Mark Hyman starts off his post on migraines with two strong statements.  The first is related to his success rate.


“…using Functional Medicine I have been able to get nearly 100 percent of my patients migraine free within days to weeks!”


Whenever I have spoken with different practitioners about their unique treatments and their successes a common success rate based on percentages is typically the same. This is usually not presented as actual data but their perspective of their success rate. The number I hear frequently is a “95% success rate”. Dr. Hyman is no different and one can infer that he is suggesting a 95% success rate.


Now lets say that these success rates, picked from the air and not measured scientifically, are actually true. Maybe their success is related to picking the right patients for the treatment? Success needs to be clarified and be consistent with the goals of our clients. A challenge to the medical community is to improve our tracking of patient goals and what success looks like, from a medical and client perspective. We should not leave this up to the insurance companies.


The second statement 


“Migraines are no different from any other disease. It’s simply the name we call a set of symptoms that are common in groups of people.”


Here’s what I like about Dr. Hyman’s post. Migraines or headaches have many different causes. Sometimes treating one aspect of a headache problem can resolve the patient’s pain even though there are still underlying pathologies or causes that remain. This means that the resolution has been temporary and the cause can still 

How many patients with headaches have you seen that initial treatments look good? Their pain is getting better, or even resolved, but after stopping care or visits the pain starts to return. Sadly I have seen this in my practice. 


We need to ask the question ‘why’ and work together as practitioners to find treatments that can help with headaches but also determine underlying causes that are driving the problem. 


Lets dig a little deeper and look at a headache patient that was diagnosed with ocular migraines.



The hallmarks about this patient’s case are that medications did decrease her headache pain but did not resolve her problems. The side effects that she experienced and the added medication created another host of problems including cognitive function changes. This case was lucky in that her underlying cause was structural and treating the cervical spine, specifically the upper neck, resolved her ‘ocular migraine’ pain as well as her chronic ‘normal headaches’. Years later I was able to see this patient again and her headaches had not returned.


Here is a video on testing that we do to assess the upper neck. Specifically looking at C1-2 or the atlas and axis for its mobility and how it tells us the upper neck is involved.


How to Test the Neck for Headache or Migraine Pain



Checking the neck with this seated upper cervical test of the atlas and axis, or even with sub cranial muscle palpation will give you data on potential sources of headache pain. A reproduction of the headache while testing is a good sign that this area is involved. It may not, however, be the actual cause and further assessment and collaboration may be needed.




Pick a medical team that you can work with that will take the time to listen and work together to help solve your problem.

Some changes are easy to try such as eliminating common foods that can create sensitivities such as dairy, gluten, soy and peanuts. Try this for a month and see if you feel any different.


Dr. Hyman shares with us an idea that is called functional medicine. Looking at our diet and its relation to gut health and how mineral deficiencies can cause symptoms. He shares different cases that through diet changes, such as an elimination diet, and adding Magnesium as a supplement, helped resolve chronic headache pain. He also speaks on the multi-faceted aspect of headache pain and the need for a team approach when looking for the underlying cause of headache pain. This idea warrants a deeper look. Check out our link on SIBO and associated conditions and symptoms such as hypothyroidism and headache pain.