A young mum came to me seeking help with migraines that were occurring several times a week after changing contraception. She was also experiencing high levels of anxiety, and gut issues.
On the surface, the migraines appeared to be linked to hormonal disruption caused by the new contraception. There were, however, also high levels of stress (manifesting as anxiety). Whenever there are female hormone symptoms, I always begin by investigating the stress hormones via a saliva adrenal test. This is because stress (high levels of cortisol) can steal from progesterone, causing an imbalance in the female hormones. Compound this with contraception and you could end up with disaster (in this client’s case, regular migraines).
But then there were the gut issues too – bloating, stomach cramps, constipation and diarrhoea. Poor digestive function, food sensitivities and chronic undetected infections (pathogens) in the gut can lead to adrenal and female hormone problems. Because of the strong connection between the gut and the brain, addressing the gut is also necessary when dealing with anxiety. Weakened mucosal immunity (aka “leaky gut”) can also be an underlying reason for migraines as food, toxin & pathogen molecules can leak from the gut and enter the blood stream, causing your immune system to attack these molecules, which can lead to migraines (and other trigger symptoms). So, we started off by testing the adrenals and the gut (using a stool test), as well as cleaning up the diet of processed, sugary foods.
When my client returned to go over test results, migraines had already began to reduce simply by changing to a real-food diet (my client worked out that chocolate was a big contributor). Gut issues too had began to calm down. My client was in Stage 2 Adrenal Fatigue, and we began a lab-based nutraceutical supplement program to help reestablish the HPA Axis. Within two month anxiety levels dramatically decreased, and migraines had reduced to only once a month (a huge improvement seeing as though they were happening every few days!).
The GI Stool test showed that there was maldigestion issues with fats, and also dysbiosis (beneficial bacteria low, and commensal bacteria high). Working on the gut for a couple of months further improved gut-related symptoms – symptoms which had been happening since a child! Anxiety and migraines also continued to improve.
This case (like all my cases) is an example that there is often not ONE specific cause underlying health issues, nor is there rarely ever a ONE fix. There is often a combination of underlying causes, and you need to work through them in a systematic approach, identifying them (in my practice) with functional medicine lab testing, and treating them in an effective sequence.