Headaches – Article Nr 21 in our Healing Articles called “The Doctor Says – The Bible Says” by Dr. Michelle Strydom MD.
Definition of a Migraine: at least 5 attacks which meet the following criteria:
• Headache lasts 4 to 72 hours.
• The headache has at least two of the following characteristics:
– Pain on one side of the head.
– Throbbing in quality.
– Moderate to severe in intensity.
– Movements of the head exacerbate the pain.
• During the headache, at least one of the following occur:
– Nausea and/or vomiting
– Sensitivity to light (photophobia) or sensitivity to sound (phonophobia).
*Sometimes an ‘aura’ may precede the migraine. This aura can be visual (for example you see flashing lights or shimmering, silvery zigzag lines which flicker in front of your eyes and sometimes temporary visual loss) or it may be a sensory aura where you have tingling followed by numbness which moves over 20 to 30 minutes from one part of the body to another. The person may also temporarily not be able to
talk. The aura develops gradually over more than 4 minutes and does
not last longer than 60 minutes. The migraine usually follows the aura
within 60 minutes. During the headache phase the person prefers to be
in a quiet, dark room where they can sleep the headache off (in contrast
to a person with a cluster headache who paces to and fro). A migraine
attack often occurs after a period of strain so the person tends to get it
on weekends or at the beginning of a holiday.
There are two aspects to a migraine: Firstly there is a reduction in a chemical in your brain called serotonin. Secondly there is an increase in the production of histamine. This is triggered by thoughts of guilt and condemnation over a conflict in your life, followed by fear and anxiety. It is not the conflict
that triggers the migraine, it is the guilt and condemnation that you have with yourself over the conflict that triggers the migraine. For example, say you went to a party and had too much to drink, and you had an argument with your wife about it. Or say that a woman spends too much money and ends up having a fight with her husband about it. The argument or fight is not what causes the migraine – it is the guilt that you have with yourself over the conflict that produces the migraine. Migraines are triggered in people who have conflict with themselves about a conflict in life with others where they do not like themselves anymore about this issue. It begins with guilt and out of that guilt comes fear – in that order.
Here is what happens on a physical level: The way in which we think affects our whole body.
Remember that the hypothalamus is the area in your brain that is the connection between your mind and your body.
It converts everything that goes on in your thought life into a physical reaction. The hypothalamus responds to those thoughts of self-condemnation and/or guilt by lowering the levels (amount) of a hormone in the brain called serotonin. When the serotonin levels are lowered, it causes the whole central portion
of your brain called the deep limbic system to inflame. This is when fear and anxiety in your thought life over the issue begins to develop and this leads to an over secretion of histamine which is the chemical that causes inflammation.
Serotonin has several functions in the brain, one of which is to maintain the normal diameter of the blood vessels so that they supply the correct amount of blood to each area of the brain at just the right pressure.
Migraines are triggered in people who have conflict with others in which they do
not like themselves anymore concerning the issue.
• Serotonin is a vasoconstrictor – in other words this chemical decreases the diameter of the blood vessels.
• Histamine is a vasodilator – it increases the diameter of the blood vessels.
Serotonin and histamine have antagonistic or opposite actions in the body. When the serotonin levels are reduced because of the guilt in your thought life, the histamine levels are able to increase because of the fear and anxiety. Therefore as the serotonin levels decrease, the brakes are off vasodilatation and the
histamine levels increase causing the diameter of the blood vessels to increase. The enlarged and swollen blood vessels exert pressure on pain sensitive nerves and structures in your brain and that is what causes the pain of a migraine.
Drugs that are used to treat migraines such as Imitrex work by increasing the levels of serotonin and decreasing the levels of histamine – in other words it is a serotonin enhancer and an antihistamine. Imitrex is a beta blocker which means that it stops that whole stage 2 and 3 stress reaction which comes as a result of fear and anxiety in your thought life.
When the stage 2 and 3 stress reaction is stopped, it prevents the release of histamine. It also increases the levels of serotonin which is the “feel good” hormone because it makes you feel good about yourself. It is very similar to how anti-depressants like
Prozac work. It does not actually increase the
quantity of Serotonin, it just prolongs the time that it is out in circulation before it is taken up again by the nerves for recycling.
In summary the drug:
• Decreases the histamine levels by stopping the stage 2 and 3 stress reaction caused by fear and anxiety in your thought life.
• It increases the serotonin levels which were reduced by you not feeling good about yourself where there was guilt and condemnation in your thought life.
This returns the blood vessels to the normal diameter and the migraine is over. However it is just an artificial way of restoring you to peace in your soul – it did not solve the underlying problem. It has deluded you into feeling good about yourself but in your heart you still do not like yourself. So if you feel
better what does it matter? Well did God create you to be chemically manipulated and deluded where you pretend that you don’t have a spiritual problem? Imitrex is a cheap substitute for the peace of God.
You don’t have to rely on drugs to stop or prevent migraines, you can do it
by controlling your thought life and renewing your mind with the Word. That
is God’s way. Deal with the guilt, self conflict and fear that is tormenting you,
so that you can enjoy God’s peace. When your thought life is right before
God, you won’t get an imbalance in your serotonin and histamine levels and
a migraine will not happen. Even when you feel a migraine coming on, you
can stop it from fully developing by quickly sorting out your thought life. This
may take time and practice but this is what will produce long term freedom.
This is what true spiritual warfare is about – bringing every thought captive
to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10 v 5).
The devil knows that if you allow him to control your thought life he can control your body chemistry and cause migraines. However, now you know your enemy, you understand his tactics and how he makes the migraine happen. Hopefully you now understand what is needed to overcome migraines, and you have God’s grace and the power of the Holy Spirit to help you. Deal with those issues that are causing conflict and robbing you of your peace with yourself and others. Simply put, get the strife out of your life.
When your thought life is right before God, you won’t get an imbalance in your serotonin and histamine levels and a migraine will not happen.
Definition of a Cluster Headache:
• Two to five headaches are encountered daily for a period of four to eight weeks, followed by a headache free period for months to years.
• The duration of the headache is usually longer than 15 minutes and shorter than three hours.
• The headache has a tendency to come at the same time of the day, frequently between one and two in the morning and again between ten and eleven in the morning.
• The pain is intense and is most severe over the eye – this is caused by dilation (an increase in diameter) of an artery called the internal carotid artery which refers pain to the eye.
• About half of people who get cluster headaches get what is called “Horner’s Syndrome” during the headache. Horner’s Syndrome is where:
– One pupil is smaller than the other.
– One eye lid droops down further than the other (ptosis).
– Sweating on only one side of the forehead. This is because the dilated internal carotid artery squashes several nerves called sympathetic nerves against the bone of the skull. This impairs the nerves’ function, leading to the symptoms of Horner’s Syndrome. There are also disturbances in the parasympathetic nerves which cause tearing from one eye and a blocked nose.
• The person is hyperactive during the headache – they walk to and fro in contrast to a migraine where the person goes and lies down to sleep it off.
• The dilation of the blood vessels in the head causes redness and mild swelling of the face.
• Eyes may be red due to dilation of the blood vessels in the eye.
A cluster headache is 9 times more common in males.
The underlying physical mechanism behind cluster headaches is dilation of the blood vessels in the brain (i.e. the diameter of the blood vessels is increased). When the blood vessels are enlarged and swollen, they exert pressure on nerves and other pain sensitive structures in the brain which is what causes the pain of a cluster headache. The physical and spiritual dynamics behind cluster headaches are similar to migraines – so read through the section on migraines on the previous 2 pages.
The characteristic type of pain of a tension headache was described on page 300. I explained there that fear, anxiety and stress in your thought life leads to spasm of the muscles in the neck, forehead and jaw.
Coexisting eye or neck problems or dysfunction of the joint in the jaw bone may exacerbate the muscle spasm. To understand tension headaches, you need to learn about the different stages of stress and how it affects your body.
The nerves that stimulate your muscles to make them contract are told what to do by the central nervous system, which in turn is under control of the hypothalamus in your brain. Remember the hypothalamus is the area in your brain that is the mind-body connection – it translates your thoughts into a physical reaction. When you have long term fear, anxiety and stress in your thought life, your body is put into stage 2 and 3 of stress. In this toxic state, the hypothalamus sets in motion an imbalance between the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. The sympathetic nerves become over active and this leads to sustained contraction or spasm of the neck and facial muscles thus producing the tension headache.
To eradicate tension headaches from your life – you are going to have to deal
with the fear, anxiety and stress causing it. When you have peace of mind, the
stage 2 and 3 stress reaction will be broken and the hypothalamus will respond
by restoring the balance between the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous
systems. Thus the facial and neck muscles will relax and the foundation for tension
headaches is broken.
People with tension headaches often also have depression.
Headache as a Result of Temporal Arteritis
Temporal arteritis most commonly develops in elderly people over the age of 50 years old. In this type of headache, the pain is over your temples i.e. on the sides of your head in front of your ears, at the level of your eyes. Sometimes the pain is felt at the back of the head with tenderness of the scalp. This pain
is caused by inflammation and swelling of the blood vessels in your head, especially the temporal artery which is situated where you feel the pain at your temples. The inflammation of these vessels is not caused by an infection – it is referred to as non-bacterial inflammation. When the blood vessels are inflamed,
there is a tendency for blood clots to form which narrow or block the vessels. This can lead to jaw pain on chewing or talking because the jaw muscles (masseter) are not getting enough blood supply from the inflamed arteries. The person can also have visual disturbances when the eye nerve (optic nerve) is not
getting a sufficient supply of blood. The person commonly has other symptoms such as anorexia, fatigue, weight loss, fever, depression and generally feels ill.
To understand the two spiritual roots behind the non-bacterial inflammation of temporal arteritis you need to read through the following two chapters which have essential background information:
1. “The Effects of Long Term Fear, Anxiety and Stress on the Body”
2. “Autoimmune Diseases”
In the chapter on stress, I explained how fear and anxiety in a person’s thought life puts the body into a toxic state of stage 2 and 3 of stress where a whole sequence of events are set into motion through the hypothalamus. One of the effects of stage 2 and 3 of stress is activation of mast cells. Mast cells are part
of the immune system that was designed to help you kill and fight off infections. When the mast cells are activated, they release chemicals that cause inflammation such as histamine, prostaglandins and leukotrienes.
One of the effects of histamine is that it increases the diameter of the blood vessels (vasodilation).
It also increases the permeability of the blood vessels. This causes the water (plasma) in blood to leak into the surrounding body tissues, which results in swelling and redness.
In your case you had an over production of histamine that caused swelling of your blood vessel walls.
When you have swelling you have pressure on your nerves and surrounding pain sensitive structures in your head and you get discomfort, irritation and/or pain.
In non-bacterial inflammation, there is a second spiritual root that comes in which is a low self-esteem, self-hatred, self-condemnation and guilt. This is where the chapter on autoimmune diseases is relevant.
In response to those thoughts of self-hatred, guilt and condemnation, the biogenetic character of the immune system is changed and it is redirected to attack your own body tissue (the walls of the blood vessels) instead of the true enemy which is harmful substances such as viruses, bacteria, cancer cells etc. This results in damage to the blood vessel walls and inflammation.
To eradicate tension headaches from your life – you are going to have to deal with
the fear, anxiety and stress causing it.
To be healed of headaches due to temporal arteritis, you need to deal with the two spiritual problems behind it:.
1. You need to get the fear, anxiety and stress out of your thought life and deal with the issues in your life that are robbing you of your peace.
2. You need to stop attacking yourself spiritually with those thoughts of a low self-esteem, self-hatred, self-rejection, self disapproval, condemnation, guilt etc. Building a healthy self-esteem starts with knowing who you are in Christ and placing your sense of worth and identity in Him. You need to learn to see yourself as God sees you.
When you renew your mind in these areas and learn to think correctly concerning how you think about yourself, your immune system will recover. It will no longer attack its own body tissue and will function as God designed it to. When the fear, anxiety and stress in your thought life is removed, histamine will no longer be produced in excess. Therefore the foundation for the swelling and inflammation of the blood
vessel walls will be broken and the pain of temporal arteritis will be gone.
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