What are your biggest health challenges?

I know this is a personal question, but the more you are willing to share, the more help you’ll get :)

What does your health challenge cost you on a daily basis? For instance, if like me you battle with weight, having weight issues might cost you self esteem, confidence, etc. Think about it for a minute and share a few of these things.

What would you like to be experiencing instead? For me, when I was really overweight, I couldn’t really think beyond that very easily. But, when I really did give it some thought, some of the things I would have liked to be experiencing would have included: confidence, ability to buy clothes easily and look good in them, being more comfortable in my body, feeling more energetic, feeling like I fit in better… you get the idea.

What is one thing you know would help you move closer to experiencing those great feelings?

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Our new RSS feed!

Hi,

Want to link to our RSS feed? You can access it here: d62cbe4e37b0c2d0751bac3c4a7e5a23.xml

Thanks! Be sure to post any questions, thoughts or topics you’re interested in on the blog.

Warmly,

Jana

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Breathing Deep for Less Stress

I do write a lot about breathing.

Fact is… it HELPS.

There are a few different ways to breathe deeply so that you can get some fast benefits.

First, just breathe into the bottom of the belly, really filling the body with air. Then exhale through the nose slowly, and press the navel toward the spine to press all the old air out. Breathing nice and slow: at least 4 counts in, hold 2, 6 counts out, hold 2.

As you get the hang of it, you can slow down the counts, taking even longer per breath.

Use this whenever you need a quick chill-out, when you’re stuck in traffic, when there’s someone on the phone you really don’t want to be nice to but have to… whenever you feel stressed.

Use this breath first thing in the morning to help you focus and relax, and use it at bedtime to help unwind you to sleep. We’ll talk more about other breathing styles too, but try this and let me know what you notice.

Jana

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This Metal is Making Millions Sick

 By Gail Edgell

Mercury is very toxic, especially in the body.  Many medical researchers have called for a ban on the use of all mercury products, but unfortunately the government has ignored the concern.  Mercury can adversely affect the immune, urinary, cardiac, respiratory and digestive systems.  It has also been shown to deteriorate brain function. 

If a person is old enough, they most likely have had a cavity filled with “silver.”  This silver is actually about 50% mercury.  According to the World Health Organization, dental fillings contribute more to mercury levels in the body than any other source. 

The International Academy of Medicine and Toxicology believes everyone should have mercury fillings removed unless they are pregnant or lactating.  Mercury is released into the body from the fillings each and every day and it accumulates in the body.  Elevated mercury levels may not have an adverse health impact for years.   

It is very important that if one chooses to have mercury fillings removed, they should find a “biological dentist” who is properly trained in mercury removal.  To find a dentist go to http://www.iaomt.org.

In many cases, it is recommended that patients who want to have their mercury fillings removed also complete a mercury detox.  A protocol that many alternative and Naturopathic medicine professionals utilize is calcium bentonite clay.  Some clays are able to extract not only heavy metals, but also pesticides and other radioactive materials from the body.   How it works is that when clay mixes with water it swells and creates pockets of spaces. The toxins are attracted to the spaces.  Then the clay is eventually eliminated from the body.  As the mercury leaves the body, it is surrounded by the clay and therefore does not harm other parts of the body.  The key is to make sure the clay is coming from a reputable source and is clean and pure.  Chlorella tablets and cilantro tincture also help to remove toxins from the body and many times are part of these protocols.  Here is a great website to find out about all the benefits of clay http://www.AboutClay.com.  You will be amazed. 

For more great health information go to Integrative Health or http://360Menopause.com/blog.

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Hey, check out my first Natural Pain Relief audio :)

Do you suffer with Migraines?

With “How to Bust Through Migraine Pain Naturally”

you can learn to take control and start really LIVING…

 Learn how to:

  • Stop your migraine before it starts
  • ID & eliminate some common migraine triggers
  • Use tools to gain control
  • Reduce stress, improve sleep & more

http://www.balancedlifetoday.com/migrainelevel1.htm

This is the first in a series I’m doing to help you control your migraine pain, feel better and get back to your life. I know what a difference beating migraines meant for me in my life, and I really hope you can experience the same thing.

Jana

Posted in Migraine Tips and Tricks | Leave a comment

Beating Stress & Fatigue

5 Tips for Beating Stress and Fatigue

By Jana Beeman, CHHP, CHT, AADP

It’s been getting worse for weeks: that feeling of dragging yourself out of bed, dragging yourself to work, not having energy to do anything fun… or, just no energy at all.

If you have been feeling like this, then could be suffering from stress overload or fatigue, or possibly a bit of both. Now, there could easily be more going on there as well, but let’s start with just a few quick fixes that could be enough to get you feeling better every day and having energy for living your life.

1.  Improve your sleep:

  • Go to bed and get up at the same time each day, even on the weekends.
  • Don’t eat or drink much within 3 hours of bedtime.
  • Sleep in a really dark room, or wear an eyeshade.
  • Try to keep the room relatively cool if you can, or use lighter covers during summer.
  • Try taking melatonin at bedtime – between 2 – 5mg works really well for most people. Take it 30 minutes before bed for best results, and don’t exceed 5mg.

2.  Exercise more:

  • If you don’t have time to work out at a gym, use some fun home exercise DVD’s or take a class near your home or work.
  • Take the stairs, park on the far side of the parking lot, take a walk on your break – use your imagination. Get outside. Walk the whole mall. Walk to the coffee house or anyplace else you can. Stroll your local Farmer’s Market.
  • Do yoga on your own in the mornings. Morning is the best time to exercise as it boosts your energy and mood all day (while burning more calories, just for fun!). Use a good video to learn from, then do what feels good to you each day.
  • Take 20 minutes in the morning to do 100 crunches and 20 slow squats. Sometimes doing the same thing every morning takes less concentration and you can use it to wake up a bit.

3.  Destress:

  • Every day, life gets more hectic, so let’s talk about a few quick and easy things you can do to throw off stress easier:    
  • Breathe deeper – breathe slowly and deeply into the belly area throughout the day. You will feel SO much better as this becomes a habit, and you’ll sleep better too if you do it at night!
  • Take breaks – whether you work at an office or at home, take at least a 5 minute break every hour. Go to the bathroom, get a glass of water, go run up and down the stairs, just get away from your computer and/or your desk.
  • Do a little desk yoga – roll your head, stretch the neck, roll the shoulders and BREATHE deeply. Close the eyes while you do this, and in 5 minutes you’ll feel amazingly refreshed. If you can’t do it at your desk, go in the restroom or breakroom. Get others doing it with you – start a trend!
  • If you are angry or frustrated with someone, diffuse the stress by using a little imagination trick. I came up with this one back when I was waitressing to pay for college, and you know people often treat waitresses like dirt. So after I had to pay for breaking a few dishes (on purpose) I came up with this one:
    • Imagine a room made of concrete blocks or lead, if you want
    • Imagine the person/persons who are annoying you in that room
    • Imagine you are outside the room watching through a special, protected window
    • Push a button and blow them up
    • Repeat as needed

Ok, you don’t have to get bloody about it, just find a way to make them go poof. A puff of smoke where the person used to be is good, then you can use a fan to blow the smoke away. Experiment until you find one that works for you. It really DOES release a lot of stress – and no one really gets hurt! The next time you see that person, just think to yourself: “You can’t bother me any more, I blew you up!” It’s a very empowering thought sometimes.

I know some people will say it’s negative thinking, but in my experience, it’s better to deal with the frustration or anger in a non-harmful way then to let it fester. Sometimes in the workplace you CAN’T address the issue directly, or you do and nothing changes or the relationship with that person actually gets worse. So… blowing them up is a great tool to use when you need to take care of yourself. If you prefer less violence in your imagination (which really IS better!), then just play with other ideas.

You could

  • turn them into flowers
  • mentally spray them with a ‘nice’ potion
  • imagine they are someone else

You get the idea. Run with it.

4.  Get off the caffeine.

Ya, I know, everyone hates that suggestion, but the less caffeine you drink during the day, regardless of the source: coffee, tea, soda – the less you push your body into the fight or flight scenario. Caffeine actually creates stress in the body, and it has you ready to take action to survive. It’s not as drastic as the adrenaline of say a car accident or something like that, but it DOES have an ongoing negative impact on the body. So give your body a break and start reducing your caffeine intake a little each day. Replace it with fresh water, which your body needs, or herbal tea.

5.  Get off the Sugar.

Ok, the really bad news: Sugar does the same thing to the body as caffeine, just using your blood sugar. You get tired, you eat sugar, you peak energy, then you crash. This cycle not only causes fatigue, but it’s really bad for your insulin levels in the body. Every time you eat sugar, your body releases insulin to utilize the sugar, but eventually your body can become resistant to the insulin and stores the sugar as body fat. Even people who don’t have a weight issue are creating an ongoing strain on the body with sugar. If you need energy, eat a piece of fruit, which contains fiber and nutrients instead of sugar with no fiber or nutrients. An apple has quite a bit of sugar, but it also has an equal amount of fiber which causes the sugar to be released into the body much more slowly and last much longer, avoiding the peak and crash scenario. 

These are five really powerful tips to add into your daily routine to beat your stress and fatigue. I highly recommend working on one or two at a time at most, because making changes like this should not ADD to your stress. Try one, then when you feel like you’re ok with that, start adding in another. Make changes gradually, and you’ll create a lasting change for a more balanced and energized life. 

If you try everything on this list and you still aren’t feeling well, there could be a lot of other things going on. Do you feel at all depressed? There could be adrenal fatigue from too much stress for too long. If you’re just not where you want to be, I highly recommend seeing a naturopath or integrative medicine professional, or a psychologist if depression is likely for you. If you’re not sure where to turn next, please feel free to email me to set up a free consult, and we can discuss what treatment might be most effective for you. 

Remember that this stress-filled life we lead now is something man created, and is not our natural way of being. Make yourself responsible for taking action to reduce the stress on your body and spirit, and you will feel so much better each and every day. It’s easy if you take it one step at a time. 

Just breathe…   

Jana Beeman is a Board Certified Health, Nutrition and Fitness Counselor, Certified Yoga and Modified Yoga Instructor, certified in Hypnosis, meditation and stress relief trainer and a specialist in chronic migraine pain relief, food allergies and inflammation. AADP Certified. She is a national speaker and is regularly featured on radio programs such as Spirit Radio, Women’s Radio and SQR-fm as well as her own podcasts, newsletters and blog. 

Her website, www.balancedlifetoday.com gives information on her programs. Visit www.balancedlifetoday.com/migraines.htm for information on her migraine programs and to sign up for her free Migraine Management Newsletter with more informative articles and great tips on migraine control. She offers frequent teleseminars, podcasts and presentations at your location are available. Free 30-minute consultations about her program and how it might help you with your migraines or other health issues are available on a limited basis.  Call (360) 263-5800 or email jana@balancedlifetoday.com

Read more of her articles her experts page on SelfGrowth.com at http://www.selfgrowth.com/experts/jana_beeman

Permission is granted to reprint this article in its entirety including all contact information. All rights reserved. May 2011. 

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to replace a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. Health care decisions should be made in partnership with a qualified health care professional. The contents of this article are based upon the opinions of Jana Beeman unless otherwise noted. The information provided is for entertainment purposes only and Jana Beeman will not diagnose, treat or cure in any manner whatsoever any disease, condition or other physical or mental ailment of the human body.

Posted in Beating Stress & Fatigue, Migraine Tips and Tricks, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Melting Your Migraine Pain with Yoga

Melting Your Migraine Pain with Yoga

      by Jana Beeman, CHHP, CHT, CYI

For those of us who suffer with migraine pain, exercise can often make the pain even more intense, rather than helping it go away. But… yoga, done specifically for migraines, can be different.

I have been a migraine sufferer for 45 years, with bad pain at least 20 days a month. I have also been a professional dancer, and as such, exercise is an essential part of every day for me. On those migraine days, I would load up on drugs and suffer through the pain, often being so bad by the end of the day, I would have to get a shot or take an even stronger drug to make me sleep. Back in the early days, I didn’t know there were other things that would help. My doctors did their best with drugs, but no one ever talked to me about migraine triggers or any of those things chronic migraine sufferers know about now. So… I experimented.

One of the most obvious places to start was exercise. I was teaching yoga several nights a week in addition to rehearsals and performance, so I started paying attention to what moves created what response in my body, especially with yoga, which I could more easily change to work with my energy in the moment.

Inversions were excruciating, causing my blood to rush to my head – not something you want with a migraine, and would take way too long to recover from, so those were the first to eliminate.

Down dog is always a favorite stretch, so I took it to the wall in order to keep it in the practice. Over the years I have modified other moves to keep them in and have come up with a basic migraine-releasing yoga practice. Not only does it allow you to work out when you have a migraine or bad headache, but it can actually ease the pain or let it go altogether.

Here are a few tips for creating your own migraine melting practice:

  • First, make yourself a fragrant, caffeinated cup of tea and sip on it throughout your practice. The caffeine will actually help the headache and the fragrance can be very soothing. I personally like a Vanilla Chai or something spicy. If you need drugs to get by then take them, but you’ll find you can do without the drugs more and more with this practice, and the caffeinated tea helps them work better and faster.
  • Lower the lights in your yoga space. If you want to use candles, that’s fine, but use either large candles with sunken wicks or move them out of your direct line of vision and have other soft light in addition. Remember bright lights, even candle flames, can spike a headache, so gentle or diffused light is perfect.
  • If you can tolerate fragrances, add a drop of essential oil to your candles but avoid overdoing.
  • Use your favorite zen yoga music – the mellower the better. You want it loud enough to immerse yourself in, but not so loud it disturbs you.
  • Start cross-legged on your mat, eyes closed, focusing on deep breathing. Don’t try for tricky or fast breaths, just slow, deep belly breaths. You want to keep the blood pressure and heart rate down.
  • Throughout your practice, focus on elongating the spine on inhale, releasing the muscles on exhale. Relax deeply into the stretch and move slowly between poses.
  • Do all the neck releases at least twice on each side very slowly: Head drop front, lift chin and reach up, ear to the shoulder on each side, head rolls from side to side slowly (do a bunch of these – they really help).
  • Shoulder rolls back, really pulling back so that the shoulder blades pick up from the ribcage, moving very slow, the rolling to the front – do at least 8 – 12 in each direction. This also activates trigger point therapy through your shoulders by releasing the tension of the scapula (shoulder blades) against the ribs. This move alone can help a headache.

Choose mat stretches that are not intense, but expand and breathe deeply into the ones you do. Some of the ones I like best include:

  • Seated chest openers
  • Side stretches
  • Cross-leg forward fold
  • Seated twists
  • Extended forward fold
  • Cat/cow
  • Spinal balance (as long as it’s not too challenging for your headache)
  • Kneeling camel
  • Extended side angle (kneeling)
  • Pigeon with the upper body lifted
  • Kneeling lunge

Again, moving slowly, taking 3 – 4 big breaths through each movement, repeating anything that feels good, moving past anything that doesn’t. You’ll find the moves that work best for you as you work through it. Make it more about stretching and breathing than hard work – hard work will almost always spike your migraine.

Avoid any lying down stretches with legs over the heart level, as this will also spike your blood pressure unless you are moving out of the migraine phase. You can experiment with Legs Up the Wall – sometimes it’s fine because it’s passive, but other times it may be too much increased circulation. Instead, do more seated butterflies, balancing half lotus, etc. and do savasana in a seated position or elevate the head slightly using a wedge bolster. Never prop the head up alone – this stress on the neck can make a migraine worse.

For me, a good, restorative yoga routine that is slow, stretchy, breath-centric and takes into consideration the moves that can make migraine worse is the best way to get rid of a headache. I used to dread teaching on migraine nights, but now, I actually enjoy it, and my students get that extra-meditative class as well. I usually close with a guided meditation through savasana. I let my students know I suffer from migraines and that if they have one, come to class anyway and let me know, and we’ll go super gentle and stretchy. I give them permission to opt out of anything too challenging and give them some options to go back to, and also mention if something feels especially good, they can stay there as long as they’d like or go back to that pose at any time. Everyone enjoys it – they may not get as much work, but their body gets an intense release of tension and stress, and we all need that.

Twenty million people experience a migraine on any given day. Knowing what to do to reduce that pain can make a huge difference in their quality of life – I know it has with mine. Please forward this article to your friends who get migraines and let’s help as many people as possible get closer to a pain-free life.

Namaste

Jana Beeman is a Board Certified Health, Nutrition and Fitness Counselor, Certified Yoga and Modified Yoga Instructor, certified in Hypnosis, meditation and stress relief trainer and a specialist in chronic migraine pain relief, food allergies and inflammation. AADP Certified. She is a national speaker and is regularly featured on radio programs such as Spirit Radio, Women’s Radio and SQR-fm as well as her own podcasts, newsletters and blog. Her website, www.balancedlifetoday.com gives information on her programs. Visit www.balancedlifetoday.com/migraines.htm for information on her migraine programs and to sign up for her free Migraine Management Newsletter with more informative articles and great tips on migraine control. She offers frequent teleseminars, podcasts and presentations at your location are available. Free 30-minute consultations about her program and how it might help you with your migraines or other health issues are available on a limited basis.  Call (360) 263-5800 or email jana@balancedlifetoday.com

Read more of her articles her experts page on SelfGrowth.com at http://www.selfgrowth.com/experts/jana_beeman

Permission is granted to reprint this article in its entirety including all contact information. All rights reserved. May 2011. 

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to replace a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. Health care decisions should be made in partnership with a qualified health care professional. The contents of this article are based upon the opinions of Jana Beeman unless otherwise noted. The information provided is for entertainment purposes only and Jana Beeman will not diagnose, treat or cure in any manner whatsoever any disease, condition or other physical or mental ailment of the human body.

Posted in Migraine Tips and Tricks, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Migraines And Light Exposure

Migraines And Light Exposure

By Jana Beeman, CHHC, AADP

You know how it starts -

  • you’re driving at night and a headlight blinds you, and you can feel it coming… that migraine pain you know so well…
  • you’re in the mall and the spotlights in the jewelry counter catch your eyes the wrong way and instantly you’re in pain…
  • too many hours on the computer and that eye strain starts your head pounding with the ice-pick behind the eye feeling…
  • there is finally sunshine outside, but the second you step out into it… here comes a migraine…

There are thousands of things that can start it, from special effects on TV to your bathroom overhead light. For thousands of people a day, light can trigger migraine.

Is there anything you can do about it?

Well… yes. Try some of these tips and see if you can reduce your number of light-provoked migraines.

  1. Sunglasses. Yep, simple sunglasses, but make sure you get Polarized as they help MUCH more. You can wear sunglasses any time you’re outside, to keep ambient bright light from causing that piercing behind-the-eye stabbing migraine pain. For outdoors, use a darker grey tint. Avoid the brown and colored tints as they can sometimes cause eyestrain in sensitive people.
  2. More sunglasses! Get some barely tinted (preferably grey tint) Polarized lenses to wear at night and when it’s raining. The polarization helps the oncoming lights not hit your eyes as badly or flare at you, as well as helping you see past a rain-streaked windshield when it’s wet out. The polarized lenses keep oncoming lights from getting that aura around them as well, which reduces eye strain. Wear them inside at the mall too – it helps with those bright LED lights in the display cases and the harsh overhead lighting.
  3. When you’re on the computer, take a break at LEAST every 45 minutes. It doesn’t have to be a long break, but get away from your work area. If you’re in the office, go get some water, file something, take a restroom break (and STRETCH when you’re in there!), water your plant, make a phone call… get your eyes off the screen for 3 – 5 minutes.
  4. At home, have more but reduced-brilliance lighting. Don’t go for the 100 watt bulbs – go for more 60’s. Overall even light will always be more comfortable for a migraine sufferer. Avoid the bright fluorescent bulbs, and use Daylight Fluorescents at lower wattages when you can – it’s more natural light and won’t bother your eyes as much. Have lower light options available for when you’re in pain – it’s milder on the eyes and will help you recover faster.
  5. Never be on the computer in a darkened room – that will cause headaches frequently.
  6. Always keep your eye correction prescriptions for contacts or glasses up to date. Eye strain of any kind can trigger migraines, and you need to take great care of your eyes anyway. You only get one pair of them!

When there are lights involved, just be careful. Always keep your sunglasses with you and use them anytime you feel sensitive to light. Migraine sufferers need to learn to take care of themselves better, as so many things can trigger pain, but it really IS possible to move toward a pain-free life.

Jana Beeman is a Board Certified Health, Nutrition and Fitness Counselor, Certified Yoga and Modified Yoga Instructor, certified in Hypnosis, meditation and stress relief trainer and a specialist in chronic migraine pain relief, food allergies and inflammation. AADP Certified. She is a national speaker and is regularly featured on radio programs such as Spirit Radio, Women’s Radio and SQR-fm as well as her own podcasts, newsletters and blog. 

Her website, www.balancedlifetoday.com gives information on her programs. Visit www.balancedlifetoday.com/migraines.htm for information on her migraine programs and to sign up for her free Migraine Management Newsletter with more informative articles and great tips on migraine control. She offers frequent teleseminars, podcasts and presentations at your location are available. Free 30-minute consultations about her program and how it might help you with your migraines or other health issues are available on a limited basis.  Call (360) 263-5800 or email jana@balancedlifetoday.com

Read more of her articles her experts page on SelfGrowth.com at http://www.selfgrowth.com/experts/jana_beeman

Permission is granted to reprint this article in its entirety including all contact information. All rights reserved. May 2011. 

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to replace a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. Health care decisions should be made in partnership with a qualified health care professional. The contents of this article are based upon the opinions of Jana Beeman unless otherwise noted. The information provided is for entertainment purposes only and Jana Beeman will not diagnose, treat or cure in any manner whatsoever any disease, condition or other physical or mental ailment of the human body.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Migraines and Sleep

Migraines and Sleep

                By Jana Beeman, CHHP, AADP

It’s one of those nasty truths that migraine sufferers know all too well: when you don’t sleep well, you get migraines, and when you have migraines, it’s often really hard to sleep. So the question becomes: What can I do?

I personally have always had the kind of migraines that chain for at least 2 – 3 days, often for weeks on end. Sometimes you get rid of it in the afternoon or evening and think maybe you’ve gotten clear, only to wake up in the middle of the night with one. Or even when you don’t wake all the way up, your sleep is disturbed by the pain.

Years of experimenting and research has given me a few tools to use for better sleep, with or without a migraine. Here is a list of ‘better sleep basics’ which are useful to anyone who wants a better night sleep, whether they get migraines or not:

  •       Go to sleep and get up at close to the same time every night, whether it’s the     weekend or not
  •       Sleep in a darkened room – if the room isn’t able to be darker, use eye shades
  •       Don’t eat heavy foods or sweets after 6 pm – if you’re hungry, eat something light
  •       Drink fluids throughout the day and stop about 3 hours before bedtime – just sip if thirsty
  •       If you have to drink caffeine during the day, stop at least 4 – 5 hours before bedtime
  •       Schedule your day to allow at least 7 – 8 hours sleep
  •       Try not to sleep more than 7 – 8 hours, as that can trigger headaches
  •       Sleep in a cool environment – we all sleep better when the room’s a bit cold

As for the temperature in the room, migraineurs will usually find that they feel better when the room is cooler, and they can control body temp through how much covers they have on. I struggled with this for years, because my hubby likes to sleep under a LOT of covers, and I don’t like the weight, so I finally got a really soft, fuzzy blanket which goes on top of the comforter, and he sleeps under all the layers, and I sleep under the one blanket. I also like a fan on the floor so that if I get too warm in the middle of the night I can pull my blanket back and get cooled off fast. The other bonus is when I feel a migraine coming on, I can move the fan so it blows in my face, which helps stave off the headache. If I’m awake enough, I’ll get up and use one of my other fast-acting tips, such as grabbing a cold pack and putting it on the back of the neck.

For those of us who suffer from insomnia, with or without migraines, there are some more advanced steps that can be used to help with sleep. One of the most effective things I’ve found is taking 5mg of melatonin half an hour before bedtime – I especially like the extended release formula. You can start with 2mg and move up to 5mg if you don’t feel it’s working, but don’t take more than 5mg, as that can actually disturb your sleep. If you start waking up in the middle of the night and can’t go back to sleep, try reducing the amount you’re taking. Taking it every night helps establish a healthy sleep pattern, so eventually if you miss a night it won’t matter, and some people can slowly step down off the melatonin and continue to sleep well.

Another thing that can work miracles in achieving better sleep is meditation. Whether you try meditating in silence, to music, or using a meditation CD, daily (and nightly) meditation helps calm the mind and sleep becomes much more automatic. I personally do quiet meditation during the day and often use Holosync meditation CDs at night. I wear headphones and listen to it through a portable cd player as I’m falling asleep, then some time during the night I wake enough to slip off the headphones. Insomnia had been my constant companion for decades, paired with the migraines, and meditation made a huge difference in quality of life for me – both in sleep quality and migraine control, and I’ve seen it do the same for many of my clients. It may not be for everyone, but if it’s something you can experiment with, you might notice a change in how you sleep as well as how you feel on a daily basis.

When it comes to sleeping and migraines at the same time, it can get complicated. Some migraines ‘like’ pressure on the head, and if you can get into the right position, you may be able to fall asleep and beat the migraine. Other migraines ‘dislike’ any pressure, so lying down is out of the question. Sometimes you can fall asleep and the migraine will ‘blossom’ and wake you, and by then it’s too well established to use any of the early onset practices, so heavy prescription meds are the only answer.

If you try sleeping but you can feel your headache doesn’t like the pressure, it’s better to get up. Have a cup of caffeinated tea and take an OTC or prescription pain reliever, put a cold pack on the back of the neck and maybe on your eyes, snuggle up in a warm blanket so the body doesn’t get chilled, and wait it out. Once you start to feel the headache responding, then you can try going back to bed, but you might want to take a fresh cold pack with you, or a cold eye mask.

When you are finally able to sleep, be careful not to oversleep, or that can trigger another onset. It’s better to get up as soon as you wake and try to nap later or just go to bed earlier the next night than to sleep too long. For many people, getting ‘too much’ sleep is a trigger, and too much can be anything over 4 – 6 hours. So if you’ve managed to get a chunk of sleep in – at least a few hours – and have naturally awakened, it’s best to get up.

Napping can be a wonder cure for people with migraines, and it can also have its downside. If you take a nap, and the room is warm, and you sleep for more than an hour, you may wake up with a migraine even if you didn’t have one when you went to lie down. On the other hand, when you have a migraine, take your drugs or a cup of tea, grab a cold pack and go lie down, napping can help you through the onset stage, and the headache is gone by the time you wake up. The best way to figure it out is to keep a journal of sleep and napping patterns, and how you felt before/after, and if you’d taken anything before sleeping. You’ll start to see your patterns emerge and will be better able to judge what the right action will be for you.

We all need enough good, pain free and restful sleep. Finding the right combination of what our bodies need to achieve that takes a bit of experimentation and paying attention to what helps and what doesn’t.

For more tips and information on better sleep, migraine pain control and meditation, visit my website at www.balancedlifetoday.com or my blog at www.balancedlifetoday.com/blog/. Please post any questions you may have on my blog. 

Jana Beeman is a Board Certified Health, Nutrition and Fitness Counselor, Certified Yoga and Modified Yoga Instructor, certified in Hypnosis, meditation and stress relief trainer and a specialist in chronic migraine pain relief, food allergies and inflammation. AADP Certified. She is a national speaker and is regularly featured on radio programs such as Spirit Radio, Women’s Radio and SQR-fm as well as her own podcasts, newsletters and blog. 

Her website, www.balancedlifetoday.com gives information on her programs. Visit www.balancedlifetoday.com/migraines.htm for information on her migraine programs and to sign up for her free Migraine Management Newsletter with more informative articles and great tips on migraine control. She offers frequent teleseminars, podcasts and presentations at your location are available. Free 30-minute consultations about her program and how it might help you with your migraines or other health issues are available on a limited basis.  Call (360) 263-5800 or email jana@balancedlifetoday.com

Read more of her articles her experts page on SelfGrowth.com at http://www.selfgrowth.com/experts/jana_beeman

Permission is granted to reprint this article in its entirety including all contact information. All rights reserved. May 2011. 

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to replace a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. Health care decisions should be made in partnership with a qualified health care professional. The contents of this article are based upon the opinions of Jana Beeman unless otherwise noted. The information provided is for entertainment purposes only and Jana Beeman will not diagnose, treat or cure in any manner whatsoever any disease, condition or other physical or mental ailment of the human body.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 8 Comments

The Migraine – Caffeine Connection

The Migraine – Caffeine Connection

By Jana Beeman, CHHC, AADP

For most of us who suffer from chronic migraines, eventually there comes a day when we realize there’s a problem with drinking coffee when we have a migraine, and yet other times when it helps. Why is that?

Let’s talk about the down side of caffeine first.

For starters, only some people who suffer from migraines get the nausea, and it doesn’t always happen with every migraine. And sometimes even those who normally don’t get nausea will have a ‘sensitive stomach’ day. It all depends on a number of things going on in the body.

Some people usually get nausea with migraines, and the acids in coffee can really spike that reaction, so that a little nausea becomes something much more intense. It’s not necessarily the caffeine – even decaf coffee can cause the same reaction in sensitive people, or people having a sensitive stomach migraine day. And with caffeinated coffee, a person who is sensitive might also get that shaky feeling from the caffeine, which can make the migraine feel more intense than it is. From my own experience, I can tell you that they are bad enough on their own without any help from coffee!

Now for the upside of caffeine…

Caffeinated tea doesn’t have the same acids as coffee, and is much less likely to upset the stomach, AND it can help your migraine medications work better as well as working on its own without other medications.

Think of caffeine as a drug. If you don’t already take in a lot of it, then it can be enough all by itself to slow or stop migraine onset. I’ve experienced this myself and seen it in my clients, but I’ve noticed it only really works with tea. At the first hint of migraine onset, having a cup of caffeinated black tea (black tea seems to work best for the most people) and doing a few of the other early onset exercised I recommend can often stop the migraine from “blooming” into a full blown migraine attack. Yes, I said stop it. Really. Now, it doesn’t always work for everyone and it certainly doesn’t work every time, but I’d say about 60 – 85% of the time, it makes a positive impact on migraine onset and intensity.

If you get chronic migraines, you know that 60 – 85% is a HUGE amount of help.

How can you improve your odds of getting help by using caffeine? Simple – get OFF of it!

Okay, if you drink coffee or tea every day, your body gets used to it, right? Then it isn’t very effective. It’s like when you take something every day to control an issue, it stops being as effective. So… you have to get off the daily caffeine routine.

I NEVER recommend stopping coffee cold turkey – that’s a sure way to trigger caffeine headaches. But if you want to see if caffeine can become a ‘drug’ to help with your chronic headache pain, then you need to get off it for it to be effective. So… step it down. Slowly reduce your caffeine consumption over a period of 2 weeks to a month, depending on how much caffeine you drink on a daily basis. For those migraineurs who take their coffee loaded with sugar and flavors, this is also going to help your body by reducing inflammation, which can often trigger more migraines, so you get a double bonus. And by drinking herbal tea and water, you are also hydrating the body the way it needs, and stopping those dehydration migraines from ever starting.

(Dehydration can trigger lots of migraines, so for those of you mostly drinking soda and coffee, my highest recommendation is to drink water and herbal tea. Water and herbal tea hydrate the body, while coffees, sodas and sugar-laden drinks dehydrate the body. For every one of those drinks you take in, most experts agree that you should also drink 1 – 2 same size servings of water or herbal tea.)

The easiest thing is to find teas that are caffeine free, whether herbal or decaf black or green tea, which you enjoy and replace one coffee a day, then two, then eventually ALL caffeine with tea. I find I personally like spicy flavored teas the best, such as chai, and that I don’t care for the tartness of hibiscus, so it makes it easier for me to find teas I will generally like. It is possible to find herbal chais that are excellent and full flavored, but you have to experiment. Many single herb teas are also excellent, such as spearmint or peppermint. Tea shops can be your best friend when looking for a great flavor or 10 to have in your kitchen. I carry my own teabags so when I go out, I can have a tea I love without having caffeine.

What about soda?

MOST soda is loaded with caffeine. Almost all soda is also loaded with sugar, sodium and chemicals such as artificial flavors and colors. I personally believe that putting chemicals in your body is not a good thing, and neither is the sodium or sugar. For those of you drinking diet soda, studies show the sweeteners break down in the body into chemicals which can 1) spike your blood sugar even though they are sugar-free, 2) cause insulin secretion which then has no real sugar to deal with so it goes to work storing body fat, 3) since it’s an alien chemical, the chemical gets stored in the body fat to protect the body and 4) when you lose weight, all those toxins are released into the body, causing headaches and other more severe issues. I also never suggest drinking the other diet drinks for the same reasons, nor do I think adding fruit flavored chemicals to your water is a good idea. If you want fruit flavor, get some real, organic fruit juice and mix it with water. If it’s not sweet enough, add some stevia, which is a natural and safe sweetener which actually has some positive health effects (such as showing benefits to heart health) and won’t spike your blood sugar or cause insulin release.

Personally, I drink water and decaf tea when I don’t have a migraine. No soda, almost no flavored coffees (maybe a couple a year), no drinks filled with sugar or sugar substitutes. I don’t drink milk either because it’s such a common allergen, and food allergies contribute greatly to migraines and because I don’t believe the human body needs milk past infancy. I also don’t drink regular fruit juice because it’s loaded with sugar, even organic natural juice – fruits contain a lot of sugar. Whole fruits contain fiber and naturally release their sugars into the body slowly, but juice has none of the fiber, so the sugar is as intense as a soda. If you drink juice, always get natural, unsweetened organic juice and mix with about 50% water.

Ok, now on to how to use caffeinated tea to help your migraines…

It works best if you catch your migraine before it ‘blooms’. At the first sign of onset, have a cup of caffeinated tea. I prefer teas with a great fragrance, so Earl Grey, Chai or Vanilla Chai, peppermint with black tea… those might be an option. I’ve found black tea works best for me, but you can experiment – every body is different, after all.

Sip your tea slowly and relax the head and neck (click here to sign up for a great free relaxation audio). Close your eyes if possible. If your stomach reacts to the tea, then stop drinking it, but if you’re ok, drink a full cup. After that, wait 15 – 30 minutes or so to see if there’s improvement, and if not, have a second cup. I don’t recommend more than that at one time. If you are going to take a medication for the pain, I suggest taking it with the tea to help it work better. Be careful of Excedrin or other medications that already contain caffeine, as it may be too much caffeine in the body at one time. If you’re taking a drug with caffeine, limit your tea to half a cup or make it weak and see how you’re doing.

I find that drinking caffeinated tea with a medication such as ibuprofen or a prescription such as Imitrex helps the drugs work faster and more efficiently, and that often, it can completely get rid of the migraine. You will want to experiment and note what works best for you. If you can’t stand tea, then you could do coffee if you’re not prone to stomach upset, or sugar-free caffeinated soda if there’s no other option. Sugar frequently spikes migraine pain, so avoid caffeinated drinks with sugar – using stevia is fine to add sweetness.

By switching your caffeine from a daily drink to a medicinal approach, you will reduce overall inflammation in the body, possibly reduce your sugar and chemical intake which also add to migraine issues, and have an effective new ally to help you in your search for faster pain relief. For those of you who use coffee as your morning wake up, I’d highly recommend replacing your coffee time with a short workout – it will wake you up and get your blood pumping, help you feel better all day long, and still save the caffeine for those migraine times when it can do you the most good. 

Jana Beeman is a Board Certified Health and Fitness Counselor, AADP Certified, Certified Yoga and Modified Yoga Instructor, Meditation, Hypnosis and EFT trainer and a specialist in chronic migraine pain relief. 

Visit www.balancedlifetoday.com/migraines.htm for information on her migraine programs and to sign up for her free Migraine Management Newsletter with more informative articles and great tips on migraine control. She offers frequent teleseminars, webinars and podcasts, and presentations at your location are available. Free 30-minute consultations about her program and how it might help you with your migraines are available on a limited basis.  Call (360) 263-5800 or email jana@balancedlifetoday.com

Read more of her articles on SelfGrowth.com at http://www.selfgrowth.com/experts/jana_beeman

Permission is granted to reprint this article in its entirety including all contact information. All rights reserved. March 2011.

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to replace a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. Health care decisions should be made in partnership with a qualified health care professional. The contents of this article are based upon the opinions of the author unless otherwise noted. The information provided is for entertainment purposes only and Jana Beeman will not diagnose, treat or cure in any manner whatsoever any disease, condition or other physical or mental ailment of the human body.

Posted in Migraine Tips and Tricks | 5 Comments