A couple of days ago, a dear friend asked me about my migraines; “What did you do, how did you get rid of them?” Her question made me realize that I have been living migraine free for over 12 months. Something I never thought was possible, until it happened.
To give you a little background, I battled with migraines for over 10 years. It started when I was pregnant with our first child. The frequency of the headaches, the intensity, and the triggers grew with every episode. After years of pain, I accepted my reality. I thought that the debilitating headaches were part of my life and there was not much I could do to stop it. Everything and anything triggered a migraine attack: sleeping less, sleeping more, sunlight, wind, noise, delayed eating, stress, plane ride, car ride, movies, music, and bright city lights just to name a few. Once triggered, my headaches would last for days, making the simplest daily activities difficult to impossible to get done. I felt like I need to live in isolation and in a bubble to relieve the debilitating headaches.
At this point, my headaches started to dictate my family’s lives. Once a headache was triggered, the whole house would change. Everyone became silent, fearing that the faintest noise would make it worse for me. My little kids would tiptoe to their rooms and stay quiet. Even the dog would disappear into a corner and stay still. During these times, I slept in a separate room away from everyone. I couldn’t sleep with anyone in the same room because their breathing could wake me up and worsen the pain. Friends and family bombarded me with any remedies they came across for migraines. My messages would read, “I came across this article on migraine and I thought of you.” This is where my journey to functional medicine began.
Behind the Debilitating Headaches
My neurologist explained to me that I was living in a constant state of migraine, with small periods of relief every few days. In other words, I was not getting migraines, I was always in a state of incapacitating headaches and would come out of it at times. Every possible medication or treatment that existed, I had tried with basically no success or relief.
In January 2019, we traveled to Hawaii. I wanted to visit Hawaii for a very long time and was so excited to go. Finally, we landed and were driving to the hotel. But then, the beautiful sunny weather triggered my migraine. The only memory I have of my vacation is being in bed for 5 days with a headache so bad, and just wishing for it to go away for a moment so I could step out of the room. That’s when my husband decided that we have to change this situation. Enough is enough. Since all medications had failed, he decided to use the wisdom of our earlier generations and our medical knowledge.
Making Necessary Changes
First, we changed our diet. We’ve been healthy eaters all our lives, but he took it to the next level. We eliminated all processed food and started paying attention to the source of each and every ingredient. Anything that did not resemble food, was eliminated. Anything that could be made at home, we made. We milled our own flour, extracted butter from milk, curdled milk into cheeses, fermented milk into yogurt, extracted milk fat (ghee) from butter, made yeast bread every day, and rolled our own pasta. We even started growing food in our backyard. We focused on the minerals in foods that helped biochemically relieve migraine attacks and started juicing and incorporating those greens, fruits, and vegetables regularly. Food, soil, air, and water took on a whole new meaning in our lives.
Second, in addition to the quality and nature of food, we incorporated lifestyle changes to give the food the respect it deserves. Instead of being a chore, eating became an important ritual in our lives. Eating on time, eating with family, eating slowly, and consciously were essential with every meal.
Third, we began regular physical exercise every day. We started slow, with just 10 minutes at a time. At this point, my body demands exercise every day and it’s not a chore.
Fourth, we began focusing on mental health through practicing meditation and Pranayama every day. Pranayama refers to breathing exercises that promote cardiovascular and normal health.
Fifth, I added herbs and additional natural supplements to provide my body with building blocks for important enzymes and hormones that promote good health and relieve headaches. I also tested and managed all the various hormones in my body that are important for overall health.
I started paying attention. Once I started paying attention, I started seeing significant improvements not only in my headaches but my overall health, energy, and wellbeing. My migraines became less frequent, less intense, and then, one day, they just disappeared.
My Journey 2 Health
I am happy to report that I no longer have to plan my life around my headaches. I am at a place where I can enjoy a sunny day or a windy day with planning to fight a headache. I can go to a park with my kids, go to the movies with my husband, and I am excited to go to the beach this summer.
What was my lesson through this journey? Simply this: FOOD IS MEDICINE.
I am a traditionally trained obstetrician and gynecologist. We rely on medications and surgeries to take care of problems and we are successful at it. We have different specialists to take care of different body systems, and we tend to treat each organ separately. What my journey taught me is that it is critical to look at the body as a whole; to understand health not from a standpoint of fixing one disease, but rather from a place of viewing the body as building blocks. Someone experiencing a rash, bloating, and headache may need to be evaluated by the dermatologist, gastroenterologist, and neurologist. Their problem may be a manifestation of a single organ system, and we as doctors need to dig deeper to find and fix the underlying cause.
My personal and professional experience for the past 15 years led me to begin looking beyond traditional medicine. I decided to incorporate functional medicine into my own life and my clinical practice. I recognize that achieving health means resilience from disease, not just the absence of disease. Click here to learn more about Galleria Women’s Health services and call 702-983-2010 to make an appointment that focuses on all aspects of women’s health.