In today’s interview I get to speak with scientist, author and migraineur with a PhD in Neuroeconomics, Dr Angela Stanton.
We talk about about how to prevent and treat migraines without the use of medicines by dealing with the underlying cause of the headache.
We get a chance to talk about why some people get migraines, whilst others don’t.
Angela explains how the migraineur’s brain is somewhat different to normal brains; it needs more energy and is more easily stimulated.
Genetics are important, but this does not mean everybody with the ‘migraine brain’ is doomed to suffer from migraines.
Environmental factors and diet contribute a vital piece of the puzzle, because migraineurs are also different metabolically.
By addressing the electrolyte imbalance, migraine pain can be resolved and kept at bay long-term.
If you know someone who is interested in learning more about:
- What is a common cause for migraines
- How migraines sufferers can help prevent their migraine
- What to do to help reduce the headache pain as fast as possible
- What is The Stanton Migraine Protocol
- How the protocol can help people come off chronic headache pain medications
Then this interview is for them.
I enjoyed this interview with Angela as she shared so much information to help explain why migraine sufferers experience the symptoms they do.
By knowing the underlying mechanisms going on in the body causing the problem it makes it that much easier to understand and recognise warning signs a migraine is coming and how to remedy it; avoiding severe migraine episodes altogether.
I loved the tips she shared about how we can use sodium, potassium and water instead of reaching for that strong painkiller!
Special thanks to Angela for joining me on the show.
Enjoy the episode!
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Show Notes with Timestamp Links
Find summarised highlights of what we talk about during the interview.
Use the clickable timestamp links to jump direct to those points in the audio file below:
[00:19] – Introducing, Dr Angela Stanton, a scientist with a PhD in Neuroeconomics; a research field which looks at how hormone variations of the brain affects the decisions people make. She now focuses on researching brain function and how it relates to chronic pain and is a participating author of the Encyclopaedia of the Mind. Her latest book is called – Fighting The Migraine Epidemic: A Complete Guide: How To Treat & Prevent Migraines Without Medicine.
[01:34] – What are the differences between a ‘normal’ headache and a migraine? Angela explains that the most important difference is that there are no precursors or prodromes (such as eye size changes, nausea or auras) with a normal headache and it goes away with over the counter medication.
[03:31] – Angela explains what are prodromes (symptoms before the migraine event); yawning being a common one! She also explains why prodromes occur and how they are part of the chain of events towards the start of a headache.
[06:17] – The International Headache Society has numerous types of migraine classifications, but Angela explains it doesn’t matter what kind you have. The basic underlying cause of all migraines is the same and they all respond to the same basic treatment procedure. When using the Stanton Migraine Protocol, all migraineurs eventually come off medications as they stop having migraines.
[08:09] – What are the causes of a migraine? Migraines are genetic, so we first need to be born with a brain capable of producing one. However, not everyone who is genetically predisposed will suffer from migraines. Nutrition and environmental factors are also at play.
[09:57] – Barometric pressure changes and the full moon are some environmental factors affecting migraineurs, but food is probably the most important. Angela explains how electrolyte concentrations affect the voltage in our brain and how eating carbohydrates removes sodium and water from our cells affecting the equilibrium and creating the basic problem.
[12:41] – Angela explains why the Potassium-Sodium electrolyte balance is important for migraine headaches, plus why if you eat dark chocolate you need to salt it!
[13:20] – While a 23&Me genetic test can be a useful tool, if you have migraines you can be sure you are predisposed. By going to the human genetic database, Genecards, we can look up migraines to see how many electrolyte pump gates are involved. Angela explains why she hypothesizes the alert migraine brain is probably the ancient original human brain and some common traits of the migraine brain.
[16:47] – Migraine sufferers all tend to have some form of sleep problems; they tend to struggle with getting to deep sleep and have extremely vivid dreams.
[19:13] – Even though migraineurs can’t sleep while they are suffering from a migraine it is a good idea to remove stimulus; rest in a dark and quiet room. Fasting often allows the brain to recover. Angela recommends people don’t eat when they have a migraine, and just drink water and salt.
[21:19] – Migraineurs can prevent their migraine if they can recognise their prodrome and act immediately by stopping carbs, increasing water and increasing sodium.
[21:58] – Angela recommends modified ketogenic, or modified low carb diets, for migraineurs as they are genetically pre-diabetic no matter what they do. Since migraines can affect all age groups and genders, the diet should be modified so it can be applicable to everyone.
[23:20] – Problems with glucose control is common to all migraineurs. Angela explains how even migraineurs with healthy insulin levels are still insulin resistant.
[25:54] – Carbohydrates don’t always cause migraines as there is a threshold. The threshold changes depending on how much fat is eaten with the carbs being consumed, plus it can also be lowered when insulin resistance is reversed. Angela explains the danger of having elevated glucose levels in the blood.
[30:55] – For migraine sufferers, it is often necessary to raise the amount of sodium (which is about 40% of salt) they consume. Starting with 1:1 sodium to potassium ratio and increasing the ratio to the point when the migraines stop. Athletes tend to need more (3-4 times more sodium than potassium). Angela explains why she is not a fan of potassium supplements and prefers using whole foods that contain potassium, like avocado. (Biohackers Lab Tip: A tasty salt to buy is Redmond Real Salt)
[32:26] – During a fast it is also important to replace the water and salt you are using. Angela explains how the water can go also become oedema symptoms and how taking salt resolves this issue very quickly.
[36:16] – Rather than reaching for a pain relief tablet, when a migraine starts coming on, Angela recommends reaching for salt first. She explains why pain tablets don’t work to resolve the underlying problem and other issues.
[39:56] – 1/8 of a teaspoon under the tongue should ease the migraine, if this doesn’t work it could be a potassium issue. Test with a ring on your finger to see if it’s too tight (then you need potassium) or too loose (then you need more salt). If still unresolved take water, sodium and potassium all together.
[41:30] – Angela explains why in the first edition of her book she recommended eating a McDonalds burger patty with salt to help deal with an acute migraine attack if you are travelling.
[44:18] – Smoked foods could cause issues if they have been brined as all the electrolytes come out and there can also be a histamine response, which is dehydrating. However, they are probably fine if only smoke is used.
[47:31]- Is coffee ok to drink if you suffer migraines? Angela explains migraineurs should add salt to their coffee and stick to one cup a day. She looks at caffeine as medicine because it works in a similar way to triptans and can be used to fight prodromes. (Biohackers lab tip: listen to Dr James DiNicolantonio talk about why coffee drinkers need more salt and other benefits of salt.)
[49:18] – Angela explains people with low pressure are more predisposed to headaches in general and migraineurs also normally have low blood pressure – the average tends to be at 100/60. Caffeine can help raise blood pressure when it drops during the night, causing a migraine.
[53:29] – In the long-term Angela recommends the best diet for helping migraines is adopting a modified low carb or ketogenic diet as a long-term solution to migraines. She emphasizes that there is an important caveat to adopting a ketogenic diet as it interacts with a lot of medications. For those wanting to go keto they need to go through the Staton Migraine Protocol first and get off any medications they are taking first.
[58:05] – Taking B vitamins can help improve migraine symptoms, but Angela explains it depends on which type of B vitamin you take. She has a list of chemical names she recommends and the type of tests she performs.
[1:00:18] – Angela explains how she has a non-profit that allows people to become area representatives of the Stanton Migraine Protocol and they are open to licensees to help spread this information to others suffering from migraines.
[1:03:05] – For those wanting to find out more, Angela recommends the easiest way to get in touch with her is to send a request through the stantonmigraineprotocol.com website. She is also on Facebook and has an advocate website with more information about headache medications and regulations called, cluelessdoctors.com.