Migraines, or toxic headaches?


Science and medicine are now finding that many people, not gaining relief from migraines, may be suffering from “toxic” headaches.

The potential causes of this increase in toxicity are rather revealing. What are they and where do they come from?

“A frequent cause of treatment failure for a headache is overuse of over-the-counter (OTC) combination painkillers.”

Dr. Charles Matthews, a neurologist, a leading expert in diagnosing and treating headaches, and founder of the North Carolina Comprehensive Headache Clinic, believes there is a strong link between toxic substances and headaches. What he says is very sobering:

“We have seen a number of patients whose headaches are triggered by fumes, such as from side stream cigarette exposure, chronic exposure to paint fumes or other organic solvents, other industrial or new building construction exposure, and possibly from mold exposure. We see new patients daily who have a migraine condition that is worsened by environmental triggers. That’s really common. The single most common reason that people don’t respond to treatment for migraines is an interaction with some substance that could be called a toxin—such as a medication—but which stretches the use of the word toxin.”

Dr. Matthews is one of the many doctors are now speaking up about how significantly toxic chemicals in medications are creating many health issues, such as migraines. Medications are designed for acute, short-term issues, not for long-standing problems. Taken over time, these foreign chemicals add to the body’s toxic burden.

Environmental factors
Science is now revealing how specific heavy metals are causing all kinds of health issues.

We are all being exposed to heavy metals through the inhalation of air pollutants, and from food, drink, and other consumer products such as household and personal care products that have been contaminated.

As we have referred to in previous blogs, the Environmental Working Group in the US has pointed out that children, before they are even born, have toxins in them that include industrial chemicals, pesticides, flame retardants, Teflon, and even mercury. If this was not bad enough, Dr. Hal Huggins has drawn attention to the fact that there is a dramatic increase in the toxic effect if more than one heavy metal is found in the body.

According to Dr. Lawrence Wilson, “High copper levels are probably the most common biochemical cause of migraine headaches.”

Copper in our environment
Sources of copper are, for example, the water pipes in your home and hot water cylinder (if copper), copper cookware, copper from dental materials (exposure), vitamin pills, drinking water, fungicide and pesticide residues on food, sleeping pills, tranquilizers, copper intrauterine (IUD) devices and birth control pills.

The National Headache Foundation in the US states that 45 million Americans suffer from chronic recurring headaches. Looking at the sources of copper, it’s no wonder that, according to a recent study, the number of women that suffer from migraines is three times (17.6%) the rate of men (5.6%).

Women and copper toxicity
A copper imbalance is often overlooked because it is not always simple to detect. It is an extremely common nutritional imbalance. Copper toxicity is a build-up of copper in the body.

Blood tests do not show what is happening in the body at cellular level. Copper concentrates in the brain, where it affects neurotransmitter levels and may irritate delicate tissues. This means that excess copper is present in the body, but not in the hair. This often occurs because the primary storage sites for copper are the liver, brain, testes, ovaries and kidneys - not the hair.

Dr. Richard Malter writes in “The Strands of Health”:
“One of the most significant biochemical and metabolic developments since the end of World War II involves the widespread use of female contraceptives. This is because there is such a close relationship between estrogen and copper and biochemical systems. With the widespread use of the estrogen in the pill and the estrogen replacement therapy, excess copper builds up in the cells and the tissues of very large numbers of females. This has become a major contributing factor to both psychological and physical health problems that they experience”.

Copper levels parallel the level of estrogen, increasing as the cycle progresses. Seven to ten days before a woman’s menstrual period, copper is at a relatively high level, along with estrogen. High copper can give rise to many of the symptoms women think of as premenstrual syndrome including migraine headaches.

Headaches and toxicity
Dr. Mark Hyman of West Stockbridge, Massachusetts explains:
“When our detoxification system is overwhelmed, is overloaded, that’s when we start getting symptoms and get sick, but it may take years of accumulated stress and toxins to get to that point. I am referring to the science of how our bodies get rid of waste. If waste builds up, we get sick. And the key is to figure out how to enhance our body’s capacity to detoxify and get rid of waste while minimizing our exposure to toxins.”

Alternatives to medication
Joel Fuhrman, M.D., author of “Eat to Live, Eat for Health,” believes that there is an alternative to the use of medication for headaches:
“Drugs to relieve pain are rarely necessary if headache sufferers are allowed to detoxify at the first sign of headache symptoms. The major cause of both tension headaches and migraines is the retention of toxins or tissue irritants within the central nervous system.These chemical irritants may cause an over sensitivity of nerve tissues to other stimuli. Headaches are a signal that something is wrong. Typically, they result from retained wastes or toxins in the body. The pain usually begins when the body attempts to mobilize and remove the noxious agents”.

Dr. Fuhman’s solution: “Most headaches respond within a few days of a careful detoxification program."

Going to the cause
“The solution to a problem cannot be solved at the level of the problem” - Albert Einstein.

A car warning light would tell you if something is wrong. The underlying problem will not just go away if you ignore the signal. What is causing the warning light go on in the first place? In the human body, the same reasoning applies: you need to go to the source to understand why the signal, or symptom, is appearing in the first place.

You cannot regain health by simply addressing symptoms. To recover your health balance, you need to address the cause of the symptoms.

Your body’s symptoms are alerting you to something deeper.

Debilitating migraines do not have to be part of your life.


For more information on  migraines and toxicity, see our recent post "Migraines and copper toxicity."


Call Kellyann for more insights into how toxicity can affect you and what you can do about it.

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