What if you could do one thing and never get another migraine? And could migraine surgery be that one thing? Readers have asked us to help shed a little light on what migraine surgery can and can't do. In this issue, we take a look at the pros, cons, and research.

While we usually emphasize things you can do for migraines, this issue also looks at what not to do. Plus, we look at CoQ10's role in supporting a healthy brain-and keeping migraines at bay.

And, as always, please let us know about any questions or topics you'd like us to address in upcoming issues.

Tina Sanders

Tina Sanders
Linpharma Customer Education

Can Surgery Cure Your Migraines for Good?

What if you never had to suffer another migraine? That's the tantalizing proposition some doctors believe migraine surgery can offer. Other doctors, however, don't agree that surgery is effective or should even be considered as an option for migraine patients. With such a wide gap in viewpoints, we wanted to take a look at the facts about migraine surgery. Here's what we found:

What's the science behind surgery? Surgery is based on the premise that migraines may be triggered by the sensory branches of the trigeminal and cervical spine nerves becoming compressed. This leads to inflammation and, ultimately, migraines. There are two main approaches: (1) to decompress four main trigger points (frontal, temporal, nasoseptal and occipital). (2) Deactivate the trigger sites where the migraine actually begins.

Does migraine surgery work? There is anecdotal evidence that after receiving the surgery, people have not experienced further migraines. The research supporting this, however, is not conclusive because the studies have involved such small samples of migraine patients. Still, two of these studies were recently reported in Neurology Times: One focusing on decompression showed an overall success rate approaching 90% and one involving site deactivation showed a more than 50% improvement in migraine frequency, days, severity and duration with 55% of the patients (10 people) showing complete resolution of migraine symptoms.

When might surgery be something to explore? If your migraines are not being well controlled by prevention and acute medication, you might want to discuss a surgical option with your doctor. For adolescents (age 12-17) suffering severe migraines, the 50mg butterbur Petasites extract can be effective for prevention, but the only FDA-approved drug for migraine prevention is topamirate. (Note that Topamirate, also commonly used for stroke and epilepsy patients, is prescription-only and can cause agitation, mood changes, stuffy nose, bleeding gums and other side effects.) If natural and prescription are not proving effective, surgery may be worth discussing. For all patients, however, a requisite is that they have anatomical migraine trigger sites that can be identified by the surgeon.

What are the cons? First, all surgeries-even short, minimally invasive ones-come with the risk of complications, pain and recovery time. Second, there may be temporary side effects such as numbness, hair loss near the incision, bleeding and uneven brow movement. Third, the full cost of the surgery may not be covered by insurance and, if it is, likely comes with a large co-pay. And finally, while the studies show 90% "success rate" that does not mean that 90% of patients never have another migraine. The success rate indicates that there is improvement in the frequency and severity of patients' migraines.

What's the bottom line? You must decide for yourself. But from our point of view, it makes the most sense to think of surgery as a last-rather than a first-resort. There are prevention alternatives that come without the risks or costs of surgery, but with well-structured research that documents significant improvement in migraine frequency, duration and intensity of pain.

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What NOT to Do for a Migraine

Mild exercise can work wonders as part of a natural prevention strategy for warding off migraines. But when a migraine does strike, physical activity can actually be one of the worst things you can do. Why is that?

When one exercises, the body releases endorphins, which are the body's natural painkillers. Exercise reduces stress and helps individuals sleep at night. Since stress and poor sleep are powerful migraine triggers, exercise can help prevent migraines from developing. But if migraines do develop, physical activity tends to make them worse. Movement may worsen the throbbing pain and symptoms such as nausea, while activity can raise body temperature which can become an additional trigger, intensifying the inflammation. Migraines also tend to exhaust your energy, so trying to exercise or move around to get your mind off the pain can actually deplete your reserves.

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TRY THIS:  When a migraine strikes, don't try to "fight through it." Instead, use your acute medication and try retreating to a dark, cool space to minimize light and sensory stimulation. Try to concentrate on relaxing into a regular rhythm of breathing and imagine breathing in cool, calming air and directing this healing breath to the pain in your head.
Your Brain and CoQ10: Great Chemistry

What is CoQ10 and why is it important for migraine prevention?

Co-enzyme Q10 is vitamin-like substance your body produces to promote healthy cell growth. It seems to increase energy stores in the brain and may have a role in other brain functions. While CoQ10 doesn't seem to have any value in treating migraines that have already begun, research suggests CoQ10 may be effective in preventing them. One study, for example, showed CoQ10 supplementation reduced the number of migraines experienced by chronic migraine sufferers by HALF. To learn more about CoQ10, CLICK HERE

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All-in-one, clinical strength supplement for correcting Magnesium, B2 and CoQ10 deficiencies associated with neurological discomfort.

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