SARASOTA (WWSB) - Nearly everyone either knows someone who suffers from migraines, or gets them firsthand.
It’s the third most prevalent illness in the world, affecting 39 million people in the United States, according to the Migraine Research Foundation.
But what's the cause? Is there a cure? There are many new, vastly different ways to treat this disease.
It's a pain most can only truly understand if they've felt it.
"You think you can fight it. You think you'll get better, drink water, whatever," explained Cristina Perez, a migraine sufferer. "It just gets worse and worse and worse to the point where it's debilitating. Any noise bothers you, any light hurts. I mean your hair hurts, the pain is so bad."
Perez got her first migraine in sixth grade. For years she tried different treatments. For years, nothing worked.
“I grew out of the [pediatric] neurologist and I went to an adult neurologist,” Perez said. " [The neurologist] said you’re on way too many medications, this isn’t healthy for you, you’ve been on it for such a long time. You need to get off the medication, I recommend Botox."
What many assume is just cosmetic was the one cure for Perez's pain.
"They inject nine to 14 injections all in my forehead," Perez explained. "It's just all in my hairline, right here and my temples."
After exactly three months, Perez said she starts getting headaches again and needs to go back for more. But without Botox, she said she wouldn’t be able to live a normal life.
“It is day and night,” Perez said. “I can live my life without fear of, am I going to get a migraine tonight? While I’m out having a great time and then I have to go home? It’s amazing. I would recommend it to anyone. It has changed my life.”
Different people have different triggers. For some, it's stress.
"We do salt therapy here, we're a salt therapy center," said Dianna Manoogian, owner of Salt of the Earth.
Salt therapy is a form of stress relief. If someone comes into Salt of the Earth with a migraine, Dianna Manoogian will recommend a treatment in the main salt room.
"Being in our main space, it's very quiet," Manoogian expalined. "You're relaxing for a full 45 minutes, there's zero electronics, which most people don't even realize what a difference that will make in their stress level, just having 45 minutes unplugged."
Another option, the heated salt bed.
"This bed is amazing for pulling inflammation from the body, toxins, relaxing the muscles, like I said it has a micro massage to it, as well as light therapy," Manoogian said. "We also do energy work while you're on the bed or reflexology, hand, foot, head massage, which also is a great way to help with headaches."
Minimally invasive treatments, but it might take something more hands on to make the pain go away.
“I’m a doctor of Oriental Medicine,” said Dr. Sera Balderston, owner of Point Lumineux in Sarasota.
Dr. Balderston said the pain of a migraine is most commonly a result of stress, diet or a vitamin deficiency.
"When I see migraines, and all pain in general actually, there are multiple causative factors," Dr. Balderston said. "With migraines, I often see a combination of weakness in the core or upper back and tension, extra tension happening in the neck."
Her practice uses blood tests to find and treat any vitamin deficiencies. To treat the tension, they use acupuncture.
“Acupuncture treatment is probably one of the most relaxing things you’ll ever do. I mean, even more relaxing than a massage, because when you have an acupuncture needle, which is the size of a human hair, it’s flimsy and it just bends.” Dr. Balderson showed. “And all you do is you use the guide tube to shoot the needle in. This point, in particular, is large intestine four which is really great for migraines. And you don’t feel that, barely at all. If anything I feel an energy and something tingling up my arm, not a nerve tingle, but just like an opening.”
From eastern to western medicine.
"About 30 percent of patients in neurology clinic have migraine and that's what we see and treat," said Dr. Davender Khera, neurologist at Sarasota Memorial Hospital.
Dr. Khera said when a patient comes in with a migraine, a neurologist will first take an in depth history of the patient, then a physical exam to form a treatment plan.
"Depending on whether it's a chronic migraine, a very frequent migraine, versus an acute, episodic migraine, the treatments are a little bit different," Dr. Khera said. "So we try to tailor it to each patient."
The doctors at Sarasota Memorial Hospital said there are more than 30 different classes of medications to treat migraines and that number only continues to grow.
"There are about three new class medications called CGRP Antagonists that just came out this year," said Dr. Khera. "CGRP is a molecule produced by the brain that can actually increase pain and these medications target that molecule and in doing so, actually reduce migraine pain."
But even with these new advancements, Dr. Khera said most doctors are open to the alternatives patients may want to try as well.
One growing in popularity, CBD oil.
"It's absolutely changed my life," said Shelby Isaacson, owner of Second and Seed Neighborhood Apothecary.
Shelby Isaacson used to have debilitating migraines almost every day. One nearly killed her.
"I got a pain in the side of my head and the next thing I knew, I was hitting the curb, so I had actually passed out while driving with a 4-year-old in the back seat," she explained.
This was just the beginning. One day, she couldn’t take it anymore.
“That’s when I started doing my own research and seeing that CBD, or full spectrum hemp products like we have here at Second and Seed, were helping people with epilepsy,” Isaacson said.“ I figured I had a shot to take, lets go see what happens. Within a month, I was off of my anti-epileptics, my muscle relaxers and my anxiety was in check for my first time in my whole life.”
It was a discovery Isaacson felt so strongly about, she quit her job and partnered with a friend to spread the healing.
"The CBD and the hemp products are actually causing your body to go into a homeostasis," said Isaacson. "So it's helping with the inflammation of a tension headache, it's helping to calm the anxiety, all those things that are the triggers and ultimately it doesn't heal your body but it helps it regulate itself, so you're not getting to the point where you're having those migraines."
But, is it marijuana?
"It's actually the decaffeinated cousin," she said. So how I like to explain it is that marijuana is grown to be high THC, low CBD. Hemp is exact opposite, high CBD, low THC."
Cannabis is the parent plant of both, but Isaacson said that CBD can be taken in many forms, people interested don't need a prescription and they can go about their day without feeling loopy, tired and unfocused.
"A lot of these people had lost hope," Isaacson said of the people who come into her store with severe illness and diseases. "And this is the hope and the recognition to realize that maybe everything we were told before about hemp and medicinal marijuana is not completely true…"
To learn more about migraines and current research, click here.
To learn more about CBD and Second and Seed Neighborhood Apothecary, click here.
To learn more about salt therapy at Salt of the Earth, click here.
To learn more about acupuncture at Point Lumineux, click here.