Headaches and Migraines on Carnivore


#1

I went full carnivore around October or November 2018 and have been since, with a small handful of exceptions. Overall, massive improvements in health have been seen. But about 3 weeks ago I got sick with a very nasty cold, during which time I decided to fast for 3 days. Fasting isn’t new to me - I’ve done several 2-3 day fasts in the previous 5 months of being carnivore. But after I started eating again, I decided to try eating some raw honey. I don’t remember if I was craving something sweet or if I just wanted to try something a bit easier to digest than meat to help me recover, but I had a spoon full of raw honey for about a week straight. This honey was obtained from a local farmer’s market and had been sitting in the pantry for around 4-6 months since I purchased it. I had 1-2 tablespoons of the honey every night for about a week. It gave me an initial boost, but I noticed I had severe insomnia pretty randomly. I thought at first it was due to my body fighting the cold and congestion, and that may have been the case but the insomnia at night was pretty frequent. After the week of eating honey I decided to stop. I think my sleep has since resolved, but something has felt off since then. Water tastes less good. I have a little less energy and need maybe an hour more sleep per night. And I’ve gotten a headache almost every day without fail since then. Sometimes I get the headache right after I eat my first meal of the day, sometimes it comes in the form of an ocular migraine, and sometimes it just randomly occurs. In the case of yesterday, it occurred a couple hours after dinner and got worse through the night, waking me up several times before it got better. Today I have had my third ocular migraine in a seven-day period. Previous to this week I have gotten only one of these migraines since starting the diet about 5 months ago, and I believe that was a result of eating frozen turkey (my regular diet consists of only beef products).

So I am quite concerned. 5 months of continuous, albeit sometimes rough improvement and then it all derails. Thankfully my brain fog is not back, but it is rather uncomfortable to have a headache 50% of the time. Additionally, any time I get an ocular migraine it seems to be accompanied by a tremendous amount of bloating and gas. Some of the headaches, like the one last night, feel like the ones I used to get when I got back from a long, hot hike when my body wasn’t used to the exertion.

I may get medically evaluated if these headaches don’t resolve in the next month or two, but I doubt that will lead to anything more than a recommendation of some pain med. Other than the headaches things seem to be mostly normal.


(A fool and his bacon are soon parted) #2

A couple of thoughts:

First, you may be allergic to something in the honey, and the headaches could be the result of that. I also get headachey—sometimes for several days—every time I exceed my carb limit.

Second, for me, migraines are often a symptom of lack of sodium (so is constipation, btw). I generally work to keep my salt intake up, but occasionally, I will start getting an aura and will remember that I slacked off on salt the day before. A generous pinch of salt licked off my palm, and five minutes later, the aura is gone. It’s happened enough since I went keto, that I am pretty confident low sodium is what’s doing it.

The good news is that, even before I figured this out, in early keto I was getting more auras, but they never seemed to progress to full-blown headaches. It was a trade-off I was willing to make, because being out of commission for a couple of hours is better than being out of commission for a couple of days, but now that I’ve figured out the salt connection, I love being able to prevent the auras by keeping track of my salt. (I haven’t decided yet whether I’d prefer to get an aura or constipation as a reminder, however; so far I’m 50:50 about it, lol!)


#3

That sounds terrible!

I imagine that going from carnivore to 1-2 tblsp raw honey for 7 days straight was a pretty intense blast of sunshine for your metabolism (I’ve never eaten that much in honey in such a time period), and coupled with other factors, could trigger migraines as there is an enteric nervous system (gut) connection and sweet tastes can be a trigger for some.

FWIW, dry Ginger capsules work as well as prescription strength ibuprofin for pain - Ginger is a powerful NSAID, and also does a ton of other things that aid hormonal healing (such as cortisol reduction). I don’t know if you’re female or male - but I do know that migraines can be very much related to hormone levels and can disappear once there is a significant rebalancing. I have a friend who suffered frequent migraines for 20 years - then once menopause happened they disappeared for good.

Another route is a supervised long fast, as depicted in the recent docu film “Fasting” which features a woman who suffered daily migraines for decades and got her first sustainable relief from a 30 day fast. And, the founder of the non-sectarian vipassana meditation courses in the east & west, Mr. Goenka, suffered migraines of unknown cause coupled with a morphine addiction, before they went away after some intense silent meditation immersions (on veg cuisine, no less).

Pain makes everything worse - and the body speaks the truth of its experience - so hope you find the answers and remedies you need. Also use the search bar in the above right - there may be helpful resources in past posts here :herb:


(Omar) #4

It is hard for me to imagine that the honey is causing the insomnia or the migraines without considering all factors . I feel that there is a bad combination of factors coming together and honey is one of them.(Unless we talking about hygienic type of problem in the honey)

I would continue on a diet which previously proven to work for you and give your body enough time to stabilize from whatever disturbance it went through.


#5

Thanks for the replies. I think it has been about 2 weeks since I have consumed any honey, so if that is the cause, it’s a bit surprising but at the same time others have reported reaction systems to last up to a month so I guess I should not be surprised.

Sodium may also be a factor as the weather is warming up and I may be unconsciously sweating more to where I need more water + electrolytes to restore system balance. Normally, I drink at least 2-4 cups of “snake juice” per day, each of which contain around 1.8 g Himalayan salt plus a similar amount of potassium chloride plus about 1/8th tsp of baking soda. I try to avoid the baking soda immediately before/after meals but I’m not sure how close to meals it might contribute to digestive issues through stomach acid reduction. This is in addition to the salt I add to my food, so add another 1-3 g per day for that. I often drink unsalted water as well, though I try to keep it not more than 50% of my water intake. Depends largely on if I feel like I’ve had too much or too little salt, though subjective feeling isn’t always the best indicator without looking at the results.

I got an aura today but without a significant headache to follow it and have noticed that if I get many auras in a short period of time (i.e. a few days) at least one of them has a reduced headache factor.

Extended is off-limits for me at the present. I’m 6’0", 25 yrs, male, and weigh about 143 lbs so I really want to gain at least 5-10 lbs more before I think about planning a longer fast. But gaining weight is very hard for me. I eat anywhere between 2.5 lbs and 3.5 lbs of meat per day (estimated 2500-3500 calories depending on the specific meat cuts) and work out off and on (was consistent 3 times per week until I got sick but inconsistent since) but am otherwise pretty sedentary. I lost about 10 lbs when I did a 10-day fasting-like routine, eating less than 1000 calories per day back in August and I’m still trying to get back to my pre-fast weight.

Carnivore diet has done wonders for me and should enable me to graduate with my degree on time, but it’s still a rocky road. Just not as rocky as before.


#6

So the headaches have resided since my last post which is a welcome relief. But I am noticing a number of other symptoms. Two days ago and yesterday my mid back area in about a fist size above the lumbar region (I think around the kidneys?) felt like it got punched on the left and right side. Yesterday it was worse, but today that has resided. Additionally, I’m getting a lot of bloating and gas in the past week or so, especially yesterday, to the point where my stomach was visibly bloated. Hard to say what might be causing that, as there are a few changes I made to things - I ate some high meat a couple times in the past 2 weeks, have been eating one egg every day or two (usually just the egg yolk), and am obviously recovering from whatever microbiome shifts the honey caused me. I’ll give it a couple more weeks, but it’s been a common theme on this carnivore diet that I’ll have perfect digestion for a while then things go crazy out of the blue for a few days seemingly randomly. In cases where that happens when I have no dietary changes, I attribute it to getting a piece of meat with some bad/different bacteria or stress, but I wonder if it could be something else I haven’t considered yet…

Anyways, I don’t really have any revelations as to why the headache issue has resolved so far, so we’ll see what happens going forward.


(mole person) #7

What do you mean by full carnivore? Do you eat dairy, eggs, drink coffee or tea, have any non animal oils, incidental vegetables in sauces etc, spices?


#8

I recently went from carnivore to some keto and I’m back to dealing with fullblast IBS. I feel your pain. Hope you can resolve it! :+1:


(Omar) #9

I will be interested more details


#10

Yeah I guess I should define what I mean by “full carnivore.”

What I’ve been eating has evolved (or devolved depending on how you look at it) over the past months. I started with generic (non-grass-fed) beef and eggs - eggs were consumed both cooked and raw. But I was feeling a lot of bloating with the eggs so I cut them out for a while. Main cuts of beef have been rump roast, ground chuck, chuck roast, and occasionally sirloin steak. I vary the amount I cook the meant - probably a 50/50 split between rare and well-done. I also had seasonings on my food - things like basil, oregano, rosemerry, pepper, etc. I added in grass-fed liver a couple months in. Maybe it was beneficial, maybe it wasn’t, but I ate about a 4-oz serving 3-5 times per week. On one or two occasions I ate chicken instead of beef, but didn’t really notice big differences when I did that. When I ate some turkey I’d cooked up back last July or August and had frozen though, I felt pretty off for a few days. Got a migraine too. Not sure if it was the turkey or the fact that I microwave reheated it. Very occasional fish as well - probably once a month I’d eat some salmon.

I did a couple 2 to 3-day fasts in December and January. On one of them I ate a bunch of pineapple when I broke the fast, and dealt with the problems associated with that for the next few days.

About two months ago I had to do some traveling and cheated on my eating, consuming a couple tomato slices, a couple lettuce slices, and some beef patties from In & Out. Don’t remember if I had cheese. Also had some cheese, chicken, and pork, as well as some greens from another restaurant. Felt fine the day of. Couple days later I did not feel fine, but I’m not sure if it was from the stress of traveling or if it was related to what I ate. Also got a eczema-type breakout on my arm - a dense cluster of red bumps on my arm, which I haven’t seen before. I have always had (and still do have) a good deal of acne on my back and upper arms, but this was different. Anyways, between that and a cold I got about a week later, it took some time to recover but I felt normal again until I got another cold 3-4 weeks ago. I did a 3-day fast while I had the cold, then ate honey for a week while I was transitioning back into eating. I believe that it was around this time that I started eating eggs again. I started for a few days with just the egg yolk, then started doing the whole egg, then went back to just the yolk a few days ago. I only ate one per day, and the eggs were generic grocery store cage-free/organic eggs, whatever that means. Also, I have been eating with less regularity since I got sick. I tried doing just one meal a day for 3-5 days before I gave up because it just didn’t seem to be worth the pain of stuffing myself to literal pain, crashing for 3 hours, continuing to be stuffed, and being famished by the next day. Since then I’ve sort of been alternating between one meal per day and 2 meals per day based on what I feel like doing. Also, every few days for the last week I have been consuming a bite or so of high meat that I put in the fridge a couple months ago.

So looking back, there’s a lot of changes that I’ve made that have taken some effort to recall but I believe that is a good summary of my diet since I started “full carnivore” in Oct/Nov last year. There’s like 5 variables that may have contributed to these recent headaches and I think it is likely that more than one of these factors has been responsible, I’m just not sure which one(s). Bloating has mostly resolved throughout today so I suspect that it was caused by eating either egg whites (cooked) or high meat, since I’ve not had either in a few days.


(mole person) #11

In your OP you said that you had seen massive improvements. What was your reason for trying carnivore and what has improved?


(Chris) #12

Too many plants. No fruit, no greens, no seasonings and give it a few months to see how you feel. The eczema is a direct result of eating plants, for sure. Link in my profile has a great set of tips on getting started.


#13

All the reasons for trying carnivore can be found here if you’re ok with a long read. In short, years of on-and-off brain fog, depression, and severe energy issues.

I’ll try to cut out seasonings for a month or so just to see what happens. They add so much flavor though. It’ll be pretty hard to give them up.

My hope is to find a way to be less carnivore without giving up quality of life as time goes on. There’s gotta be a way to repair these gut issues - I wasn’t always like this so I know it wasn’t something from birth.


#14

Pretty much any infection might trigger autoimmune disorders. Mononucleosis is know to trigger seven rather serious ones. And this is just one of the very many things that may change after birth. Even if you weren’t like this before, your body is constantly changing, and you might never be able to go back to your younger, healthier days when you could eat whatever you wanted.


#15

So things got worse again, then they got better. Last weekend Fri-Sun I had pretty bad brain fog and lethargy. Took at least one long nap Saturday and again Sunday. Also accompanying that was slight tingling in my hands and very dry feeling and more red than usual eyes. Sunday one of my eyes even felt bruised. This is pretty typical of the symptoms the symptoms I often had prior to starting the diet, though they have been worse. I think the most likely thing to blame is the high meat, as I haven’t had any since last Wednesday or Thursday, and my symptoms have been getting steadily better since, to the point where I felt pretty good yesterday and today. However, later at night it’s pretty common for me to get tingly hands and it just doesn’t feel right. I suspect some deficiency but I can’t tack it down as it gets better or worse seemingly randomly.

I hope to see someone who works with functional medicine and the carnivore diet once I graduate as there still are a lot of issues that have not resolved on this diet. Any sort of cardio type exercise leaves the involved muscles completely shot within 5 minutes of starting. I might be able to overcome that but it’s way worse than prior to starting the diet. I ran for the first time in a couple months and within just a couple minutes of starting my calves were really struggling. I pushed through but by the time I was finished they were so tight it felt as if they had been cut. Even walking around campus leaves my calves noticeably fatigued now. I’ve never been a consistent runner and so I know what it feels like to stop for a few months. 90% of the time it’s my heart/lungs that get the brunt of starting up again, not my muscles, and never to that degree.

Cramping is also an issue. I have to be careful how I sleep and move my feet or I’ll wake up with my feet/calves completely cramped up. Yesterday I was doing some pushups as part of my workout routine and had to take a couple breaks as my feet started to cramp up.

My eyes also have a number of “floaters” and the whites are usually a sickly red tint. Not bloodshot necessarily but red instead of white. My nose gets stuffed up, especially around when I eat and sleep. Sometimes worse than before this diet, sometimes a bit better but when others have gone carnivore they claimed their breathing in their nose got much better. I also crash when I eat my first meal of the day, and hard. Usually I need a 45 minute nap or I’m a mess for 3-5 hours after. Digestion feels sluggish and slow as well. Often I feel bloated, heavy, and gassy. A couple days ago it’d been 8-10 hours since having a meal yet my stomach felt just as stuffed as when I had eaten. Worse than before going on this diet. I don’t think I’m constipated as bowel movements are easy but at the same time I eat 2-3.5 lbs of meat per day and only have one movement every 2-3 days on average. Acne is still an issue. Working out too often seems to randomly cause me to crash or take 3+ days to recover, and I don’t mean soreness-wise. That’s fine, I mean in terms of physical and mental energy.

So it feels like this diet is a crutch. It has allowed me to go on with life but some of the underlying issues haven’t resolved themselves on their own. I don’t mean to complain about my every problem but when I look at a healthy-looking person and look at myself, it just feels like there is something not quite right and if it’s possible to solve these problems, I’d like to find a way. I probably still haven’t recalled every relevant detail and so it’s hard to piece together a story that encompasses every piece of information contributing to my physiological state on this platform, but we all learn as we go. I don’t think carnivore is a cure-all and that other aspects are involved in optimizing health. I’ve learned some of them (i.e. sunlight, contact with the earth, heat therapy, stress levels) but prioritizing their effectiveness and applying them is a different story.


('Jackie P') #16

The only thing I can say is that since starting keto a year ago I have had not one single migraine. Previously I had suffered from them since my teens. I’m 60 now.
Probably adding in honey, which is just sugar, caused a rebound to migraines.


#17

So the past 2 weeks or so have been better up until this weekend. I’ve cut out literally everything except for beef, butter, and salt for the past 15 days or so to see if that makes me feel better, worse, or has no effect at all. No headaches until today, when I got another ocular migraine. The after-headache isn’t terrible, but it wasn’t for the past few ocular migraines either. It’s probably about the same. Yesterday I wasn’t feeling great either. I ate in the early day and was quite tired and took a 1.5-hour nap in the afternoon. I wasn’t feeling like eating last night but it was my 2-meal day so I ate dinner anyways. Was very tired so I went to bed early. At about 5am I woke up with the runs and was pretty thoroughly flushed out. Felt good today until the migraine.

So maybe I am flushed out of electrolytes. It was a hot day yesterday and I don’t have AC yet so did a lot of sweating. Then that followed by losing a lot of fluids when I had my system purged. Food doesn’t seem to have anything to do with it this time, unless maybe I got a bad piece of meat.


(Bunny) #18

Some things to be aware of that may be causing all these symptoms your describing when gathered together tell me your not getting enough magnesium in your diet or your not absorbing it correctly? (migraines, constant bloating and gas, muscle cramping, tingling feeling in fingers or toes and eye floaters etc.) Besides making sure sodium and potassium intake is adequate…

And lack of organic dietary sulfur MSM (methylsulfonylmethane)? (another reason why your seeing floaters in your eyes at different times, faster recovery of muscle soreness and soft tissue injury, improved lung function etc.) You can also get this from the kind of cottage cheese made from goats milk.

Migraines can also mean your blood sugars are too low and maybe eating some protein when they occur (immediate onset) would give you some relief as that will release stored glycogen in the muscle tissue and liver if your blood sugars are too low?

Dry eyes, redness; eyes don’t look quite right? May need Type 2 resistant starch? (occasional raw green banana or raw sweet potato; I usually cut them into sticks)

References:

[1] “…What experts do know is that the same triggers that cause regular migraines can prompt ocular migraines as well, Ahmara Ross, M.D., Ph.D., an assistant professor of ophthalmology at the University of Pennsylvania Scheie Eye Institute, tells SELF. …” …More

[2] Why do you crave carbs during a migraine? Fasting, eating high-sugar foods, dieting too rigorously, and skipping meals can all trigger, or make people more likely to have a headache or migraine. Even delayed or irregular meals can make a difference. This is usually due to people’s blood-glucose levels falling too low. …More

[3] “…Sulfur, after calcium and phosphorus, is the most abundant mineral element found in our body. … Proteins contain between 3 and 6% of sulfur amino acids. A very small percentage of sulfur comes in the form of inorganic sulfates and other forms of organic sulfur present in foods such as garlic, onion, broccoli, etc. …” …More


#20

Thanks much for these suggestions. I purchased a bag of Epson salt (magnesium sulfate) and have been consuming up to 1/2 tsp per day with water. I have felt improvements since beginning to add it in, though it’s been less than a week now.

Something interesting I thought I’d bring up is a video discussion Tristan of Primal Edge Health had with Sally Norton on the long-term effects of oxalate poisoning. The main topic was the idea that those who have damaged their gut and have continued to eat high oxalate diets effectively are slowly poisoning themselves, and that it takes a long time for the body to clean these oxalates out once it is able to start recovering with a better diet. Recovery can involve periodic relapse of symptoms like headaches, fatigue, brain fog, all of which are associated with depression as the body tries to remove oxalates trapped in various parts of the body. I think there may be something to this idea because a) I did previously eat a very high oxalate diet (lots of green kale, beet greens, nuts, peanuts, lentil sprouts, berries), and b) these symptoms of mild depression, high fatigue, headaches, etc. are periodic but don’t last as long as they used to, and when they recede, I always feel incredibly good, and c) I’ve had a lot of kidney pain on and off since starting this diet, though it has receded more and more with time. I can’t say for sure it’s a match, but something cyclical is happening with my body that’s demanding a lot of extra rest and recovery time.

Little more than anecdotal evidence was provided for the claims, but it was an interesting theory nonetheless, and worth considering because anecdotal evidence is really all we have right now.


(Bunny) #21

Not getting enough citric acid (high in lemons) can cause oxalate crystals to form in other parts of the body but mostly in the kidneys, some people with MTHFR and other genetic mutation seem to be more susceptible (a good indication that you have a genetic mutation?).

Demonizing (“oxalate poisoning”) certain foods (plants) is not going to resolve the problem, it is nutritional deficiencies or nutrigenomic deficiencies that are the real problem?

Notes:

[1] OXALATES AND MTHFR: UNDERSTANDING THE GUT-KIDNEY AXIS

[2] The #1 Biggest Reason to Drink Lemon Water

[3] Oxalates: Should You Be Concerned About Collagen? | Chris Masterjohn Lite #38

[4] Ten Tips for Preventing Kidney Stones | Chris Masterjohn Lite #39

[5] GLYOXYLATE SYNTHESIS, AND ITS MODULATION AND INFLUENCE ON OXALATE SYNTHESIS (i.e. possible oxalates synthesis from hydroxyproline in animal products through gelatin and collagen although synthesis to oxalates is rare if you exceed 1200 milligrams per day with citric acid {citrate} in the diet …and without? …and have a genetic mutation in your genes that predisposes you to form oxalate crystal stones?)

image

[6] Hydroxyproline ingestion and urinary oxalate and glycolate excretion

[7] “…Hydroxyproline is a nonessential amino acid derivative formed during post-translational protein modification through hydroxylation of the amino acid proline by the enzyme prolyl hydroxylase which requires vitamin C as a co-factor. Hydroxyproline is a major component of the protein collagen and plays a key role in the stability of the collagen triple helix. It can be used as an indicator to determine the amount of collagen. Increased hydroxyproline levels in the urine and/or serum are normally associated with degradation of connective tissue. Vitamin C deficiency decreases the conversion of proline to hydroxyproline, which leads to reduced collagen stability. …” …More

[8] Carnivore diet - where do I get my vitamin C? - Dr. Shawn Baker

[9] Ketogenic diet and Vitamin C: the 101 (recommended read by Dr. Shawn Baker)

[10] C is for Carnivore - Amber O’Hearn


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