Headaches - A Functional Medicine Approach Can Help

Headaches – A Functional Medicine Approach Can Help

Do you live in Ottawa, and are you seeking help with your headaches?

Well, you are in the right place!

Today I am going to outline the seven causes of headaches.

Even better, I will explain how a Functional Medicine Approach can help.

In This Article:

Let us jump in by explaining what a Functional Medicine approach is.

What is a Functional Medicine Approach?

Functional Medicine looks to identify and resolve the underlying cause of symptoms, unlike Conventional Medicine, which treats symptoms using medication.

Let’s look at the seven common causes of headaches and how to resolve them through the lens of Functional Medicine, starting with dehydration.

7 Surprising Causes of Headaches


Dehydration or lack of enough water intake is one of the most typical reasons people develop headaches. Although there is no sure evidence of how much we should drink daily. I usually aim for eight 8-ounce glasses of water daily.

The water quality is also essential, as some people are sensitive to town water full of chemicals such as chlorine. Luckily my wife and I live in the country, so we have a well and take water to work at our clinic in downtown Ottawa. However, drinking too much town water gives my wife headaches.

You can get a Brita filter to remove chlorine if you live in town.

If you don’t like the taste of the water, you can always flavour it with lemon juice.

If you find it hard to remember to drink, try putting a Water App on your phone to remind you to drink.

Finally, be wary of how much caffeine you drink, as it acts as a diuretic in the body. Try cutting down on caffeinated beverages such as coffee (which, as you will find out later, is a common trigger for headaches).

Magnesium Deficiency

Magnesium is essential for many chemical reactions, but many people are deficient in this mineral.

One of the main reasons for this is that magnesium has become significantly depleted in our farming soil. Hence even if you drink plenty of good quality water and eat lots of green leafy vegetables, you are still unlikely to be ingested the suggested daily intake.

I am not a big fan of taking too many supplements, but magnesium is good if you suffer from persistent headaches.

I recommend taking Magnesium Glycinate 300mg twice daily with food. Be cautious of taking magnesium if you suffer from kidney disease or impairment by speaking to your Doctor or Pharmacist.

High Epinephrine or Cortisol

Epinephrine and cortisol are hormones in the body that are released at high levels, particularly when we are stressed.

High levels of Epinephrine in the body have been linked to migraine headaches.

If you are experiencing a high-stress level and suffer from persistent headaches, try introducing some mindfulness practices, such as meditation.

Try taking an L-Theanine supplement of 200mg twice daily away from food or drinking Organic Green Tea (which is high in L-Theanine).

L-Theanine is an amino acid shown to lower cortisol levels in the body.

Caffeine Intake

Consuming high amounts of caffeine beverages, such as coffee, is a typical cause of headaches.

As I explained above, caffeine is a diuretic that can cause dehydration.

Coffee is often high in mould, another potential trigger for headaches.

If you know you are sensitive to mould and like drinking coffee, try Bullet Proof Coffee which is mould free.

High Histamine

Histamine is a chemical released when our bodies are exposed to allergens. One of the symptoms of high histamine in the body is frequent headaches.

High levels can result from excessive exposure, production or poor metabolism.

Excessive exposure may be from eating too many histamine-rich foods, such as fermented goods.

Excessive production occurs in conditions such as Mast Cell Activation Syndrome.

Poor metabolism means the body can not easily break down histamine once it no longer requires it.

Enzymes break down histamine, such as Diamine Oxidase (DAO), produced in the gut lining. Therefore, damage to the gut lining will reduce DAO production.

If you suspect you have high histamine, you could try taking Quercetin 500 mg twice daily. Quercetin is a natural anti-histamine.

A short-term DAO supplement might be worth taking if you suffer from a chronic inflammatory bowel condition.

Menstrual Hormonal Imbalances

If your headaches occur around your periods, you could have a sex hormone imbalance.

Specifically, women who are estrogen dominant or produce too much estrogen usually experience headaches around their period.

Estrogen increases histamine production in the body, which is the underlying cause of menstrual headaches.

Food Sensitivities

Food sensitivities may trigger headaches. Common triggers include tyramine, sulphites, aspartame, and caffeine.

You may want to try keeping a food/symptom diary to see if you can see any obvious pattern between certain foods and your headaches.

What do you think?

Do you suffer from frequent headaches?

Have you considered any of the above causes of headaches?

Let me know by leaving a comment below.

Do You Need Help with Resolving Your Headaches?

Suppose you need help and live in Ottawa. In that case, I suggest you book a free functional medicine discovery session in person or via video to determine whether my Functional medicine approach fits your needs.


The information provided on this website is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose or treat any disease. Please do not apply this information without first speaking with your doctor.


  1. Hi Dominick, I agree with all the points you made regarding the causes for headaches. I used to have them, but am pretty much free of them. They can be so debilitating, so I encourage anyone who does have them to seek the root cause. And I have full confidence that Dominick can help with that.

    1. Hi Elaine,

      Thanks for the kind feedback.

      My apologies for my very slow response.

      Kind regards


  2. A typical symptom of Lyme disease is severe headache, meningitis.

    1. Very true.

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