Must-Read Book for Migraine Sufferers: ‘Heal Your Headache’ by David Buchholz

Kelley NunnMy Migraine Blog

Heal Your Headache: The 1-2-3 Program by David Buchholz

How I Found the ‘Heal Your Headache’ Book

When I was first diagnosed with vestibular migraine, I felt extremely overwhelmed.
When I was first diagnosed with vestibular migraine, I felt extremely overwhelmed. At that point, I had spent 6 months in bed as a result of my symptoms, had been misdiagnosed with conditions like cerebellar atrophy and brain infection, and was unable to walk unassisted, drive, or work. In a much-needed stroke of good fortune, I had been referred to an ENT physician who specialized in vestibular migraine diagnosis by an infectious disease doctor who was advising me before an upcoming lumbar puncture. During the appointment, the ENT doctor placed a pair of infrared goggles over my eyes– common practice when trying to diagnose vestibular disorders– and laid me back with my head hanging over the table while watching for abnormal movement in my eyes. Before even taking the goggles off, I heard the doctor say the words, “Well, I think I know what’s wrong with you, and how to help get you back to normal. I think you have vestibular migraine.”

Next, the doctor explained the the basic concepts underlying migraine management: that I needed to avoid my migraine triggers to stay below my migraine threshold, and that doing so would decrease the impact of migraine on my life. He speculated that I had been living my life above my migraine threshold continuously for months or even years, and as a result was experiencing symptoms of rocking and spatial detachment 100% of the time. Primarily, he stressed the importance of following the migraine trigger avoidance diet, stating that something as seemingly insignificant as adding a slice of lemon to my morning glass of water could be causing my migraines. He handed me a tiny, pocket-sized piece of paper containing a list of over 100 foods I needed to avoid, with no explanation of why these specific foods acted as migraine triggers. The list contained everything from cheap buffets to bananas to sauerkraut to onions.

How was I supposed to be successful in complying with the migraine trigger avoidance diet if I didn’t understand why I had to avoid these foods?
I walked out of that appointment feeling terrified to eat anything! How was I supposed to be successful in complying with the migraine trigger avoidance diet if I didn’t understand why I had to avoid these foods? What was it about a seemingly harmless food like croutons or chicken broth that could cause a migraine? Luckily, in the fine print at the bottom of the food list, I noticed an acknowledgement that stated, “Heal Your Headache: The 1-2-3 Program by David Buchholz.” When I Google-searched these words and came across the “Heal Your Headache” book, I found the answers to my questions and much more!

‘Heal Your Headache: The 1-2-3 Program’ by David Buchholz

Heal Your Headache: The 1-2-3 Program by David Buchholz - The Heal Your Headache Book is a must-read for anyone suffering from, or caring for someone with, a migraine disorder.

Heal Your Headache: The 1-2-3 Program by David Buchholz – A must-read for anyone suffering from, or caring for someone with, a migraine disorder.

The “Heal Your Headache” book is a must-read for anyone suffering from, or caring for someone with, a migraine disorder. At first, I found the title somewhat off-putting, as I suffer from vestibular symptoms, not headaches. But while the title suggests that the book focuses only on headaches, the principles discussed apply to diagnosis and treatment of migraine disorders in general, including vestibular migraines.

I was so impressed to find in the book’s introduction a discussion on why so many migraine patients are unable to improve in their symptoms as a result of doctors who label them ‘problem patients’ and hypochondriacs and expect them to fail. To read a book in which an actual doctor substantiates the flaws in the medical system’s ability to diagnosis and treat migraineurs was immensely validating after spending years being written off as a young girl whose symptoms were all in her head.

As the book continues, Dr. David Buchholz examines the origination of the term ‘migraine,’ describes the process by which migraines occur in the brain, and explains how they can cause different symptoms in different people. He discusses in detail the importance of staying below your migraine trigger threshold, and how to do so by avoiding your personal migraine triggers. He then lists out all dietary, environmental, behavioral, and medicinal triggers, explaining why they must be avoided in some people (if known). And for those of us whose migraines can’t be treated by lifestyle changes alone, Buchholz delineates how to add, adjust, and choose a prophylactic migraine medication. This medicinal section of the book is complete with first-hand accounts of the successes and inadequacies of particular drugs in treating his patients, including what kinds of migraineurs they tend to work best for and why. The remainder of the ‘Heal Your Headache’ book examines misdiagnoses, co-occurring conditions, and what to do if treatment fails or if migraine isn’t to blame.

I felt like I was back in control– I knew exactly what I needed to do to get better and why I had to do it.
The book costs less than $10 on Amazon, takes only a few days to read, and could absolutely change your life; it changed mine! Before reading this book, I struggled to understand how and why I needed to change my diet, exercise routine, sleep patterns, lifestyle, allergy management, and more to get my life back. But afterwards, I felt like I was back in control– I knew exactly what I needed to do to get better and why I had to do it. I will say, the book has been criticized by some migraineurs for over-simplifying the migraine experience and for attributing lack of success with the 1-2-3 program to incompliance; however, in my opinion, the benefits that stand to be gained from reading this book far outweigh the disadvantages.

When people ask me what they can to do overcome their vestibular migraine diagnosis, one of the first things I suggest is reading the “Heal Your Headache” book. As a migraineur or migraine caretaker, reading this book is one of the absolute best things you can do to reduce the impact of migraines and to improve your quality of life. I hope the strategies provided can help you as much as they have helped me!

Disclaimer: I have no personal or financial connection to the “Heal Your Headache” book or it’s author, David Buchholz. The purpose of this article is personally motivated– to bring attention to this fantastic resource for migraine patients and migraine caretakers.