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Oxygen debt

We all look like a lot of hopeless cases expecting the medical profession to come up with something to save us from our torments.

In all my 60+ years of classic migraine attacks, the medical profession’s best effort is to turn me into a zombie with medication. This I notice is many people’s experience though expressed differently – “drunk” for example. Point is that we can carry on somehow when we are drugged up to the gills.

I believe that migraineurs are a very special bunch whose perception of the world and life in general is not only unique but of great value. We should be communicating with each other on subjects other than migraine.

My own take on remedial action is to imagine that migraine attacks are caused by a lack of oxygen. All medical practitioners have laughed at the idea BUT I found one researcher, Wolff (1967), who suggested: “Migraine is due to an oxygen deficiency in a strategic area of the brain”. Wolff got rubbished just like I was and there seems to have been no further progress made along Wolff’s idea.

Migraine attacks occur when the victim has been shallow breathing for too long. This may be because

1. he/she has been asleep for a while
2. he/she has been crouched over his type-writer for a while
3. he/she has just finished vigorous exercise, built up an oxygen debt and forgotten to breath afterwards.

It is not hard to imagine the different circumstances in which we breath shallowly for too long, a result of deep concentration which we all enjoy.

Some of us enjoy a time of extreme clarity just before an attack. Some get this clarity just after an attack. Either way it is a period of “inspiration” available exclusively to the migraineur, a privilege. I believe this period of clarity or inspiration is the result of reduced oxygen in the blood.

Apart from Mr Wolff is there anyone out there interested in following up on his theory of oxygen lack?

I have read a thousand other theories as to why migraine occurs none of which ring a bell like Mr Wolff’s.

I look forward to hearing from you.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • Katie M. Golden moderator
    4 years ago

    I believe your theory has merit. In patients who suffer from Cluster Headaches, the most prescribed treatment for them is oxygen.

    I don’t suffer from clusters, but during one trip to the ER for a massive attack, a nurse suggested oxygen, saying that years ago it was protocol to give Migraineurs oxygen along with IV fluids. Now I ask for it every time.

    I also find in my meditation practice where breathing is the focus, it can completely change my mood or even pain level, which could be from the increased oxygen in my system.

    Thanks for sharing your theory, I think you’re on to something!
    -Katie Moderator

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