Two migraine-preventing drugs are now available. The latest, Ajovy, just came on the market in September. Anything that reduces migraine days is a valuable addition to the migraine toolkit. But is $500+/month Ajovy any more effective than far less-costly preventatives already available? We compare actual study results. We also explain how to avoid Medication Overuse. And, we share migraine strategies that are effective and safe for children.

Keep up with us on Facebook for the latest news, research and helpful tips: Petadolex® and Dolovent™. And, as always, let us know any topics you'd like us to explore in upcoming newsletters!

Tina Sanders

Linpharma Customer Education



Is Honey Safe for Migraine Sufferers?

A newsletter reader seeking an alternative to sweetening her oatmeal asked whether organic honey is a safer option for migraine sufferers than brown sugar. Here's what we found:

First, migraineurs are right to be cautious of sugar. Table sugar, brown sugar, fructose in fruit, lactose in milk and corn syrup are all simple carbs. While complex carbs like whole grains and many vegetables transform into glucose and enter the blood stream gradually, simple carbs enter your blood stream quickly. Rapid fluctuations in blood glucose can cause migraines. Those fluctuations can also activate hormones that trigger attacks). Plus, many migraine sufferers notice that even a small increase in sugar over several days can have a cumulative effect that triggers attacks.

Second, in terms of affecting blood glucose, honey is little different than sugar. It is a simple carb. Pure, natural honey contains healing properties and nutrients (including magnesium and potassium) that have made it a home remedy for millennia. However, with much of the honey available today these nutrients and other ingredients have been processed out so there is virtually no health or nutritional advantage over sugar. Like sugar, eating too much honey carries the same potential for triggering migraines.

Honey isn't for everyone. It's not for people who have increased risk of bleeding. It can also worsen blood pressure problems. Infants and pregnant and nursing women shouldn't consume honey. Studies also show that migraine sufferers may be more sensitive to refined sugars (like honey) than the general population.

There's a critical difference between 'organic' and 'raw' honey. Organic simply means nothing synthetic is in the honey: no fertilizers, pesticides, dyes, or solvents and that it hasn't been irradiated. Organic honey can be filtered or unfiltered. It can be pasteurized or raw.

All raw honey comes with significant risks--especially for migraine sufferers. Raw, unprocessed honey can contain botulism spores that can cause severe food poisoning symptoms. It can include bee venom, which could cause a severe reaction if you're allergic to bees. It can contain mold spores which are common migraine triggers.

The sweet takeaway for migraine sufferers: Consume complex carbs in moderation. Really limit your simple carbs. If you want sweetness, go with natural, local honey -- just make sure it's processed or pasteurized.

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RISK ALERT: Migraines and GERD

Do you have migraines and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)? Long-term use of proton pump inhibitors like Prilosec can deplete the body’s normal levels of magnesium  Deficiencies of this critical mineral are liked with migraines.  See if you’re at risk: Symptoms of magnesium deficiency

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Medication Overuse Headaches (MOH): How to DetoxD

Readers of last month's newsletter were interested in how withdrawal from acute migraine medications can actually trigger chronic migraines. We reported on the study showing that 75% of MOH sufferers were able to 'self-detox' successfully and our readers wanted to know how.

  1. Talk with your doctor to see if you fit the profile for MOH and rule out any other cause of your headaches. Then, the treatment of choice is to discontinue the medication you're overusing. Your physician will decide if it should be stopped abruptly or tapered slowly.
  2. Develop your withdrawal strategy. Your doctor can help you with options that provide symptomatic relief during medication withdrawal. This might include a combination of pharmacological therapy, a support group, biofeedback to control tension and heart rate, behavioral techniques, targeted physical therapy, and breathing techniques to help you relax and better cope with pain.
  3. Immediately start taking a migraine preventative. This is critical because the fewer migraines you have, the less you'll need pain meds. Plus, remember that natural options like Petadolex, Dolovent or MIG-99 won't cause the withdrawal symptoms that cause the MOH cycle.
  4. Understand that headaches may get worse before they get better. The detox period may last several months. But remember, 75% of the people in the study were able to get through the detox and experience profound relief as their intense, chronic migraines reverted to occasional ones.

Discontinuation of overused medication is essential and the treatment of choice for MOH. In addition, preventive treatment aimed at the suspected background primary headache disorders should be initiated either during or immediately following withdrawal. There are various strategies to help with process of medication withdrawal and bridge therapy may be useful during drug withdrawal to provide symptomatic relief. Apart from discontinuation, a combination of pharmacological therapy, non-pharmacological therapy, biofeedback, and targeted physical therapy is needed for improvement in the patient's symptoms. Support groups and behavioral techniques have also been found necessary for the success of the treatment in the symptoms.

It is important for the patient to know that when the medication overused is discontinued, they may undergo a period where their headaches will get worse. Some other symptoms caused by the withdrawal of the medication can include nausea, vomiting, insomnia, restlessness or constipation. The headaches eventually will get better.

The physician will decide if the overused medication will be discontinued abruptly or if it needs to be tapered slowly. It may take a couple of months to six months to eventually break the headache cycle.

In certain circumstances, inpatient treatment may be considered so that medication can be tapered in a controlled environment, and prolonged intravenous medications can be used to break the headache cycle.

Other outpatient therapies include biofeedback, psychological counseling, and physical therapy, which help effectively work on changing lifestyle and incorporating non pharmacological therapies for the management of headaches. Biofeedback teaches the patient to control certain responses of the body to effectively help in reducing pain. The patient learns diaphragmatic breathing and how to control temperature, heart rate, and muscle tension to enter into a relaxed state, which may help to better cope with pain.

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