I was really interested to hear on the News today about the new guidelines issued by NICE. These address the overuse of painkillers for headaches and migraines due to their growing concern about the number of people who are dependent on painkillers.
Dr. Giles Elrington, Consultant Neurologist at the National Migraine Centre, was interviewed on BBC Radio 2 Jeremy Vine Show. He explained that if you have a tendency for migraines, the more painkillers you take the worse the headaches become.
The explanation that he gave for this is that pain will normally get better on it’s own, for instance stub your toe and it hurts like crazy, but the pain will go long before the swelling of the toe. This is because the nervous system turns off pain with a chemical called Endorphins. The more you suppress pain with painkillers, the more you suppress the endorphins from doing their job and the more you become dependent on painkillers.
It is suspected that 1 in 50 people overuse medication because they suffer from headaches and migraines. It is common sense that taking too much of any medication maybe harmful. We are also well aware that painkillers are only giving symptom relief, they are not curing the migraine or headache.
It is widely recognised that caffeine, cheese, alcohol, chocolate and so on, can be triggers for migraine headaches. If these foods or food chemicals can be a cause, what about other foods or food chemicals?
In our experience, migraines and other types of headache are frequently caused by simple food intolerances and the effects of some chemicals in foods. It is possible, with small adjustments to your diet and lifestyle to clear most types of headache and not rely on medications to control them.
Would it not be preferable to identify and treat the cause of the headache or migraine rather than becoming reliant on the heavy use of medication? I think so.