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Migraine Headaches With Nausea: The Holistic Approach to Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome in Two Adolescents


Migraine headaches are especially debilitating and sometimes include nausea and vomiting. I recently treated two adolescents with “Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome.” One patient was a 16 year-old female, and the other a 14 year-old male. Both suffered from frequent migraines, nausea, and vomiting –frequent enough to miss school for days at a time. One patient, missing weeks at a time, required a home tutor. After multiple examinations by conventional medical doctors, nothing was found in the GI tract, so they were given migraine meds and antiemetic drugs (to prevent vomiting). My male patient was even convinced to undergo surgery and have his appendix removed! Both patients continued to suffer from the same headaches, nausea, and vomiting. Both patients had insomnia and circadian rhythm problems. And as time went on, since the medical doctors couldn’t find anything, they assumed that my patients were either lying or psychologically disturbed; so they prescribed counseling and powerful antidepressants to no avail.

So, when I met my patients, they were in sad shape. Even worse, other professionals assumed that they were “crazy.” The first thing that I did was fix their diet. Both patients ate too much sugar and carbohydrate-rich foods. Over time, this led to hormonal imbalances and poor digestion. Society generally accepts the notion that these foods are the acceptable norm, but their toxicity is insidious. Sugar, in my opinion, should be considered a drug. It gives you a “sugar high” by stimulating the same brain receptors as heroin, and then causes you to crash and burn in a “carbohydrate stupor.” In order to feel better again, and less irritable, we crave more. We are finally acknowledging how this long-term addiction leads to diabetes and degenerative brain disorders, yet it remains common and “acceptable” in the standard American diet. The body needs proper building blocks to heal, and these patients simply weren’t getting them.

At the same time, I needed to improve the state of their digestive system so that they actually absorbed the good food they began to eat. Digestion begins with chewing and enzymes in the saliva. Then it goes down the esophagus to the stomach, where it requires an acidic environment to break down protein. The proper mix of bile from the gallbladder and other enzymes from the pancreas allow nutrients to be absorbed in the small intestine. Holistic professionals have known for many years that the flora of the gut is an important symbiotic organism within us. Both patients had a history of antibiotic use which altered their flora. Asking patients about their stools is an often overlooked component amongst medical doctors, especially when the patient is there for a migraine headache. By providing supplements to these patients, I helped them restore their digestive ability to absorb food properly.

Lastly, we need to look at the spinal cord, with nerves coming in and out between the vertebrae. This is the two-way communication between the brain and the rest of the body. If the vertebra aren’t moving properly, communication is hampered. The situation becomes like that of a general unable to communicate with his troops. The brain and the digestive organs are not cooperating with each other. This is a potential cause of malabsorption, but may also be the result of a poor diet. If we think of these spinal nerves like circuit breakers, then if an organ becomes overloaded (by a poor diet and lack of nutrition), it shuts down, like a safety valve or a disobedient child to prevent further damage. However, this also acts as a barrier to healing. So the final piece of the puzzle was to address this problem by fixing the structural alignment of both patients.

Several elements play a factor in recovery time. Changing the diet takes several months of adaptation with little adjustments along the way. Patient age plays a big part, too. Younger people respond faster to treatment than older people. Patients also vary on compliance. Some, desperate to change their lives after years of misery, adapt overnight with great success. Others, wary of “New Age” medicine, and craving the ease of a pill, need scientific evidence and much more convincing. They tend to be more reluctant and rationalize, almost sabotaging their own recovery. When both of these patients were able to return to classes on a daily basis, attend school dances and have a normal life again, the parents were also relieved. That’s all the evidence I need.


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