Top 5 Takeaways from the Migraine World Summit So Far

Kelley NunnMy Migraine Blog

Top 5 Takeaways From The Migraine World Summit So Far

The Migraine World Summit May Be Over, But the Benefits Continue

When I first found out about the Migraine World Summit, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I understood that the event would be a free, online opportunity to hear from the top 30 migraine world experts on a variety of topics that are most important to migraineurs. But, I wasn’t sure how valuable the information would actually be! After listening to only 5 of the summit talks, I am wildly impressed with the kindness and expertise of the speakers involved (some of whom are migraineurs themselves).

Below, you’ll find my top 5 takeaways from the Migraine World Summit so far. I hope that you’ll take these tidbits to heart, and will be inspired to take advantage of this incredible educational opportunity!

1. Magnesium Supplementation Can Reduce Migraines In Up To 50% Of Migraineurs

From Dr. Alexander Mauskop’s Talk titled, “Proven Drug Free Treatments.”

First of all, Dr. Mauskop’s talk during the Migraine World Summit was AMAZING. Absolutely amazing! I ended up watching his presentation twice– once to hear what he had to say, and a second time to take pages and pages of notes on his recommendations. All in all, Dr. Mauskop gave roughly 20 alternative drug free treatments, all of which he substantiated in great detail using rigorous scientific studies! This equates to 20+ new strategies I can try to reduce my migraine disability– I can’t wait to get started.

The one I found most interesting, and the one Dr. Mauskop spent the most time explaining, was the relationship between magnesium and migraines. Some day soon, I’ll have to write up a blog post dedicated entirely to Dr. Mauskop’s presentation on magnesium, but for now, let’s stick to the basics:

Dr. Mauskop started off by explaining that 50% of migraineurs have low levels of magnesium in their brains for a variety of reasons including stress, genetics, low dietary intake, caffeine/alcohol consumption, gastrointestinal disorders, and chronic illnesses (like diabetes). For some of these people, taking 400mg per day of magnesium supplements can help reduce their symptoms dramatically within weeks or even days. They’ve even started treating people in emergency rooms with IV magnesium solutions with great success. Dr. Mauskop even went into the science of how this is the case– showing a representation of an NMDA receptor in the brain, and explaining how magnesium works to regulate signals in these nerve cells by keeping calcium from entering.

If you have migraines, and especially symptoms of low magnesium including headaches, leg muscle cramps, coldness in the extremities of the body, PMS (pre-menstrual syndrome), brain fog, irritability, and depression, then it’s worth following up with your doctor to see if magnesium is right for you! The best thing about magnesium as a treatment for migraines is that it’s completely safe (unless you have severe kidney problems).

To see Dr. Mauskops’ presentation, and to learn more about ways you can improve your quality of life with proven drug free treatments for migraines, you can order an all access pass to the Migraine World Summit here, and gain access to this and other amazing talks!

2. Ginger Powder Can Be Equally Effective As Sumatriptan/Imitrex As A Migraine Abortive

From Dr. Michael Greger’s Talk titled, “Proven Dietary Interventions.”

Above, you’ll find a quick, 3-minute video by Dr. Gregor from his website, nutritionfacts.org, in which he discusses the anecdotal and scientific evidence supporting ginger powder as a migraine abortive. What’s a migraine abortive? It’s something you take at the onset of a migraine attack to reduce, or better yet, eliminate, migraine symptoms by stopping the abnormal activity in the brain. Even more interesting, ginger powder was shown to be equally effective as sumatriptan/imitrex, but without any side effects!

The method Dr. Michael Gregor describes is adding 1/8th tsp of ginger powder to a glass of warm water, like making a tea. But if this treatment is so effective, then why haven’t we heard of it before? As Dr. Greger explains, pharmaceutical companies make billions of dollars selling migraineurs medications. There’s no one to advertise for ginger powder as a treatment, since it’s not something that can be monetized– it’s too inexpensive. Next time you’ve got a migraine, this drug free treatment may be worth trying!

To see Dr. Gregor’s full Migraine World Summit interview, featuring additional natural pain relief methods, you can sign up for an all access pass to the summit here. With the all access pass, you’ll get lifetime access to all the videos, audios, and transcripts from 30+ talks by the top migraine experts in the world plus more!

3. The Most Successful Patients Go Beyond Medicine and Adopt Lifestyle Changes

From Dr. Robert Cowan’s Talk titled, “Migraine Causes and Triggers.”

Dr. Cowan’s interview was the first I watched during the Migraine World Summit, and I have to say, I was incredibly impressed. I had no idea what to expect from the summit, but Dr. Cowan, like the other doctors who’s interviews I’ve watched, was friendly, caring, knowledgeable, highly intelligent, and a dedicated advocate for migraineurs. Almost more importantly, he was a migraineur himself.

Dr. Cowan started by distinguishing migraine triggers and causes. Causes are what matter most to doctors– it’s what makes a patient predisposed to migraines. Triggers are most important to patients– they’re partial and additive factors from your internal and external environment that precipitate a migraine attack. Dr. Cowan’s advice was to have a “philosophy of migraine” in which you understand that most migraineurs are sensitive to change, and that “it’s the change that triggers the headache.”

One statement Dr. Cowan made during his interview was most powerful: “I can say unequivocally that patients who do the best are the patients who take the lifestyle changes seriously.” He continued, “I’ve taken thousands of patients who spend their days indoors, in bed, with the shades drawn, and helped them get their own lives back. But, they do all the work… It’s the patients themselves who take this concept of getting your life under control seriously that do the best.”

I found Dr. Cowan’s statements and anecdotes truly empowering. Essentially, what Dr. Cowan is saying is that as a migraineur, the power lies in my hands to gain control of my life back. All we need is to learn how. Informative and knowledgeable doctors like these know exactly what approaches migraineurs like you and me can take to get our lives back, but as you’ll see in Takeway #4, there’s a serious reason why the transmission of medical knowledge to the patient community falls short.

To read about Dr. Cowan’s suggestions for how to identify your own triggers, plus anecdotes about patients he’s successfully treated, you can watch his interview at the Migraine World Summit here.

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4. Migraineurs Dramatically Outnumber Migraine Doctors

From Dr. Robert Cowan’s Talk titled, “Migraine Causes and Triggers.”

This Top Takeaway also comes from Dr. Cowan’s talk, in which he attempts to give some perspective on why migraine is so poorly understood, diagnosed, and treated. He starts by giving some statistics: while there are nearly 60 million people in the U.S. with headaches (37 million with migraines, and 4 million with chronic migraines), there are only approximately 500 board-certified headache specialists! If you do the math, that works out to about 115,000 headache patients per specialist. (I wonder what the numbers are like if you stack the estimated 30 million vestibular migraineurs up against the vestibular migraine specialists…)

The numbers become even more shocking when you consider how little time is spent teaching doctors about headaches in the first place. Dr. Cowan continues, “The numbers, they just don’t work. You add in a few other statistics, like the average medical school student, when he graduates and gets his MD degree, has had 2 hours of lecture on headache. That’s it. If he goes into neurology, he’s lucky if he gets another 2 hours. It’s crazy! It’s absolutely insane!”

When I think back to all of the awful doctors I’ve seen in the past few years, it helps to realize that many of these professionals are simply not well-educated in these issues. Doctors may have the best of intentions, but the system has let both of us down when it comes to the complexity of migraine. Plus, as Dr. Cowan states (and I think is still relevant today), migraine is a “Women’s disease, which has always been neglected by the male-dominated medical profession… it’s never really gotten a lot of attention.”

I think these statistics are extremely important to know and understand; what they mean is that the medical community is not adequately prepared to help us as patients. And as such, the burden falls upon us to find quality care, and to educate ourselves. This is exactly why I feel that educational events, like the Migraine World Summit, are so important.

5. Different Genes Cause Migraines in Different People — Migraine ‘Cures’ Are On The Way

From Dr. Lyn Griffiths’ Talk titled, “Migraine Genes and Genetic Mutations.”

As with Dr. Cowan above, I was so impressed with Dr. Lyn Griffiths in her demeanor, dedication, passion, and expertise. I came away from Dr. Griffiths’ talk imagining her as more of a migraine superhero than a scientist. Here’s why:

Dr. Griffiths is a lifelong scientist and migraineur, who became interested in studying migraine genes after her 5-year-old son developed migraine headaches. She now manages a team of approximately 30 molecular geneticists in Australia, who are working to understand which genes cause migraines, and how to find a “cure” by “overcoming the (genetic) mutation” that causes them. This branch of research holds a lot of promise, as migraines are strongly genetic– 90% of migraineurs have a close family member who also has migraines. Dr. Griffiths explained, “…I don’t think migraine is a one-size-fits-all sort of disorder… It’s different genes in different people in different families.”

Even more fascinating, they’ve been able to group these genes into three types: neurotransmitter-type, hormonally-related, and vascular-related genes. For example, one of these vascular-related genes, MTHFR, makes people susceptible to developing migraine with aura. How? The MTHFR gene mutation results in a lower level of an enzyme in the brain. This enzyme breaks up a metabolite that makes you susceptible to heart disease/stroke, and when there’s not enough of the enzyme, you get a buildup of that metabolite in your brain. Dr. Griffiths’ team were able to develop a “cure” for this mutation by supplementing patients with a mixture of B vitamins that act as a cofactor for this enzyme– essentially allowing it to work like normal even at low concentrations. Today, you can send a sample of your DNA to Dr. Griffiths’ lab (via your doctor), and they can test you for the MTHFR gene mutation. The B vitamin blend has yet to be commercially released as a treatment, but one day, will work as a “cure,” reducing headache severity and frequency in this specific type of migraineurs.

Amazingly, Dr. Griffiths expects “cures” like these to be available for many other types of migraineurs in the next 5-10 years! Now, as a vestibular migraineur, this made me feel very unsure. If there’s so little research being done on our migraine etiology today, when will our “cure” come? My hope is that we share a cause with another better understood type of migraine, and that the difference comes in the expression. For example, we may have a vascular-related migraine gene that expresses itself in our vestibular system rather than the trigeminal nerve. This is my uneducated speculation talking, but I hope that us vestibular migraineurs can get answers to these sorts of questions soon.

The Migraine World Summit: More Than Just An Educational Opportunity

The Migraine World Summit is more than just an educational opportunity; it’s a chance to reduce your migraine disability. As we learned from Dr. Cowan, getting better is about making a series of lifestyle changes beyond (or even without) medicines. It’s about adopting a “philosophy of migraine” and understanding your brain and it’s sensitivities.

The medical education system has let us down– the majority of doctors are not prepared to treat us complicated migraine patients using this wholistic approach. And as such, the onus is on us, the migraineurs, to learn all we can about our disease and how to best treat it.

This is where educational events like the Migraine World Summit come into play. From the comfort of your own home, you can hear first-hand from the world’s top migraine experts how to best treat your disease and gain control of your life back. In listening to only 5 talks, I feel like my migraine toolkit has more than doubled in size. For the cost of just a few copays, you can have lifetime access to these talks, and arm yourself with the knowledge and tools you need. Imagine what the financial and physical cost would be to make an appointment with a single one of these doctors!

Apply the information you’ve learned here, and in other talks, to your life, and you can potentially reduce your migraine disability. This is an incredible educational opportunity, and I implore you to take advantage of it. Join Carl Cincinnato, the event founder and coordinator, in reaching his goal of “reducing the global burden of migraine.”

Learn More About The Migraine World Summit

Related: Attend the First Migraine World Summit


As many of you have experienced firsthand, it’s unreasonably difficult to find doctors and other health professionals who are well-versed in managing this complicated and confusing chronic illness. Now is our chance to learn everything we can about managing our illness from experts who understand us best for free and from the comfort of our own homes!

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