This guest post is courtesy of Jennifer Bragdon, “The Dizzy Baker”! You can find all of her gluten free recipes here. I also encourage you to read her path to recovery. Jennifer is an administrator for one of my favorite migraine support groups, Migraine Strong, and a fellow vestibular migraine warrior. My mom and I made this recipe for a football tailgate. Even though our team stinks this year, everyone at the tailgate LOVED these. I highly recommend them for your holiday parties and Thanksgiving!
I’m so excited to share this months recipe with you and hope it gives you one more reason to love fall! These cookies are so soft and moist. They’re a little bit cookie and a little bit cake, packed with warm, spicy goodness that I’m pretty sure I could eat for breakfast. If these don’t put a smile on your face and make you feel all the fall feelings, I just don’t know what will! Instead of going on about how yummy these little treats are, I’m going to let them speak for themselves. Instead I want to share a few of the strategies I use to manage Vestibular Migraine – let’s dive in!
There are loads of preventative medication options, but most commonly meds such as anticonvulsants, beta-blockers, antidepressants, and calcium channel blockers are used off label (usually at much lower doses than their intended use) to help prevent attacks before they start. Very often they won’t eliminate attacks altogether, but they’ll reduce the frequency and severity of migraine attacks. My preventative med does a lot of the heavy lifting in eliminating my daily dizziness, and was instrumental in giving me my life back.
Like many with vestibular migraine, I’m extremely sensitive to meds and have had many bad reactions. Once I even had to make emergency room visit after taking a medication that helps many people without issue. To say I was scared to take a daily migraine preventative is an understatement. I took my first dose through tears, but I’m so glad I mustered up the courage to try it. It is so helpful to me that now I’m scared to go off of it – ha! If you’re experiencing daily dizzy symptoms, I urge you to discuss preventative medication options with your doctor. If you want to know more about which drug helps me personally, please join the Facebook group Migraine Strong so we can talk about it in a closed forum. It’s also helpful if you’d like to learn more about the diets discussed below.
There is a lot of talk in migraine groups about whether or not diet is an effective strategy. People can feel overwhelmed and confused because there are so many versions of a “migraine diet”. The truth is there are lots of ways you can go with diet. My advice is to pick just one. Don’t try to eliminate every “no” from every different migraine diet list. Choose the one you are most likely to stick to. I like Heal Your Headache which you can find here. The Charleston Diet is similar to HYH, only a bit more restrictive. Finally the Keto Diet, which is all over the internet. I follow a version of Heal Your Headache because it’s effective for me and easy to follow.
I also went through IGG food sensitivity testing (ordered through my primary care doctor) and I’m getting ready to do MRT to compare the results.
Supplements have helped me so much on my road to recovery. I rely on magnesium to take the edge off pain and to help calm the dizzies. My favorites are Pure Encapsulations Magnesium Glycinate and Threonate (CogniMag) along with Life Flo Magnesium Chloride Flakes that I use as a foot soak at the end of the day. Magnesium Glycinate is said to be the easiest on the tummy and is naturally calming. Magnesium Threonate is said to be the only form of magnesium to cross the blood brain barrier, and magnesium chloride is highly absorbable. No one says you have to use just one form so go with the one(s) that make you feel best.
Ginger is on the top of my list as well. I watched a presentation by Dr. Greger at the first annual Migraine Summit which stated ginger is as effective as sumatriptan in aborting a migraine attack without the triptan side effects. I use Gaia Herbs Ginger Supreme daily as a preventative, and take a second capsule at the first sign of an attack. B2, CoQ10, feverfew and melatonin all have research backing them as effective Migraine treatments as well.
I know how hard it is to exercise when you’re experiencing daily dizziness, but it is one of the most important strategies you can do to help your brain learn to compensate and heal. It’s vital for people with vestibular migraine. Even if all you can muster is walking to your mailbox to pick up your mail, do that! Don not stay in bed and expect to overcome dizziness – you have to move! I am two years in to my VM diagnosis and I still work on balance strengthening at least three times a week. My favorite are these balance pads that I purchased on amazon.
I stack two of the balance pads and step on and over them, forwards and backwards. Or I place three cans in a “v” shape in front of the pads, stand on one foot, and touch each can with my free foot. Another exercise is to stand on one foot and pass a ball around your body. Along with strengthening my balance, these pads have done wonders to eliminate that walking on squishy floors feeling that’s so common with Vestibular Migraine.
Consistent Sleep Routine
Migraine disease is profoundly influenced by sleep. Too much and too little sleep can trigger an attack. To avoid this, I go to bed and wake up at the same time every single day. Even on the weekends, I keep my work week sleep schedule. At the urging of my doctor, I also turn the air conditioning way down while sleeping. She recommended a frigid 68 degrees for optimal sleep, but I was too cold and settled on 72 degrees…and it’s delightful.
Errrrrr-ma-geeeerrd this is a struggle for me, but I work at it daily. In a 2005 study, participants were asked to drink 6 extra cups of water on top of their normal water intake everyday. Those who did it over the two week period experienced a reduction of pain severity and 21 fewer hours of pain than those who did not. It takes about 64-80oz of water to replace what your body loses over a 24 hour period, so it’s best to sip on water throughout the day. Water is also the first line of defense (in Eastern medicine) for treating Ménière’s disease which is often co-morbid with Vestibular Migraine. My favorite way to hydrate is by adding a splash of R.W. Knutsen Tart Cherry juice with a glass of Perrier or Pellegrino sparkling water.
Fall is a season of change and a time for new beginnings. It’s a perfect opportunity to try something new in an effort to gain more control over your symptoms. To learn more about the treatment pie visit Migraine Strong. Next month I’ll talk about alternative management strategies. Enjoy these pumpkin cookies in the meantime – see you then!
The perfect fall cookie recipe! Not too sweet with just a touch of pumpkin and a little bit of spice. The cream cheese frosting adds a layer of decadence. Great for holiday parties, Thanksgiving, and Halloween!
- 10 tbsp unsalted butter, softened * to soften, take butter out of the fridge and leave it on the counter for an hour or so before you plan to start baking. Do not heat butter to soften it.
- 1 large egg
- 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
- 2 cups all-purpose flour * I used King Arthur brand
- 3/4 cup organic cane sugar
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1.5 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/8 tsp ground cloves
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 5 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
- 4 oz cream cheese, softened * I used Arla or Organic Valley
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 1 tbsp *OPTIONAL* maple syrup, if you like a little maple flavor
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. If you have silicone baking mats, line two baking sheets with them. Otherwise, line each baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a medium mixing bowl combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves. Stir gently with a fork or whisk.
In a large mixing bowl add butter, sugar, brown sugar, egg, pumpkin and vanilla. Mix using an electric mixer until combined. Slowly add dry ingredients into the large mixing bowl with wet ingredients and continue mixing until all ingredients are well combined. Do not overmix.
Scoop dough out using a tablespoon or 1 1/2 Tbsp. cookie scoop (filling it just slightly heaping). Drop onto prepared baking sheet spacing cookies about 2-inches apart. Bake one sheet at a time at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Cool on baking sheet a few minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Once cool, frost cookies with cream cheese frosting. Store in an airtight container (in single layers divided by wax paper) in refrigerator. Bring cookies back to room temperature before serving.
In a medium mixing bowl add soft butter, room temperature cream cheese, and vanilla (or maple syrup). Blend with an electric mixer. Slowly add in powdered sugar and continue mixing until it looks smooth and fluffy.
*This is better kept at room temperature to spread on the cookies otherwise it will be too hard to frost them well. You can always put in the fridge and then wait for it to come to room temp.