Q: After 50 years of almost daily migraine headaches, I found out by accident that drinking a Starbucks Frappuccino would knock out my pain immediately.
Then I got a migraine during a wild thunder and lightning storm on a remote road, without a Starbucks in sight. I went to a McDonald’s instead and had a chocolate milkshake. Voilà! Same help.
It’s the “brain freeze” that works for me. Plain ice water will not do it. I believe the viscosity is necessary.
A: Many people tell us that icy-cold beverages or ice cream can be helpful against migraine headaches. Inducing brain freeze seems to interrupt the pain pathways that underlie a migraine.
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Not everyone benefits, however. Some people are unable to induce an ice-cream headache, and others don’t find it useful.
Those who would like to learn more about a variety of approaches to ease headache pain may be interested in our “Guide to Headaches and Migraines.” Anyone who would like a copy, please send $3 in check or money order with a long (No. 10), stamped (70 cents), self-addressed envelope to: Graedons’ People’s Pharmacy, No. M-98, P.O. Box 52027, Durham, NC 27717-2027. It also can be downloaded for $2 from our website: www.peoplespharmacy.com.
Q: I have taken blood pressure meds for decades. A month before my most recent blood work, I decided to see what would happen if I stopped eating sugar or other simple carbs. To my astonishment, my cholesterol plummeted from the usual 247 to 193.
I decided to continue the no-sugar diet to see what would happen. Again, to my utter disbelief, within the next six weeks I had to discontinue my losartan pill because my blood pressure was low. I have not taken any more blood pressure medication for over a month because of this astounding turn of events.
My cardiologist didn’t know what to say when I asked why the medical profession isn’t more aggressive about sugar and its consequences. Instead, they blame fats and sodium. In my experience, sugar is the enemy of my cardiovascular health. Your thoughts?
A: Our thoughts turn to a recent controversial editorial in the British Journal of Sports Medicine (August 2017): “Saturated fat does not clog the arteries.” The authors, all cardiologists, suggest that heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and obesity all can be traced to chronic high blood sugar and insulin levels. Many people develop insulin resistance when they eat foods full of refined carbs and sugar.
The editorialists encourage regular physical activity, a low-sugar, Mediterranean-style diet and stress reduction to improve quality of life and reduce the risk of heart disease. Whether others can lower their blood pressure by following your approach is not clear.
Q: My husband asked his new doctor to review his medications. The physician OK’d his blood pressure pills, statin, Prilosec and thyroid medicine. But he said to stop all vitamins except vitamin D.
This doctor said my husband should get his vitamins from his diet. He had been taking calcium, a multivitamin, folic acid, magnesium and fish oil for years.
My husband works full time and gets home late at night. As a result, he eats a quick snack rather than a real meal in the evening. Could he be lacking any nutrients if he stops taking his supplements?
A: It is possible that he might lack some nutrients. Acid-suppressing drugs like omeprazole (Prilosec) can deplete the body of vitamin B-12 and magnesium. Statins can reduce levels of Coenzyme Q10, and ACE-inhibitor blood pressure medicines can lower levels of zinc, Coenzyme Q10, magnesium and potassium.