From: Dr. Betty Martini, D.Hum., Bettym19@mindspring.com
To: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Date: Fri, Jun 20, 2008 1:57 pm
Subject: Letter to Editor of: Aspartame and Headaches
Dear Editor: Cameroon Radio TV: Quite an indepth article on migraines. I was glad to see that aspartame is mentioned as it is #1 on the FDA list of 92 symptoms.
Aspartame Disease is a global plague that has completely been ignored although the FDA In the US knows. Read how it was approved: http://www.mpwhi.com/australia_nasty_aspartame.htm
It has its own 1000 page medical text: Aspartame Disease: An Ignored Epidemic by H. J. Roberts, M.D., http://www.sunsentpress.com
Headache is discussed and Dr. Roberts says, "There are multiple possible mechanisms for aspartame headache. They include altered concentration of brain amino acids, neurotransmitter dysfunction, reactions to the diketopiperazine metabolism, aggravated hypoglycemia, the ingestion of large amounts of fluid in response to increased thirst and allergy. Methanol-induced cerebral edema, alterations in brain water, sodium and potassium, vascular stasis and the neurotoxic effects of formaldehyde and formate also may be operative." Dr. Roberts in discussing neurotransmitters says they have considerable relevance to the headaches and atypical facial/neck pain experienced by aspartame reactors.
He also states that the aggravation of severe hypoglycemia - or decreased glucose availability to the brain (cerebral glucopenia) - was mentioned as a mechanism whereby aspartame can trigger migraine and related headaches. This is likely in the case of women having "functional" hyperinsulinism who attempt to lose weight by decreasing food intake drastically and concomitantly engage in strenuous exercise.
He says further: "I have reviewed the interrelationships between migraine and hypoglycemia. Only a few of the evidences are cited here.
Dr. Roberts also says that nocturnal aspartame induced headache could reflect delayed IgE-mediated hypersensitivity. This may be comparable to aspartame induced delayed urticaria (hives) or angioedema.
Further: "Physicians who are not aware of the relationship between severe headache and aspartame use are likely to order electroencephalograms (EEGs) and CT scans or MRI imaging studies. Concomitant complaints by aspartame reactors - confusion; memory loss; visual disturbances; personality changes - also reflexively generate these studies and neurologic consultation. The high medical costs so incurred may surpass the limits set by insurance carriers."
The author is correct that MSG also can trigger headaches, and MSG has an additive and synergistic effect with aspartame. http://www.truthinlabeling.org Remember that the aspartate in aspartame like glutamate is an excitotoxin. Dr. Roberts wrote that "Entry of excitotoxic breakdown products of aspartame into the brain are probably greater than heretofore realized. Studies on the neurotoxicity of aspartate and glutamate demonstrate that several small regions of the brain lack a blood brain barrier, thereby enabling these blood borne substances to penetrate freely. Dr. John W. Olney (Professor of Neuropathology at Washington University School of Medicine) wrote the following explanation to Senator Howard Metzenbaum on December 8, l987;
"If glutamate and aspartate are released from cells and not rapidly taken back up, they flood the excitatory receptors on the external surface of nerve cells and excite nerve cells to death.
"It has recently been shown that certain drugs which block the action of Glu and Asp at these excitatory receptors can protect the animal brain against damage associated with stroke, cardiac arrest or perinatal asphyxia. This, it is an ironic fact that today knowledgeable neuroscientists in many parts of the world are working fervently to develop methods for preventing endogenous excitotoxins from damaging the human brain, while other elements of society, including the FDA, are promoting and sanctioning the adulteration of foods with unlimited amounts of exogenous excitotoxins which are known to destroy nerve cells in the mammalian rain following oral intake."
Be sure to read: Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills by neurosurgeon Russell Blaylock, M.D., http://www.russellblaylockmd.com His detox program (What To Do If You Have Used Aspartame) is http://www.wnho.net/wtdaspartame.htm
If someone is not on aspartame and has continued headaches, if not from some source that needs to be diagnosed like brain tumors, they are usually cured by prolotherapy. Dr. Hemwall who was taught by the inventor of prolotherapy told me he had cured every case of migraine. He died in his 90's, and his practice was taken over by Dr. Ross Hauser. You can check out his web site, http://www.caringmedical.com for further information and prolotherapists throughout the US and other countries. Prolotherapy is the cure for chronic pain. Indeed, every headache case I ever sent to Dr. Hemwall was cured. Dr. Hauser is one of the top prolotherapists, trained by Dr. Hemwall.
I highly recommend the aspartame documentary, Sweet Misery: A Poisoned World, http://www.soundandfury.tv
Also remember that aspartame damages the mitochondria so it interacts with virtually all drugs and vaccines. Merck in the US makes Maxalt to treat headaches and even has aspartame in it. They care not what misery and disability they inflict on aspartame victims as they have been written repeatedly and you'll find lots of information in google. They also in their home edition of the Merck Manual say aspartame is okay for pregnant women, when in fact, aspartame is a teratogen and triggers birth defects and mental retardation. It is also an abortifacient.
Dr. Betty Martini, D.Hum.
Founder, Mission Possible World Health International
9270 River Club Parkway
Duluth, Georgia 30097
Aspartame Toxicity Center: http://www.holisticmed.com/aspartame
Migraine Headache Often Under-Diagnosed And Under-Treated?
20/06/2008: Many people turn to get confused between regular head arch and migraine. This is because the symptoms of both illnesses are basically the same. In the following discussion with our medical consultant, Serge Emaleu focus shall on migraine headache.Elvis Teke: What is a migraine headache?
Serge Emaleu: A migraine headache is a form of vascular headache. Migraine headache is caused by a combination of vasodilatation (enlargement of blood vessels) and the release of chemicals from nerve fibers that coil around the blood vessels. During a migraine attack, the temporal artery enlarges.
(The temporal artery is an artery that lies on the outside of the skull just under the skin of the temple.) Enlargement of the temporal artery stretches the nerves that coil around the artery and causes the nerves to release chemicals. The chemicals cause inflammation, pain, and further enlargement of the artery. The increasing enlargement of the artery magnifies the pain.
Migraine attacks commonly activate the sympathetic nervous system in the body. The sympathetic nervous system is often thought of as the part of the nervous system that controls primitive responses to stress and pain, the so-called "fight or flight" response. The increased sympathetic nervous activity in the intestine causes nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Sympathetic activity also delays emptying of the stomach into the small intestine and thereby prevents oral medications from entering the intestine and being absorbed. The impaired absorption of oral medications is a common reason for the ineffectiveness of medications taken to treat migraine headaches. The increased sympathetic activity also decreases the circulation of blood, and this leads to pallor of the skin as well as cold hands and feet. The increased sympathetic activity also contributes to the sensitivity to light and sound sensitivity as well as blurred vision.
Migraine afflicts millions of Cameroonians, with females suffering more frequently (17%) than males (6%). Missed work and lost productivity from migraine create a significant public burden. Nevertheless, migraine still remains largely undertreated and under diagnosed. Less than half the sufferers are diagnosed by their doctors.
E.T:What are the symptoms of migraine headaches?
S.E: Migraine is a chronic condition of recurrent attacks. Most (but not all) migraine attacks are associated with headaches. Migraine headaches usually are described as an intense, throbbing or pounding pain that involves one temple. (Sometimes the pain can be located in the forehead, around the eye, or the back of the head).
The pain usually is unilateral (on one side of the head), although about a third of the time the pain is bilateral. The unilateral headaches typically change sides from one attack to the next. (In fact, unilateral headaches that always occur on the same side should alert the doctor to consider a secondary headache, for example, one caused by a brain tumor). A migraine headache usually is aggravated by daily activities like walking upstairs. Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, facial pallor, cold hands, cold feet, and sensitivity to light and sound commonly accompany migraine headaches. As a result of this sensitivity to light and sound, migraine sufferers usually prefer to lie in a quiet, dark room during an attack. A typical attack lasts between 4 and 72 hours.
An estimated 40%-60% of migraine attacks are preceded by premonitory (warning) symptoms lasting hours to days. The symptoms may include sleepiness, irritability, fatigue, depression or euphoria, yawning, and cravings for sweet or salty foods. Patients and their family members usually know that when they observe these warning symptoms that a migraine attack is beginning.
An estimated 20% of migraine headaches are associated with an aura. Usually, the aura precedes the headache, although occasionally it may occur simultaneously with the headache. The most common auras are 1) flashing, brightly colored lights in a zigzag pattern (fortification spectra), usually starting in the middle of the visual field and progressing outward and 2) a hole (scotoma) in the visual field, also known as a blind spot. Some elderly migraine sufferers may experience only the visual aura without the headache. A less common aura consists of pins-and-needles sensations in the hand and the arm on one side or pins-and-needles sensations around the mouth and the nose on the same side.
Other auras include auditory (hearing) hallucinations and abnormal tastes and smells. Complicated migraines are migraines that are accompanied by neurological dysfunction. The part of the body that is affected by the dysfunction is determined by the part of the brain that is responsible for the headache. Vertebrobasilar migraines are characterized by dysfunction of the brainstem (the lower part of the brain that is responsible for automatic activities like consciousness and balance). The symptoms of vertebrobasilar migraines include fainting as an aura, vertigo (dizziness in which the environment seems to be spinning) and double vision. Hemiplegic migraines are characterized by paralysis or weakness of one side of the body, mimicking a stroke. The paralysis or weakness is usually temporary, but sometimes it can last for day.
For approximately 24 hours after a migraine attack, the migraine sufferer may feel drained of energy and may experience a low-grade headache along with sensitivity to light and sound. Unfortunately, some sufferers may have recurrences of the headache during this period.
E.T: How is a migraine headache diagnosed?
S.E: Migraine headaches are usually diagnosed when the symptoms described above are present. Migraine generally begins in childhood to early adulthood. While migraines can first occur in an individual beyond the age of fifty, advancing age makes other types of headaches more likely. A family history is usually present, suggesting a genetic predisposition in migraine sufferers. In addition to diagnosing migraine from the clinical presentation there is usually an accompanying normal examination.
Patients with the first headache ever, worst headache ever, or where there is a significant change in headache or the presence of nervous system symptoms, like visual or hearing or sensory loss, may require additional tests. The tests may include blood testing, brain scanning (either CT or MRI), and a spinal tap.
E.T: How are migraine headaches treated?
S.E: Treatment is can include non-medication and medication approaches.
Non-medication therapies for migraine
Therapy that does not involve medications can provide symptomatic and preventative therapy. Using ice, biofeedback, and relaxation techniques may be helpful at stopping an attack once it has started. If possible, sleep is the best medicine. Preventing migraine takes motivation for the patient to make some life changes. Patients are educated as to triggering factors that can be avoided.
These include smoking cessation, avoiding certain foods especially those high in tyramine (sharp cheeses) or those containing sulphites (wines) or nitrates (nuts, pressed meats). Generally, leading a healthy life style with good nutrition, adequate water intake, sufficient sleep and exercise may be useful.
Medication therapies for migraine
Individuals with occasional mild migraine headaches that do not interfere with daily activities usually medicate themselves with over-the-counter (OTC, non-prescription) pain relievers OTC analgesics have been shown to be safe and effective for short-term relief of headache (as well as muscle aches, pains, menstrual cramps , and fever) when used according to the instructions on their labels.
There are two major classes of TC analgesics: acetaminophen (Tylenol) and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). The two types of NSAIDs are aspirin and non-aspirin.
The difference between OTC and prescription NSAIDs may only be the amount of the active ingredient contained in each pill.
E.T: What are precautions that should be observed with OTC analgesics?
S.E: Children and teenagers should not use aspirin for the treatment of headaches, other pain, or fever, because of the risk of developing Reye's Syndrome, a life-threatening neurological disease that can lead to coma and even death.
S.E: Migraine-specific abortive medications usually are necessary for moderate to severe migraine headaches. The abortive medications for moderate or severe migraine headaches are different than OTC analgesics. Instead of relieving pain, they abort headaches by counteracting the cause of the headache, dilation of the temporal arteries. In fact, they cause narrowing of the arteries. Examples of migraine-specific abortive medications are the triptans and ergot preparations.
The triptans attach to serotonin receptors on the blood vessels and nerves and thereby reduce inflammation and constrict the blood vessels. This stops the headache.
Traditionally, triptans were prescribed for moderate or severe migraines after OTC analgesics and other simple measures failed. Newer studies suggest that triptans can be used as the first treatment for patients with migraines that are causing disability. (Significant disability is defined as more than 10 days of at least 50% disability during a three-month period.).
Triptans should be used early after the migraine begins, before the onset of pain or when the pain is mild. Using a triptan early in an attack increases its effectiveness, reduces side effects, and decreases the chance of recurrence of another headache during the following 24 hours. Used early, triptans can be expected to abort more than 80% of migraine headaches within 2 hours.
E.T: What are the Side effects of triptans?
S.E: The most common side effects of triptans are facial flushing, tingling of the skin, and a sense of tightness around the chest and throat. Other less common side effects include drowsiness, fatigue, and dizziness. These side effects are short-lived and are not considered serious.
The most serious side effects of triptans are heart attacks and strokes. Triptans are effective in migraine headaches because they narrow arteries in the head; however, they also can narrow arteries in the heart. In individuals without existing carotid or coronary artery disease, the narrowing caused by triptans usually does not cause problems.
However, in patients whose carotid and coronary arteries are narrowed by atherosclerosis or who suffer from intermittent spasm of the coronary arteries (a condition called Prinzmetal's or variant angina), the narrowing caused by triptans can further reduce the flow of blood through the arteries and have been reported to cause heart attacks and strokes.
Therefore, triptans should not be given to patients who have had heart attacks and strokes, or to patients who have symptoms of atherosclerosis such as angina, transient ischemic attack (TIAs), and intermittent claudication.
Healthy adults may have atherosclerosis and narrowing of the coronary arteries that are "silent", that is, without past strokes, transient ischemic attacks, heart attacks, or angina. Therefore, before prescribing a triptan, a doctor should evaluate patients for possible atherosclerosis if they have one or more risk factors for developing atherosclerosis.
These risk factors include cigarette smoking, diabetes mellitus, high blood pressure, high levels of LDL ("bad") cholesterol in the blood, obesity, male and over 40 years of age, female and postmenopausal, or a family member(s) who have had heart attacks at an early age. Some patients who are at risk should receive their first dose of a triptan in the doctor's office while being monitored with an electrocardiogram (EKG).
Triptans can interact with other drugs. For example, there have been rare reports of triptans causing a "serotonin syndrome" when given together with a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are a class of medications widely used to treat depression. The symptoms of serotonin syndrome include confusion, fever, tremor, high blood pressure, diarrhea, and sweating. Triptans should not be used in pregnant women and are not generally used in young children.
E.T: How are migraine headaches prevented?
S.E: There are two ways to prevent migraine headaches:
1) By avoiding factors ("triggers") that cause the headaches, and
2) By preventing headaches with medications (prophylactic medications). Neither of these preventive strategies is 100% effective. The best one can hope for is to reduce the frequency of headaches.
E.T: What triggers migraine?
S.E: A migraine trigger is any factor that causes a headache in individuals who are prone to develop headaches. Only a small proportion of migraine sufferers, however, clearly can identify triggers. Examples of triggers include stress, sleep disturbances, fasting, hormones, bright or flickering lights, odors, cigarette smoke, alcohol, aged cheeses, chocolate, monosodium glutamate, nitrites, aspartame, and caffeine.
For some women, the decline in the blood level of estrogen during the onset of menstruation is a trigger for migraine headaches. The interval between exposure to a trigger and the onset of headache varies from hours to two days. Exposure to a trigger does not always lead to a headache. Conversely, avoidance of triggers cannot completely prevent headaches. Different migraine sufferers respond to different triggers, and any one trigger will not induce a headache in every person who has migraine headaches.
Sleep and migraine
Disturbances such as sleep deprivation, too much sleep, poor quality of sleep, and frequent awakening at night are associated with both migraine and tension headaches, whereas improved sleep habits have been shown to reduce the frequency of migraine headaches. Sleep also has been reported to shorten the duration of migraine headaches.
Fasting and migraine
Fasting possibly may precipitate migraine headaches by causing the release of stress-related hormones and lowering blood sugar. Therefore, migraine sufferers should avoid prolonged fasting.
Bright lights and migraine
Bright lights and other high intensity visual stimuli can cause headaches in healthy subjects as well as patients with migraine headaches, but migraine patients seem to have a lower than normal threshold for light-induced pain. Sunlight, television, and flashing lights all have been reported to precipitate migraine headaches.
Caffeine and migraine
Caffeine is contained in many food products (cola, tea, chocolates, coffee) and OTC analgesics. Caffeine in low doses can increase alertness and energy, but caffeine in high doses can cause insomnia, irritability, anxiety, and headaches. The over-use of caffeine-containing analgesics causes rebound headaches. Furthermore, individuals who consume high levels of caffeine regularly are more prone to develop withdrawal headaches when caffeine is stopped abruptly.
Chocolate, wine, tyramine, MSG, nitrites, aspartame and migraine
Chocolate has been reported to cause migraine headaches, but scientific studies have not consistently demonstrated an association between chocolate consumption and headaches. Red wine has been shown to cause migraine headaches in some migraine sufferers, but it is not clear whether white wine also will cause migraine headaches.
Tyramine (a chemical found in cheese, wine, beer, dry sausage, and sauerkraut) can precipitate migraine headaches, but there is no evidence that consuming a low-tyramine diet can reduce migraine frequency. Monosodium glutamate (MSG) has been reported to cause headaches, facial flushing, sweating, and palpitations when consumed in high doses on an empty stomach.
This phenomenon has been called Chinese restaurant syndrome. Nitrates and nitrites (chemicals found in hotdogs, ham, frankfurters, bacon and sausages) have been reported to cause migraine headaches. Aspartame, a sugar-substitute sweetener found in diet drinks and snacks, has been reported to trigger headaches when used in high doses for prolonged periods.
E.T: Female hormones and migraine
S.E: Some women who suffer from migraine headaches experience more headaches around the time of their menstrual periods. Other women experience migraine headaches only during the menstrual period. The term "menstrual migraine" is used mainly to describe migraines that occur in women who have almost all of their headaches from two days before to one day after their menstrual periods.
Declining levels of estrogen at the onset of menses is likely to be the cause of menstrual migraines. Decreasing levels of estrogen also may be the cause of migraine headaches that develop among users of birth control pills during the week that estrogens are not taken.
E.T: What should migraine sufferers do?
S.E: Individuals with mild and infrequent migraine headaches that do not cause disability may require only OTC analgesics. Individuals who experience several moderate or severe migraine headaches per month or whose headaches do not respond readily to medications should avoid triggers and consider modifications of their life-style. Life-style modifications for migraine sufferers include:
S.E: Prophylactic medications are medications taken daily to reduce the frequency and duration of migraine headaches. They are not taken once a headache has begun. There are several classes of prophylactic medications: beta blockers, calcium-channel blockers, tricyclic antidepressants, antiserotonin agents and anticonvulsants.
Medications with the longest history of use are propranolol (Inderal), a beta blocker, and amitriptyline (Elavil), an antidepressant. When choosing a prophylactic medication for a patient the doctor must take into account the drug side effects, drug-drug interactions, and co-existing conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure.
E.T: Who should consider prophylactic medications to prevent migraine headaches?
S.E: Not all migraine sufferers need prophylactic medications; individuals with mild or infrequent headaches that respond readily to abortive medications do not need prophylactic medications. Individuals who should consider prophylactic medications are those who:
S.E: Prophylactic medications can reduce the frequency and duration of migraine headaches but cannot be expected to eliminate migraine headaches completely. The success rate of most prophylactic medications is approximately 50%. Success in preventing migraine headaches is defined as more than a 50% reduction in the frequency of headaches. Prophylactic medications usually are begun at a low dose that is increased slowly in order to minimize side effects.
Individuals may not notice a reduction in the frequency, severity, or duration of their headaches for 2-3 months after starting treatment.
E.T: What is the proper way to use preventive medications?
S.E: Doctors familiar with the treatment of migraine headaches should prescribe preventive medications.
S.E: There are several aspects to treating menstrual migraines:
For women already taking preventive medications and yet still experience headaches, the doses of preventive medications can be increased around the time of the menstruation (some doctors use preventive medications only around the time of the menstruation). Alternatively doctors may try hormone treatment.
Since a drop in estrogen level just prior to menstruation is the trigger for menstrual migraines, estrogen replacement before menstruation has been used in preventing menstrual migraines. For some women with menstrual migraine, Estradiol skin patches (such as TTS 50, TTS 100) applied 2 days before menstrual migraine and continued for 7 days during the expected headache period is effective. However, the dose of estrogen must be closely monitored, as too high of a dose can actually trigger migraine in susceptible individuals.
Some women with difficult to treat menstrual migraines may be helped by using low dose oral contraceptives to reduce the estrogen fluctuations.
Generally, Migraine is often under-diagnosed and under-treated. There is no cure for migraine. Nevertheless, there are numerous interventions that may help restore an improved life for migraine sufferers. These measures should consider the various aspects of the particular patient's condition. Triggering factors, nerve inflammation, blood vessel changes and pain are each addressed aggressively. Individualizing treatment is essential for optimal outcome.
Dr Serge Blaise EMALEU
Department of Genetics/Immunology
Stanford University, School of Medicine
Palo-Alto, CA 94305-5318
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