Ask the Pharmacist: Get control of headaches once and for all

Suzy Cohen

Recently, I was headed to meet a friend for lunch, and she texted me last minute she had a migraine. I turned the car around, went home, grabbed a copy of my “Headache Free” book and dropped it off for her.

When I checked on her the next day, she was way better than she normally would be 24 hours after the episode. She said she had tried a couple of the quick hacks I recommended in my book and improved so today’s article is dedicated to migraines and the migrenades that cause them!

A “migrenade” is my term for substances that go off like a grenade in your brain and trigger a migraine. It’s a made up term that works well and is immediately understood. All the pain-causing cytokines in your body should be considered migrenades because they are responsible for the pain and inflammation associated with headaches. One of them is NF Kappa B which is discussed below. But first of all, I suggest you minimize or eliminate these most powerful migrenades if you ever want to feel better: 

  • Artificial sweeteners and dyes
  • Any clothing that requires dry cleaning 
  • Monosodium glutamate (MSG)
  • Vegetable oil which contains bromine
  • Fancy dryer sheets
  • Perfume that contains synthetic chemicals

By the way, you can make your own dryer sheets by taking some cotton and putting a few drops of your favorite essential oil and tossing it in the dryer with your clothes. I like lavender mixed with either wild orange or lemon essential oil. The possibilities using natural essential oils are limitless and this trick won’t harm your endocrine glands. 

Now, let’s cover two important nutrients that support your endocrine glandular health* 


Iodine is one of the components that helps make thyroid hormone. Low thyroid hormone is one cause for migraines, so iodine or a good thyroid supplement could be helpful at reducing frequency.


This herb comes from a shrub native to India, and it’s also called Indian Ginseng. The extract helps make thyroid hormone and provide antioxidant protection. One of my favorite supplements for thyroid (and adrenal) health is “winter cherry” or ashwagandha, known botanically as Withania somnifera. I often suggest it as an option for people cannot sleep because it is so sedating. This herb is a strong antioxidant and will protect your DNA.

NF Kappa B

Earlier, I mentioned NF Kappa B as a natural compound in your body, but one that is associated with migraines. Activation of this substance is also associated with facial pain, autoimmune diseases, depression, anxiety, attention deficit, diabetes, chronic infections, obesity and just the mere fact that you’re aging.

Fortunately, there are natural compounds that slow down this pathway, reducing pain. Among the best are probiotic supplements, a cup of green tea, lipoic acid, omega 3 fish oils, curcumin, lipoic acid, resveratrol and a few others. The popular medication for diabetes “metformin” also happens to dampen down this pathway. If you’d like to read a more comprehensive version of this article, please sign up for my newsletter at and I’ll email you more information. 

More:Ask the Pharmacist: Help for Hashimoto’s disease

And:Ask the Pharmacist: Why dill’s good for you

Also:Ask the Pharmacist: Factors that contribute to thyroid disease

Suzy Cohen is a registered pharmacist. The information presented here is not intended to treat, cure or diagnose any condition. Visit