Bloomington Migraine Treatment

Do you suffer from headaches, migraines or both?

We can help! 

Looking for a migraine treatment or headache treatment that works?
We will get to the root cause of your pain, so when we treat it, it will not only feel better but be less likely to return. 
We are Bloomington's Downtown Chiropractic Migraine and Headache Specialists.

That is the Drummond Difference. 

We treat headaches and migraines
not just through chiropractic manipulation, but by 

cranial release,
nutritional advice,
sleep support
and more.

Looking for a headache treatment you can do yourself?

Check out Dr. Karin's video on self pressure point therapy to get a glimpse of how we help you find relief and stay well.

To see Dr. Karin's Facebook live on how to self massage for headaches:

Once we determine that we can help you with your migraines or headaches, we will perform the migraine treatment or headache treatment that the same day, demonstrate home exercises and stretches you can do to speed your recovery and advise you on nutrition and herbs that may help. 

You may be surprised to find out that your headache or migraine is a symptom of a nerve being pinched in your neck, jaw dysfunction, lymphatic back up, tendonosis of an muscle, sleep disturbances, sinus issues, allergies, food sensitivities, hormone imbalance or maybe it is caused by something even more surprising. Regardless of the cause of your headache or migraine, we will find it with a thorough history and exam, then determine the best headache treatment or migraine treatment for your specific migraine or headache type, even if it means referring you out. We are more affordable than neurosurgeons, neurologists and physical therapists, so start with us, and if able, we will get you pain free as soon as possible. 

Dr. Michael McCoy and Dr. Mandi McCoy are both more than a spine specialists as chiropractors, but also headache specialists and migraine specialists. They not only will work on your neck and cranium, but any issue that may be contributing to your migraines and headaches. They can train you on home remedies, stretches, herbs, diets and therapies that will decrease the likelihood of your migraines and or headaches returning.

Available Dec. 28th, 2020

Why Wait? Click HERE to Schedule!

We will follow up the appointment with a Report of Findings email that details what your condition is, what our treatment plan is and lists the prescribed exercises and stretches, complete with videos that you can follow along with. 

To learn more, check out:

We offer more than migraine treatments and headache treatments.

Why Wait? Click HERE to Schedule!

Excerpt from Dr. Karin Drummond's book:  
"Combat Headaches" 

Tension Headaches

Tension headaches are often described as the pain you would feel if you had a band wrapped around and squeezing your head.

  Roughly 90 percent of all headaches that I see are caused by tension. When muscles in the neck become tense, they pinch the nerves that send signals to the head. The most common tension headache is caused by pressure from tight suboccipital muscles on the greater occipital nerve (Figure below).

greater occipital nerve causing headaches

To explain this phenomenon, I like to use a more commonly known medical condition, sciatica, as an example of how a pinched nerve causes pain in the part of the body that the nerve supplies.


The sciatic nerve sends signals down the back side of the thigh and through most of the lower leg and foot. Sciatica occurs when the nerve is irritated or inflamed. Such irritation can result when a muscle in the buttock pinches the sciatic nerve. Because the sciatic nerve only knows how to communicate input from the leg, when the nerve is pinched, it screams, “Severe leg pain!” to the brain. This is why when the sciatic nerve is pinched, a person feels severe pain that radiates down the leg.

Similarly, the greater occipital nerve only knows to communicate sensations from the head. So when it’s pinched, it screams, “Severe head pain!” This is why I say that a tension headache is like having sciatica of the head.

When the muscles at the base of the skull and top of the neck contract too strongly or sustain their contraction for a prolonged period of time (for example, slouching in front of a computer screen for hours), they squish the nerves supplying the head, causing a band of pain across the front of the head (where the nerves end).

People can also suffer from one-sided tension headaches. Leaning to one side while sitting for a long period, like when you rest your left arm on an armrest and use a mouse with your right hand, can lead to one-sided spasms of the neck’s posterior muscles (the muscles in the back of the neck). A one-sided tension headache can mimic migraine headaches and lead to the misdiagnosis of tension headaches as migraines. This misdiagnosis may explain why migraine medication is not working for you.

Another cause of tension headaches can be muscle tension in the front of the neck. This occurs when super-sensitive trigger points on the muscles cause people to feel pain into the head. Figure 1-3 shows the sternocleidomastoid and trapezius muscles, which have trigger points at the dots. When those trigger points experience too much pressure, they send pain signals to the sprayed area of the head.

Headache from trigger point

People often come to me thinking that they are having migraines because their headaches are so bad. They believe their migraine medication is not helping because it’s not strong enough. So they take higher doses, but to no avail.

These patients don’t think they are having tension headaches because they have been led to believe that tension headaches are moderate headaches. Migraine headaches, on the other hand, are labeled as severe headaches. Because the pain these patients feel from tension headaches is so crippling that it incapacitates them and affects their quality of life, they believe they must be having a migraine headache.

Tension headaches can be just as bad as, if not worse than, a migraine headache. The good news is that tension headaches are easier to treat with muscle therapy than migraines because they respond quickly to chiropractic care and massage therapy.

Migraine Headaches

People suffering from migraine headaches often describe their head pain as nauseating and usually report disturbances in their vision.

A migraine is characterized by severe pain in the head (usually on one side) that may trigger nausea. Migraines affect more than 10 percent of the population, and people who suffer from migraine headaches can also suffer from tension headaches. 

A migraine is caused by a change in brain chemistry that alters blood flow. Stress, a change in hormones, certain foods, alcohol, barometric pressure, and many other factors may affect brain chemistry. The chemical reaction causes the arteries to swell, resulting in the throbbing pain reported by migraine suffers; classic migraines are caused by inflammation of the temporal artery.

The pain of a migraine headache is usually one-sided, although a third of suffers have pain bilaterally. Attacks are extremely debilitating and cause neurological symptoms like dizziness, extreme sensitivity of the senses (sound, light, touch, taste, and smell), tingling or numbness in the face or extremities, visual disturbances, and nausea (sometimes to the point of vomiting). Migraine attacks can last as long as seventy-two hours or as short as four hours.

A classic migraine produces an aura twenty to sixty minutes before it strikes. During this time, a person may see flashes of light, dots, or wavy lines before the head pain sets in. 

Migraines can follow hormonal cycles and may occur right before a woman’s period when her estrogen levels drop. The hormones injected into our supply of meat also affect the body’s levels of various hormones. For this reason, among many others, I advise everyone to eat hormone-free meat. 

Food sensitivities and stress are other triggers of migraines because they too can change your biochemistry and increase inflammation in your system. Diet and lifestyle changes are required to treat migraine headaches and are discussed later in this book.

Cluster Headaches

People who suffer from cluster headaches report their pain as in and around one eye.

Cluster headaches are not as common as other types of headaches. Fewer than 0.2 percent of people suffer from this type of head pain. Cluster headaches are severe, intense headaches that are short in duration, but they happen one to three times a day for a period of time—normally a couple of months. Cluster headaches also usually occur around the same time of year. 

Cluster headaches are linked to the body’s circadian rhythm (internal biological clock). The link between cluster headaches and the internal clock isn’t fully understood. One theory is that the trigeminal nerve, the main sensory nerve of the face, has a relationship with the “clock” in the hypothalamus in your brain.

The trigeminal nerve exits the brain and sends signals to the face. It also performs automatic responses, like eyes when your eyes tear up. There is one for each side of your face.

The internal clock and the trigeminal nerve communicate with one another. So if the trigeminal nerve is vulnerable and receives a signal from the internal clock, that signal can be the last straw that causes the trigeminal nerve to escalate into an inflamed state, which then elicits the classic eye pain.

Usually just one side is triggered, causing pain that radiates into the eye on that side. It is worse than sciatica because the trigeminal nerve is a cranial nerve, closely linked to the brain. So when it screams, “Face pain,” it is heard all too well by the brain. Unfortunately, the pain is usually worse at night, which affects sleep.  Remember, sleep deprivation can lead to other types of headaches. 

Cluster headaches may stop occurring for months or years, only to return without warning. Like migraines, these severe headaches can respond to the lifestyle changes mentioned later in this book. 

Chronic Daily Headaches

Chronic daily headaches can be a sign you’re suffering from multiple types of headaches, each with a different cause. Eliminating these types of headaches takes major lifestyle changes and multiple types of treatments.

First, you need to identify the types of headaches from which you suffer; second, you need to determine the correct treatments to reduce the frequency, intensity, and duration of your headaches. Ideally, these lifestyle changes and treatments result in minimal to no headaches.

Any type of chronic pain, such as chronic headaches, can lead to depression and cause sleep disturbances. Make sure you put together a trusted team of healers (for both your physical and mental health) if you suffer from chronic daily headaches. 

Often after a trauma, the healing process continues indefinitely. I have had patients who suffered from daily headaches after experiencing a head trauma, concussion, or whiplash.

I have also had patients who suffered from chronic daily headaches after having an epidural. Spinal headaches occur with a decrease in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). A drop in CSF can occur with trauma, such as a puncture wound from a spinal tap or an epidural. If the CSF continues to leak from the puncture wound, it leads to chronic head pain for an indefinite period.[1] I discourage pregnant women from getting epidurals because one of the risk factors is having headaches for the rest of their lives. 

Imaging and lab tests often fail to identify a cause for the pain of headache sufferers because they don’t show how the cranium is functioning. This is why you must pay attention to what your body tells you, such as where the pain is localized and whether it is dull or sharp. By doing so, you can work with your preferred healer to develop a treatment plan for your head pain. 

I have had multiple patients who have suffered for years with daily headaches, despite seeing several specialists and spending thousands of dollars. After making the changes mentioned in this book, they not only are freed from their suffering, but they feel better overall. 

Secondary Headaches

 A secondary headache is a symptom of a disease that is irritating the nerves and/or blood vessels of the head.

Sinus Headaches 

Sinus headaches are often described as having pain behind the frontal bones (the bones in your forehead) or cheekbones.

Inflammation of the sinuses can cause headaches, as in acute sinusitis. Allergies can also cause head pain. Generally, sinus pain is caused by pressure on the mucous membranes (the lining of the sinuses) because they are unable to drain well.

Mobilization of the skull (cranial) bones helps improve drainage of the sinuses. The skull is made of multiple flat bones that articulate with each other.  There are no muscles that move these “joints,” so they are considered “immovable.”  However, the flat bones of the skull are not fused together.  A healthy skull has the ability to expand and contract to keep the pressure off the brain during changes of barometric pressure or sinus pressure.  If the sinuses are filling up with fluid from sickness or allergies, the skull should expand with this pressure, allowing the sinuses to drain with this extra space. If restricted, the sinuses can’t drain, pressure builds, and pain results in the form of a sinus headache. 

Mobilizing the cranial bones allows for the expansion of the skull, allowing the drainage of the sinuses.  This relieves the pressure on the mucous membranes, and the headache resolves.

Using a nasal irrigation system, like a Neti PotTM, may help as well. By cleaning out the nasal passageway, you rid the sinuses of the irritants that may be causing the swelling and remove the excess mucous that may be obstructing the drainage.

Head and Tooth Pain Caused by Jaw Tension

As illustrated in Figure 1-4, jaw tension can cause both tooth and head pain.

Jaw causing headache

Temporomandibular joint (jaw) dysfunction (TMD) can radiate pain into the head. Muscle tension in the jaw, face, neck, and upper back can cause pain in the head as well. I have many patients who come to me when they have tooth pain because it is often a result of their tight jaw muscles. 

To learn more about TMD (jaw dysfunction), CLICK HERE.

If their tooth pain does not improve with their jaw treatment, then they see their dentist. If their tooth pain improves with their jaw treatment, they have saved themselves a trip to the dentist. 

A bad tooth can also radiate pain into the head, making it feel like a headache rather than a bad tooth. Often such pain causes jaw tension, which can be misleading for health practitioners. They may diagnose a patient’s head pain as jaw tension headaches, but the pain was actually coming from a diseased tooth.

With this misdiagnosis, the patient is prescribed an inappropriate treatment, so the condition worsens. Some patients suffer for months before finally going in for their dental checkup. When they find the root cause of their pain and their tooth condition is fixed, their headache resolves.

Medical Conditions Resulting in Secondary Headaches

Infection or inflammation of the brain or its arteries can cause head pain. Bleeding in the neck causes nerve pain in the head because the nerves that exit the upper neck supply the head. Arterial tears (carotid or vertebral dissections) can cause headaches, too.

Bleeding in the brain, as with a brain aneurysm or stroke, can cause head pain.

The brain itself does not have nerves for pain reception, but its lining and its blood vessels are very sensitive, so any increased pressure in the brain causes head pain. 

Pseudotumor cerebri (an increase in pressure in the skull for no obvious reason) causes headaches as a result of the pressure increase.

A blood clot in a vein (unlike a stroke, which is a blood clot of in artery) can cause head pain because it causes the vein to swell, putting pressure on the brain. 

A Chiari malformation can cause head pain, too. In such a malformation, the lower part of the brain falls into the spinal canal. As it falls, it puts pressure on the base of the brain. 

This is another reason why, if your headaches are not resolving with treatments, or are worsening in anyway, an MRI may be indicated.  An MRI can help determine the cause of your headache (or at least, rule out conditions like this).  Such imaging can help the health care provider determine how your treatment should change, or if you need to be referred out to a different specialist.

Miscellaneous Conditions Resulting in Secondary Headaches 

Extreme cold on the roof of the mouth (ice cream headache) causes vasoconstriction (the blood vessels tighten and get smaller). When the vessels re-dilate, you feel head pain.

 Some medications can cause headaches, either directly or when their effect wears off. A headache that occurs when the medication wears off is called a “rebound headache.” Sometimes the rebound headache is worse than the pain for which the medication was taken in the first place. This is why I discourage people from taking pain pills.

Dehydration is yet another cause of head pain. Liquids such as alcohol and coffee can cause dehydration and trigger headaches.

 Liquids containing sulfates, as in red wine, can trigger headaches.

Coffee can trigger a headache when the effects of the caffeine wear off—these are called “caffeine withdrawal headaches.” For these reasons, it’s generally not a good idea to drink alcohol or caffeine if you suffer from headaches.

External pressure on the head (tight headgear or changes in barometric pressure) can cause head pain.

Other Headaches

Cough headaches suggest to me that there is a lack of movement of the cranial bones to offset the increase in pressure during a cough (Valsalva pressure).

When coughing, more blood is pushed into the head. If the skull bones do not expand with this increase of fluid, it puts pressure on the nerves and blood vessels that line the skull. Because nerves and blood vessels are sensitive to pressure, you feel pain at the slightest increase in pressure, especially if you are already on the verge of having a tension or migraine headache. The added pressure sends you over the edge.

Mobilization of the cranial bones often helps with headaches because it loosens the bones of the skull, allowing them to expand with the increase in blood flow. This expansion relieves pressure on the nerves and blood vessels that line the skull.

Exercise headaches and sex headaches suggest to me that blood pressure may be an issue. Again, mobilization of the cranial bones should help with this.

It takes a skilled practitioner to detect the subtle restrictions of the suture lines (the places where the flat bones of the skull meet).  A restriction of the flat bones of the skull can cause an increased vulnerability to headaches. These types of headaches respond well to mobilization and chiropractic manipulation of the cranial bones, even years after sustaining the original injury.

There is a plethora of other causes of head pain. To name a few:

·      Food and chemical sensitivities

·      Vitamin and mineral deficiencies

·      Exposure to certain mold in the home or workplace

·      Carbon monoxide poisoning or other air quality issues

This is why you must have a good healthcare provider who can help you diagnose the actual cause of your headache.

Headaches are often difficult to treat because there is usually more than one culprit. You may be treating one cause, yet you may then get a headache resulting from something completely different. This complexity demonstrates why you need to have a team of healthcare professionals on your side, helping you get to the root cause of your head pain instead of masking symptoms with pain medication. 

My Personal Thoughts on Headaches

 I have read literature written by various medical doctors and neurosurgeons who have different opinions on the causes and treatments of headaches. Some even suggest all headaches are simply different expressions of a migraine, which is a swelling of the blood vessels of the brain caused by different triggers. 

I believe they came to this conclusion because they see headache patients whose treatments failed them because they had migraine headaches that mimicked other types of headaches.

These patients likely were misdiagnosed because they did not have the classic migraine (in which the temporal artery is inflamed, causing one-sided head pain). Instead, the patients were misdiagnosed as having sinus, tension, or other types of headaches. Migraines can mimic these types of head pains if the inflammation is in a blood vessel other than the temporal artery.

This doesn’t mean that there aren’t other types of headaches. I personally have diagnosed a plethora of different headaches and have treated each according to the type of headache. I have successfully treated all but a few. The patients who continued to have headaches were not able or willing to make the lifestyle changes necessary to cure their headaches. Some patients just need to tweak their lifestyle, while others have to make major adjustments to their lifestyle as well as their career.

Regardless of the type of headache you suffer from, chiropractic care, eating well, stretching well, exercising throughout the day, and sleeping well will cure you. Healthy habits help you deal with the daily stressors outside of your control, lessening the degree to which affect you. 

But the question is, what eating habits, what stretches and exercises, and what amount of sleep will be best for your specific type of headache? I address all of these topics in my book, Combat Headaches.

combat headaches book cover

You don't have to suffer with migraines or headaches! 

We can help!

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[1] Fernández, Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain.





MANY HEADACHES (and some types of dizziness) are triggered when you eat certain foods. In some cases, you may have a food sensitivity; in other situations, the headache may be triggered by chemicals added to food (preservatives, flavorings, etc.). You may also experience headaches because of seasonal allergies. Here is my dietary advice.


A Teaspoon of Honey a Day Keeps the Allergies Away


Allergies cause the sinuses to inflame, causing sinus headaches. If you suffer from seasonal allergies, try eating a teaspoon of local honey; the beehive should be within 25 miles of your home (as the crow flies). Honey from a hive close to your home is filled with the antigens of the pollen you are breathing in your area. When you eat it, the body learns that the pollen antigens are “self”—something good that you assimilate into your body for energy—and not a “not self”—a foreign thing that needs to be attacked.


Honey works even better if you get honey made in the spring for your spring allergies and honey made in the fall for your fall allergies. Farmers markets are a good place to find locally produced honey.


Inoculation to Overcome Allergies


Another way to overcome allergies is through inoculation. Some people get allergy shots. You can treat an allergy by being exposed to a very small amount of what you are allergic to every week (but not enough to cause a reaction). Over time, the amount to which you are exposed is increased. Eventually, you are able to handle more of the allergen without a symptomatic response. I advise this be done under the guidance of a healthcare professional.


Eat a Variety of Foods


Food sensitivities are often the result of eating a limited variety of the same foods every day. This results in the body being underexposed to good antigens, which are the markers on organic material that our bodies use to determine if a substance is self or not self. Whenever the body is exposed to a new antigen, it attacks the new antigen like it’s a virus or bad bacteria. This explains why unfamiliar pollen or foods can make you feel sick.


When your body is exposed to a variety of antigens, more antigens are marked as self and are not attacked. If you eat the same foods every day, not only do you limit your body’s exposure to good antigens, but you make yourself more vulnerable to adverse reactions should you try something new.


The Rotation Diet: Keep Your Triggers from Accumulating and Turning into a Headache


For food sensitivities, consider the rotation diet. This diet will ensure that you get a variety of foods, and it will lessen your likelihood of developing food sensitivities, which is a growing problem in our culture.


The rule is simple: When you eat something, you can’t eat it for four consecutive days afterward.

Think about that. How many times have you eaten the same food for weeks? How much variety do you really have in your diet? If you eat the same types of foods all the time, you will likely develop sensitivity to those foods.


Some studies suggest that you need to eat dozens of different types of vegetables to maintain a healthy gut flora, which is imperative to your overall good health. The better your overall health, the more likely you can tolerate your triggers without getting a headache. So if you make a big meal, freeze the leftovers and only eat one serving of it no more than once a week.


Another thing I like about this diet is that after a week or so, you have to start hunting the vegetable aisle for something you haven’t eaten in four days. Your veggies should expand from cucumbers, celery, carrots, broccoli, and cauliflower to include kale, leeks, radishes, spinach, water chestnuts, bok choy, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, red beets, squash, and more. The more varied your diet, the less likely you’ll suffer from a nutrient deficiency—another potential trigger for headaches.

If you already have a food sensitivity, the rotation diet should help decrease your sensitivity to it. If you avoid foods you are sensitive to, you will become hypersensitive to them, and you may even develop a strong allergy to them. If you eat a small amount of something you are sensitive to and then avoid it for four days, your body has time to get it completely out of your system. Then when you eat a small amount of that food again, your body can tolerate it. Over time, your body should even be less sensitive to it. This process is similar to how an inoculation works.


The Question of Eating Organic


When it comes to my vegetables, I am not too picky about them being organic because I feel that there is no such thing unless you grow veggies in your own garden and control how they are cultivated. Not all of us have that leisure, but if you do, eating fresh from the garden is the best way to get your vegetables.


However, when it comes to meat or any animal product (like milk or eggs), I am stricter. I try to avoid eating animal products that are not certified organic. Most meat sold at large chain grocery stores comes from an animal that has eaten who knows what foods, has been injected with who knows how many drugs and hormones, and has been subjected to potentially bad conditions that fill the animal’s tissues with stress hormones. So I choose not to eat meat from those animals.

Hormones in Our Food Can Be Triggers for Headaches


If you suffer from headaches, especially migraine headaches, you may want to avoid meat that is not hormone free. Migraine headaches in particular are sensitive to hormone changes in the body. If you are eating meat unnaturally high in hormones, it likely will not help your situation. In fact, it may act as one of the triggers for your headache.


Where’s the Beef?


I was a vegetarian for nine years but found it difficult with my active lifestyle to get the protein I needed. I had to eat more carbohydrates than my body needed to get the protein I required, and I had to take supplements for protein and iron, because I was borderline anemic. I was heavier then and not as healthy. I’m not saying it wasn’t doable; it just wasn’t easy for me.


I was taught that eating red meat increases cholesterol levels; all of my family members suffer from high cholesterol. But despite being vegetarian, my cholesterol was borderline high. I worried about how eating meat would affect my cholesterol levels. I found safe, clean sources of meat and even started raising my own chickens and cattle. Now that I am eating lean, clean meat, my cholesterol is lower than ever. I now believe that red meat is not the cause of high cholesterol. Instead, the overfed, hormone-injected, antibiotic-filled meat from stressed-out animals is the true cholesterol-raising culprit.


New studies also suggest simple carbohydrates cause high cholesterol. If your diet is deficient in cholesterol-producing foods, your body will converts simple carbohydrates to the cholesterol you need.[1] I was an example of this when I was eating more carbohydrates and minimal cholesterol.


So don’t be afraid of eating foods with cholesterol; instead, pay attention to the amount of foods you ingest that are high in simple carbohydrates.

[1] Boyles, “Low-Carb Diets Improve Cholesterol Long Term.”

When I do buy meat, I make sure it is organic and from cage-free animals. My favorite is from a local farmer who raises healthy buffalo. He even feeds them grasses from his own fields, making for very healthy and lean meat. I’m sure you can find a butcher shop that knows its meat sources and can vouch for the animals’ living conditions, the quality of their food source, and that they are not injected with hormones.


Good Bugs Can Help


Another remedy you may want to try is taking probiotics. Good bacteria are essential to the well-being of your immune system. If you do not have good gastrointestinal flora health, your immune system will suffer, leading to immune issues like food sensitivities. Feed the flora in your gut with a variety of vegetables and grains to keep it healthy. As previously mentioned, some studies suggest that you need dozens of different types of vegetables to maintain a healthy gut flora.


If you take a probiotic supplement, make sure it contains more than one type of probiotic. You need a variety of good bugs in your digestive tract for it to be well. Many probiotic capsules contain only acidophilus because it is easily obtained from dairy products. This is not as therapeutic because acidophilus is the least deficient bug in our gut, especially if you eat dairy products like yogurt.

good bugs intestinal flora help headaches

Additionally, purchase your probiotic from a reliable source. If you get it from a store, it may have gotten too hot or cold during transportation, rendering the probiotics useless (because they likely died in transport).


If you have to take an antibiotic, remember that it kills good bugs along with the bad. So take a probiotic during the antibiotic treatment and afterward to help replenish the good bacteria. Antibiotics make your gut vulnerable to a hostile takeover if not replenished with good bugs.


A lot of medical doctors say not to take probiotics while taking an antibiotic because the antibiotic will kill them. While it is true that antibiotics kill probiotics, I recommend replenishing the probiotics faster than the antibiotic can kill them. This way, the good bugs can overrun the bad bugs.


Digestive Enzymes


Food sensitivities may also suggest your digestive juices are weak. Ask your healthcare provider if taking a digestive enzyme daily with your heaviest meal is an appropriate treatment option.

You don't have to suffer with migraines or headaches! 

We can help!

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THE FOLLOWING is my general advice on living well. The healthier you are, the less likely you will succumb to your headache triggers.


Drink Plenty of Water


All tissues in our body need water. Dehydration affects blood pressure, muscle tension, and joint and fascia lubrication, all of which can lead to a headache. (Fascia is the lining that covers muscles and organs in your body, separating the different tissues while holding everything together.)


You can calculate how much water to drink by multiplying your body weight by 1/2 (0.5) to 2/3 (0.66). The result is the number of ounces of water you should drink in a day. For example, I am close to 125 pounds, so I should drink approximately 83 ounces a day (125 x 2/3 = 82.5). Now, for every half hour you exercise, you should add at least 11 ounces. This is why I try to drink at least 96 ounces (three 32-ounce containers) of water a day.


If you drink black tea, coffee, and/or alcohol, you need to drink even more water. Tea, coffee, and alcohol are fluids that dehydrate you because they tamper with your anti-diuretic hormone (ADH).

The hypothalamus (a part of your brain) detects how much water is in the blood. If the water content is low, the blood has a higher salt content. The pituitary gland (the master gland of your body, also in the brain) senses this and releases ADH into the blood stream. When the ADH reaches the kidneys, ADH opens the kidneys tubules so more water is reabsorbed into your blood (instead of urinating it out; Figure 11-1).


After the water pressure goes back up, the hypothalamus detects this and tells the pituitary gland to stop producing ADH. The ADH in the blood levels drop, and the tubules in the kidneys will close down so more of the fluid will flow out into the urine. This negative feedback loop ensures that our blood holds the perfect amount of water.


If you drink too much water, the body has a means to urinate out the excess but keep a healthy amount in. As long as you urinate when needed, it is almost impossible to overdose on water, it’s but easy to be deficient in water. So drink up!


When you drink tea, coffee, soda pop, or alcohol, ADH production goes down. This interferes with the regulation of water in the body, causing you to urinate out too much water. This leads to dehydration, which affects your health (especially over the long term). So for every ounce of alcohol and for every cup of tea or coffee you consume, you should drink at least 8 additional ounces of water.




Headaches may be a sign that you are deficient in a mineral or vitamin, like magnesium or vitamin B2 (riboflavin). Magnesium is a muscle relaxer, so a deficiency can lead to tension headaches. Vitamin B2 is important for nerve health. A deficiency in B2 can lead to nerve pain such as headaches.


There has been much debate over whether people should take vitamins. If you are eating a healthy, varied, and whole-foods diet, you should be able to get all of your needed vitamins through your food. Unfortunately, most of our food is grown on over farmed land, so the food produced on it is deficient of micronutrients and genetically designed to look good and have a longer shelf life (with no effect to its nutritional content or taste).


My general advice is to take a half dose of a multivitamin every day or two. That way you are less likely to be deficient in anything and you avoid the risk of overdosing on anything.


If you are taking a multivitamin, make sure the vitamins are coming from a plant source. Plants build vitamins via complex biochemical processes, producing one specific biomolecule. When vitamins are produced in a lab, an unnatural form can be produced and included in the multivitamin pill.


For example, vitamin E has two forms of isomers: an L-alpha-tocopherol and a D-alpha tocopherol. Isomers are chemicals that are the same but mirror images of each other. Sometimes this doesn’t matter. For example, a cube is the same as its mirror image. But some shapes are such that the mirror image is different from the original. An example of this would be your hands. There is a left (L) and a right (D).

Vitamin E has a left and a right version. In Figure below, notice how the carbon cyclohexane (the circle of dots on the far right side of the molecule) points forward on the D version and points back on the L version, just like if you held your hands with the thumb on the same side, one hand would be palm up and the other palm down.

vitamin isomer for headache

Do you see how the mirror image is not the same as the original item?


Only the right-hand version, D-alpha tocopherol, works in your body. To help you understand why one works and one doesn’t, even though they look similar, think of a lock and key. If the key is just a little bit different, it won’t work. Consider the example of a high-tech lock that is opened by your unique right hand. Let’s say you can only open it by inserting your right hand palm down so it can read your fingerprints. Your left hand would not be able to open it. Even if your left hand had the exact same fingerprints as your right hand, it still wouldn’t be able to open the lock because once inserted palm down the fingerprints would be in the wrong order and the thumb would be on the wrong side.


That’s what happens with the left and right vitamin E. The right one works, but the left one doesn’t. An easy way to remember this is “L is for liar.”


Look at your vitamin labels. If it says the Vitamin E is dl-alpha-tocopherol, it has the unnatural form of Vitamin E as well as the natural version (hence the d and the l). In my opinion, you should throw this away because it may be harmful to your health. Look for a multivitamin that just has the d-alpha-tocopherol version of the Vitamin E instead.

Co-enzyme Q10


Co-enzyme Q10 helps with the health of the vascular system by decreasing blood pressure. If high blood pressure is a cause of your headaches, CoQ10 may help. If you are on medication, speak with your medical doctor before supplementing with CoQ10 because it often compounds the effect blood thinners or blood pressure medication.

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FOODS TO AVOID if you suffer from headaches and or migraines



IF YOU SUFFER from headaches, you should know what substances are major triggers for head pains. By avoiding these, you may be able to tolerate more of the minor triggers. Here are some details on the major triggers.



Avoid caffeine (coffee, tea, chocolate, etc.) for two reasons. Not only does it lead to dehydration, which can cause headaches, but it can lead to a headache when the effect of the caffeine wears off.



Avoid alcohol, especially red wine. Alcohol leads to dehydration (a headache trigger). Red wine not only contains alcohol, but it also contains sulfites, another headache trigger.


Soda Pop


Soda pop, like cigarette smoke, has many negative health effects. If you drink soda pop, try to stop drinking it for a month (including caffeine-free soda). The lack of caffeine can trigger a headache during the withdrawal, but soda itself can trigger headaches. Soda pop has a gross amount of chemicals, sugar, and salt. It ruins the taste of all other food and messes with your insulin levels, which causes sugar levels to go out of control and can trigger a headache.


Diet sodas are even worse because the artificial sweeteners mess with your brain chemistry even more than natural sugars do. Not only should a month of abstaining from soft drinks help to decrease your headaches, but it should also result in foods tasting better because your taste buds will no longer be overstimulated by chemicals.


When you eliminate soda pop from your diet, you may find yourself eating healthier, and your body should show positive signs of this. I have had many patients lose dozens of pounds simply by no longer drinking soda and increasing their water intake. I always encourage my patients to stop drinking soda pop. To give them additional motivation, I tell them that soda pop has been linked to osteoporosis because it causes the kidneys to remove more calcium out of the blood.  [1] [2]


Processed Food



Try avoiding processed foods because they often contain triggers like preservatives (nitrates and nitrites) and flavor enhancers (MSG and aspartame).


Chewy Food


Avoid chewy food if your head pain stems from your jaws. Chewing on tough food can irritate the spastic jaw muscles. A major culprit is chewing gum. Avoid it! If you must chew gum to freshen your breath, chew for a few minutes and then spit it out. Chewing any longer than that risks irritating your mastication muscles, which in turn can trigger a headache.

[1] Mahmood M, Saleh A, Al-Alawi F, Ahmed F. Health effects of soda drinking in adolescent girls in the United Arab Emirates.  J Crit Care. 2008 Sep;23(3):434-440. Doi:10.1016/j.jcrc.2008.06.006


[2] Tucker K, Morita K, Qiao N, Hanna M, Cupples A, Kiel D. Colas, but not other carbonated beverages, are associated with low bone mineral density in older women: The Framingham Osteoporosis Study. Am J Clin Nutr 2006;84:936-42.

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Hidden causes of head pain: poor air quality


AIR QUALITY CAN CAUSE headaches. Air quality is mostly a product of your environment, be it in your home or office or the outdoors. Mold, pollen, dust, pollutants, and other particles in the air can be triggers for your headaches. Some of this is out of your control, but there are things you can do that may help your headaches.

Indoor Air Quality


Dust, pet dander, and mold can reduce the air quality in your home. No matter how thoroughly or how often you clean, you can’t eliminate everything that affects indoor air quality. Poor indoor air quality can lead to allergies, which often trigger headaches.


If you suffer from indoor allergies, think about getting better air filters for your furnace. I also advise putting air purifiers in your bedroom as well in your office. You should also clean out the air ducts in your home every year.


Using sheets and pillowcases that minimize dust mites and washing your sheets often will also help. In housekeeping, use high-quality filters in your vacuum cleaner and vacuum frequently. These steps go a long way toward improving your home’s air quality.


Outdoor Air Pollutants


Vehicle exhaust contains multiple pollutants that can affect your brain chemistry and oxygen levels, so vehicle exhaust can be a headache trigger. Avoid your exposure to it as much as possible. For example, if you exercise outside, don’t do it along a high-traffic road.


If you have a long commute, think about moving closer, changing jobs, or working from home more often. Not only is the air quality in traffic congestion unhealthy, but sitting for long periods of time is unhealthy too. In fact, prolonged sitting is now considered “the new smoking.” You can check out my book Top Seven Ways to Combat the Effects of Sitting to learn more.


Cigarette Smoke

Avoid cigarette smoke, and if you smoke, quit! Cigarette smoke has a plethora of headache triggers. It contains toxic chemicals and affects blood vessels, including those in the brain. In this day and age, enough evidence exists about the hazards of smoking that it should prevent you from even picking up a cigarette. Those same facts should scare you enough to quit smoking.


There are many ways to quit smoking. There are patches, medications, and e-cigarettes. If these methods help you quit, then by all means, use them, with the understanding you are using them to help decrease your dependency on nicotine. If you are a headache sufferer, I would avoid nicotine, period. 


Check for Mold


Have both your home and workplace checked for toxic mold. Every house has some mold in it, but if it is the toxic kind, it can cause respiratory problems and be a trigger for headaches. The spores in the mold can elicit an inflammatory response, resulting in headaches.


If you have toxic mold in your home, you must make sure it is properly, safely, and completely removed. This may involve tearing out drywall, replacing insulation, and more. For you do-it-yourselfers, this project is one that should be left to the professionals. Many companies specialize in mold removal. They have the elaborate gear to protect their workers from the mold during the removal process. As with choosing your healthcare professionals wisely, the same goes for the company you choose to check for and remove mold in your home and/or workplace. Make sure the company you choose uses products that are safe for humans. You may want to avoid the location until everything has aired out and is tested free of toxic mold.


Carbon Monoxide Detectors


You should have a carbon monoxide detector in your home. I have had a few patients whose headaches were caused by low doses of carbon monoxide in their home as a result of their furnace exhaust leaking.


Carbon monoxide is a toxic, invisible gas. If you breathe too much of it, your cells get deprived of oxygen, and your organs will shut down, leading to death. Early symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headaches, dizziness, and shortness of breath.


You can buy carbon monoxide detectors at any home improvement store. If the detector ever goes off, call 911 and open a window to let in fresh air. Your local fire department will come and test for carbon monoxide levels and identify the source.

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SLEEP DEPRIVATION CAN BE a trigger for headaches. For optimal health, make sure to get at least eight hours of sleep every night. Studies have suggested that to be healthy, people should get seven to nine hours of sleep a night.


If you get less than six hours of sleep, you are at a high risk of cancer and early death from disease. Sleep deprivation also makes you vulnerable, and if you tend to get headaches, sleep deprivation will increase your vulnerability to your headache triggers.

To learn more about how to combat Insomnia, check out our COMBAT INSOMNIA WEBPAGE

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Drummond Chiropractic, LLC
Migraine Specialists
Headache Specialists
565 North Walnut Street,
Bloomington, IN 47404
(812) 336-2423

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