Interview with Kgopedi Lilokoe on Metro FM focusing on the Headache and Migraine Awareness Week.


Kgopedi Lilokoe – Our first guest is here, Dr Elliot Shevel, he has published more that 30 scientific studies in both national and international pier reviewed medical journals on migraines and tension headaches. Dr Shevel has been the medical director at the Headache clinic since it’s inception in 1992 and in his capacity he heads a team of practitioners, specialists, researchers including neurologists, surgeons, physio therapists, radiologists, Gp’s, psychologists, dental specialist, researchers and so on and so fourth and of course this teams is dedicated to uncovering headache causes so that treatment is based on sound identification of the headache causes in each individual patient. Good evening and welcome to Metro FM talk Dr Shevel.

Dr Shevel – Good evening Kgopedi and thank you so much for having me on your program.

Kgopedi – I have a headache must be one of the commonist aliments in the history of mankind.

Dr Shevel – It is the commonist aliment in the history of mankind and womankind.

Kgobedi – Naah. We not going down that route. Take us through and summerley Doctor. Take us through the variety of head aches and what triggers them.

Dr Shevel – Ok, First of all there are primary and secondary headaches. Secondary headaches are caused by some other disease, so that we not talking about because then you have got to treat the disease. Primary headache are headaches which are their own illness not caused by something else and the vast majority, 99% of people with headaches have primary headaches. So the main types of primary headaches are tension headache, Migraine and whats called cluster or suicide headache.

Kgobedi – Ok

Dr Shevel – Now these are not conditions they are just different intensities of the same thing. So you know we might call somebodies a tension headache, somebodies a cluster, somebodies a migraine but the underlying causes are the same in each one. Its just that each person has got their own map of pain, and they react differently to the pain. And that’s why they have got these artificial names and boundaries but basically we have to find out. Where the pain is coming from? What is causing the pain? That’s the bottom line.

To listen to the full show, click here (30mb).
Headache and Migraine Awareness Week

Metro FM- Podcast with Dr Elliot Shevel


Headaches have long been a mystery to us, causing great pain and discomfort without any warning. Dr Elliot Shevel of the Headache Clinic does incredible work in this field though, finding individual solutions to these crippling pains, and eliminating the need for heavy medication.


Gareth -Who gets headaches? Who get’s really bad headaches? I get a migraine every now and then and its debilitating. But there is a big difference and well talk to the gentleman who is on his way into our studios now about this difference between headaches and migraines. We will also talk to him about some interesting things you may or may not know about headaches. He is among other things one of the founders and the medical director of The Headache Clinic and they have published more than 30 scientific studies in national and international medical journals. So Dr Elliot Shevel is South Africa’s pioneer in the field of migraine surgery and what an interesting guy to have here in the studio with us this morning. Good morning Doc. How are you?

Dr Shevel – Good moring, Very well thanks and thank you for having me on your program.

Gareth – What an absolute pleasure to have you here, and the work you do is spectacular and it’s very very important and we are grateful to have someone in South Africa of your caliber working on these issues. Because I think headaches effect more people then we even know about.

To listen to the full show, click here (9mb).
Headache and migraine Interview

Cliff Central – Podcast with Dr Elliot Shevel


This week is Headache Awareness Week, and The Headache Clinic has some advice and information on migraines and sport.

Claims that participating in sporting activities is detrimental for migraine patients are untrue – a new study found that participating in sporting activities actually has health benefits for migraine patients.

A study published in the Sports Neurology Journal ascertains that sporting activities can be safely integrated into the lives of migraine patients. This is the first time empirical research has been done to review known risks involved with participating in sporting activities by migraine patients.

“It was a study that sampled patients with epilepsy, migraines, and multiple sclerosis,” says Dr Shevel, South Africa’s pioneer in the field of migraine surgery and the Medical Director and Founder of The Headache Clinic. Shevel confirmed that for migraine patients, playing sport is not harmful.

Dr Shevel says that migraine patients are often discouraged from participating in sports based on theoretical detrimental effects, when in actual fact they can and should be encouraged to participate in sports provided that the exercise does not trigger the pain. Where exposure to prolonged sun triggers the pain, indoor sports should be pursued.

With sporting activities being part of the academic experience, children that suffer with migraine should take the time with parents and teachers to work out which sporting activities suit them best.

To view article, click here.
Migraines and Participating in Sport


Headaches during pregnancy can be troublesome, but, unless there’s a more serious underlying cause, they’re usually normal, especially in the first and third trimesters, writes Melany Bendix.


Facing the pain of headaches during pregnancy head on features the headache clinics PMA. See one readers story.

A Reader’s Story

Madelein Joubert is eight months pregnant and suffered with severe migraines. She say, “After months of treatment, hopping between doctors, and expensive medical bills, I went to the the Headache Clinic. After a series of test, the doctor recommended I have a posture modifying appliance (PMA).

A PMA is a tiny custom-made wearable plate that fits into the patient’s top or bottom palate behind their teeth. It’s prescribed for patients who present with muscle tension as the cause of their pain, and is used to encourage the muscles of the jaws and neck to relax into their natural position

The natural resting posture for the lower jaw should be to hang open two to three millimeter without the teeth touching or clenched like most people do. Everyone has their own unique ideal rest position.

When the jaw muscles are more tense than normal, they shorten, and when they shorten, they pull the lower jaw up closer to the top jaw, and the tongue is raised so that the space between the tongue and palate is reduced. The posture of the jaw can have an incredible effect on all the muscles of the face, head, and neck causing spasms that create the headaches. To make the muscles relax, we have to get the tongue and lower jaw to return to their natural rest positions, which relieves the tension in all the muscles and corrects the patient’s jaw posture.

The PMA was developed by Dr Shevel at Johannesburg’s Headache clinic. Patients must wear it night and day for the first week or two of treatment and within that time they should have positive results. Once their headaches have reduced or disappeared, patients can then evaluate how often they need to wear their PMA’s to keep their headaches at bay.

Madelein says. “After just two weeks of wearing the PMA, I was free from migraines and headaches, which I had throughout my pregnancy”

To download a pdf of  Your Pregnancy article,(213KB) click here.


Parenting Hub, recently published an article that assist you in determining the headache food triggers you might have. See a excerpt from this article below:

Is food triggering your Migraine?

Migraine is a very common problem that affects about 18% of all women and 6% of all men. Studies have shown that environment, lifestyle, and diet can play a large role in how often you get migraines.

Dr Elliot Shevel, Medical Director and founder of The Headache Clinic says that the most commonly reported migraine triggers include alcohol (especially red wine and beer), chocolate, aged cheese, cured meats, food preservatives that contain nitrates and nitrites, and monosodium glutamate (MSG). Although these are the most common, almost any food can be a trigger. Even so, only about 20% of migraine suffers have an identifiable food trigger.

There is no certainty why certain foods trigger headaches, but suggested mechanisms are as follows:


22 percent of headache sufferers identify chocolate as one of their headache triggers. But many people with migraines have increased appetite and food cravings just before their headaches start. Reaching for a chocolate bar may be the result of a migraine, rather than the cause.


Sulfites used as preservatives in red wine have been linked to migraine headaches. Alcohol in any drink causes the blood vessels in the scalp to dilate, and can also result in dehydration, both of which might be headache triggers. Alcohol is also a potent trigger for cluster headaches – otherwise known as “suicide headaches”. They are known as suicide headaches because the pain is so severe that sufferers do sometimes actually commit suicide.


Caffeine can actually help get rid of a migraine headache, and caffeine may be included in some migraine medications, but too much caffeine can be a headache trigger when you come down from your caffeine “high.”

Aged cheese

It is generally agreed that aged cheese is more likely to cause a headache, because it contains a substance called tyramine that forms as the proteins in cheese break down over time. The longer a cheese ages, the more tyramine it has.


Monosodium glutamate (MSG), which is found in soy sauce and as a food additive has been implicated in causing migraine. The interesting thing though, is that in cultures where MSG is used extensively, the percentage of migraine sufferers is the same as in other countries.

Ice cream

The stabbing pain you get when you eat ice cream too fast is a reaction to the cold, not the ice cream itself. An ice cream headache is more likely if you are overheated. The pain peaks in about 30 to 60 seconds. “Cold foods like ice cream may be migraine triggers for people who suffer from migraines, but for most people, the pain goes away quickly.


Bananas usually don’t appear on lists of foods that are headache triggers, but they could trigger a migraine for people who are sensitive to tyramine, the same substance found in aged cheese.

To read more on this article by Parenting Hub, click here.
Food triggers from ParentHub

Parenting hub – Migraine food triggers


There are many types of headaches, with different causes that require their own treatment. Which one is causing you pain?

We all get headaches once in a while, and mostly there is no reason to worry. The pain is simply the result of the signals between your brain, blood vessels and the nerves around them, and can be set off by anything from stress to second-hand smoke, skipping a meal to sleep problems, say headache specialist Dr Elliot Shevel of the headache Clinic in Joburg.

But occasionally they can signal a serious underlying condition. It’s good to know the difference.

Find out more on Tension Headaches, Sinus Headaches, Migraines, Cluster Headaches and how to spot and treat them in a 2 page feature written by Glynis Horning,in the June 2017 Balanced life magazine (page 44 and 45)

To download the full story here (PDF – 209KB) click here.


Headaches: The throbbing pain

The symptoms started suddenly and rapidly – but first came the nausea. Then, Chantel Oliver (Crt) couldn’t lift her head up from the searing pain.

“I remember it was February and I was down for a whole week… I had never experienced anything like it before. I was on every kind of pain tablet, nothing helped,” the 36 year-old said.

That was six years ago – when Oliver began her arduous journey with severe headaches caused by muscle tension and her scalp arteries.

“I had initially thought my blood pressure may have gone up, because I was hypertensive. But, when I went to the doctor, he found that it was normal. The doctor said the headache could be stress related – but I wasn’t really under stress at that time”, she continued.

Renowned South African maxillo-facial and oral surgeon, Dr Elliot Shevel (crt), explained that headaches were an “exceedingly common problem” with a serious impact on overall health status, quality of life, and disability.

“Tension headache is the most common, affecting up to 40% of the population. Migraine is the second most common type, with about 12% of the population being affected. The third important type is Cluster Headache, which is present in up to 1% of the population”, he said.

While the cluster headache was far less common than migraine or tension headache, Shevel said it was important because it is by far the most painful – it is so painful that it is also known as “Suicide Headache”.

“The main difference between the different types of headache is the severity of the pain, with a migraine being more painful than the tension headache and cluster being more painful than migraine,” Shevel continued.

See full article on IOL, click here.
Star Online publishes article on headaches

Visit IOL to see full article


A new understanding about one of the most common causes of pain has led to new approaches in its treatment

Migraine affects one in five women. Sufferers are all too familiar with the throbbing, often one-sided headache made worse by any movement, the crippling nausea, sometimes with vomiting, and the acute sensitivity to light, sound, smells and/or touch.

Doctors now recognise migraine as a complex neurological condition with several distinct stages.

What causes migraine?

Until recently, migraine was often attributed to the widening of blood vessels inside the head. Experts now believe that the cause of migraines is due to certain brain regions being oversensitive to some stimuli, such as dehydration, sleeping too much or too little, skipping a meal, strong smells, sunlight, even eating certain foods or changes in weather. These stimuli excite the trigeminal nerve ( the main sensory nerve in the head), causing it to release chemicals that transmit pain signals to the brain and inflame (widen) the blood vessels.

New research also points to muscle tension in the jaw and neck aggravating the trigeminal nerve, setting off the same chain of events. Before pain sets in, one in five sufferers have auras – unnerving neurological disturbances, such as seeing stars, or blind spots in visions, trouble finding words; and feeling tingling and numbness, or even vertigo.

To read more on this article by Women and Home,
Visit the related web post.
new ways to end the misery of migraine

Women and Home – end Migraine missery, web article link


Headaches come in many forms and intensities, so the correct diagnosis is the first step towards effective treatment


by Pippa Naude

Ryan Usswald, 42 (from Constantia Kloof in Johannesburg) experienced cluster headaches for seven years. Her says “The best explanation I can give is when you hot your thumb really hard with a hammer, and start jumping up and down and swearing. Cluster headaches are similar in that they make you sweat, cry, scream and rage, because the pain is unbearable. It felt like my face was being ripped off”

You can this, with a quick search of “cluster headache” on Youtube. The people in the videos are writhing, shrieking and even hitting themselves.

Ryan’s attacks would last anything from 15 minutes to a few hours. “I used oxygen, ice packs, hot water bottles, and I even tried epilepsy medication as part of a medical trial… nothing stopped the pain,” he says

The impact on his life was huge. He was often exhausted from lack of sleep. He didn’t want to go out at night or socialise, because he didn’t know when he would be struck by an attack. The onset of a headache while driving can be potentially dangerous, too which restricted his movements. They effect on his family was probably the hardest thing. “My wife and son would be crying helplessly, while watching me during an attack.” Considering all of this, it is no surprise that cluster headaches are also called suicide headaches.

To download a pdf of the Dischem article, click here (394kb).
Understanding headaches
Understanding headaches

Dischem benefits magazine – understanding headaches

*Treatment results may vary from person to person.


Copyright by The Headache Clinic 2019. All rights reserved.


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