When you have been around medicine, especially headache medicine, as long as I have, you see fads come and go like Christmas mornings. One of the latest ones is that headaches are caused by Vitamin D deficiency.
Just this week I had a patient tell me that I had totally missed her daughter’s diagnoses (whom I am convinced has typical childhood chronic migraine) because they had taken her to another type of practitioner, who told her that her headaches were really caused by a Vitamin D deficiency. So I said, “I hope that means she is all better?” I heard a long hesitation on the other end of the phone . . . “Well, we are working on it. She is still out of school with bad headaches but the practitioner said it will take months weekly visits to cure her.” They had rejected all treatments that I had offered, those that have a great chance of changing her life for the better.
Claims like this are very cheap. I’ve seen hundreds come and go over the past 30 years. Patients love it when someone, almost like House, MD on TV, figures out the “real” and simple . . . and may I add “fixable” cause of their headaches. But the proof has to be in the pudding. If what these practitioners say is true, then they better prove it by making the patient better, not by enlisting them in weekly visits with a cure always “just over the horizon.” Remember that a placebo helps more than 50% of headache patients. If their cure is real, it better work better than a placebo. If someone does find great help from one of these quick fixes then I’m delighted because no one wants the patient to be well more than I do. So far, after 31 years in this work, I haven’t seen a single quick fix work for anyone.
The poor patient doesn’t realize that these answers are just made up by opportunistic individuals and didn’t come from the fruit of research by the very smart, scientist (MDs, PhDs) who are working very hard every day and have so for decades on the headache problem. We do know a lot more about what causes headaches, and how to treat them, but it is not simple. Oh, how I wish it were.
In this month’s headache research journal (simply called “Headache”) there was a Norwegian study of 11,614 patients (that is a huge number to sample) looking at the role of vitamin D deficiency and headache. They found no association at all with migraine and a slight association with mild headache, but that association seemed to be more of lifestyle factors that contributed to both headache and vitamin deficiency rather than a cause and effect relationship. They were hoping that they would find a link.
So just like the airways are full of weight loss fads (the vast majority of them are frauds) in the same way, practitioners make up causes for headaches all the time. Here are some of the ones that were fads since the 1980s but not based on research and certainly offer patients no help, but just false hope:
Dental problems, such as teeth alignment or mercury fillings,
Atlas bone out of whack,
Liver not working right,
Allergies, especially food allergies,
Birthing trauma to the head,
Cranial bones out of whack,
Black mold in the house,
and now Vitamin D deficiency.
Doesn’t it make more sense to trust the results of years of hard work in research by those who know the body and nervous system far better than anyone else? That’s were I go for my information.