Alternative therapies are those treatments that fall outside of conventional health care. These treatments may include traditional healing practices, recreational drugs, or simply new ideas that have yet to pass the scrutiny of scientific study. Alternative therapies are often viewed as safer or even without side effects as compared to pharmaceutical treatments. However, this is not necessarily the case. If you are considering alternative therapies, please consult with you headache specialist before making changes to your treatment plan.
There’s a lot of buzz on social media about a rather unconventional treatment for migraine. Some patients are choosing to treat migraine by ear piercing. More specifically, a daith piercing, which is a piercing of the innermost cartilage fold just above the opening to the ear canal. The theory is that an acupuncture point located here, when pierced, produces the same pain relief results as acupuncture.
This regimen is generally quite safe and well tolerated with many potential health benefits. However, some physicians and cluster headache patients may be concerned about the apparent “high” dose of vitamin D3. There are several studies that have clinically proven that the skin of a fair skinned adult clad in a bathing suit without sun block and exposed to the sun’s UVB at midday, can generate 10,000 – 15,000 I.U. vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) in as little as 15 minutes.
Reactions to vitamin D3 are very rare as skin exposed to the UVB in direct sunlight produces vitamin D3 naturally. It is generally considered to be one of the safest vitamin supplements you can take. However, if you are allergic to sunlight, do not start this regimen without contacting your PCP or neurologist first. If you experience a reaction to this regimen including and not limited to, an upset stomach for more than a day, swelling in and around the mouth or face, or an obvious allergic reaction, discontinue the entire regimen and contact your family physician. The best course of action if this occurs is to start taking the vitamin D3 and if there’s no reaction, add each of the other supplements one at a time, every 3 to 4 days to use the process of elimination to determine what is actually causing the reaction.
A recent study by Garland, Heaney, et. al. titled: “Vitamin D Supplement Doses and Serum 25-Hydroxyvitamin D in the Range Associated with Cancer Prevention” is based on the GrassRootsHealth D*action Project data. It provides further proof that long term use of vitamin D3 at doses as high as 10,000 IU/day are very safe. This study further concludes that: “Universal intake of up to 40,000 IU vitamin D per day is unlikely to result in vitamin D toxicity.”
Several studies have shown that the healthy adult processes 25(OH)D at a rate equivalent to an intake of 3,000 to 5,000 I.U. vitamin D3 a day. As the rate at which the body metabolizes vitamin D3 from all sources into 25(OH)D can and will vary, it is entirely possible that 25(OH)D is consumed as fast or faster than it’s being metabolized from vitamin D3. Under these conditions, the body may be unable to build enough 25(OH)D reserves to reach a therapeutic level sufficient to prevent cluster headache attacks at a vitamin D3 dose of 10,000 IU/day.
Some comorbid conditions may interfere with the capacity of the anti-inflammatory regimen to prevent cluster headache attacks. Some of these medical conditions include, but are not limited to: cardiac, thyroid, parathyroid, renal, hepatic, and pancreatic insufficiencies. Sub-clinical allergic reactions and sinusitis are also suspect. If you have one or more of these conditions, work with your PCP to make sure they are being treated. This may help make the anti-inflammatory regimen more effective as a cluster headache preventative.