Headache Drugs Can Actually Give You a Headache

Overusing certain medications -- including those used to treat headaches -- can lead to "medication overuse headache" (MOH), and researchers have pinpointed the medications most at fault.

Upon reviewing the charts of 1,200 acute headache patients seen during 2005, 2000, 1995 and 1990, researchers from Princeton University found that diagnosis of MOH remained stable over the 15-year period. However, the drugs responsible for MOH changed dramatically:

  • MOH from ergotamine overuse (used to treat migraine headaches) fell from 19 percent to 0 percent
  • MOH involving triptans, a newer class of drugs, increased from 0 percent to 22 percent
  • MOH due to analgesics (painkillers) increased from 8 percent to 32 percent
  • Overuse headache from combinations of acute medications increased from 10 percent to 23 percent
  • MOH from opioid overuse decreased slightly

Many patients overuse prescription medications, and the researchers recommended implementing public health initiatives to educate doctors and patients about setting limits on prescription and other medications, and raising awareness that overusing medications for migraine headaches can lead to MOH.


Dr. Mercola's Comments:

Headaches are so common that Americans dish out more than $1 billion every year to get relief from migraines. Just as troubling: The pain associated with migraines can be so severe that some patients will actually consider suicide as a reasonable alternative.

So when you consider the options of suicide or a pill, the pill certainly seems to be the better solution. The problem with the older migraine drugs is that rebound headaches were a clearly documented problem.

The drugs would work great the first few times they were tried, but with time they worked less effectively and, even worse, they caused a withdrawal rebound headache that was every bit as bad as the original migraine that it was being used to treat.

The newer migraine drugs like the triptans, of which Imitrex (sumatriptan) is the most popular, were not supposed to have this problem. But now, lo and behold, we find out that this is not true and that indeed they cause the withdrawal headaches.

If you area already suffering with a migraine and have not had a chance to implement the food allergen avoidance program, I have found intravenous magnesium very effective to abort migraines. It does not seem to work orally but when given as an IV most migraines disappear in a few minutes.

One could use magnesium chloride, but I have found that most people have elevated chloride levels so I use magnesium sulfate. The magnesium causes the blood vessels to dilate and makes the person very warm, depending on how fast the IV is pushed. I usually use 1500 mg IV for the average adult.

Very impressive indeed.

That was my old "natural medical" model, using nutrients like drugs. Now I have evolved into far better solutions.

What is even more impressive is EFT, which can get rid of headaches just as quickly without the hassle, inconvenience and pain of an IV. Interestingly, while I was writing this comment a contractor was doing some work in my house for me. He told me he had a bad migraine for one week that only partially responded to narcotic analgesics.

So I sat down and tapped with him for less than five minutes about some issue that were going on with one of his employees and the pain decreased from a 9/10 to a 2/10; for the first time in one week he felt relief and later that day the pain disappeared completely never to return again.

Additionally, I've found most people experience dramatic improvement after adopting the nutrition plan I promote. Most migraines seem to have a food-based reaction relating to wheat, dairy, sugar, or artificial preservatives or chemicals. Eliminating these foods and incorporating the other eating plan measures, frequently improves migraines.

Generally there is a 70-80 percent reduction in the frequency and intensity of the pain after people begin following the eating plan that you can study in more detail in my book, Total Health Program.



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