Migraines and Veganism: An Unlikely Duo

I live in the south eastern US. Here, we are known for our fried and fattening foods, over sweetened tea, and epic late summer thunderstorms that come with intense heat and humidity. Needless to say, we are not a health conscious people and this is not the area of the country to live if you suffer from chronic migraines.

We moved here in late 2016, and almost immediately I noticed a change in my migraines. They had always been intense (I get them with aura's, which is fun), but not thunderclap intense. I had long given up on preventatives and abortives, as they never seemed to really stick and the side effects seemed worse than the actual migraines themselves. In Nov 2016, we had lived here about a month before I had a migraine so intense that I ended up in the ER. It was the first time that I'd really needed something that would vanquish the searing pain that I was suddenly in. After that, I decided it was time to see a Neurologist again. He put me on two preventatives, a high dose of magnesium, and gave me an abortive (Cambia...I love it!). Things went fine for a few months. I stuck with the regimen I was on, but wasn't exactly thrilled with the idea of being on so many medications/supplements. All I could think when taking my meds each night was "while I'm helping my brain to function, what am I doing to the rest of my body?"

Fast forward a year and, almost to the day, I was back in a dark room making every attempt I could to not move, eat, or breathe to much because the pain wouldn't leave me be. I tried my abortive and preventatives, but nothing seemed to dull the pain and I thought again of going back to the ER (or digging a spoon into my temple...my husband hid all the spoons though...). I knew I needed to do something, so I started researching holistic ideas. If the medical community couldn’t help, maybe I could find something outside that arena. I ended up stumbling across an article on the documentary called "Forks Over Knives", available on Netflix, so I watched it. Then I watched "What the Health". Then I watched every other plant based documentary on Netflix. Then I read The China Study and watched more Vlogs on YouTube about veganism than any one person should (seriously....like, 8 hr days of watching these 15 min videos...).

By mid-December I had made up my mind. I was vegan. I had no idea what was in store for my body, but I knew that the concepts made sense so I trusted the process. Cholesterol blocks your blood vessels, my meds work to overcome that (I took Inderal, which is a beta blocker). The better health would allow my body to heal itself, so I figured what do I have to lose? It was either going to make me feel better and I’d be off animal products for the rest of my life OR it was going to fail miserably and I’d mourn the loss with a pint of Ben and Jerry’s. I decided that I’d give it 12 weeks, as the experiment done in the movie lasted 10 weeks. Almost everyone in the study was off their meds by that point, so maybe I could too! Granted, they were all on diabetes and high blood pressure meds, but that wasn’t the point. Maybe, just maybe, this might work.

Well, it’s been almost 12 weeks, I'm still vegan, I am off the Inderal, have only taken 2 of my abortives in 3 months, and my doc and I are going to attempt to wean off the Amitriptyline in the next few weeks. I am sleeping SO much better, my migraines are almost completely gone, and when they do come up they are manageable. I am able to work out more, which has helped me lose a few pounds and be a little happier. Not to mention, when thunderstorms come up, I feel them but am not limited by them, which is the real goal. It’s insane, but it’s working and is about the only thing that has generated this much relief from my migraines. Finally…finally…I feel like I’ve maybe sort of beaten my migraine.

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