Headache: The Center’s Approach

By Hugh Riordan, M.D.

As one who experienced severe migraine headaches for many years, the subject of headaches in general has been of keen interest to me. Fortunately, through my work at The Center, I learned what caused those incapacitating painful episodes.

Vitamin C is an important factor in several types of headache.

In my case, such headaches were preceded by a visual aura of shimmering bright areas in my vision. Then the pain would come together with extreme sensitivity to light and sound. If I was with someone engaged in conversation, it was a bit embarrassing because my central vision would disappear, so I had to cock my head and look out of the side of my eye to see the person I was with. It has been great not to have headaches like that for decades.

Our Center protocol for evaluating people with headaches includes. a detailed history and appropriate laboratory studies.

– Where does the head hurt?
– Is it always in the same place or does it move around?
– When does it occur: daily, weekly, monthly?

– Is it more often in the early morning or later in the day?
– Are there any other symptoms before, during, or after the headache?
– Do pain killers help, or are they not effective?
-What else have you noticed that makes the headaches better or worse?

– Do bowel movements affect the headaches?
– What do you think is causing your headaches?

Since most of the people who come to The Center have already had extensive standard medical evaluations, I won’t go into them at this time.

Depending upon the cycling of headache frequency, hormonal factors may be important. If one has high blood pressure and/or tends to keep feelings from others, emotional constipation may need to be relieved. These and many other factors must be taken into consideration during the initial visit of a person with recurring headaches.

Although many additional laboratory tests may be indicated, the majority of people we see at The Center will have four tests suggested The first is to measure the histamine level in blood cells. People with a histamine problem tend to have six to seven times the headaches of people with normal blood histamine.

The second test is for vitamin C in the plasma. Vitamin C is an important factor in several types of headache.

The third test is for urinary pyrroles. Pyrroles are part of the ring structure of hemoglobin. People who excrete high levels of pyrroles in their urine may develop stress related headaches because they have a greater need for vitamin B6 and zinc, caused by genetic difference, which results in pyrrole excretion.

The fourth test is to check for adverse food reactions. This is done by obtaining white blood cells from the person with headaches and mixing them with small quantities of food antigens. If the white blood cells are damaged from this type of contact with a food, it suggests that the food may be a factor in headaches. This test was the key in learning that chocolate was the food that was triggering my severe headaches. Simple observation did not lead me to that conclusion because I would not always get a headache from eating chocolate. But, I would invariably have eaten chocolate before getting the headache. The difference was the circumstance related to eating the chocolate. How the bowel absorbs food molecules changes with different levels of stress or serenity. I trust you can guess my state when eating chocolate that caused my problems.