Alex's Story of Recovery: By the time he was in his mid-20’s, Alex was getting severe headaches almost daily. His headaches were interfering with his ability to function as a primary school teacher. Alex had tried everything to relieve his headaches including reflexology, massage, hypnotherapy, and meditation. Even when he was very calm and totally relaxed, he would still get a headache. Alex and his general practitioner agreed that his headaches were likely not due to stress, so the GP referred Alex to a neurologist for a full work-up. Nothing showed up, not even in the MRI (magnetic resonance imaging).
Alex spent a great deal of his time rushing around between work and doctors’ appointments. He no longer had much time to cook, so he began eating sandwiches throughout the week. One of his favorites was ham, salami and gruyere cheese. One week, he had this sandwich and each time he ate this type of sandwich, he would get a headache about four hours later. He then began researching the connection between food and headaches. Quickly he found that there were certain foods that can trigger migraine or vascular headaches. Gruyere cheese and processed meats (his favorites) were at the very top of the list.
So, Alex began to keep a food diary and a record of when his headaches came and went. It was quickly obvious that his headaches came after eating certain processed meats and cheeses. He also got headaches after drinking red wine and beer, smoked mackerel, and Chinese food.
Alex took his diary of his diet and headaches to his doctor; his doctor seemed a bit embarrassed that he had not that of that himself. The doctor did refer him to a nutritionist who devised diets for migraine sufferers. I made a list of all foods I had to avoid altogether. The nutritionist also recommended that I avoid processed foods that were high in artificial sweeteners or flavor enhancers such as MSG and several other triggers.
Alex followed a very strict diet for several weeks, and after four days he went three weeks without one headache.
Not all headache sufferers find relief by a change in diet. Many people suffer from headaches for years, even decades, before finding the root of the problem.
Neuromuscular dentists with specialized training are often able to free patients from the pain of their headaches without prescribing narcotic pain medications or changing their diets.
Sometimes, severe headaches are caused by a misaligned jaw joint (the temporomandibular joint or TMJ). By placing the jaw in its optimal position, headaches, and a whole host of other symptoms often go away.
If you suffer from migraines or headaches, contact Dr. Ira L. Shapira for headache diagnosis and headache treatment options.