A migraine is a severe form of headache accompanied by dizziness, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, and/or sensitivity to lights, noises and smells.

An estimated 190 000 migraine attacks are experienced every day in the UK. The condition affects women much more frequently than it does men.

The cause of migraines is not known but there seem to be several triggers.


  • Persistent throbbing or pounding pain – may be on just one side of the head or both
  • Sensitivity to light, sound and movement
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Exhaustion
  • Visual disturbances such as flashing lights, black spots, zig-zag patterns or distorted vision
  • Stiff neck
  • Tingling or stiff limbs
  • Difficulty speaking

Due to the similarity of many migraine symptoms to more serious problems, it’s important to consult a doctor for a confirmed medical diagnosis before embarking on any form of therapy.

Contributory factors

Although the specific causes of migraine are still unknown, the main contributing factor involves blood flow instability in the brain. When the arteries in the brain constrict, a rebound dilation follows, bringing on the migraine.

Stress: stress can be a significant migraine trigger. Attacks may happen when you unwind after a stressful event, after extended period of stress, or at times of crisis.

When we’re stressed, all our blood vessels constrict (a protective mechanism from times gone by to prevent excessive bleeding in the event of an injury). The problem is that once we relax, or the body can no longer keep up this constriction, the blood vessels dilate again. This sudden change in blood flow to the brain can trigger a migraine.

If you think stress may be a contributing factor in your migraines, a Stress Test can help pinpoint precise imbalances that can then be targeted with the help of Smart Nutrition’s nutritional therapists. It may also be worth considering some hypnotherapy which can give you tools to help you to manage your stress levels.   

Hormone imbalances: the fact that three times more women than men suffer from migraines suggests that the menstrual cycle is a significant trigger for women.

You may find you’re more prone to migraines during menstruation, ovulation or menopause, suggesting a link to changes in the levels of the two female hormones oestrogen and progesterone.

A Comprehensive Female Hormone Test can give insight into how your hormone levels change throughout your cycle. Smart Nutrition can help to analyse the results and identify any imbalances, which can then be corrected through a specially tailored diet and supplement protocol.

Medications: certain medications, particularly hormone based drugs such as the contraceptive pill and HRT, can trigger migraines. If your symptoms change or become more severe when taking these medications you should contact your doctor immediately.

Smart Nutrition can help you to find alternatives to some hormonal medications. We do not recommend stopping any medication unless under the supervision of your GP, but we can support you with diet, supplements and lifestyle advice.

Food sensitivities: food is probably the most common migraine trigger. The start of a migraine attack may trigger a craving for a certain kind of food, making it difficult to decide if the food eaten before an attack caused the migraine, or if the attack was starting anyway.

Identifying trigger foods can be a fairly long process involving avoiding certain foods and food families: a Food Sensitivity Test speeds up this process. We also recommend a Food Intolerance Test which identifies levels of a certain kind of antibody created in response to proteins found in foods which are common in migraine. 

Blood sugar imbalances: research has shown that people who suffer from migraines frequently suffer from low blood sugar as well. This comes with a wide-ranging list of other symptoms including fatigue, irritability and inability to concentrate. A severe drop in the blood sugar level can cause symptomatic headache or migraine. 

Blood sugar levels can be tested with an Insulin Test.

Blood sugar levels can be greatly influenced by what we eat – if you think low blood sugar is influencing your migraines, we can work with you to resolve this. Please use the link at the bottom of the page to find out more.

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The laboratories are closed from the 28th March – 2nd April for the Easter Holiday.