By Josette Herdell, MS, CN
Functional Nutritionist & Executive Director of the Herdell Migraine Institute
“The doctor of the future will give no medicine but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, in diet and in the cause and prevention of disease.” -Thomas Edison
Nutrition is a powerful therapeutic healing tool which gives the body the building blocks to regenerate and heal itself. Food can be used to support the body’s innate healing mechanisms by providing vitamins, minerals, macro and micronutrients, as well as phytochemicals and antioxidants, which help reduce inflammation, detoxify and regenerate cells. The role of nutrition in preventing migraines is well-established, with diet being a primary migraine trigger and the elimination of specific foods a fundamental aspect of migraine treatment. Modern industrialized society has flooded us with pre-packaged, artificially flavored and preserved food-like substances that barely resemble the whole foods our bodies are designed to recognize and utilize for maintaining health.
My paternal grandmother, father, younger brother and I suffered with migraines before discovering the power of healing through nutrition and detoxification. My younger brother, Jake, experienced chronic migraines for nearly 30 years, beginning at age four. I experienced chronic migraines for 15 years before I was presented with the Gerson Therapy as a healing option. We had each hit a dead-end road within the conventional migraine approach. It was at this time our family decided to embark on an experiment that eventually turned into a transformative lifestyle allowing us to regain and maintain our health.
Gerson Therapy for Migraines
Our family started the Gerson Therapy, which was originally developed by Dr. Max Gerson, MD to heal his own migraines in the 1920s. It utilizes the body’s own healing mechanisms to treat the body as a whole. Dr. Gerson’s approach focuses on the influence of toxic food, water, air, and lifestyle as triggers for degenerative diseases. The therapy seeks to regenerate the body using hyper-nutrition and detoxification through an organic low-sodium, low-fat predominantly vegetarian diet combined with fresh organic cold-pressed juices, coffee enemas, nutritional supplements, and non-toxic home and lifestyle changes.
The Gerson Therapy* outlines a specific dietary approach including organically grown foods rich in antioxidants, phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals. Common migraine food triggers include gluten, dairy, citrus, processed foods, refined sugars, chemical preservatives such as aspartame, MSG, nitrates, sulfites and foods containing tyramines or histamines 3, 4. The Gerson Therapy eliminates many of these food triggers.
My brother Jake’s pharmaceutical regimen for his chronic migraines had included the rotation of various daily preventatives; injectable medications; and Botox treatments, involving over 30 shots to the face, head, and neck. Due to the severity of his migraines, I accompanied Jake to the licensed Gerson Clinic in Tijuana, Mexico as his caretaker while he started the therapy.
Within three weeks on the therapy, his migraines subsided! He returned home to continue the therapy for one year with ongoing support from his Gerson Practitioner.
“If someone wishes for good health, one must first ask oneself if he is ready to do away with the reasons for his illness. Only then is it possible to help him.” - Hippocrates
5 Steps You Can Take Today
Avoid common migraine food triggers, such as dairy, gluten, eggs, caffeine, refined sugar, fermented foods, chemical preservatives such as aspartame, monosodium glutamate, nitrates, sulfites, and foods containing tyramines or histamines 3,4. It’s important to challenge eliminated foods afterward with a healthcare practitioner to determine if reactivity is still an issue so as not to avoid foods unnecessarily long term.
Replace processed foods with fresh, colorful plant-based foods. Aim to eat a rainbow a day! Try the Gerson Stuffed Winter Squash and Jicama Tacos from the Gerson Therapy Cookbook.
Reduce toxin exposure from foods. Eat organic foods and reduce consumption of animal foods. To help you maneuver through the grocery store Moms Across America has published a list of the Top 10 Foods to Avoid in the U.S. to Eliminate Glyphosate From Your Diet. The Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen guide also lists foods with highest pesticide residues and thus the most important ones to purchase organically-grown.
Don’t skip breakfast. Eating your first meal within 30 minutes of waking helps maintain energy levels throughout the day and keeps blood sugar balanced. Enjoy a meal with complex carbohydrates, protein, healthy fat, plenty of fiber, and a variety of colorful vegetables. Although this may buck the current trend of intermittent fasting, it is important to understand that fasting can trigger migraines and create a healing crisis.
Therefore, start with eating a nutritious meal in the morning and if you’re interested in trying intermittent fasting, consult with a healthcare practitioner to discuss if you are a good candidate and which type of fasting may be beneficial or harmful.
Prepare snacks to keep blood sugar balanced. This is particularly important for preventing migraines triggered by low blood sugar. Prepare chopped vegetables, fruit, and other snacks to have on hand throughout the day and pair them with protein and fat to stay satiated 5.
*It is recommended to consult with a Gerson Practitioner as modifications may be made based on each individual’s food sensitivities, allergies, or even autoimmunity.
Josette Herdell, MS, CN, NBC-HWC is Functional Nutritionist and Executive Director of the Herdell Migraine Institute and holds a Master’s of Science in Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine from the University of Western States. She is dedicated to sharing her family’s story of healing three decades of chronic migraines to an international community and offering personalized functional nutrition care to migraineurs in addition to partnering with children, families, and individuals in migraine education, prevention and reversal.
Created as a result of our family’s healing experience, the Herdell Migraine Institute is focused on education, outreach, awareness, and providing resources for migraineurs, families, health care professionals, and more.
The Gerson Institute
The Gerson Institute is a non-profit organization located in San Diego, California, dedicated to providing education and training in the Gerson Therapy™, an alternative, non-toxic treatment for cancer and other chronic degenerative diseases. For over forty years, the Gerson Institute has been the leading global source of information, licensing, training and patient support on the original, proven Gerson Therapy™. Visit www.gerson.org for more information about the Gerson Therapy, treatment options and resources.