Did you know that migraines and hives have a common trigger? It’s histamine, and you don’t have to have allergies to suffer. We explain why—and why it’s important to controlling your migraines. Plus, we alert you to what not to let ER doctors give you and why the flavor of certain crackers can be bad for you.

As always, we hope you find this information helpful! Let us know what you’d like us to cover in upcoming issues. And please let us know what’s working for you that might also help your fellow readers.

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Tina Sanders

Linpharma Customer Education



Hives and Migraines: Can One Prevention Strategy Help Both?

People who suffer migraines may also suffer from hives—often at the same time. The link between the two? Histamine. Let’s look at what happens and what you can do to reduce your risk of experiencing both migraines and hives.

How Histamine Triggers Trouble

Histamine is naturally present in your body, regulating blood pressure and serving as a neurotransmitter. It plays a key role in controlling your immune response, which can lead to inflammation and to the same constriction and dilation of blood vessels we recognize as triggers for migraines—and hives.

But an immune response sparked by an allergen might not be why you develop migraines and hives: you may have a histamine intolerance. People with this intolerance often have low levels of enzymes needed to process histamine and keep it from building up over time.

Symptoms of histamine intolerance include migraines and hives, along with digestive symptoms, hay fever and eczema. Unfortunately, traditional antibody and skin-prick allergy tests can’t diagnose it. Usually, the culprit is eating too many high-histamine foods. But the intolerance builds over time. You might eat those foods one day and feel fine, while the next day you eat them and suffer a painful migraine and itchy hives.

This makes it hard for your doctor to diagnose the intolerance. Still, there are steps you can take to find relief.

How to Troubleshoot a Histamine Intolerance

Since histamine seems to trigger migraines and hives in the same way, it’s not surprising that many of the strategies effective for reducing the frequency and severity of migraine attacks can do the same for hives.

  1. Keep a diary. Record what foods you eat, the rest you get, and any activities or stresses during your day. This helps you identify what may be triggering attacks.
  2. Avoid high-histamine or “histamine liberating” foods. These include many that are already familiar triggers for migraine sufferers, including aged cheeses, processed meats, yeast products, beer, wine, chocolate, pickled and fermented products, plus citrus and tomatoes. For more on the histamine-food link, CLICK HERE.
  3. Incorporate a natural antihistamine into your prevention strategy. “Natural” is vital because a histamine intolerance is something that you treat over the long term, so you don’t want to be tied to a drug that makes you sleepy and comes with serious risks. There are several natural antihistamines, including green tea and Vitamin C. There is also butterbur extract. This herbal supplement is recognized as effective in reducing migraines. In 2005, Swiss and German scientists also compared butterbur to antihistamine drugs and found it as effective as those products, but without the side effects.
  4. Is there a magnesium deficiency, too? Magnesium plays many vital roles in your body, including reducing migraine attacks. A magnesium deficiency can also disrupt the way histamine is stored in the cells and metabolized. This can cause histamine to build up. Correcting magnesium deficiencies can also help keep histamine from building up and triggering migraines and hives.
The same prevention strategy doctors recommend for migraines —keeping a diary, avoiding food triggers, trying supplements—may also help prevent hives. Plus, if taking the steps above leads you and your doctor to recognize a true histamine intolerance, you may have discovered not just riggers, but the actual source of your migraines.

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Even outside the ER, some doctors still treat migraine patients with opioid painkillers—like Vicodin. The nature of opioids is that over time, it will take higher and higher drug doses to achieve the same effect, putting migraine sufferers at risk of addiction and overdose. As always, it’s best to find a natural prevention strategy that minimizes your need for acute medication. But when you do need a “rescue drug” follow Dr. Friedman’s advice and ask your own doctor for alternatives.

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Polly Want a Migraine?

Don’t let a craving for crackers trigger a migraine! Cheddar-flavored, Chick-in-a-Bisket or other highly seasoned crackers are common culprits. You don’t have to avoid crackers altogether, but do stick with plain crackers like Saltines, Ritz, Wheat Thins, Carr’s Table Crackers and Club crackers.

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