Several weeks ago I read a column about a migraine sufferer who claimed to have developed ulcers from using Excederin Migraine to treat headaches.
A reader wrote to suggest that the sufferer try Aimovig — a new FDA approved injectable drug — because after the fifth dose, the reader’s migraines had improved.
“The only real side effect,” the reader wrote, “is constipation, which can be managed with MiraLAX.”
Reading this column raised so many red flags I didn’t know where to start. But what immediately struck me was this: if taking one drug to fix a problem creates another problem that requires yet another drug to fix, then there’s still a problem.
I am not a medical professional and this column should by no means take the place of any advice received by a doctor. I am, however, a former migraine sufferer. I had my first migraine in college and, soon after, learned that my family has an extensive history of migraines.
Over time, my migraines became more frequent, severe, and debilitating. There was almost always vomiting. There was occasional vision loss. When I had three migraines in one week, my doctor ordered a head scan to rule out a tumor. I was offered a preventative drug that I declined because I was told it could weaken my immune system and make me tired. I had three young children to care for; I couldn’t risk being routinely sick and tired.
However, I’d read that some people had successfully battled migraines through massage therapy or acupuncture. When I mentioned this to my doctor, he laughed and wrote a “fake” prescription: take one massage two times per week. I decided I had nothing to lose by trying. I began regular sessions with a massage therapist and, within six months, I was migraine free.
That was 10 years ago.
While pharmaceuticals have undoubtedly saved countless lives, there are many conditions — in addition to migraines — that may be resolved using natural, homeopathic remedies, and good common sense.
“Being overweight,” for instance, “can cause high blood pressure because when there is increased weight it takes more pressure to move the blood around the body,” notes sharecare.com.
As a result, an overweight person might be prescribed medication to treat high blood pressure. But blood pressure medications, according to health.com, can provoke heartburn, and to treat heartburn, an antacid might be needed.
Briefly taking antacids to relieve stomach upset is not dangerous but, according to sharecare.com, “If taken in high doses, some antacids can cause bone loss,” and excessive bone loss may lead to osteoporosis. It can be a vicious cycle.
But this medicinal chain reaction might be avoided by simply adopting a healthy, natural weight loss plan to decrease blood pressure, eliminating the need to take additional drugs to treat the side effects caused by blood pressure medication.
“Regular physical activity — such as 150 minutes a week, or about 30 minutes most days of the week — can lower your blood pressure by about 5 to 8 mm Hg,” reports mayoclinic.org.
Exercise alone, however, is not enough to achieve optimal health and well-being.
There is, after all, truth in the adage, “you are what you eat.” No one would dump bacon grease into their car’s engine; why would anyone willingly put similarly unhealthy fuel into their own bodies? Temporary fad diets won’t do the trick, either.
On a recent group trail run, I noticed a large stick of beef jerky in the pocket of a runner’s backpack.
“I’m on the keto diet,” the runner explained.
According to healthline.com, “The ketogenic diet is a very low-carb, high-fat diet that shares many similarities with the Atkins [and other] low-carb diets. It involves drastically reducing carbohydrate intake and replacing it with fat.”
Again, I’m no expert, but any diet that suggests I eat beef jerky instead of fruit does not seem rational or reasonable to me.
In my opinion, there is only one type of diet anyone should ever adhere to: a sensible, healthy one. Maintaining good health and fitness may not be easy, but it is simple: Eat well-balanced meals in reasonable portions that encompass a wide variety of food groups. And exercise.