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The Complex World of Migraines and Their Many Causes

Updated: Nov 16

natural chronic pain treatment

Migraines are the ultimate illusionist in the medical world. Everyone's cause is different and for the most part unknown. What triggers a migraine one day may be completely different than the next. The only thing we can say for certain about migraines is that they are trying to tell us that something is wrong.

In fact, that is their only message. Headaches are one of the most nonspecific symptoms out there. Unless you had recent trauma to your head, the reason for your headache probably doesn't make any sense to you. This is because headaches and migraines are usually derived from a source outside of your head. When you ignore symptoms and problems for too long your body has to get your attention somehow and it tends to choose pain because we are less likely to ignore pain.

Typically, the most ignored and worst problems manifest themselves as migraines.


There is no one cause of a migraines, and, therefore, we should never expect their to be one solution. This is why drugs and procedures don't work and never will work for treating migraines. What we really need to focus on is how to train doctors to find the individual causes of everyones' migraines and how to treat that.

The most common causes of migraines

Cervical joint restrictions

If the vertebra in your neck are not moving freely they may put stress on nerves, arteries, and veins going to and from your skull. Joint restrictions may also put pressure on your spinal cord and brainstem which can cause a lot of pain.

Hypertonic sub-occipital muscles

Your sub-occipital muscles sit at the base of your skull. Unlike other muscles that move joints, these muscles don't actually move your head or neck in any way. They are full of proprioceptive fibers to help orient your head at all times. They are very sensitive and prone to becoming tight due to poor postures, like looking down at your phone or up at a computer screen all day. Worse is these muscles attach to your meninges which are the covering over your brain. Tight sub-occipital muscles tug on your meninges which puts pressure on your brain.

Hormone imbalances

This is a reason why migraines are more common in females, especially around times of puberty and menopause when hormones are going through rapid changes. But going on birth control to "balance" your hormones is not the option either. Properly testing all of your hormones and their metabolites, not just your sex hormones, is crucial here. There is a reason your hormones are unbalanced and giving yourself synthetic hormones to balance them is not going to fix anything.

Food sensitivities

Every person I have ever treated has had a food sensitivity to something, whether they knew it or not. For most of us we are sensitive to something we eat everyday. But because food sensitivities do not cause the same anaphylactic response that food allergies do, we tend to miss the symptoms associated with eating that food. The thought process that you have always ate this food and, therefore, it must not be an issue is wrong. Food sensitivities cause inflammation and the cumulative load is maybe why you were fine one day but not the next.

Environmental toxins

Our hunter-gatherer ancestors did not have to worry about environmental toxins because there hardly were any. They only had to worry about naturally occurring toxins which were the least of their concerns and often the least of ours. But the abundance of man-made chemicals that we produce every day without any safety data are slowly wearing at all of our health. Basic household products like cleaning supplies, beauty supplies, and candles are endocrine disruptors that cause a lot of inflammation and disrupt our hormones.

Chronic inflammation

This is the type of inflammation that we do not see or feel. It comes on slowly and spreads throughout our bodies causing vague, systemic symptoms that cannot be traced to a source. The greatest source of chronic inflammation is from poor gut health, food sensitivities, and environmental toxins. This inflammation closes the blood brain barrier and produced leaky brain, allowing even more chemicals into your skull that cause pain and distress.

Autoimmune disease

about 1 in 4 Americans will develop an autoimmune disease at some point in their lives and it typically takes 10 years to get a diagnosis. Worse yet is that conventional medicine doesn't know how to treat autoimmune diseases other than throwing steroids at the problem to dampen your immune system. If your immune system is attacking your own body's healthy tissues it is likely attacking nervous system tissue as well, including your brain.

Repressed emotions

Chronic pain lives in your subconscious and unconscious minds. Repressing emotions is human nature but it doesn't mean it's okay to do. Your brain hates this and will do everything in its power to try to get you to to deal with that emotion. It resorts to physical pain to try and get your attention. But that is a very vague symptom and since your pain feels physical, doctors look for a physical cause and never consider the mental/emotional components to chronic pain. Proper mind-body counseling is the only way to rid this pain.


Saying that your problems are due to tress always feels like a copout, but in reality, stress is the main driver of most chronic conditions. It disrupts hormones and causes unnecessary inflammation. Your body's response to stress is an evolutionary adaptation to keep you alive. It just has to do so at the expense of other bodily processes. In doing so it causes things like migraines.


That is just the short list of the many causes of migraines. They have to be treated like every other chronic condition: find and treat the rot cause. Conventional medicine will never have a solution for chronic pain conditions because the causes are too multifactorial. If you want to rid yourself of migraines you have to treat the physical, biochemical, and mental/emotional causes of them. You need to have a doctor that knows how to find and treat all of them.

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