On a humid day in August, hunched over my desk scattered with new patient paperwork and lab records, I began Googling (again). My husband grew to hate this habit of mine because he would always come home to hear about my next theory, diet, or self-diagnosis…
I had been sick for the last two years and was giving up on the possibility of healing and coming to terms with the idea that this might be my new normal life.
But in October 2022, something happened….
Ok, let me start at the beginning!
A Sickly Kid
I was constantly sick as a little one… my mom was always taking me to the doctor, and I was on more antibiotics than I care to admit back then. Then, when I was in college I was diagnosed with debilitating and chronic migraines (which was when I started birth control).
I found myself at the headache clinic in Ann Arbor, Michigan, by the age of 20. Within a few months, they had run TONS of tests, and I started preventative migraine medication (Topamax), thyroid medication (Synthroid), and a handful of abortive headache medicines.
Much to my surprise, this medication cocktail combination not only worked… but it worked for almost 20 years! (yes, I was on those drugs most of my adult life!)
Did I break my body?
Fast forward to 2019… I went off birth control, and my body immediately revolted. But it wasn’t just the pill, I had put my body through the ringer training for Ironman, working at a stressful job, and basically driving myself into the ground.
Finally, my body simply ‘broke’…. That’s a technical term, btw 😉 … the doctors said I broke.
All of a sudden, I felt like I was jet lagged all the time with debilitating fatigue and migraines that became chronic. (Daily!)
I began to notice weird things like rashes on my face & arms, joints & lymph nodes that ached, plus dizziness & confusion that made my brain simply feel like it wouldn’t work. I would forget things and mix up words like, ‘What go to time’
My body also started to run a fever on the regular, with no explanation?
I had lost my period for several years due to endurance sports (And now I realize I should have addressed that way back when)… But selfishly, at the time, I didn’t want anything to get in the way of training. And no periods seemed like no problem!
But now I was dealing with adrenal fatigue, no hormones, autoimmune issues, among other things.
I went from no diagnoses to 10+, but all the treatments for the various diagnoses seemed to have no impact on my conditions. Talk about frustrating!
Taking Matters into my own hands
I quickly realized I needed to take matters into my own hands…. After paying out of pocket for functional doctors, a trip to the Mayo Clinic, nutritionists, and expensive supplements, I knew that I literally had nothing to lose.
I felt my hand slowly click on the ‘submit’ button to apply as a patient, and I whispered a soft prayer…
Dr. Angela Stanton honestly changed my life… I recommend her book and Facebook group to heal from migraines (and autoimmune conditions!)
What does this look like? Here you go…
The Migraine Protocol
She goes into detail (through her personal research & trial & error) about the root cause of migraines at the ionic level.
Basically, it comes down to disruptions in electrolyte balance caused by genetic differences (migraine gene!) in our voltage-dependent channels, gates, and pumps in the brain that trigger migraines.
These disruptions ‘short cirucit’ our brain causing pain and migraine…
As someone who the Protocol has healed, I’ve learned it comes down to 3 main things:
This is KEY!!! If your electrolytes get off, the migraine brain goes haywire… Dr. Angela recommends 1/8 tsp and water 8 oz every two hours. (I don’t adhere to this exactly anymore, but I do get about 500mg of sodium a day via LMNT packets!)
You might be thinking – what about cholesterol and don’t you bloat up with all that salt?
Surprisingly, I don’t bloat with all that sodium – my brain literally uses it up!
And my cholesterol numbers went up a little, yes. But I’m not in a danger zone – and not something I’m worried about.
Also, there are specific times when we migraineuers need to increase salt – full moons, before our periods (women!), during exercise, and when flying (specifically landing) … these are just a few!
Manage Carbohydrate Intake
Dr. Stanton suggests avoiding carbs as much as possible to prevent migraine episodes. Most people who start the protocol are prescribed a Zero Carb or Animal-Based Carnivore Diet based on a 5-Hour Glucose Test.
I was in shock as I read through the recommendations and results from my tests.
Thanks Jules for your test. Please find the attached graph and my observations:
“Thanks Jules for running this test very early on after starting the protocol and still not eating a real Protocol meal. This totally shows how vulnerable your current metabolic health is. I recommend you start the carnivore diet, which is 60-70% animal protein by weight and 30-40% animal fat by weight. Any animal with preference to red meat as the primary meat type, and dairy, and eggs. Also mushrooms (fungi) and kelp/seaweed (algae) are part of our food choices on CD. “
I thought, “I have poor metabolic health? WTF. I’ve been an athlete for 10+ years, and I’m vegan!?”
All those feelings of anxiousness and inadequacy from my past flooded my head again… but I was also desperate to try anything to heal.
And just like that, I vowed to go zero carb/carnivore for at least 30 days.
Her research confirms that migraine is a metabolic disease, and the role of insulin, glucose transporters, and genetic variations in MTHFR and B vitamin methylation processes are contributing to migraine disease.
Migraineurs are basically carb-intolerant… and without the proper amount of salt in our systems to counteract, we’ll almost always end up with a migraine.
Pro Tip: If you start to feel your prodromes (or precursor symptoms to migraine) take ⅛ teaspoon of salt immediately! This has saved me so.many.times!!!
Watch The Weather (Barometric Pressure)
If you’ve ever felt head pain and migraines with the changes in weather, you’re not alone.
Barometric pressure headaches, also known as weather-related headaches, are known to be caused by changes in atmospheric pressure. These pressure changes can occur due to weather patterns such as storms, high-pressure systems, and rapid changes in temperature.
We know the migraine brain is sensitive, overactive, and hyper-alert, so it’s not surprising these shifts cause pain… but what do you do?
Low-Pressure Protocol – SALT
Managing a pressure drop is easier – and much more common (so I’ve found).
When the pressure drops, this relieves the weight of the atmosphere, which causes your blood vessels to expand.
This makes the blood volume in your vessels much lower (think lightheaded, dizzy, and low heart rate).
In this case, hydrate and SALT UP ASAP!
I watch the pressure forecast on MigrianeBuddy and plan a few days ahead. It’s a game-changer. Before, I would watch the weather and have to sit and brace it, but now adding the salt protocol, I have life back!
High-Pressure Protocol – Potassium
When the pressure increases, it becomes more challenging because the weight of the atmosphere presses on your body, making your blood vessels narrower. (Sometimes my teeth and jaw hurt from this type of pressure!)
This is because it causes vasoconstriction. And we need to release the excess fluids from our blood vessels.
To do this, reduce your sodium and water intake and consume foods high in potassium.
On an animal-based carnivore diet, salmon, beef, and mushrooms are excellent sources of potassium. If not you’re not following a strict animal-based eliminationd diet, go ahead and grab avocados, romaine lettuce, and almonds or pumpkin seeds in your diet. (I keep canned chicken and frozen avacado on hand at all times!)
Note: The body takes much more time to process potassium from food than chugging salt water … so it’s important to plan ahead, especially for those pressure hikes!
IMPORTANT NOTE: During times when the pressure is stable, it’s critical that migraineurs and headache sufferers eat sodium and potassium in equal balanced proportions.
Let me be straight – I don’t pretend to have this all figured out! I am simply sharing what has worked for me and my experiences.
I’ve had many friends and family reach out to me wondering what I did to heal and commenting on how much healthier I look… (awww… thanks y’all!)
So I want to share my journey and the resources that have helped turn my life around!
Today, I’m not 100% animal-based and do have some carbs, treats, and alcohol – If I do this, I just need more salt to counter-balance. (But if you’re just starting out – you need to be compliant to allow your body to heal before you bring back the fun!)
Now, I don’t know what the future will hold, and I still get anxious if this will last… but for now, I have my life back.
God is good! Amen…
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