That’s not what you want to hear I know. But it’s true. Just when you think you’ve got it licked, something comes along that broadsides you and knocks you off your feet, literally.
If you’ve wondered where I’ve been lately, I apologize for not posting here, but like you, I’ve been battling the curse of my life. Yes you guessed it; the dreaded migraines, and depression that always accompanies them, came back.
I needed to take the time to gain control over them again so I could work to put food on the table, and finish my latest book project that was way overdue.
At first I had to give in and let my body shut down. I used all my damage limitation measures: cold compress, liquid Ibuprofen (quickly digested) and paracetamol, a dark and quiet room. And I had to stop drinking the soya milk and the vitamin D supplements that I desperately needed at that time. Then followed the deepest bout of depression I’d had in a very long time. I wracked my poorly brain:
What was doing this to me?
Why had this happened to me right out of the blue?
Several changes had happened in my personal life, but I knew this was more than that – although they didn’t help: moving house to a new area, and my youngest going off to University. It seemed ridiculous that I was dragging myself out of my bed daily just to walk the dog, and go through the motions of life.
I know my brain wasn’t working on all cylinders, but even I knew that it wasn’t right that my animals were the only things keeping my head up above the water line. I was tired all the time, my brain was loggy, I couldn’t write or read, my concentration was so shot to pieces. And those dreaded migraines were coming thick and strong every few days.
Yes there had to be more to it. I had to find out what was going wrong.
The last time we spoke, I told you how I’d reached that peri-menopausal phase of my life and was hot-flushing badly and looking for natural ways to alleviate it. I decided to take a more natural route as being a migraineur I’m sensitive to hormone changes and couldn’t take HRT. And I have to admit, I didn’t like the idea of taking hormones extracted from pregnant horses (Premarin) left to stand for months at a time with sacks hanging from their backsides.
For a couple of years I could control my hot flushes by stripping my low carb diet right back to the bones again, and introducing carby foods slowly again, but this was ridiculous. I was flushing around three times an hour day and night. I wasn’t sleeping, I was becoming very vitamin deficient and couldn’t take supplements, and I was dehydrated all the time. In short, it was really taking its toll on my body.
My Endocrinologist advised me to try Red Clover. I had to make sure it was a good quality one and I opted for the liquid version. I was supposed to take five drops a day, evenly spaced. I could only tolerate one. Immediately I started to feel dizzy and sick, which only got worse the longer I took it. My brain was fuzzy and felt weird so I stopped taking it.
That’s when the idea of trying soya came to me. I thought a lot of far eastern women escape these menopausal symptoms because their diet has a lot of soy in it. I reasoned this could be the most natural route to take. And so I started to drink a glass a day.
I have to say, for about twelve weeks it worked brilliantly. I felt great. The flushing stopped, I was sleeping better, my mood was up, and I had loads of energy. In fact, I was at optimum creative mode. When I look back, I can see I was quite manic. But it didn’t last. The migraines came, I had to stop drinking the soya milk, strip my diet right back, and the inevitable crash happened as I outlined above.
After three more months, I managed to get back on my feet enough to start to research.
I instinctively knew it was something to do with the soya, as it mimics estrogen in the body – natures HRT if you like. So I guessed, just as with regular HRT, as a migraineur, I was just as sensitive to fluctuations of plant estrogens in my body as with animal ones.
I visited my GP who was new as I’d moved, and that was more of the same old same old. He didn’t really understand the migraine brain and doubled my propranolol. I took the prescription but I had no intention of taking it. I’m a writer and I need half a brain cell left to write with. I liked my hyper brain to fire my creativity. It’s where my best ideas come from.
There had to be a better answer than doubling my drugs.
This is what I take each day:
80mg of slow release propranolol taken in the morning when I first wake up.
30mg of Amitriptyline taken around 9 o’clock in the evening.
This is just the right amount to keep my creative thinking ability, and keep my migraines to a minimum. I can double up but I choose not to.
My next step was to look into the two natural remedies for menopause I tried. I wanted to check their side effects and also if there were any recorded interactions with my medications, and the family of medicines they belong to.
Listen up ladies; this is what I found.
I was actually really shocked at this. I just thought if I could persevere with it then maybe my body would eventually tolerate it and the dizziness and sickness would subside. But after a few days it was got worse. (Remember I was taking one drop from a pipette a day)
Medications changed by the liver
Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver. Red Clover may decrease how quickly the liver breaks down some medications. It can also increase their side effects.
List of common interactions
- Amitriptyline (Elavil)
- Haloperidol (Haldol)
- Ondansetron (Zofran)
- Propranolol (Inderal)
- Theophylline (Theo-Dur, others)
- Verapamil (Calan Isoptin, others)
Red Clover may decrease the effectiveness of the following:
- Omeprazole (Prilosec)
- Lansoprazole (Protonix)
- Diazepam (Valium)
- Carisoprodol (Soma)
- Nelfinavir (Viracept)
And there were many more. If in doubt, check out a good source at www.webmd.com
At a glance, as a migraineur, you can see the ones that jump out at you. It’s the anti-depressants, the tranquilizers and the beta blockers.
The answer was staring me in the face; the effects I was having were a result of my liver decreasing its effectiveness in breaking down my medications. In layman’s terms, I was without meds. I’d gone cold turkey.
It all made sense. The dizziness, the sickness and the slowness in my brain.
So next stop
Soya or soy
This one puzzled me. Why did I feel great, have a long period of hyperactivity and then get besieged by migraines? And why, when I was forced to stop it, did I get the huge crash?
Soya, like Red Clover, contains Isoflavones, which are changed in the body to Phytoestrogens – very similar to the hormone estrogen.
Can something as natural and simple as soya affect me so much?
This is what I found:
Fermented soy products, like tofu and soy sauce, contain Tyramine (An amino acid) and is involved in blood pressure regulation. Some medications used to treat DEPRESSION can decrease the breakdown of Tyramine. In short, there can be an increased risk of side effects, such as high blood pressure.
Here’s a list of the types of drugs that interact with soy/soya:
- Tamoxifen (Used to treat estrogen sensitive cancers)
It is stressed again that some medications are changed and broken down using the liver’s cytochrome enzyme system. Soya can affect how well these medicines work.
To be honest, I feel a little conned. Health professionals, vegans and vegetarians have sung the praises of soya as some kind of super-food for decades. It is a source of low fat protein. But what I didn’t know was, that Soy is one of the most genetically modified crops. It also contains high levels of herbicides such as Glyphosate strongly linked to adverse side effects.
The side of soy we don’t know
- Aggravates estrogen sensitive cancers
- Disrupts male reproductive health
- Places stress on the digestive system
- Interferes with the function of the thyroid.
Number four was of particular interest to me, as I’d become quite manic during the period I drank soya milk. It can raise TSH (Thyroid Stimulation Hormone) in the body.
My theory is this: while I couldn’t find anything that flatly told me not to take soy, everything strongly advised monitoring if you take it with any drugs outlined above that are broken down by the liver.
My thoughts about my reaction to it? Well, I suspect that the soya milk speeded up the absorption of my medication over a twenty-four hour period so I ran out by the end. This gave the effect of a lower dosage, and instead of keeping me on an even keel, it meant I became manic – which was great at the time, but as we know, what goes up must come down. And boy did I come down.
It took me weeks after I stopped drinking the soya for my medication to start working properly again. Gradually my mood picked up, and I managed to do more than drag myself out of bed. My concentration improved so I could read for short periods of time, and eventually began to want to write and string a coherent sentence together.
The moral of this story
Do not assume a remedy is weak because it occurs naturally. It can have very strong effects on the body. And regarding your prophylactic medication, do not assume that because your remedy is a herb, and not made in a lab, it won’t clash with what you are taking. I learned the hard way.
Always seek medical advice when trying new things as everything comes with a side effect.
You’ll be pleased to know I’m back on top of things. I finally finished book four in my fantasy romance series – Tiger Lily. I’m proud to say it finally went off to the editor. I am also back writing my blogs. Please don’t forget to let me know your experiences in the comments section. I love to hear from you.
Do take advantage of the freebees by leaving me your email address and they’ll be delivered to your inbox.
And if your interested in what I do when I’m not languishing in agony in a darkened room, take a look at www.tstedman.com and see what all the books are about. I hope to get some MP3 recordings made eventually for those days when your eyes hurt too much to read.
And lastly, I’m toying with writing a book about my migraine adventures … what do you think?