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Headaches: Unsuspected Root Causes Rarely Addressed by Conventional Medical Intervention

Authored by: Martin Johnson, DHM, Owner and Natural Health Consultant

What Causes Headaches?

Headache pains are the result of signals between the brain, blood vessels, and surrounding nerves. During a headache, an unknown mechanism activates specific nerves that affect muscles and blood vessels. These nerves send pain signals to the brain.

Potential Root Causes of Headache Triggers


Food Sensitivities 

Ingesting processed foods, which usually contain pesticides used in growing commercial foods, eventually leads to a condition called "leaky gut." Leaky gut is when the small intestine allows partially digested foods from the stomach to pass into the blood stream through areas called tight junctions, like sand through a sifter. The rest of the food bulk substance passes into the bowel and eventually out of the body as stool. Due to the ingestion of toxins from our food and water supply, inflammation occurs in the small intestines causing these tight junctions to open. This allows larger food molecules and toxins to pass through into the blood stream. Consequently, the immune system responds to this as an invader causing an inflammatory response.

Various symptoms can manifest from this, such as headaches, joint pain, IBS, and sensitivity to foods that were never an issue before. In my experience, most people are not aware that they have developed food sensitivities because the symptoms can be subtle and seemingly unrelated. Symptoms may show up well after the ingestion of the offending food. In some cases, symptoms may show up 12-24 hours after ingesting a food that a person has become sensitive to.

Liver/Gall Bladder/Kidneys

Another headache and migraine trigger (along with other symptoms that often go undiagnosed and therefore treated incorrectly by conventional medicine) is liver, gall bladder and/or kidney congestion or inefficiency. The liver, gall bladder, and kidneys are major detox organs and act as a filtration system. When they get overloaded with toxins, there are many physical and energetic pathways that can be triggered.

This may cause a variety of symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, muscle and joint stiffness, irritability, heartburn, belching, eye irritation, digestive problems, skin and nasal allergies, weak hair and nails, and menstrual issues.

Headaches related to liver/gall bladder inefficiency will most often be concentrated across the frontal lobe of the head and temple areas. When the gall bladder and liver are both involved, the headaches can also stem from the back of the head and come all the way across the top of the head and end up behind the eyes. In these cases, people will often have tight muscles in the neck that don't release or relax.

Headaches with Menstrual Cycle & Liver Inefficiency

Women experiencing headaches with their menstrual cycle or with ovulation will often have issues with congestion in the liver or gall bladder. In these cases, the liver isn't able to metabolize excess estrogen out of the body, triggering a hormonal headache or migraine. Often when people suffer from what I call "liver headaches" their liver enzymes will look normal on blood work. In reality, a person could have up to 40% less efficiency in their liver and still be in normal ranges on blood work. I have found that conventional over the counter medication will have little to no effect on headaches triggered by liver inefficiency. In fact, the medications just add to the root cause of the problem of toxicity.

Kidney Inefficiency

In the case of kidney inefficiency due to toxic congestion from the environment, headaches can occur in the back of the head. This is from muscles that attach to the mid-thoracic spine and run down over the kidneys and down through the hip area, called psoas muscles. If the kidneys become stressed from toxic overload they will spasm slightly causing the psoas muscles to tighten. This causes generalized back pain or stiffness, tightness in hips, and in some cases headaches in the back of the head and neck.

Medicine vs. A Holistic Approach

Most treatment plans for headaches and migraines by the conventional medical system will entail pain management through medications. However, these medications add more toxins to the vital detox organs we have been discussing with very little focus on potential root cause triggers. A true holistic approach requires looking at areas such as food sensitivity testing, gut healing protocols, nutrition education, and using non-toxic household cleaners and personal care products. A true holistic approach may require walking through the correct detox protocols that are specific to your needs to help improve liver, gall bladder, and kidney function. This will allow for better cellular function throughout the whole body.

We Can Help!

If you are experiencing symptoms related to anything I mentioned in this article or simply wish to address your overall health, call our clinic at 262-251-2929 to schedule a free 15-minute phone consultation. Chat with a practitioner to discuss your health concerns to see if what we offer is a right fit for your needs.

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