People who suffer from the debilitating pain of migraine headaches need relief. Could the solution be found in a radish-like root vegetable that grows in an extreme climate where few other plants can survive? Might something the Incas consumed regularly 2,000 years ago be a modern day panacea for migraine sufferers?
The word migraine derives from the Greek word hemikrania meaning “half a skull”. The disorder was so named because migraines are typically unilateral (affecting one half of the head). Migraines are severe, vascular headaches often accompanied by symptoms such as persistent pain in the temple or behind the ear, nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to sounds and light. Some migraines are preceded by an aura, which is a type of unusual visual or auditory sensory experience. For some, a migraine will last only a couple of hours. For others, the intense pain and discomfort can last up to 72 hours.
Stress, lack of exercise, allergies, irregular sleep patterns, caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol (particularly red wine) are implicated as possible causes of migraine headaches. Migraines involve excessive dilation or contraction of the brain’s blood vessels. Nicotine is known to constrict blood vessels and red wine can contain sulfites, which cause a reaction in some. Other potential stressors on blood vessels can be elevated estrogen levels or progesterone levels that are too low.
Modern-day exposure to chemicals and pollution, along with the standard Western diet and its accompanying toxic load, can wreak havoc on the endocrine system, leaving individuals with wild fluctuations and deficiencies in hormone levels. It is interesting to note that women are three times more likely to suffer from migraines than men. Low progesterone levels are often the reason for these terrible headaches in women over the age of 35. Also, when excessive estrogenic burdens (xenoestrogens from plastics, for example) are placed on the body, the endocrine system’s homeostasis can be disrupted. This may indicate a relationship between migraines and fluctuating hormone levels.
Maca grows at 5000m elevation in the Peruvian Andes. It is both adaptogenic and restorative, in that it helps the body to adapt to stress and can help to recalibrate the body’s hormones. Maca has an incredible nutritional profile of potent phytonutrients that include vitamins, minerals, amino acids, fiber, and fatty acids. This amazing plant can nutritionally fuel the endocrine system so that it is able to produce hormones regularly. Maca does not actually increase levels of any hormones but encourages the body to produce them on its own. This is accomplished through maca’s targeted nourishment of the hypothalamus and pituitary glands (master glands of the body). These glands in turn regulate other glands, bringing balance to the adrenal, thyroid, pancreas, ovarian, and testicular glands. This can move the body toward a more optimal balance of estrogen and progesterone levels, potentially reducing the severity and occurrence of migraine headaches.
Maca is available online