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May 22, 2011

Migraine Headaches and Vitamin B1

The Headache by George Cruikshank
(letter from a customer)


I'm a customer and believer in colon health, one of those people whose mother believed an enema would cure anything from a hangnail to bubonic plague, so I still take them occasionally. When I was diagnosed with spastic colon in my 20s, my physician suggested enemas could relieve symptoms, and they do. I'm pretty sure that was a commonly prescribed therapy for spastic colon through the 70s, but probably not so much today.

This has nothing to do with colon health, but  I thought it might be of interest to you.

In my teen years, ages 13 to 15, I experienced a few migraine headaches, probably mild to moderate in intensity, then they went away.

I had one migraine while I was in my 30s, and then at age 49 they came back. Probably about 3 or 4 a year, and I often suspected a food allergy, because I would almost always experience a migraine during my business travel to China, but never on my European travel, and only two during months living in Australia.

One every few months wasn't bad, and with Sumatriptan and Ibuprofen I could control the pain but would be left with diminished visual acuity and a feeling of malaise for from 24 to 48 hours following a migraine. Like many, my migraines are always preceded by an aura.

About a 18 months ago the migraine pattern changed, to a migraine every 5 to 10 days, sometimes even 2 in the same day. By the way, I'm 65 years old. The medical profession would shrug their heads and say there was nothing I could do about it except take very expensive Sumatriptan.

My wife mentioned it to her sister, who said her son had problems with severe migraines, far worse than mine, and that a physician in Santa Fe, NM, had put him on a daily dose of Vitamin B1, 100mg, which is 6.7% MDR, but the commonly available dosage.

According to my sister-in-law, if her son stays on B1, he has no migraines; if he goes off, they return within a few days.

I started the daily B1 and have been migraine-free since. The only published work about B1 and migraines I have been able to find was a Time Magazine article from the 1930s.

Granted this is all anecdotal, but for me and my nephew vitamin B1 works. Nothing el¬se worked, including eliminating foods that were considered triggers.

I'm sure the FDA would have major issues with any vitamin manufacturer who even suggested B1 as a migraine suppressor, but you may be able to help get out the word. We don't know if it works for everybody, but I know it works for my nephew and for me.

Obviously research needs to be done, but since no drug company is going to make billions of dollars selling B1, it's not likely to happen.

When I told my physician, she said she knows of no reason why B1 should have any effect, but if it works for me, there is no danger in continuing the 100mg (or more) per day.



Thank you to Linc for sharing his experience of using therapeutic doses of vitamin B1. I thought my previous post on depression and vitamin B3 supplementation along with this post on headaches and vitamin B1 supplementation were interesting companion posts to share with readers. I hope you agree. I invite my readers to send in more stories of their own healing experiences to potentially be posted on this blog.

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May 21, 2011

Let Thy Food Be Thy Medicine...

by Kristina Amelong

I heard a great story while watching the documentary film Food Matters, directed by James Colquhoun and Laurentine ten Bosch. I want to share this story because it highlights the essence of the movie - the importance of nutrition for optimal health and the apparent conspiracy by the medical community not to practice the adage, “Let food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food,” as Hippocrates is so famous for stating in 400 B.C.

It seems that the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, fondly known as Bill W., suffered from severe depression. As the story goes, he had become friends with one Dr. Abram Hoffer, MD, who recommended that Bill take niacin or vitamin B3 at a dosage of 3,000 mg per day. Daily consumption of this dosage of B3 correlated with the end of Bill W’s depression. Yes, even though Bill W. had been “working” the profoundly useful spiritual, emotional, and relational tools of “the Big Book,” he believes that by taking a nutritional supplement he optimized his recovery, ridding himself of severe depression. Bill then suggested to other people who were alcoholic, “Why don’t you try taking niacin?” Niacin reportedly also relieved the depression of the majority of the people who took 3,000 mg daily. Bill W. wanted to incorporate this nutritional therapy into the precepts of Alcoholics Anonymous. This didn’t happen, reportedly because the AA International Headquarters rejected the idea due to Bill W. not being a qualified medical doctor.

As a recovering alcoholic who relied heavily on the wisdom and support of daily AA meetings beginning 22 years ago, who deeply struggled with depression those first years of my recovery, and who worked “the steps” with a discipline fit to saving my life, I found the cultural dietary habits of the AA community appalling: coffee and plate after plate of sugary treats offered at every AA meeting, dinners at cheap restaurants consisting of fat, airy pancakes laden with fake maple syrup and more coffee, and breakfasts of Dunkin Donuts and even more coffee. Even though my favorite snack was Peanut M&Ms and Diet Mt. Dew, I would have DEEPLY appreciated some nutritional advice that would have enhanced my 12-step work!

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May 14, 2011

Soft Drink Slogans and Adrenal Health

by Kristina Amelong

Over these many years of clinical practice, and even more years of working to optimize my own health, I have come to know a certain truth about the human body: sustain, support, and nourish – with lifestyle choices – the energy-producing mechanisms of the body steadily throughout each day.

Yes, the needs of the human body happen to be countless; thus we are encouraged to take fish oil, exercise, eat enough protein, limit our carbohydrates, sleep enough and on a regular schedule, cleanse the colon, optimize our intake of vitamins A, B, C, D, and E and our intake of the minerals zinc, copper, magnesium, calcium, potassium, and sodium, drink an ounce of water for each pound of body weight, and so forth.

Yet this one need – sustain, support, nourish – with lifestyle choices – the energy-producing mechanisms of the body steadily throughout each day – reigns supreme.

The marketers at Dr. Pepper/Seven Up, a successful soft drink company founded in the late 1800s, capitalized on this scientifically established fact of our biological nature, as we see in their popular and long-lasting slogan to promote one of their products, Dr. Pepper, the first carbonated soft drink, during the 1920s and 1930s: "Drink a Bite to Eat at 10, 2, and 4 o’clock".

As the story goes, a Dr. Walter Eddy of Columbia University was studying the human body and metabolism, which led him to discover that a natural drop in energy occurs for each and every one of us at about 10:30 a.m., 2:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. He also discovered that if the people in his research study had something to eat or drink at 10:00, 2:00, and 4:00, the energy slump could be avoided.

Unfortunately, after Dr. Eddy’s research findings were released, the Dr. Pepper Company commandeered this information for its own advertising campaign – a theme suggesting that Dr. Pepper should be that “10, 2, and 4 o’clock” drink which would keep the blood sugar level up. If the Optimal Health Network were around then, we would not have suggested a sugary soda but rather that you eat a small meal at those times, rich with each of the macronutrients – carbohydrate, protein, and fat. We would have also suggested that you supplement your diet with herbs such as licorice root and/or Rehmannia to optimize your adrenal health.

When promotions for Dr. Pepper announced that on Saturdays, the local movie theater would interrupt the film at 10 a.m., 2 p.m., and 4 p.m. to serve complimentary bottles of Dr. Pepper, advertisers were acting on an important truth of human biology – we function best when we keep our blood sugar stable and consistently live our lives such that our adrenal glands don’t unnecessarily release the stress hormone cortisol.

It may also be of interest to my readers that this slogan, intended to encourage boosting your blood sugar level at 10 a.m., 2 p.m., and 4 p.m., over the years saw its meaning become muddled, leading thousands of mothers and grandmothers in the South to believe, to this day, that the drinking times are meant to help one achieve bowel regularity.

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May 6, 2011

Optimal Health, the Max Gerson Story, and the Coffee Enema

by Kristina Amelong

As a writer, I love a good story. Yesterday I lucked onto a recent discussion on whether or not the body can heal itself from allegedly incurable diseases. Charlotte Gerson, daughter of Max Gerson, founder of the now famous Gerson Therapy to heal cancer, and radio talk show host Doug Parks were discussing the history of the Gerson Therapy. In my own book, Ten Days to Optimal Health, on page after page I claim that you can heal; that your body, given the right conditions, will heal itself.

In the early 1900’s, Max Gerson was in medical school and had developed unbearably severe migraine headaches. His doctors and his professors all presented similar assessments: there is nothing you can do; you will likely feel better when you are 55.

Gerson did not accept these conclusions. He read and he read and he read and finally he discovered a story from an obscure Italian magazine about a woman who had found relief from her health troubles by changing her diet. Even though the culture was Germany in the early 1900’s, where “diet was for the cook” (that is, not the jurisdiction of doctors), he decided that since no one else had any ideas, he would try it! Sure enough, when he found the right way to change his diet, a restricted diet worked.

First, he tried milk because he thought if babies could digest it, he could. No improvement. Then, because apples were plentiful locally, he tried an apple diet – raw apples, baked apples, applesauce, and apple juice – and his migraine headaches vanished! From there, he slowly added different foods back to his diet. Foods that didn’t agree with him gave him a migraine in 30 minutes; these foods he permanently eliminated.

Once out of medical school and in practice, Dr. Gerson decided to try to help other migraine sufferers. He never promised anything because all the books said it was incurable, but he found that as long as they stuck with his suggestions, they were "cured" if they followed the strict apple diet.

Then one day a man who had come to Dr. Gerson for migraine relief reported back that in addition to the relief of migraines his skin tuberculosis disappeared. Dr. Gerson couldn’t believe this because skin tuberculosis was incurable, but, sure enough, the skin tuberculosis was gone. This led other doctors to send their patients to Dr. Gerson, who continued to develop his ideas about changing the environment to support the body to heal itself and to help countless people to heal.

In addition to dietary changes, Dr Gerson determined that the body needed to be detoxified in order to heal itself; he chose coffee enemas for their ability to assist the liver to rid the body of toxins. The coffee travels from the large intestines into the blood stream to support the liver to open the ducts, thus releasing accumulated poisons in the body. In order to detoxify using coffee enemas, he recommended at least one and up to five coffee enemas daily.

Thank you, Charlotte Gerson and Doug Parks, for carrying the torch that the body can heal itself from countless illnesses.

I honor Dr. Gerson as a pioneer in the study of epigenetics, the science behind how environmental factors can alter the way our genes are expressed.

View epigenetics video featured on PBS' Nova TV series

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