FOOD for THOUGHT: Hormones and Headaches

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Are you one of the estimated 40 million Americans who suffer from chronic headaches? Headaches are one of the leading causes of missed work or school. Maybe you’ve tried every over the counter remedy and even stronger prescriptions, but you still suffer. It may be connected to a hormone imbalance.

Women who experience hormonal fluctuations often suffer with headaches or migraines just prior to the onset of menses, when there is a natural drop in progesterone levels.

But headaches may also occur at ovulation, when estrogen and other hormones spike, or during menses itself, when estrogen and progesterone have bottomed out.

You guessed it; the same hormones that give us cramps, breast tenderness, mood swings and those unstoppable chocolate cravings will also cause headaches.

Hormonal headaches can come on suddenly in perimenopause or at menopause, when a woman’s hormones are really shifting. It can be frightening for women who have never experienced headaches to suddenly suffer with them regularly.

You should be aware that most headaches involve many different factors and may have overlapping triggers. I’ve helped many women unmask the cause of their migraines. If you are having chronic headaches or even migraines take a look at your body care products. Many “fragrances” can trigger a headache. Fragrances in your soap, lotions, shampoo and perfume are loaded with chemicals.

Artificial sweeteners such as Aspartame are known to cause migraines. Other artificial sweeteners included Sucralose and Acesculfame Potassium, often abbreviated ACE-K. Look for these in any food labeled “Sugar Free” or “Lite.”  And one place most people forget to look is in their gums and mints.

You will also want to avoid artificial food dyes. They include Blue, Red and Yellow.

If you suspect that your headaches are triggered by hormones, a saliva test can give you a snapshot of what your levels actually look like.

If chronic headaches are affecting your quality of life, you do have options.  As a holistic nutritionist, I offer a very simple and accurate saliva test, which, when analyzed by the lab, produces a clear picture of what’s going on.  If a problem is identified, I then work with my clients on an individual basis to balance their system, not with drugs, but naturally.  Sometimes adjustments are as simple as slight changes in diet and lifestyle.  Other times, it’s a little more involved.  Either way, the end result can be life changing. Begin achieving balance in your life.

Karen Roth, MS, NC holds a Masters degree in Holistic Nutrition from Hawthorn University and is author, active member of the National Association of Nutritional Professionals, the American Holistic Health Association and the Menopause Type Network®.

To learn more about safe and natural options for alleviating symptoms of hormone imbalance, and other health conditions,  visit

About Karen Roth

Hi. My name is Karen Roth, and I’m a Holistic Nutritionist. Okay, I know what you’re thinking… quick, hide the food; the snack police is here! No need to panic. I describe myself as a “practical” nutritionist, one who doesn’t go to extremes one way or the other and understands that life is challenging enough without having to torture yourself by cutting out many of the things you enjoy. Most of us have limited time to shop for food and to cook healthier meals. And a one-size-fits-all approach does not work when it comes to what and how we all eat. Trust me, I get it.

In my early years out of college when I was bartending, my eating and drinking habits were anything but healthy. But, then you grow up and start thinking about the bigger picture and listening more to what your body is telling you. My pre-nutritionist days were on the corporate treadmill where stress and snacking at the desk was part of my daily routine. Never enough hours in the day and proper eating was always at the bottom of my list.

It wasn’t until I broke my jaw in a freak accident that my food life really changed. When you’re wired shut for two months and denied the food you need for your very existence, you begin to look at the world a little differently. When I healed myself, primarily by creating my own foods I could sip through a straw, I decided to pursue something that was always of interest to me… nutrition. Pulling the plug on the corporate treadmill, I went back to school for three years to get my Masters Degree in Holistic Nutrition. I then opened a practice in Valencia, California, and I’m pleased to say that over the years I have helped so many people improve the quality of their lives by helping them make simple changes in their diets and lifestyle.

Eating healthy doesn’t have to be time-consuming or tasteless, and it is my intention to bring you practical tips each week on how to fit in nutrition one bite at a time. In addition to being practical, I’m also positive so you don’t have to worry that I am going to be Debby Downer and tell you that everything you put in your mouth is going to kill you. Instead, I will offer you easy to implement, simple strategies to help you improve your health. I’ll be introducing new foods (that taste good – because I don’t eat anything that tastes like sawdust or is unappetizing) and new habits that are realistic. I hope you’ll join me as a regular reader and together we’ll build the healthier you with FOOD FOR THOUGHT.

(Karen Roth, MS, NC is a graduate of Hawthorn University’s Master of Science in Holistic Nutrition training program. She helps her clients to take control of their health with foods choices that best support their specific health condition and specific metabolic type and believes that every ill health condition can benefit and possibly improve from a solid foundation of healthy foods choices. Visit her website at