Migraines, TRP channels and cinnamon

Cinnamon, may help people with diabetes have better blood sugar control, (about 1/2 teaspoon per day which is quite a bit, try it stirred into hot breakfast cereal perhaps), however for people with a tendency to have migraines it may be a cause or become a cause if eaten regularly. Migraines can become more sensitized to things after long term use or certain chemicals can be triggers possibly due to overactivity of TRP ion channels. 

Cinnamon contains the phytonutrient cinnamaldehyde which can activate TRPA1 channels.  Environmental chemicals may also be irritants that can cause migraines due to activation of TRPA1 channels; including “environmental irritants and industry pollutants, such as acetaldehyde, formalin,(formaldehyde), hydrogen peroxide, hypochlorite, isocyanates, ozone, carbon dioxide, ultraviolet light, and acrolein (a highly reactive α,β-unsatured aldehyde present in tear gas, cigarette smoke, smoke from burning vegetation, and vehicle exhaust) [3745]” (1) Older computer monitors may emit ultraviolet light but not modern laptops or smartphones. They do emit bluelight which may inhibit sleep. (2)

In the last post I mentioned that wearing blue light blocking glasses in the evening for any screen time. It has been found helpful to prevent sleep difficulties to wear them during the three hours prior to trying to go to sleep. The blue light blocking glasses are not needed for use throughout the day however. Eyestrain from a long day working with a light screen may cause dry itchy eyes and eyedrops for moisture and taking occasional breaks may help prevent that problem. Read more: (4).

The tip about keeping gel packs in the freezer for use as a cold compress for the forehead that I mentioned for insomnia in the last post is something that I have found helpful in the past for migraines. I tried it recently for insomnia after learning in the course about sleep and neurobiology that a “biothermal device” had been found helpful in sleep lab studies for patients with insomnia. (Sleep, Neurobiology, Medicine and Societycoursera.org)

The drawing suggested they had an electric blanket type compress size cooling device that laid over the forehead and slightly over the ear area, so a little bigger than a gel pack designed for sprained ankles. However a gel pack for sprained ankles is already at stores and electric cooling biothermal devices are not yet available to my knowledge. The point – my trial use with a freezer gel pack for insomnia was very helpful at slowing my thoughts and helping my body reach a relaxed state fairly quickly. I didn’t immediately go to sleep but it did seem to help. I’ve tried it several times now and one night got another out of the freezer when I was awake but sleepy in the middle of the night. 

Throughout the history of science discoveries there have been many researchers who try things for themselves or discover things because of their own health issues or a patient with a unique problem. Migraines are very painful and medication can be expensive and may lead to rebound headaches when used too often – if migraines last three days and you have one twice a week than how helpful can four migraine pills a month be? Proper references for citing other’s work is important and the gel pack idea is one I tried based on the biothermal device idea. A different research team found a cooling plastic cap helpful for insomnia, which also sounds like it is based on some sort of cooling electric blanket effect. (gizmodo) Pain hurts and insomnia can increase risks for hypertension, diabetes, epileptic seizures, and also migraines.

Cinnamon, tasty, but not for me, it causes migraines for me. Read labels if you suspect it might be a migraine trigger, it may be added to herbal tea in addition to baked goods or breakfast cereals. Food triggers for migraines generally cause symptoms for me the next day or within 8-12 hours or so. Chemical irritants such as ozone, formaldehyde, or pollutants in cigarette smoke that are inhaled may cause migraines sooner, within a few hours or less sometimes for me. Additional information here: Tips for Avoiding Migraine Triggers, WebMD, getting adequate sleep is one of the tips.

Regarding TRPA1 channels and trigeminal pain sensing neurons – lots more to read later: trigeminal pain sensing neurons TRPA1 channels Substance P .

History note: Substance P was one of the first neuropeptides/ brain proteins discovered and it was initially purified in powder form and so was called Substance P for powder. (Neuropeptide Substance P and the Immune Response)

/Disclaimer: This information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes./

  1. Benemei S, De Cesaris F, Fusi C, Rossi E, Lupi C, Geppetti P. TRPA1 and other TRP channels in migraine. The Journal of Headache and Pain. 2013;14(1):71. doi:10.1186/1129-2377-14-71. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3844362/
  2. Dustin Eves, Do Computer Screens Emit UV Light? techwalla.com, https://www.techwalla.com/articles/do-computer-screens-emit-uv-light
  3. Do Blue Light Blocking Glasses Really Work? 2018, nymag.com,     http://nymag.com/strategist/article/blue-light-blocking-glasses-work.html
  4. Tips for Avoiding Migraine Triggers, WebMD,   https://www.webmd.com/migraines-headaches/avoiding-migraine-triggers#1

Duty to Warn

Duty to warn is phrase used in medical care regarding an ethical duty to warn patients or research participants or anyone at risk of the potential harm. My own health and my experience helping others has made me appreciate wellness and sharing what has helped or what can be harmful are things I feel ethically it is my duty to warn or inform anyone who might be interested. We are one – your pain is my pain and the Earth needs more health. It is hurting too.

Empathy – feeling emotionally connected can also feel painful, a short article discusses the idea of the pain that may occur with feeling compassion for other’s suffering:

The Agony of Being Connected to Everything in the Universe, (andrewboyd.com)

The words sympathy, empathy and compassion are used somewhat interchangeably however they can refer to slightly different things. In medical settings the care of patients can be affected positively or negatively by how the caregiver provides help. Research with patients receiving cancer treatment found that patients felt that empathy and compassion were beneficial while sympathy was perceived more negatively. Compassion was felt to be most beneficial by the patients. What is the difference? Sympathy seems to be regarded as pity-based remarks or attitude about the chronic illness that was offered without having been asked, with less of a feeling of being understood. Empathy may be closer to feeling emotionally understood and compassion included feelings that the caregiver was acting with love and kindness out of a altruistic – giving mindset. (3) The risks of rudeness in a medical setting and possible value of kindness is discussed in a review of a research study on rudeness in a neonatal clinic setting: A Message to you Rudy, about Rudeness, SGEM#227.

Feeling like there is a physical problem and being told that it must be hypochondria or mental illness is not as helpful as being told that a reason for the symptoms are unknown at this time. Chronic itch, chronic pain and other vague symptoms of inflammation may be labeled as psychosomatic instead of unknown cause. Overactive TRP channels can be involved in chronic itch and chronic pain and the variety of possible substances and other reasons for a flair up in symptoms can make it very difficult to notice the pattern. I would rather be told we don’t know what is causing your symptoms than to be told to see a talk therapist or to be prescribed medications for mental illness that may cause additional symptoms due to side effects. The following chart is something I created after noticing a pattern, a very complex pattern, in my own symptoms and researching what the connection might be —- TRP channels. Not all substances or factors would cause symptoms for all of the conditions or for all people with a certain type of condition, however they may in larger amounts, or they may when the symptomatic condition is in a more severe state of inflammation. In reading about patients with some types of chronic itch symptoms I could feel their itchiness and mental hurt when treated as just difficult patients with anxiety problems – anxiety other extreme itchiness perhaps.

More about chronic itch and inflammatory stress conditions is available within a longer page/chapter I wrote about G3:Relaxation & StressG3.5: Negative stress chemicals may cause symptoms like itching, migraines, pain or IBS. (effectivecare.info) Preeclampsia is a prenatal condition that can become life threatening for the woman and expected infant and it affects a significant percentage of pregnancies – more information about TRP channels and a physical position that might help reduce internal pressure on the channels is available in the section on G5: Preeclampsia & TRP Channels. It is a yoga style position that was recommended to reduce risk of a breech birth during my own pregnancies and I found it relaxing. (effectivecare.info) I feel a duty to warn – a duty to inform other expectant mothers about a simple strategy that might protect their infant from a potentially life-threatening condition.

/Disclaimer: This information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes./

  1. Shah SK, Hull SC, Spinner MA, et al. What Does the Duty to Warn Require? The American journal of bioethics : AJOB. 2013;13(10):62-63. doi:10.1080/15265161.2013.828528. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4816221/
  2. Andrew Boyd, The Agony of Being Connected to Everything in the Universe, andrewboyd.com http://andrewboyd.com/the-agony-of-being-connected-to-everything-in-the-universe/
  3. Sinclair S, Beamer K, Hack TF, et al. Sympathy, empathy, and compassion: A grounded theory study of palliative care patients’ understandings, experiences, and preferences. Palliative Medicine. 2017;31(5):437-447. doi:10.1177/0269216316663499.   https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5405806/
  4. Dr. Simon McCormick, SGEM #227: A Message to you Rudy, About Rudeness, Aug. 22, 2018, A Skeptic’s Guide to Emergency Medicine, http://thesgem.com/2018/09/sgem227-a-message-to-you-rudy-about-rudeness/

Why care about health? It’s about statistics.

The rate of cancer incidence has increased greatly in many countries and is expected to continue to increase, particularly in association with the aging of the population. Cancer is more often a diagnosis after age 65.  The rate of thyroid cancer in particular has increased greatly in women. The rate of developing some type of cancer during one’s lifetime is expected to reach 1 in 2 men and 1 in 3 women by the yea 2050, (MedScape) – or a more general 1 in 2 people, (medicalnewstoday) – those are not good odds.

It is common during youth to feel secure about health but our bodies tend to run out of stored nutrients as we age and metabolic pathways that we depend on to rebuild muscle and remove toxins or defective cells can become less effective. A healthy immune system also protects us from our own body’s normal rebuilding/regrowth of new cells. Defective ones are typically removed from growth areas in bone marrow before they enter circulation. Cancer cells are also removed on a regular basis when our immune systems are healthy.

Magnesium deficiency is a topic I keep stressing because the immune cells require magnesium in order to perform the apoptosis, killing, of defective or precancerous cells. The body’s defense systems are well developed but need fuel on a daily basis in order to be able to function as nature designed. While immune cells need magnesium in order to purposefully kill defective cells by apoptosis ( an enzyme is inserted into the cell which causes it to die and then the immune cell engulfs the debris and removes it for detoxification and excretion from the body), a cell that is deficient in magnesium or calcium may also undergo apoptosis due to the deficiency. (magnesium and apoptosis)

Too little Nrf2 may reduce immune system and antioxidant health but too much can be a problem in cancer cells that grow too rapidly. (Nrf2 overproduction and cancer)

Another person writing about the recent research in the area of Nrf2 shares more information about foods that help promote Nrf2 and how nature may have built in a mechanism within some foods that help prevent an over production of the important protein (Nrf2). See: “Activate Nrf2, then optimize: Brussel Sprouts.” – Bill Lagokos (patreon) /Spoiler, if not a fan of Brussel Sprouts the healthy phytonutrient that is discussed is also found in cruciferous vegetables including cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, kohlrabi, and kale.

I personally am more sensitive to the group, especially if served raw or in larger quantities, but find steamed kale everyday tolerable to my digestive system. The bloating effect may be due to our good guy bacteria enjoying the fiber rich vegetables so much they produce the excess gas – but it can be a sign of healthy bacteria in our digestive tract. Irritable Bowel Syndrome can be affected by any food that causes bloating effects possibly due to TRP channel’s being activated by increased pressure. People with a history of IBS and other chronic pain syndromes may be suffereing from an underlying issue with overactive TRP ion channels. IBS and TRP channels are discussed on this site in a previous post. TRP channels are discussed in more detail with links on another website: Chronic Itch, migraines, IBS and stress; – that is one part frm a longer series: Relaxation and Stress, which is continued in:  Preeclampsia & TRP Channels.

Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes.