Peddling the cure is big business

cure_featureThere is no shortage of people trying to capitalize on the increased awareness of migraine. False claims of a cure are all too common and tempting. It’s an ugly result of greater public recognition. The more we talk about migraine, the more questionable claims will pop up. Honestly, there aren’t enough insulting names in the English language to adequately describe the revolting anger I feel toward those who would take advantage sick people, desperate for relief.

Migraine isn’t the only disease that is a target. We just finally got enough name recognition to make it worth someone’s effort. Now that the public is learning to take migraine seriously, more patients are looking for better answers. With a shortage of medical experts, wannabes and quacks are trying to fill in the gaps. The scariest part is that many of these so-called doctors really do think they have a cure. Their knowledge is often based on outdated information and faulty science.

The doctors and researchers who specialize in headache medicine have learned a lot about what happens during and between migraine attacks. This has resulted in greatly improved treatments. For the vast majority of episodic migraine patients, current treatments are safe and effective. Unfortunately, there are still millions of patients with chronic migraine for whom even the best treatment options have failed. Many are misdiagnosed and over half of those who suffer from migraines have never even talked to a doctor about them.

Despite the advances of recent years, experts still don’t know what causes migraine. It is impossible to develop a cure until the cause is known. Granted, those who claim they have a cure, also claim to know the cause. If they really did have that information, it would be the lead story¬†for¬†every major news outlet. The person who discovers a cure will be on the short list for a Nobel prize in medicine. Their name will be synonymous with Curie, Pasteur, Salk, Flemming, and Jenner.

So before you give in to temptation, do your homework.

  1. Is he/she licensed to practice medicine?
  2. Has the doctor ever been sanctioned by a medical board?
  3. Does the doctor have advanced training in headache medicine?
  4. Is he/she a member in good standing of a reputable physician’s organization such as the American Headache Society?
  5. Have the claims been subjected to double-blind, placebo-controlled scientific studies?
  6. Have these studies been published in a peer-reviewed medical journal?

Ways to spot a fake cure:

  1. Patients are required to avoid certain foods or stimuli for a lifetime.
  2. Patients are required to continue treatment indefinitely to maintain results.
  3. Patients must adhere to a specific diet in order to maintain results.
  4. The “cure” is unsupported by research
  5. The specific ingredients are “proprietary”

A true cure would be time-limited and permanent. In order to cure migraine, a treatment would have to accomplish the following:

  • Permanently prevent the brain’s reactivity to stimuli
  • Prevent ALL symptoms of migraine, not just the headache
  • Allow patients to maintain a normal life with no food or activity restrictions

Nobody can do that yet. The best minds in headache medicine can’t offer that kind of result. The best we can hope for is either remission or effective management. Some patients no longer experience headache pain as a result of a variety of treatments. Many more have been able to limit the impact of migraine by preventing most attacks and quickly stopping the remaining few. But that’s not everybody.

If you are still looking for answers, please be careful. There are plenty of unscrupulous people trying to profit from your misery. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. I’m not suggesting that the only effective treatments are pharmaceuticals. Instead, I urge you to choose carefully and do lots of research. Don’t be fooled into thinking that anyone can offer you a cure for migraine. That simply doesn’t exist right now.

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