Happy Ending to Migraines: The Benefits of Milk

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Raw milk migraine

Migraines and Electrolytes

In late June of 2015, I received a PM (personal message) on Facebook from a husband of a migraineur. The husband introduced himself and explained that his wife “suffered with migraines for 15 years (Oct. 2000) after hitting her head under a bathroom cabinet.” She had been through all kinds of typical migraine treatments – just about everything under the sun possible to try, including a neuronal stimulator placed in via surgery – but nothing has worked. As he was sitting in the hospital waiting for some results, he found me on Facebook and asked for help.

I have a standard questionnaire that I ask all migraineurs to fill and send the answers to me via PM so I can see what may be wrong. The first thing that hit me was that she was drinking 256 oz (32 glasses) water a day when the calculator suggested that her petite figure needed only 66 oz (just over 8 glasses) so something was terribly wrong. She also took a ton of medications, though the list he sent was already greatly reduced. Even with these medications, she suffered debilitating migraines every day.

The migraineur was Kristen Cassimatis. Her recovery was covered recently by a local television station on their news. You can watch it here: Raw milk helping woman relieve migraine pain.

What Do Electrolytes, Whole Milk, and Migraines Have in Common?

A lot actually. The very first article I published at Hormones Matter was on the importance of proper hydration to the body. Hydration is not water but a mix of electrolyte minerals with water, of which sodium and potassium (in proper balance) are the most important. An article I wrote somewhat later describes what excessive thirst means for the body and that sugar is really bad for you. Thus, if you look through some of the articles I published, you can see that a meal that is hydrating, contains no added sugar, has protein and some minimal carbs, electrolytes, and fat. Fat is good for you. I have also published several academic journal articles on the cause and treatment of migraine, based on statistical findings in the migraine group on Facebook.

I have not yet discussed fat and cholesterol in great detail but an article shall come about that in the near future. For now, since whole milk is full of saturated fat and cholesterol, I just want to mention a few important findings. It is important to note that over 70% of our brain is fat and 25% of all cholesterol in our body is found in our brain (1) in what is called the white matter where voltage transmitting axons are coated with cholesterol (myelinated). Thus, cholesterol and fat are important for us.

While there is a huge controversy over the benefit versus harm of saturated fats and cholesterol, more studies now show that saturated fats and higher levels of cholesterol are actually better for us, particularly for women. In fact, saturated fat is not associated with heart disease as suggested by many studies.

To add insult to injury, cholesterol is not actually made from fat but from acetoacetyl-CoA (2) by a 19-step process in the liver. We can choose to eat cholesterol but if we don’t eat enough, the liver has to make cholesterol. When we don’t eat cholesterol, the liver makes less cholesterol than each person’s optimal level (2). The only bad cholesterol our liver makes are triglycerides that do clog up arteries but they are made of sugar and under special circumstances. Thus, regardless in what stage studies are at now, something that every single cell is made of in our body – the membrane of each human cell is made of lipid bilayer – cannot possibly be bad for us: we are made of the stuff.

As in the story above, someone who feels the urge to drink a lot of water is usually not getting enough or the right balance of electrolytes. Moreover, the act of drinking too much water is harmful since it dilutes electrolytes. Drinking whole milk, which is full of electrolytes, on the other hand, is good for us migraineurs and others alike. Few people realize that milk is a great source of electrolytes, protein, and good cholesterol. Most of us were told from early on in our lives that milk is for cows and not people; milk is bad for us; it has puss in it; it causes puss; it makes one phlegm up; it makes us fat; it has too much fat; etc. We have been told not to drink milk, and as a result, many folks are having difficulty managing electrolyte and cholesterol balance.

I think that milk is a perfect food, assuming of course, that it is organic, whole milk, not treated with hormones and antibiotics, as in the story above. Raw milk is not legal everywhere so while drinking safe raw milk is healthier, it may not be available to everyone. Reduced fat milk does not have the benefits of whole milk and also contains added sugar and proteins that are not all that great for you. In fact, if you have no time to eat a meal, be it breakfast, lunch, or dinner, a glass of whole milk is an ideal replacement.

So, as Kristin recovered from her migraines and is also preparing to have her brain stimulator surgically removed, she joined the thousands of migraineurs who have joined our migraine community on Facebook. Enjoy Kristen’s story and join the several thousands who have been able to stop all their medicines and remained migraine free.

Sources

  1. Perlmutter D & Loberg K (2014) Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth About Wheat, Carbs, and Sugar – Your Brain’s Silent Killers (Hodder & Stoughton).
  2. Dr. Kendrick M (2007) The Great Cholesterol Con; The truth about what really causes heart disease and how to avoid it (John Blake Publishing, London, England) p 270.
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8 Comments

  1. I’ve drunk a great deal of milk my whole life (except for a few years when I was more rigidly paleo), but generally low-fat milk. About a year ago ago I switched to whole milk, and a few months ago I started drinking a bit more. My theory was that a high-fat diet helped epileptics, so maybe it would benefit also migraineurs. I also stopped drinking most juice, when I found out what a horrible fraud that is. This last month has been strangely migraine free, but I am not ready to draw any conclusions. However, I just googled migraine+milk, and all the hits besides this article were about casein causing migraines. I’d like to see some more data points.

    I see that you are a fellow Southern Californian, and attended a couple of the same universities that I did (Claremont and UCLA). We’re quite fortunate to be able to buy milk from grass-fed cows in many of our supermarkets.

    1. Hi SteveC,

      I see you are reading stories without understanding them (and without getting the whole picture). If seizures and migraines disappeared from just drinking milk, that would be great. Though you say your migraines “strangely” disappeared… ahum… that is not actually the whole story to migraine treatment let alone seizures. In order for you to understand why not, let me explain two basic tenets of distinction between migraines and seizures, which has plenty of “data points” you would like to see if you search the literature.

      1) seizures are electrical events that are fast and head in random directions without any purpose. The electricity moves in a chaotic fashion and may be local to one spot or may ignite other spots in the brain
      2) migraines are electrical events that are very slow (1 mm per minute) moving in a very orderly matter from one point (typically in the occipital cortex in the back of the brain) covering the entire brain in about 30-40 minutes. The electricity heads in one direction only in a very organized matter. This is called cortical spreading depression.

      As you see, the two conditions might as well be a as different as a heart attach versus ulcers. They are hard to tell apart but they have very different mechanisms, caused by different things, move in a different way, achieve different purpose: in other words, they are different birds. They share one thing in common: they both damage myelin (insulation around each axon) in the brain, and myelin (white matter) is made from cholesterol. The brain itself, over 60% of it, is made from DHA (animal omega 3) fat. Another commonality between the two health conditions is that glucose and insulin damage myelin. So eating/drinking food that is pure exogenous glucose/fructose, increases insulin, and thereby both too much glucose and too much insulin ends up in the brain. At its most extreme we talk about type 3 diabetes, which is Alzheimer’s disease. The brain, while most believe that its primary fuel is glucose, actually has a preference to ketones (beta hydroxybutyrate), and only those parts of the brain (and body) need glucose that have no mitochondria. In the brain that is your iris and corneas! Nothing else needs glucose in your brain!

      So, stopping juices is not fraud lol… juices are fructose and glucose (without any fiber) that provokes a huge insulin spike. A glass of juice contains several fruits so you are over-consuming fructose. Very young kids who are fed juice from an early age already, show non-alcoholic fatty liver disease also from an early age and are overweight. Part of fructose converts to glucose but when taken in huge amounts–as in a glass of freshly squeezed apple juice–it has too much fructose and glucose in it already, so the extra converts to fat, which makes for our overweight kids. Same goes for adults. Drinking too much fruit juice, smoothies, shakes, eating too much fruits, starches, grains, etc., all convert to body fat if not immediately used as fuel. To give you a quick example: a sandwich and an apple lunch gives you more carbohydrates than you could work down (as glucose) in a 2-hour long exercise immediately after eating it. Therefore, since you stay put at your desk working finance or other sitting work, the carbs will deposit as adipose tissue. I am not sayign anything new here–this is textbook on metabolism 101.

      Nonetheless, quitting juices will not remove your seizures or migraines. Drinking whole fat milk will not cure your seizures or migraines. Drinking whole milk with high fat will put you on a healthier diet that together will put you on a migraine/seizure-free life without any need for medicines.

      What may cure your seizures is not eating, e.g. fasting, for longer periods of time–say start with 5 days as all kids do when they place them on dietary means of seizure cure. Eat nothing for 5 days only drink water. After that you are in a state of ketosis. In ketosis the body switches metabolic process from sugar burning as its primary fuel to fat burning–the original and default fuel, kids are born in ketosis–and in that mode your brain can heal those areas ravaged by seizures. The ketogenic diet has been used for centuries for seizures, in fact, fasting was used several thousand years ago as seizure cure. There is no fraud here.

      Migraine is a tad more delicate, since fasting for 5 days will make you get a massive migraine, plus migraineurs have low blood pressure, and 5 days of fasting lowers blood pressure. So I recommend you do that with the guidance of a doctor. Also because 5 days of fasting means you need to be removed your medicines prior to starting it since many medicines interact with the ketogenic metabolic process.

      The short list of the things that woudl help you get rid of migraines/seizures includes:

      1) stop all grains
      2) stop all sweeteners, be it regular, natural, artificial, syrup, whatever
      3) stop all juices, milk substitutes
      4) stop all fruits but raspberries and blackberries
      5) stop all veggies that grow underground, except for onions and garlic
      6) stop all starchy veggies/fruits
      7) stop all vegetable, seed, nuts processed oils except for olive and coconut oil that you can eat but only cold
      8) use only animal fats for cooking
      9) To start with, after your 5-day fast (use doctor supervision for that) the induction period starts. Thsi period your calories should come from 80% fat, 16% protein, and 4% carbs.
      10) For carbs use only dark green leafy veggies, broccoli, cauliflower, or fruits like zucchini, avocado, etc, nuts like almonds. If you drink milk, drink only whole fat milk
      11) increase your water–you lose a lot of water in the ketogenic diet
      12) increase salt–you lose a lot of salt in the ketogenic diet

      Now you can experiment and see what happens.

      ***SPECIAL NOTE: you cannot do this if you are taking medicines for seizures or migraine or heart. Always consult your medical provider before you change your diet or embark on a new metabolic process, like the ketogenic diet.

      Let’s talk after you made these changes Steve! As for data points: they are in journals all over. Enjoy reading.

      Angela

  2. I have been reading with interest your commentary on Topamax – I have tried several times getting off of this drug only to have the horrible chronic migraines return, and based on your article I now understand why. I want to start weaning myself off of this drug right away, slowly. Am wondering if the damage I have done is permanent – I definitely feel as if I have lost more than a few IQ points – what is your experience/opinion? I am 54 and have been taking 300mgTopamax XR for about 8 years (awful, I know). Thank you for your interest and research…

    1. Dear Janie,

      I am glad you are commenting here since what you are asking is very important. First, congratulation on your effort of trying to get off Topamax since it does damage the brain. I am glad you want to and you can if you do it differently. The reason why you keep on getting your migraines back is because Topamax is a symptom treatment but does nothing with the underlying cause and so when you reduce it but nothing changed the cause, you just get back to where you were before.

      The underlying cause of migraines is written in my many articles but I think the latest one on genetics summarizes it all the best.

      In short: migraine is caused by many genetic variations that appear to be disconnected. What I did in this article is connected them into a “cause of migraines” by grabbing a couple of the most important genetic variances ALL migraineurs have.

      Without repeating the genetics here, let me just summarize key points:

      1) migraineurs are not able to metabolize glucose properly. Glucose causes an exaggerated response of removing water and sodium from the blood, causing dehydration and edema at the same time
      2) migraineurs are also not able to metabolize fructose. As a result, they tend to end up with high cholesterol (cholesterol is made from sugar not fat), and that compromises their whole body, immune system, causing systemic inflammation
      3) migraineurs have an “ancient’ brain type that is not used to eating carbohydrates and therefore not used to having to adjust electrolyte (salt, potassium, magnesium, calcium, phosphate, and water) all the time, which gets out of homeostatic balance when carbohydrates are consumed.
      4) as a result of the lack of need for electrolyte adjustment, most of the voltage gated pumps in the brain of the migraineur are different (have variances) and don;t work so well.
      5) migraineurs have “busy brains” as one journal put it. They use different voltage frequencies and in different brain regions from non-migraineurs. Migraineurs also have more connections between the neurons and so they use more voltage generating energy ==> salt and potassium
      6) My experience with the many thousands of migraineurs I so far had the chance to help is that migraineurs are not drinking enough water either.

      So when you sum all these up together with you wanting to come off of Topamax, before you come off of Topamax you have some work to do. You need to set your lifestyle to be optimal for your brain. This is not easy but over the past 3+ years I have been able to help over 4000 migraineurs to go medicine and migraine free and return to full life–damage to the brain from Topamax may or may not be permanent. We won’t know that for sure until you are off it and see how you feel. I found that some people have permanent damage to their body thermal control (cannot go on the sun or in heat for long) but it seems to improve after some time. One person was left with stuttering and another gained a lot of weight. All of these eventually recover with the proper treatment.

      If you think you need help, I run a Facebook group that specializes in exactly what you need.

      Hope to see you there. 🙂

      Have a lovely week,
      Angela

    1. Lungo, migraines are not headaches–it sounds like you have headaches. Migraines are the symptoms of a different brain anatomy with different energy need. If your pain goes away from herbs, you are likely having a headache and not a migraine (migraine need not come with a pain in the head at all!). Migraines have many prodromes and postdomes but not necessarily pain in the head.

      Glad you can get rid of your headaches with an herb.

      Angela

      Angela

  3. I have been a migraine sufferer for most of my life, but they became chroni daily migraines at age 50 when I had a complete hysterectomy. I am now 72 and there are too many days when I am in so much pain that I cannot function. These debilitating headaches are all over my head including basilar going into the notches. Sometimes abdominal pain, dizziness and general weakness, and nausea are present as well. I have tried everything including something new called MigraClear which has magnesium, feverfew, butterbur, niacin and riboflavin. Have a Cephaly, been on Botox plus Triptans and all the preventatives which I could not tolerate. Today might have to be an ER day where I will get an IV, Tordol,Phenergan and maybe something for pain. I do resist this last option most of the time as I hate the side effects of pain mere. HELP!!!!

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