Research suggests that more than 190,000 migraine attacks occur every day in the UK.
Migraine affects three-times as many women as men, with this higher rate being most likely hormonally-driven.
Most migraine sufferers are women, and many female migraine sufferers report getting migraines at certain times of the month, that is, around the time they have their period. Scientists have linked this to a decrease in the hormone estrogen during menstruation.
Some women who use birth control pills report more migraines, and more severe migraines, than those who don’t. Other women begin to take the pill to try to reduce the symptoms of their migraines. The birth control pill uses various hormones, including estrogen, to regulate a woman’s ability to conceive a child.
Soy is a plant which is high in protein and substances known as phytoestrogens, which seem to mimic estrogen women produce naturally. Phytoestrogens have been linked to fewer menopausal symptoms in women, and therefore might be helpful to treat migraines for men and women alike.
Hormones in the food supply
The food industry tends to be driven by profit-motives, not health-related ones. Many cattle are pumped full of hormones, steroids and antibiotics in order to get as much yield out of the animal as possible. Cow’s milk containing hormones is of particular concern. Some studies show girls are starting to menstruate at even younger ages than the usual lower range of 11 and some boys have experienced ‘feminisation’, such as the development of breast tissues, if they tend to drink a lot of dairy milk.
Whenever possible, aim for organic foods and consider using milk substitutes such as soy and nut milks for adults.
Hormonal fluctuations are often accompanied by food cravings. Some people crave salty foods, which can trigger migraines. Others might crave sweets, and go for sugar-free products because they are weight conscious. The artificial sweetener aspartame (NutraSweet) has been linked with migraine.
The stress and a lack of sleep many men and women experience have been found to be a significant contributor to migraines. Whether it is stress caused by work, personal matters, or other health issues, mastering stress management techniques can help to improve the lives of migraine sufferers greatly.