My son turned 5 years old not too long ago. We had LOTS of party balloons left over from his birthday party. A couple of days later, something strange happened.
The balloons started to randomly burst. Not just one or two, but at least five balloons popped in ten minutes.
After calming my shattered nerves, I started to investigate.
Looking out the window, I found the answer. A storm was coming in, pressure in the air had changed, and now balloons were popping all over the place.
For migraineurs, our heads can be a bit like those balloons at times, with many linking a change in weather to a migraine.
The answer is that we are not quite sure. In fact, researchers, clinicians and scientists are still working to completely understand how and why migraines develop during a change in weather or storms.
One theory is that weather changes can cause changes in our brain chemicals – such as serotonin.
Another theory is that changes in atmospheric pressure can cause a pressure difference between the sinus cavities, the structures and chambers on the inner ear, and the world outside.
This variation in pressure between inside the head, and outside the head, may also cause blood vessels to dilate resulting in abnormal blood flow to the brain.
There is also some research to show that magnetic field changes can activate the trigeminal brainstem complex (part of the nervous system which is linked to some migraines). Could changes in force fields which occur during electrical and thunderstorm activity be a trigger for migraines?
So far, studies in to how the weather affects migraine show varying results. Some pieces of research are inconclusive, while others do seem to show that weather can be a migraine trigger. Migraines are difficult to research as there are so many individual factors and triggers which can influence whether you get a migraine.
Many migraineurs have linked weather changes to their own migraines. So it is worthwhile considering if this could be a factor for you.
If you don’t already, it can be super helpful to keep a “migraine diary” to help track whether the weather seems to be a trigger for you. Online migraine apps – such as Migraine Buddy - can also make it easy to record migraines, and even alert you to atmospheric pressure changes.
Try monitoring the weather, and if a change is on the way, then it might be worthwhile stepping up your migraine prevention strategies.
As always, if migraines are a problem for you, and you would like help to create your own migraine prevention plan, do feel free to book in for an appointment. I’d love to help.
PS – Oh, and I did feel a migraine come on when that storm arrived! An afternoon of rest and following my “oh no, I think I have a migraine coming” health plan and I felt fine the next day.
Many of us are affected by smoke-filled, hazy and dusty skies over much of our country at the moment due to drought and bushfires.
Bushfire smoke can especially cause problems, being a mix of gases and fine particles from burning vegetation, building materials, and other materials.
Smoke and dust inhalation can be serious if you have a respiratory condition. Even if you are generally healthy, an atmosphere heavy with dust and smoke can also make you sick.
Symptoms can include:
• Trouble breathing normally
• Stinging eyes
• A scratchy throat
• Runny nose
• Irritated sinuses
• Wheezing and shortness of breath
• Chest pain
• An asthma attack
The first thing to do is to avoid the smoke or dust by staying inside, or wrapping a moist cloth around your mouth and nose when you do need to go outside.
There are also quite a few natural approaches you can try to ease the symptoms.
Many of these work by supporting your respiratory system to flush out smoke, fine particles and dust from breathing passages, lungs and sinuses. Some aim to provide rapid anti-inflammatory relief to reduce swelling, while others have an anti-allergy action or strengthen the immune system.
But please, if symptoms do start to get severe or you suffer from asthma, do see your doctor as soon as possible.
Here are some natural approaches to try:
1. Drink plenty of water and fluids to stay hydrated.
2. Use a humidifier or vaporiser with essential oils eucalyptus, orange oil and/or lavender oil.
3. Helpful foods to include in your diet include pineapple, ginger, garlic and onions.
4. Irrigate the nasal passages with salt water, using a neti pot.
5. Supplement with vitamins A, C, E,; quercetin, bromelain and Zinc.
6. Ginger and turmeric tea; and slippery elm with warm water (slippery elm can help coat the mucous membranes to protect against fine particle irritation).
7. Herbs such as Solidago canadensis (goldenrod), Armoracia rusticana (Horseradish) and Echineacea purpurea - available from your naturopath or herbalist - are particularly good for sinus congestion caused by smoke.
8. Balance your gut flora with a good quality probiotic to strengthen immunity.
9. Ensure intake of omega 3 (fish oil).
10. “Breathe Easy” Australian Bush Flower Remedy and also the Bach Flower Remedy “Rescue Remedy”. These two remedies are also safe to give to affected animals and children (pop a few drops in their drinking water).
As always, if symptoms continue and you need more support, I’d love to help.
Book in for a consultation to get started.
My friend/partner/family member says that naturopaths are “quacks” and that there is no evidence for naturopathy.
It is a very interesting time politically in the health care sector at the moment (in fact it has been building up for some time).
Certain medical and pharmaceutical organisations have a vested interest in the Complementary and Alternative Medicine healthcare system not being available.
These organisations have significant influence over the government (both sides) and the mainstream media, and as such, you may often see articles which either “debunk” natural medicine or say that there is no scientific evidence behind natural medicine.
Notice that the “experts” who are often proclaiming this has no background or has not studied either nutrition, herbal medicine and other natural medicines.
There has even been a recent review of 17 modalities of natural medicine by the Australian NHRMC which found that there was not enough evidence to support them. It is important to understand that both international and national scientific experts have pointed out several flaws in this review – including bias by committee members, withholding information and changing the rules of methodology as they went along – to come up with the finding that they were looking for.
The Australian senate has since found that this review was indeed biased and flawed, and an enquiry into re-evaluating natural health modalities is underway, so stay posted for more on this.
I could write a book on the political nature of health care, and why the current biomedical (the use of surgery and pharmaceuticals) approach is the dominant healthcare system in this country (in a nutshell, it is for political and financial reasons, not because it is the most effective form of medicine available to us).
Don’t get me wrong – there is absolutely a time and place for emergency care, surgery and pharmaceuticals. However there is also an important place for natural medicine as well – after all – it has served us well for millennia.
What I can confidently say is that there are THOUSANDS of pieces scientific evidence available to support natural medicines and other tools of naturopathy – such as holistic nutrition, herbal medicine, holistic counselling, mindfulness and meditation.
In fact, as an accredited naturopath I am unable to prescribe any natural medicine which does not have enough evidence behind it to satisfy the requirements of the Australia Therapeutic Goods Administration – which is one of the strictest authorities overseeing medicines in the world. (This is why we shouldn’t order supplements from overseas – including the US – as they cannot meet the same strict requirements we require of Australian-made supplements).
And, I have also observed that many of the common approaches that I was trained in when I first studied Naturopathy in the early 2000s (such as probiotics, looking after the health of our digestive microbiome, fish oils, St John’s Wort etc) were dismissed as rubbish by much of the mainstream medical fraternity. Now you find the everyday family GP prescribing probiotics and fish oil to patients, and trying to keep up with the science of our microbiome.
At the end of the day however, you know your own body best and should have the right to choose the healthcare that you use.
If that is natural medicine and naturopathy, and the advice that a naturopath provides you with works for you, then sometimes you have to stand strong against the naysayers in your world and do what is right for you.
Naturopath, Nutritionist and Herbalist