Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Dr Oz Perpetuates Migraine Myths

Is anyone else hopping mad about yesterday's Dr Oz? More specifically, the segment he did with Iyanla Vanzant helping a woman who reports to be suffering from migraines by addressing her emotions surrounding her struggling marriage.

I just spent the last half hour trying to find the video segment on the Dr Oz Show website so I could post it here for anyone who missed it. The website always includes videos of show segments. I guess someone over there had enough sense to leave this segment out.

Since I can't provide you with the video let me tell you what happened. First, for those of you who don't know, Iyanla Vanzant is a famous life-coach and author, basically a self-help guru. She used to be on Oprah frequently and has had a couple of self-help-like shows of her own over the years. In general, I'm a fan, tending to believe that we have tremendous power in our mind to hinder or help our situations. Learning how to harness this power is a great skill and she is a great teacher.


Her assertion with Dr Oz was that she could help heal physical ailments that were connected to these emotional barriers in our lives. So Dr Oz brought on a woman who he said had one of the conditions he hears a lot about from women, migraines. Cut to her pre-recorded video segment where she talks about having increasing stressors and the correspondingly increasing frequency of her migraines. She talks about going to the doctor and being told there is nothing they can do for her.

Now we're back live and Iyanla asks the woman to tell her what she is most afraid of people finding out about her. She says it is something to the effect that her marriage isn't so strong anymore. Iyanla has her tap her hand and repeat some words. The emotions are brought to the surface and the woman feels heard and recognized probably for the first time in years. No doubt that was a healing moment for her emotionally.


Migraines are actually a real neurological disease and CANNOT be healed by improving emotional health. The fact that Dr Oz chose a woman who reports to have migraines for this segment because, as he pointed out, this is a condition he hears a lot about from women, makes me mad. If he's hearing a lot about migraines then maybe he should do an actual segment about the facts surrounding migraines instead of perpetuating the myth that it is nothing more than a by-product of a woman not dealing with her stress well enough.

Beyond that, I have a lot of questions. Who is this doctor this woman went to who told her there is nothing that can be done about migraines? Did she actually get diagnosed with migraines or is that her word to describe her bad headache? How could Dr Oz bring this woman on and never address her medical condition from a medical stand point? Shame, shame, shame.

The last thing the migraine community needs is a famous, high profile medical professional out there making the job of understanding and educating others about this disease more difficult.

Am I the only one out there who is hopping mad?


  1. I didn't see this episode, but I'm also frustrated with you that no one actually addressed possible causes for her migraines. I think migraines are under-researched and underrated, especially with the amount of people who suffer from them.

    She probably is having stress *headaches*, and like you said, is using the word migraine instead (after all, the word "migraine" garners more attention and pity than "headache"). But whether it is or isn't a headache or migraine, why aren't they trying to publicly "fix it"? Did Dr. Oz not want to be the hero in this one?

  2. I did not see it, and I'm glad I didn't. I would have been furious! I've had many people suggest to me that they are caused by emotions, etc, and it is so wrong!

  3. Just more for people to repeat and not know what they are taking about. I have family members who tell me that all i need to do is drink more water and the headaches would go away.


  4. I did not see this but I am super happy I did not. I probably would have been yelling at the tv. I've noticed an increase in "news" stories on migraine but they all still seem to have their data wrong. I'm not sure which is worse falsely educating people or having no one understand what a true migraine is.

  5. I didn't see this, but I agree that it sounds like it did not help the migraine community in any way. I have had hemiplegic migraines since I was 6 or 7 years old and my family has done their best to support and sympathize with me, but yesterday I hung up the phone on my mom when she told me that I need to just stop stressing. I understand that anxiety does not help migraines, but how can you stop stressing when your health issues are the reason for your stress?!