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HeadWay, Issue #157 -- The Hydration Secret
September 21, 2017

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In this issue:

The Hydration Secret

Say what?! Electrolytes

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The Hydration Secret

One of the first home remedies for migraine that I ever came across was all about drinking water. The paper explained that I needed to drink huge amounts of water, all at once, first thing in the morning. Such huge amounts that I really had trouble getting it all down!

Back in 1945, a paper was published saying that most adults need 2.5L of water, which would be about 8 glasses, every day. The theory is that this recommendation went viral - and it's still repeated today. And yet the last sentence of the paragraph is always missed: "Most of this quantity is contained in prepared foods".


So many experts today will still tell you - eat a healthy, balanced diet, and drink when you're thirsty.

But are there "special cases"? Usually if you live in a hot desert, you will drink more than someone in a cold climate (though you can get dehydrated in either place). But there's also the delicate balance that athletes try to attain. And then - there are people with headaches and migraine.

Drinking too much water can be dangerous (in some cases, fatal!). That's because it can upset your body's balance - most famously, your salt levels. Even sports drinks have been criticized for upsetting the balance if not used properly.

But many people believe that migraine patients simply need to be more hydrated. Remember, migraine patients often suffer from stomach problems, vomiting, and even just forgetting to (or not being able to) eat properly. And even between attacks, the migraine brain is different. Also, headache is quite simply a common symptom of dehydration.

Studies (see for example Increasing the daily water intake for the prophylactic treatment of headache as well as much personal experience seems to show that headache pain tends to decrease when patients drink more water. So intentional daily water intake alone (try an app like Waterlogged, which for a few dollars will help you set goals and keep to them) will likely lessen your symptoms.

But what about the body's balance? That's more tricky, especially for a migraine patient.

Some researchers are looking into how to achieve a healthy balance. Take for example Dr. Angela Stanton, who has been developing "The Stanton Protocol". Her book, Fighting The Migraine Epidemic [edited - new edition], discusses some of the complex ins and outs of staying properly hydrated and chemically balanced from the standpoint of a migraineur.

The book has unusually high reviews for a fighting migraine how-to, and readers benefit by joining a very focused support group on Facebook.

Dr. Stanton's book is a great place to start if you're serious about this approach, but there are a few common tips that will help you get started:
  • Try drinking more water, intentionally, at intervals throughout the day. This is especially important when you're having a migraine attack. If you can't get water down, try a bit of ice.
  • Generally speaking, avoid soda/pop, tea, coffee, and even juice. If you drink the occasional cup, drink the same amount of water afterwards.
  • Eat a balanced diet, with lots of fruit and vegetables.
  • Every once in a while, or if you need to hydrate quickly, skip the sports or energy drink and try the salt-and-lemon trick. Squeeze some citrus (orange, lime, lemon) into your water and add a dash or salt or two. (See How Sea Salt & Lemon Can Help You Hydrate Better)
  • Some people recommend sea salt (for the trace minerals) or a supplement, such as SaltStick Caps. Be sure to talk to your doctor before considering a new supplement.
For more information, check out:

Say what?! Electrolytes

Electrolytes are substances that can conduct electricity in liquid form. They are critical to the functioning of your body, and can cause major problems when they're out of balance (levels that are too low, or too high). Common electrolytes include sodium (salt), potassium, magnesium and calcium.

For more information, see Symptoms of Electrolyte Imbalance, Plus How to Solve It.

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