As a child, I remember my mother locking herself into a dark room at certain times and asking us to not disturb her for a few hours. I knew that we shouldn’t disturb her because she had a migraine and it rendered her completely incapacitated. She would describe it as ‘making her stupid’. She couldn’t focus on anything (even with perfect vision), light would bother her, her speech would become smaller and strained and her answers vague.
I am now getting these migraines and they are completely related to my hormones (they were also related to my mom’s).
I just read that 70% of migraine sufferers are women and, to no surprise, these migraines are completely tied to hormones. I never used to get migraines but as I’ve aged, my estrogen levels have dropped. And that’s the trigger. Damn.
So, estrogen levels dropping lead to all sorts of crappy things that I don’t really want to talk about here (loss of elastic-ness EVERYWHERE, see, I told you!) but the foremost bit that bothers me is that more and more frequently, I have to lock myself in a dark room, take a bunch of extra-strength headache killers, dramamine and hope that the killer headache and nausea goes away within a couple of hours. This time it held on for over a day. One whole painful, unproductive, incredibly annoying day.
Does this mean I need to start doing some sort of bloody hormone therapy!? God I hope not (and this was stopped in 2002 because clinical trials found that the damage outweighed the benefits). But I have found out lately from all sorts of brilliant female friends that there is a way to keep estrogen levels up the natural way:
Eat more soy. The Japanese don’t have a word for hot flashes because, well, it’s so uncommon in Japan to have them. And why not? Because of estrogen rich diets that include lots of soy, brown rice and alfalfa sprouts. Other foods to consume more of? Millet, Barley, Flax seed, Lentils, Kidney beans, Lima beans, Rye, Clover, Fennel, Chickpeas (garbanzo beans), Apples, Celery, Parsley, Beets, Bok choy, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Carrots, Cucumbers, Mushrooms, Brussel sprouts, Seaweeds, Squash, Pumpkin seeds, Sunflower seeds, Cherries, Olives, Pears, Plums, Tomatoes, Prunes, Barley, Oats, Brown rice, Wheat germ, Bulgur, Brewer’s Yeast, Black-eye peas, Mung bean sprouts, Navy beans, Red beans, Split peas and a handful of Spices (cloves, ginger, hops, oregano, red raspberry, sage tea, thyme and turmeric).
Funnily enough, though, while doing research, I found out that soy can induce migraines in some people. Must not be hormone-based migraines?
Foods to avoid? Pretty much everything I love. Coffee, tea, chocolate, meat (except for the organic, free-range stuff) and sugar.
Black cohosh originated in North America and was used by Native Americans to cure muscle pain and indigestion (as well as cramps for women). You can buy it in various forms at your health food store (tablet, tea, etc). However, the benefits aren’t scientifically proven and some side effects seem to be equivalent to what we are trying to cure (headache, nausea, etc).
Rhubarb extract has been popular amongst German women for years. It’s more effective for curing hot flashes, but I imagine it would also work on other areas of estrogen depletion, too? I’ll give it a whirl. I’m a fan of rhubarb.
If you aren’t a fan of soy (or are allergic), you may want to try flaxseed oil, which apparently can also be applied to the skin…hmmmmm…count me in!
Bad news: more exercise helps. Good news: more sex helps, too! I’m all about balance here. At the end of the day, aging sucks. And aging sucks more than ever because of all of the hormones in our food that are messing with our bodies even more than our ancestors. I also still need to write a post about my Four Hour Body diet, but it looks like bits of it may not be so good for being a woman heading towards 40. The amount of beans I eat on the diet is a bonus, but the lack of some of the grains may be hurting me.
Anyone else get migraines? Are they hormonal or just ‘normal’? What do you do to fight them? I remember my mom had little blue pills that she told me were expensive, but miraculous. Anyone?