Headaches caused by an overuse of medication — commonly known as rebound headaches — don’t get much attention from the mainstream medical community. Probably because you can’t take a drug to treat them. And in their eyes, there’s no profit to be made… so why talk about it?
The only real way to stop this headache pain is to stop taking the drugs that are causing the problem.
(And discontinuing drugs is something mainstream medicine definitely doesn’t want to talk about!)
But there’s a safe, easy way out of this vicious cycle of rebound headaches. And all it requires is a little vitamin nourishment for your poor, aching head.
The true source of most chronic headaches
A rebound headache is also known as medication overuse headache (MOH). And when a patient suffers 10 or more headaches per month, and each headache is treated with acetaminophen (Tylenol®), aspirin, or a sinus headache drug, the medications begin triggering headaches rather than relieving them.
According to neurology expert Professor David W. Dodick, of the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine in Arizona, an estimated 60 percent of people with chronic daily headaches are actually suffering from MOH.
Prof. Dodick notes a study that suggests MOH is the third most frequent type of headache after migraines and tension-type headaches. And in another study, researchers found that patients who used common painkillers daily (or almost daily) for more than a month were seven times more likely to suffer from chronic headaches.
Getting caught in this cycle can be maddening — especially when the only way out is to cut off the painkilling drugs that promise relief but in actuality, only prolong your headache misery.
If you’re stuck in this bind, Dr. Fred Pescatore offers a simple source of relief, which can also be used to help prevent and treat headaches — without any drugs.
In his Pain-Free Life Protocol, Dr. Pescatore calls vitamin D deficiency the “smoking gun behind non-migraine, chronic ‘tension-type’ headaches.”
As D goes up, headaches go down
“Next time you have a headache,” Dr. Pescatore says, “don’t reach for the Tylenol®. Instead, try supplementing with a little extra vitamin D. And be sure to always keep a bottle handy in your purse, car, medicine cabinet, or travel bag.”
And Dr. Pescatore backs up that advice with a surprising amount of research.
For instance, he cites a Norwegian study in which scientists found that areas of the brain involved in the metabolism of vitamin D also played a role in headaches. “In their study,” he says, “the incidence of non-migraine headaches was 20 percent higher in people with the lowest levels of vitamin D.”
Other notable studies also reinforce the connection between pain and vitamin D deficiency:
- In a study of 200 people with and without chronic headaches, more than 70 percent of headache patients had clinical vitamin D deficiency compared to just 25 percent among those without chronic headaches.
- Researchers in Finland report that in a study of middle-aged men, those with the lowest D levels were at “markedly higher risk” of chronic headaches compared to participants with the highest levels of the vitamin.
- Inadequate vitamin D appears to play a role in migraines too. When researchers added vitamin D supplements to standard drug treatment for migraines, the rate of migraine attacks over a six-month period dropped by as much as 85 percent — from an average of seven attacks to just one!
Getting back to pain-free normal
There’s a good chance you’re deficient in vitamin D right now— or at least have low levels — simply because 80 percent of the population is deficient.
This is especially true in the winter, when so many of us aren’t exposed to enough daily sunlight to generate vitamin D in our skin.
So Dr. Pescatore offers three suggestions to start building up your stores of this essential nutrient:
- First, know your levels. Ask your doctor for a blood test called 25-hydroxyvitamin D, or 25(OH)D. It’s a simple blood test, covered by most health insurance carriers.
- If you have low levels or are deficient (a levels equal to or below 30 ng/ml), you need to supplement. To reach an optimal vitamin D level, Dr. Pescatore generally recommends taking a daily dose 10,000 IU of vitamin D3. (In the summer, you may be able to slightly lower your dosage if blood tests show your level is around 80 ng/ml.)
- Pescatore recommends you continue to get your blood levels retested every six weeks, until they’re where they should be. An optimal level to aim for aim for is 80 ng/ml.
In most cases of chronic headaches, he believes this regimen will significantly curb frequent headache pain. And of course, taking these dangerous drugs out of the mix will eradicate rebound headaches for good.
Dr. Pescatore’s Pain-Free Life Protocol provides additional all-natural, non-addictive strategies for preventing and treating all types of headaches — along with many other types of pain. Click here to further explore this online learning tool, or to enroll today.
“Chronic Headaches? ‘Medication Overuse Headaches’ Surprisingly Common” Science Daily, 11/5/08. (sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081103090845.htm)