  In healthy subject’s 2 grams of glutamine is often what is recommended.  For an ill person, the likely dose would be less than 2 grams.  Consult with your doctor before supplementing glutamine; ill health can stress the glutamine to glutamate conversion process leading to neurotoxicity.

5.      Consider vitamin B12 supplementation - it has many benefits for brain and nerves.  Japanese doctors are using a form of vitamin B12 called methylcobalamin to treat neurological disease caused by excess glutamate release (excitotoxicity).  Methylcobalamin is the neurological active form of vitamin B12.  The liver does not convert regular vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin) into adequate amounts of methylcobalamin to prevent or correct most neurological defects.  The solution is to take methylcobalamin under the tongue when you supplement it.  We handle this product on our product page.

6.      Consider supplementing lysine.  Lysine has been used successfully with aspirin in reducing migraine symptoms.  Lysine is well documented on Pub Med to work with aspirin in reducing migraine symptoms.  Orthomolecular doses for acute symptoms can be 3-5 times daily lysine at 500 mg each dose.  Consult with an orthomolecular doctor or nutritional expert before beginning supplementation with lysine for migraines.  Reminder – lysine supplementation is current on-going research for migraines.  Check out the Internet on Pub Med - the web address for Pub Med is www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov,  The final word on lysine is still forthcoming.  If you choose to use lysine for migraines, it is your choice.  Before beginning lysine supplementation, research Pub Med under “lysine and migraines.”  Use your own research to determine your decisions.

7.      Tyramine foods can increase blood pressure, decrease oxygen levels of tissues, and other negative effects.  When eating tyramine producing foods check them out to see if they may be initiating headaches or migraines.

Tyramine List  - compiled from Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics and the Mayo Clinic Diet Manual

Avoid

            Alcoholic beverage (some, not all alcohol)

            Homemade yeast breads 

            Crackers containing cheese

       Sour cream  

            Bananas

            Red plums

            Avocados

            Figs

            Raisins

            Aged game

            Liver

            Canned meats

            Yeast extracts

            Commercial meat extracts

            Stored beef liver

            Chicken livers

            Salami

            Sausage

            Aged cheese (including Blue, Boursault, Brick, Brie, Camemberter, Cheddar, Colby, Emmentaler, Gouda, Mozzarella, Parmesan, Provolone, Romano,      Roquefort, and Stilton)

            Salted dried fish (herring, cod), pickled herring

            Italian broad beans

Green bean pods

            Egg plant

            Yeast concentrates or products made with them

            Marmite

            Soup cubes

            Commercial gravies – anything with soy sauce, and any protein that has not been stored properly or has some degree of spoilage (i.e., all but those that have been freshly prepared).

The tyramine list was found in the book, Breathe Well, Be Well, Robert Fried.

In conclusion, better health is usually the result of building better cells with the compounds the cells need for health.  Consider the methods in this article as a way to build better health, which may result in decreasing the stress that may be leading to your migraines.   Good luck. 

(1)   Rapprecht R. Holsboer F.  Neuropsychopharmacological Properties of Neuroactive Steroids.  Steroids 1999 Jan-Feb; 64(1-2); 83-91.

(2)   Valli M, Pringuey D. New Trends on Biachemical Mechanism of Bezzodiazepines, Therapie 1980 Sep-Oct 35(5): 561-9

(3)   Albrecht J., Roles of Neuroactive Amino Acids in Ammonia Neurotoxicity.  J. Neurosci Res 1998 Jun 15; 51 (2), 133-8.

(4)   Kupprecht R. Holsboer, Neuropsy Chopharmacological Properites of Neuractive Steroids.

Note – In order for these anti-aging ideas to be successful, you must use supplements of the highest quality. Dr. Bob often said, "almost all supplement companies produce poor quality." You can consider the product page of this web site. Almost all the products met Dr. Bob’s approval. Since he passed away we have attempted to keep the same high standards.

WARNING:  DO NOT STOP ANY TREATMENT OR MEDICATION YOU CURRENTLY USE.  CONSULT WITH YOUR DOCTOR BEFORE STARTING THE USE OF SUPPLEMENTS. 

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The Food and Drug Administration has not evaluated any of the statements contained on this web site. The information contained in this article is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Remember each person's body is different and will react differently to various herbal, vitamin and mineral supplements. Therefore, any supplementation must be administered on an individual basis. Use the information found on this web site as precisely that: Information. You and your doctor must make any final decisions. This information is not meant to replace any doctor and patient consultation. This information should in no way replace your personal physician's advice.

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Page Last Modified: 26 Sep 2004