Every year, 90% of the population will suffer from headaches. Nearly 10% of men and 12% of women will experience at least one headache each month. Needless to say, headaches have become a social and economic burden on our country.
Why Do Headaches Occur?
Headaches occur when brain neurons become irritated and “fire.” These neurons become irritated by chemicals or by vasodilation of cerebral blood vessels. The firing of these irritated neurons causes the pain associated with headaches. Let’s take a closer look at this:
Blood vessels in the brain will dilate in response to low oxygen levels irritating the nerves that wrap around them. There are many reasons why circulating oxygen levels in the body become decreased, including stress, the use of medications, and blood loss.
- Stress: When you’re stressed, you enter into a sympathetic state, which over-rides your parasympathetic nervous system. Your diaphragm is innervated by the vagus nerve, which is under parasympathetic control. So, when you are stressed you are not breathing deeply with your diaphragm and are therefore not getting enough oxygen into your body and brain.
- Statins: Statins lower LDL’s by destroying the area of liver that makes cholesterol. This is the same area that makes CoQ10. Since CoQ10 helps carry oxygen to tissues in the body, including the brain, taking statins leads to decreased oxygen being carried to the brain. This will not only lead to headaches, but has been linked directly to increased chances of Alzheimer’s.
- Blood Loss: Many women get headaches during menses because the loss of blood decreases the number of hemoglobin molecules available to carry oxygen to the brain. Other causes of blood loss, such as with gastric ulcers, can cause headaches as well due to the decrease in hemoglobin.
Excitation of Neurons
Certain chemicals can cause extreme excitation of neurons in the brain contributing to the development of painful headaches. Some of these chemicals include artificial sweeteners and salt substitutes. Not only can these chemicals cause headaches, but they can also cause a wide array of other heath problems, such as ADHD.
- Aspartame: Aspartame (also known as NutraSweet) is a commonly used artificial sweetener that is the culprit of many headaches. Aspartame breaks down into 3 things: aspartic acid, methanol, and formaldehyde. Aspartic acid causes NMDA receptors to fire, sometimes to the point of death. If you don’t get a headache from the aspartic acid, you still have to worry about the methanol and the formaldehyde. Methanol, an ingredient found in antifreeze, can only be cleared from the body at a rate of 7mL per day. To put this in perspective, 1L of Diet Coke has 56mL of methanol. Formaldehyde, used to preserve cadavers, is a known carcinogen (see CDC’s website.)
- MSG: Just like aspartic acid causes NMDA receptors to fire, monosodium glutamate (MSG) causes glutamate receptors to fire causing a similar neurological response as artificial sweeteners. MSG is found in many types of processed food and it’s also used in vaccines as a preservative.
How We Can Help
25% of patients seeking chiropractic care do so for the treatment of headaches. This is because chiropractic treatment for headaches when compared with other forms of treatments excels! Chiropractors are musculoskeletal experts, so many headache originating from spinal misalignments in the upper back and neck area stand no chance when treated by a chiropractor. There is also hope for those experiencing headaches caused by nutritional deficiencies or toxicities. We have been able to help many people obtain safe, effective, long-term relief from their headaches through Nutrition Response Testing! Only 1% of headaches have a more serious underlying pathology. That means that natural healthcare can effectively treat 99% of headaches!