Just-approved headband helps with migraines 

Jay Silverheels portrayed Tonto in TV’s “The Lone Ranger” wearing a simple headband across his forehead. Johnny Depp amped up the character’s costume and topped off his movie-version headband with a dead crow. Critics said the affectation pained them greatly. But the latest headband to hit the U.S. market — it’s been available in Canada and Europe for some time — may bring much-needed pain relief to the more than 30 million folks who contend with migraine headaches.

This battery-powered device, newly approved by the Food and Drug Administration, is designed to prevent migraine attacks, not treat them once they’ve started. It’s worn around the head like Silverheels’ headband, and during a daily 20-minute session, an electrode delivers programmed electrical impulses to branches of the trigeminal nerve that’s located in the center of the forehead, above the eyes. This three-part nerve is thought to play a role in triggering migraine and in transmitting the pain sensations it causes.

Studies show that when used over several months, the headband cuts the number of headache days in half (that’s a relief) and significantly reduces the use of migraine-attack medication. And just as important: Side effects from this novel migraine therapy are rare and minimal. Many migraine suffers can’t stomach potent migraine prevention and treatment medications, which can trigger burning or prickling sensations in hands and feet, chest pain, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, dizziness, nausea and rebound headaches. So if you have migraine headaches, ask your doctor about trying this new way to stop the pain before it begins.


When Rosemary Butler belted out the chorus on Jackson Browne’s version of “Stay (Just a Little Bit Longer)” almost four decades ago, a lot of 50- to 60-year-olds apparently decided to take that advice. There are now over 53,000 centenarians in the U.S. — a 66 percent increase in 30 years!

Advances in chronic disease treatment and prevention are extending your lifespan, and increasing the number of medications you take: 75 percent of you, 65 or older, take drugs for at least two chronic disorders; almost a third of you take five or more medications. You also take 35 percent of all over-the-counter drugs. No wonder drug interactions are an increasing problem.

A recent study found that combining prescription meds for high blood pressure and osteoarthritis is the most common cause of a risky drug interaction. If you add a cox-2 inhibitor for pain on top of a beta blocker for high blood pressure, the cox-2 inhibitor blocks the beta blocker and your blood pressure stays too high. Other combos of prescription and/or OTC meds cause just as much trouble.

To minimize drug interactions:

1. Write down each prescription, non-prescription med and supplement you take.

2. Schedule time with your pharmacist to review your list, checking for drug interactions; take notes.

3. Take your list and notes to your primary care physician.

Create a wellness plan that includes stress management, walking and avoiding the Five Food Felons. This will reduce your need for chronic-disease meds. Medicare and most insurance companies cover this visit annually without any copay.


Everything that goes up must come down — or so the saying goes. That’s certainly true of the stock market, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s popularity and the winner’s weight on “The Biggest Loser.” But sometimes the opposite is true.

When it comes to elevated levels of lousy LDL cholesterol, more than 32 percent of men in the U.S. can’t get their number down below 100 milligrams per deciliter. And at the same time, 30 percent of guys 40-70 have erectile dysfunction. Coincidence? Nope. High levels of LDL can clog any blood vessel, not just those in your heart, and make it difficult to achieve an erection. Unless the LDL comes down ...

Well, it turns out there’s good news. Statins, the anti-cholesterol, anti-inflammation medications taken by 15 percent of men in the U.S. ages 45-64 and the 50 percent of those 65-plus, don’t just help prevent cardiovascular disease, dementia and peripheral artery disease, they restore blood flow throughout the body, and that eases ED.

While it’s too soon to prescribe statins as ED therapy (not all ED is caused by circulatory problems; psychosocial issues need to be addressed through therapy), it’s one more reason why we say these are life-changing medications.

Other good news about potential benefits of statins: They may help prevent blood clots and reduce your risk of developing and dying from all cancers, plus they slash colon cancer chances by 47 percent. And combining a statin with a daily low-dose aspirin (warm water before and after, but check with your doc first) may reduce a woman’s risk of breast cancer.

Dr. Mehmet Oz is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Dr. Michael Roizen is chief medical officer at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. For more information go to www.sharecare.com.

Pin It

More by Mehmet Oz and Mike Roizen

Latest in Health & Fitness

Sunday, Oct 4, 2015


Most Popular Stories

© 2015 The San Francisco Examiner

Website powered by Foundation