Ask The Doctor: Migraines, Type 2 Diabetes, Ovarian Cysts

Every month we ask top practitioners to address your health concerns. This month find solutions for migraines, diabetes, and ovarian cysts.

 

I started having migraines when I was 51 and I am now 63 and still have several every month. Of course I have tried a preventative and I use triptans as needed, but I have not been able to reduce the headaches. Prior to menopause, I did not have migraines. Do you know if acupuncture may help? Do you have any other remedies?
 
Migraines have many potential triggers including environmental stressors, diet, and hormone levels. Both estrogen and progesterone level changes throughout the menstrual cycle and after menopause can be implicated.
    
Ancient wisdom and current research demonstrate that acupuncture can be an effective therapy in diminishing or eliminating migraine headaches. An acupuncturist trained in Chinese medicine is a good place to start. Chinese medicine does not treat migraines as one specific disease. Instead, each patient is diagnosed according to what this paradigm calls “pattern differentiation.” This allows for an individualized approach to treatment that recognizes the unique expression of an illness in every person. Acupuncture point prescriptions select combinations of points to balance out patterns of “disharmony” in the body. Your acupuncturist may choose ‘local’ points near the area of pain as well as “distal” points in the hands or feet to treat symptoms in the head. Your acupuncturist may also prescribe herbal remedies and offer suggestions for changes in diet and lifestyle to enhance your outcomes. To find a certified acupuncturist near you, visit nccaom.org
    
Migraines can respond to a variety of natural approaches. Biofeedback is an excellent tool for managing stress and pain responses and may be a helpful tool to prevent migraines, as well as to manage pain.
    
It can also be helpful to understand nutrition and gut imbalances. A healthy balance of intestinal bacteria has been shown to support estrogen metabolism in the body. It may also help to note that inflammatory symptoms such as migraines, joint pain, and irritable bowel syndrome, associated with food sensitivities can arise at any time in life, especially with hormonal shifts in menopause. A holistic physician, chiropractor, naturopath, or holistic nutritionist trained in functional nutrition may be able to identify gut imbalances and food sensitivities triggering your migraines.
 
Question answered byJennifer Blair, a licensed acupuncturist practicing at the Penny George Institute for Health and Healing at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and serves as a member of the adjunct faculty at
the Minnesota College of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine at Northwestern Health Sciences University in Bloomington, Minnesota.
 
I am 57 years old and have had Type 2 diabetes for 5 years now. I do not have it under control and I don’t want to use insulin. I am always tired and have bad mood swings. I am depressed and I don’t exercise. I love sweets and tend to eat out every day, I don’t know how to “eat as a diabetic.”
 
Finding out you have Type II diabetes is a blow to your ego. Your “old lifestyle” (and a little genetics) is the main reason you got diabetes. Denial is a normal initial reaction, but 5 years is past reasonable! Start changing now before you have more problems than insulin!
    
Uncontrolled diabetes leads to blindness, kidney failure, heart attack, stroke, loss of digits, legs, and worst of all, an early death. There’s no denying those facts. Here is a plan to get you on track to living well with your diabetes:

1. Accept responsibility for your diabetes care. Professionals can guide you, but you put the food in your mouth and you choose to exercise or not. You already realize that your current behavior needs to change.

2. Find professional medical help now: a good diabetologist (an Internal Medicine Doctor who is an endocrinologist specializing in diabetes care), internist, or endocrinologist to start or adjust your medication and follow lab testing.

3. Find a Registered Dietitian (eatright.org) or Certified Diabetes Educator to learn meal planning. You will instantly realize your idea of “eating as a diabetic” is really just a healthy diet for everyone. You will learn portion control, the backbone of healthy eating with diabetes.

4. Learn how to fit eating out and an occasional sweet into your meal plan (Hint: exercise can balance this for you.)

5. Your gynecologist may help with your lethargy and mood swings if they are menopause symptoms.

6. Exercise can boost energy. Start walking 10 minutes a day in supportive shoes.

7. If you are still depressed, consider seeing a counselor.

8. Join on-line or local groups of people with diabetes to learn and share.
 
Question answered by Christine Gerbstadt MD, rD, cDe, who has a private pratice in Florida and is the author of Doctor’s Detox Diet: The Ultimate Weight Loss Prescription (Lightning Source, 2011). She is board certified by the American Board of Anesthesiology, is a national media spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, and is an ACE certified personal trainer.
 
I have been diagnosed with having an ovarian cyst. I do not know if it is benign or malignant yet. What is the usual treatment for this condition? I am eighty-four years old and would like your opinion.
 
The treatment will vary according to the diagnosis of the ovarian cysts if it is benign or malignant. So please follow up with your physician to get a confirmation. Ovarian cysts are usually small, fluid-filled sacs found in the ovaries and can range in size.
    
Some of the common symptoms you may experience are:
• Pain in the lower abdominal area that can be sharp, sudden, severe, and can occur intermittently or be constant
• No pain or any symptoms at all
• Fullness in the abdomen
• Pressure on the rectum or bladder

The treatment ranges for ovarian cysts, depending on the symptomology, and the type of cyst. Having your physician monitor the cyst is important, even if you experience no pain with the ovarian cyst. With the majority of ovarian cysts, no treatment is necessary as they can shrink and disappear on their own. If you have pain with your cysts, you may be given painkillers such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen. The other alternative for treatment is a surgical removal of the ovarian cysts.
    
Some of the natural treatments that can help with ovarian cysts are topical castor oil and essential fatty acids; these are just a few of the many. Dietary modifications such as avoiding red meat and dairy can help with ovarian cysts. An article in 2003 from the European Journal of Obstetrics found that beef and cheese were associated with ovarian cysts and that a high intake of green vegetables has a protective effect.
    
As always please consult your local naturopathic physician or integrative medical doctor for more information regarding the natural treatments or before starting any treatments at all.
 
Question answered by Dr. Kin Leung, B.Sc., N.D., CCT, CPCC, who received special training as an oncology resident and has obtained additional certifications in facial rejuvenation and body sculpting (cosmetic) acupuncture, parenteral therapy, and certified chelation therapy, amongst others. He currently practices at the Red Deer Wellness Clinic in Red Deer, Alberta, Canada.