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HeadWay, Issue #003 --, get what you want!
October 21, 2003

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In this month's issue:

Get what you want!

Ibuprofen - is it really safe?

Say what?! More big words...

Get what you want!

What do pregnant women and migraineurs have in common? Cravings, of course! Cravings for all sorts of interesting foods. Chocolate, oranges, pickles. For me, it's pizza. No joke.

You may have heard it said that it's actually good to give in to these cravings, in moderation, because your body may be telling you that it's low on something. And so, husbands all around the world are getting up in the middle of the night to get their wives pickles and ice cream or whatever it may be.

Before you send your spouse out into the cold or heat to pick up that anchovy pizza, beware. In the case of migraineurs, cravings may be the worst kind of temptation. The craving may simply be a sign that the migraine has already started rolling. About half of those with migraine get strange symptoms during the "prodrome" stage the hours or days before the main part of the migraine actually hits. Those symptoms may include depression, yawning, or food cravings, especially for sweet or salty foods.

Worse yet, many people have reported that the food they craved ended up being the very food that was keeping their migraine going!

Romy Fox, author of 25 Natural Ways To Relieve Headaches, tells the story of an ongoing migraine that he had. He felt so sick that the only thing he felt like eating was Christmas oranges. The good news was that someone had given him a whole box. The bad news you probably already know: citrus fruit is a common trigger. As soon as he realized what was going on, he stopped eating the oranges and the headache finally dissipated.

Here are a few tips to keep you happy and healthy during a time of year when things can easily get out of control:

1. Everything in moderation: If you have trouble with this one, say it to yourself three times every morning. No matter what you're craving, healthy or not, it's never a good idea to stuff yourself with it. Eat a variety of healthy foods.
2. Have you investigated foods as a possible trigger for your migraines? Visit our page on food and migraines to find out which foods are the villains. Are you craving one of these? Try keeping track of the foods you eat along with a migraine diary.
3. Try 5-HTP. 5-HTP is a supplement which may help diminish your migraines. It has also been reported by some to reduce cravings. In migraineurs, serotonin levels are often low. Serotonin is a natural neurotransmitter in your body. 5-HTP is used by your body to make serotonin, so it may be what your body really needs. Interestingly, some foods you eat contain tryptophan, which is also used to create serotonin. Tryptophan is found in chocolate. Is it possible that your chocolate craving is really a craving for more tryptophan, 5-HTP, and then serotonin? Don't pig out on chocolate, try something a little 5-HTP first it's fat and sugar free! For more read this article...
4. Eat small healthy snacks throughout the day. Don't let your blood sugar crash, and don't wait until you're so sick to your stomach you can't eat at eat. Eat small, healthy meals throughout the day, especially when you're in the middle of a migraine.

What you really crave is fewer, less intense migraines, right? Don't give in to those cravings that will only make you feel better for a few minutes. Go for the goal!

Ibuprofen - is it really safe?

Ibuprofen is one of those rare drugs that is prescribed as a preventative drug as well as a painkiller when you already have a migraine. Ibuprofen is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, or NSAIDs. Drugs containing Ibuprofen (such as Advil) keep your body from producing substances that cause inflammation and make nerves more sensitive to pain. Scientists believe that it has other benefits that are less clearly understood.

In recent months, however, concerns about ibuprofen have become more and more public. You may have heard warnings about what the drug may do to your stomach, or that it may even cause headache.

Like any drug, ibuprofen does have side effects and reacts differently to different people. If you take an Advil once every month or two for a headache, and you're a healthy adult, you probably have nothing to worry about. However, prolonged use may cause gastrointestinal problems. If you find yourself taking a few every week, or if you already have stomach, heart, intestinal or kidney problems, you should certainly talk to your doctor.

At I tend to take the approach that less drugs is generally better. Make sure if you're taking something that it's safe for you and that you're only taking what you need. Because of the recent questions about ibuprofen, I've included an article with a little more detail.

Say what?! More big words...

You've already learned a few words in this edition, so let's do a quick review of the highlights:
Prodrome: Also called preheadache. These are the symptoms that occur hours or even days before the peak of the headache, that serve as a kind of warning.
Serotonin, 5-HTP, and tryptophan (oh my!): Serotonin is a neurotransmitter your body needs. 5-HTP is used by the body to create serotonin. Tryptophan is in foods you eat such as turkey and milk, and it's used by the body to create 5-HTP. That's the simple explanation!
NSAIDs: non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. These include ibuprofen and aspirin.
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