3 Causes of Headaches/Migraines That You Didn’t Know About

Headaches and Migraines are NOT Normal.

Having the privilege of being in practice for over 17 years while seeing tens of thousands of patient visits, I am amazed how often I speak with a patient about their history and when I ask if they get any migraines or headaches, more often then not, we hear: “ I get the normal Headache, 2-3 times per week.”

Any headache is the body’s way of telling us our system is under abnormal stress. Symptoms are only an indicator. Unfortunately, main street medicine only looks at these symptoms, addresses them, and believes the problem is solved. I have seen three common patterns in patients that I believe are the root causes of Headaches and Migraines: HORMONES, STRUCTURE and GUT.



Unfortunately for women, they lose out to men here. For every man with a Headache or Migraine, there are at least three women behind him with one. A woman’s hormone cycle is way more complex than their male counterpart. Women are also proven to be more sensitive to life’s toxins and stressors. Generally women hold their stress in their necks and shoulders, while men hold theirs in their stomach and low back. When a woman’s muscle tone becomes a very distinct, ropy and knotty feeling, I get a laugh when I ask them whether they are mid cycle or just started their cycle. Hormone changes often lead to Headaches and Migraines.


Our lifestyles are turning our spines into a leaning Jenga tower! Text neck is real and we are seeing its effects in children as young as 6 years old!! Our cervical spine (neck) should have a nice C curve. Commonly, because of traumas, lifestyle, and poor working habits we lose that C curve. Losing this curve creates pressure on the nerves entering the brain stem. The more loss of curve, the tighter the pressure becomes, and the more it pulls on the brain stem. This pressure causes more tension and is known to trigger a Headache or Migraine.


Our Guts (GI system) are a sensitive and complicated group of organs that amaze me every day. It is incredible how much our gut can impact our health. Three major impacts on our gut are:
1. The foods we eat – Food allergies and sensitivities impact our gut daily
2. The stress we face – We can NOT have stress without a normal working Gut
3. The medications we take – Antibiotics are the number one cause of throwing our GI system into out of whack and turning it into Swiss Cheese

Using a patient’s history to peel back the layers in an effort uncover whether you have a Hormone-Migraine/Headache, a Structural- Migraine/Headache, or a Gut- Migraine/Headache patient or any combination of the three and get you towards health! This is what we specialize in here at Sugar Hill Spine and Wellness. Have you been checked to see why you have Headaches or Migraines?


Yours in Health,
Dr. Joe Clarino and Dr. Deb Cirone

3 Secrets of Miraculous/Magical Weight Loss Stories

We’re constantly bombarded with ad after ad, commercial after commercial – all trying to get us to buy into the next weigh loss magic!

Every time I see an ad or marketing scheme promising fast results in a short amount of time for weight loss, I always think of the scene in the movie There’s Something about Mary when Ben Stiller picks up a hitchhiker who has a *brilliant* sales pitch: 7 Minute Abs! (As compared to the already on the market 8 Minute Abs workout videos). (If you have no idea what I’m talking about, click here for a pretty great laugh: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JB2di69FmhE) It kills me every time.

Joking aside, the sad part of that scene is that it’s not different at all in real life. We see it everywhere we look!

  • “Lose 30lbs in 14 days”
  • “7 days to a new you”
  • “4 days and10lbs guaranteed “

You get the point. ‘7 Minute Abs’ instead of ‘8 Minute Abs’. Each new fad has success stories showing how this person lost 100 pounds in 3 months or how she went from a size 12 to a 2 just by drinking this new supplement. There is so much more behind any weight loss story than just a magic pill, or a new diet, or just exercise alone. Just like a magic show, the results are real, but the process to get there is much more than meets the eye.  Once the illusion is revealed and you see how it was done, you can do it yourself.

I wish there was such a way to get those results in such a short time, but there isn’t. There are several studies out there that show when people lose such a dramatic amount of weight, their body fights to gain it (and plus some!) back because it shocked their system (feel free to look up previous winners of ‘The Biggest Loser’, you’ll be shocked).

What can we do to lose weight and keep it off?

My goal here isn’t to discourage you. So, if there’s no such thing as ‘magic’ weight loss, what can we do to lose weight and keep it off? In my practice and research, I’ve found that there are three keys to proper weight loss:

  1. Understand your Body First

If you’re struggling with your weight, it’s probable that you’ve tried everything. You’ve taken the pills, you’ve exercised, you’ve drank the green smoothies, etc. Some things have brought minor successes and others total failure.  Here are some questions you need to ask yourself to better begin understanding your body:

  • What foods work for me? (make me feel full without eating too much)
  • What foods inflame me? (make me feel bloated, sluggish, and are more fattening?)
  • What foods give me more long-lasting energy? (not just a sugar high and then a crash)
  • Which healthy foods do I enjoy? What can I substitute in my normal diet?
  1. It starts in the GUT

Research after research is showing that people with messed up GI (gastrointestinal tract) systems are overweight. Duke University did a study where they sterilized GI tracts of mice. They gave them bacteria that are believed to cause weight gain and BAM! The mice gained weight!  They gave the same mice proper bacteria (think ‘probiotics’) and then the mice lost the weight. Now, I know you are not a mouse, but our bodies were not made to ingest products that can survive a nuclear holocaust. If it can live on a shelf for more than a year…. Maybe you shouldn’t be eating it. There are thousands of natural alternatives for any processed foods you love and can’t seem to get enough of. (We would be happy to point you to them!)

Another interesting thing that was found in the study with the mice was that the heavier mice (the ‘bad bacteria’ mice – that sounds like a bad boy band… but I digress) gave birth to heavier babies, while the skinnier mice (the probiotic mice) gave birth to healthier babies. This leads us right into the next key to healthy weight loss: 


Once the GI tract gets out of wack, it spills over to the cells.   Our cells dictate everything about our bodies. Each cell has millions of ‘locks’ on the outer-most layer to communicate with hormones and regulate our bodies.  Hormones like: 

  • Insulin (controls how much sugar is absorbed/released, and therefore controls your energy levels.)
  • Thyroid (hyper- or hypo-, this hormone controls your metabolism)
  • Sex hormones (that’s right, your sex drive.)
  • Leptin (works in balance with Gernlin to regulate your hunger)
  • Gernlin
  • Adrenal (‘Fight or Flight’ hormone)

( Just to name a few)

 If the ‘locks’ or ‘portals’ to the cells are inflamed or occupied by something else (like a toxin), the communication between the cells and the hormones goes down and, you guessed it, your body reacts accordingly. Things start to shut down or not work correctly.

MILLION DOLLAR QUESTION: What happens when to the cell when it cant get what it needs?

…It starts to behave differently and/or it dies.    

There is no ‘magic’ in weight loss. Just like everything in life; we have to work towards our goals. The key to losing weight and keeping it off is finding the causes of the functional problems. Fix theses issues, understand your body, and educate yourself (remember: YOU are your biggest advocate! Don’t be afraid to ask questions!) and then you can work some real ‘magic’!

And if you ever need some help in your journey to a healthier you, your friends at Sugar Hill Spine and Wellness are here to help you!

5 Reasons Your Thyroid Issue Isn’t Really A Thyroid Issue

What functional labs told me that changed my career.

 The thyroid is all the rage in healthcare nowadays, especially in natural healthcare. It seems like almost every health issue is blamed on the thyroid, but is it really? Are doctors picking a thyroid issue as their scapegoat because it’s easy, or because it’s truly the issue?

As a doctor, I am passionate about helping my patients truly identify the root cause of their issues. I am also passionate about thyroid health because I went through something personally about 6 years ago, which could have easily been blamed on the thyroid without any further digging.  I have gone from pain to purpose.

So here’s the cliff notes version of my story:  My shoulder was hurt and it would not get well.  Rehab only made it worse.  An MRI showed nothing.  I decided to get a natural Prolozone injection and a friend of mine thought I may have more going on.  He convinced me to run some tests.  Stool Test, Sex Hormones, Thyroid, Adrenals, and Food sensitivity.

Here are the results:

Before I share them, I want you to understand I was in great shape, I thought I was doing my best and that I was the picture of perfect health.

  1. Stool Test – 4 crazy strong parasites, which I believe I got from drinking river water in college.
  2. Hormone Test   showed that my testosterone levels were way too low. It was 248 and a man my age should have been in the 600 to 800’s.
  3. Other tests showed that I had high antibodies for Hashimotos Disease, an autoimmune disease that affects 80% of patients with existing thyroid issues!
  4. Food sensitivity – I had a gluten sensitivity! I’m Italian. I don’t need to tell you how devastating it is to hear that gluten is off limits! You try telling an Italian mother that you can’t eat her cooking. I also discovered I was sensitive to limes, lentils, and dairy. (Just kill me now, right?)
  5. Adrenals – Your ‘flight or fight’ hormones – Mine where in the basement!

As you can see, my thyroid issue was being driven by a number of other factors, not just one ‘simple fix’.  After studying this information for the last 6 years this is what I believe happened.

 Tons of antibiotics as a child——-Parasites in college —— Work stress—–Leaky Gut Syndrome ——- Food sensitivities——— Autoimmune Thyroid—–Low Hormones

My thyroid was never the original problem!

Being prescribed medications or supplements would never have solved the problem.  The thyroid, and any issues with it, is a multi-faceted thing and must be addressed on an individual basis. There is no ‘one size fits all’ fix for thyroid problems, and we are committed to giving each of my patients the care and attention their health deserves.

After years of training, trial and error, and helping hundreds of patients with the same issues I had, I am confident that many people who are suffering or think they are suffering fro thyroid disease can be helped with a natural approach.  All it takes is hard work and a little education.  Remember, *YOU* are your biggest advocate when it comes to your health, don’t simply accept a prescription because a doctor wants to get you in and out of their office without really investigating the causes of your symptoms. I’m the proof in the pudding!

Thyroid issues are almost never just a thyroid issue! Come see me at Sugar Hill Spine and Wellness for compassionate, thorough, and natural care.


Yours in Health,

Dr. Clarino