My sister Judy had her life wrecked by migraines.
Skull-splitting, blinding, head-clutching, crawl-under-the-bed migraines.
Judy’s misery began at the age of 11.
Like many children afflicted by migraines, she probably inherited her propensity for the illness from our mother.
Mum, however, was an ordinary migraine sufferer of three migraines a month. Unlike the life of daily migraine torment Judy was about to spiral down into.
While my other sister and I were out playing and being normal kids, Judy’s life was anything but normal. Most of the time, she just wanted to curl up into a ball somewhere dark and die.
It started with one migraine a week, but by the age of 13, her life was descending into misery with the ever-increasing frequency of migraines. By the age of 15, she was beginning to be pole-axed with 10, sometimes 15, migraines a month.
Judy’s migraines took control of the family. Dad used to look after my other sister and I and take us on outings, while Mum and Judy stayed at home.
It stopped us going on holidays together or even just a day trip to the beach, because the bright sun would trigger a migraine for Judy. She missed that much school during her high school years that it severely affected her grades and later employment opportunities. She never played sport, as everyone was concerned it might exacerbate her migraines.
At a time when life should be exciting and full of discoveries, Judy became more and more withdrawn, with fewer and fewer friends.
Suffer in Silence
Her only friends were the horses in a paddock nearby, and that began a lifelong obsession with horses. She used to say that they were the only ones who understood her!
Judy grew up in a generation where migraines were considered something you just dealt with! The fact my mother and her side of the family suffered from migraines, unfortunately, resulted in less empathy than you would expect from her own parent.
There is a phrase in the migraine community, “suffering in silence”, which came from the notion that most male doctors considered migraines a female problem and merely a means to attract sympathy.
A survey in 2011 titled ‘Migraines in Australia’ showed that 50% of migraine sufferers felt that neither their family or doctor believed the pain they were in - so in thirty plus years attitudes have hardly changed!
I can remember Judy becoming more withdrawn when at the age of 18 she was told by a specialist “it was all in the mind”. The doctor said that Judy was 'attention-seeking' and suggested seeing a psychiatrist. Our family were not in a position to afford a psychiatrist, so she was saved the humiliation of having to go down that road.
Diet started to gain attention as being the trigger for all migraines, so she was compelled to living on almost air alone and lost a lot of weight, which only made the migraines worse.
Several said that she would grow out of it. Yeah right…
Thirty-five years later and nothing had changed for Judy.
Olympics for Migraine Sufferers – Gold goes to Judy!
If there was an ‘Olympics for Migraine Sufferers’, Judy would be up there on the podium.
Thirty-five years averaging 10 migraines a month equals four thousand two hundred migraines…conservatively.
That’s a minimum of one hundred and twenty migraines a year, but in reality, the actual number is probably closer to one hundred and fifty. Not something most people would wish upon their worst enemy.
Judy has never been employed full-time. Her life has consisted of scraping together whatever odd jobs she could find. Hospital was her second home, with a visit to Emergency every ten days for her next morphine injection - the only thing that gave her any sense of relief from her migraine pain.
The migraines never stopped…until one day!
As a family, we all went in our own directions. Over the years, I spent a considerable amount of time living and working outside of Australia and saw very little of Judy.
Then in 2011, I re-established my relationship with my baby sister - helping her to sort out the financial mess her husband had left behind when he passed away unexpectedly.
I was baffled that during this extremely stressful period her migraines seemed to be under control.
She mentioned that she had been told of a folklore recipe of mashed ginger on her forehead for migraines.
It wasn’t the perfect option. It was messy, inconsistent and inconvenient; not to mention the juice running into the eyes and stinging like hell.
One day talking to her on the phone I thought she was being attacked - thankfully it was just the ginger juice had run into her eyes! But when she finally stopped screaming, she realised her migraine was gone!
My world was one based on science and numbers and the notion that a poultice of ginger could stop migraines was a load of rubbish to me. I found it odd that in 2011 medical science still did not have an effective solution for treating migraines.
After spending time and getting close to Judy, I desperately wanted to help her.
My life could be considered successful and now that neither of us were teenagers anymore, we found a renewed brother and sister bond that had probably never existed before.
I promised myself that I would find a better solution for the management of migraines for Judy and I would go to my grave trying!
The beginning of something crazy
I was sitting in a hotel in New York on a bitterly freezing day, way too cold to go outside, and decided to Google ‘Ginger + Migraine’.
One of the first results was a paper that stated ginger was as effective as the common migraine drug sumatriptan in treating migraines!
I was gobsmacked!
That started my love affair with one of the most extraordinary plants in this world.
Indeed, my life became a full-time obsession of uncovering the secrets that Mother Nature had hidden in this most extraordinary plant.
Thanks to the internet, the scientific knowledge of the world’s top scientists and academics was readily available, although much of it only at considerable expense, as my research was private and not related to any university establishment.
Thousands of hours I spent poring over documents, talking to experts, corresponding, searching far and wide.
Ginger had been used in Ayurveda medicine for over 5,000 years for treating migraine headaches; yet in the modern world, the quest to help migraine sufferers had stopped at pharmaceutical drugs with lots of question marks over effectiveness and safety.
The more I read about ginger, the more confused I became as to why no better solution currently existed. It appeared all the information was contained in various scientific papers, but nobody had connected the dots.
Why was there no migraine cure?
Looking back, that day in New York was a life-changing moment for me. It was as though fate had decided to put me on this path to resolving the pain of the millions of Judys in the world.
Turning an idea to reality
After 18 months, I felt I had uncovered sufficient information to begin the development of a modern migraine treatment, with Zingiber Officinale, commonly known as ginger, as the critical ingredient.
I formed a company called Innovative Herbal Products (IHP), which I felt was representative of what I was trying to achieve.
Over the next three years, our Advisory Board would grow to contain some of the brightest medical and scientific minds in the world, all joined together by one mission: to reduce the suffering of the millions of Judys in the world.
The next three years were spent developing what was to become a unique and patented extract known only to our company.
Judy was my wonderful test subject. We needed lots of migraines on which to test our treatment and Judy had plenty of those to experiment on!
We can proudly say we never test on animals! :)
But it turned out ginger on its own was not enough...
Ginger ain’t ginger!
I had started off by thinking ginger was all the same...wrong!
We tried ginger from different countries. Different continents.
Some were contaminated with toxic heavy metals because of the industrial waste in those areas. In others, the chemical composition was low on the plant’s key active ingredients.
There are 156 varieties of Zingiber Officinale Roscoe, commonly known as ginger. We tested variety after variety and in the end discovered that only three varieties matched our requirements. That is, only three varieties in the world contained the right mix of phytochemicals crucial for migraine relief.
On top of that, those phytochemicals only develop to high enough levels during a specific six week harvest period each year.
We then experimented with ginger in all the different forms.
We tried ginger juice, ginger essential oils, ginger extracts…all to no avail.
But why the did fresh ginger work that Judy tried in the first place?
By now, I was becoming an expert in understanding the chemistry of ginger and the different ways of processing it.
It turned out that all of these ginger-based products were mere representations of the raw plant material. During the manufacturing process much of the plant matter would get destroyed, and with it, lots of the essential phytochemicals that combat a migraine.
That explained why none of these ginger products worked. They were each only a small fraction of the actual plant.
What we needed was a complete extract - one that retained all of the goodness and ideally in high enough concentrations to make it consistently effective for migraines.
Where Science and Nature Combine for Extraordinary Results
Mother Nature had the answer, but in the end she needed modern science and technology to coax it out.
That’s why our corporate motto would soon become “Where science and nature combine for extraordinary results”.
Endless hours of research into chemical engineering methods had led me to the very specialised world of carbon dioxide supercritical fluid extraction. Yet that wasn’t the complete answer, as we still struggled to create a complete extract.
After lots of experimentation, we came up with our own protocols for liquid CO2 fluid extraction (SCLFE).
SCLFE offered us hope as a possible way of getting our whole ginger extract but finding laboratories to work with proved to be a massive challenge. The specialised equipment costs millions of dollars, and is only available at a handful of sites around the world, with none of them located in my home country of Australia.
I hunted down Doctors, Engineers, PhDs and University Professors from Australia, Brazil, Russia and USA - experts in the fields of botanical extraction and chemistry.
I travelled to Brazil to meet the world’s foremost expert on supercritical fluid extraction, and by this point, we were on our way with making our own ginger extracts.
At times I felt I was swimming in treacle. The light at the end of the tunnel would glow then fade. I describe this whole process as one colossal jigsaw puzzle scattered across the floor, which often took months to find the next piece of the puzzle.
Friends and family members told me to give up. I got used to being told I was crazy and it was never going to happen!
I wanted to give up, but I couldn't!
I kept telling myself, “If it was so easy, the solution would already be on the shelf of every drug store in the world!”
I spent three years working on and fine-tuning our formula. Different processing methods and parameters gave us extracts of differing quality.
Judy continued as our guinea-pig.
Experiment after experiment. Test after test.
And then finally, one day, I got the phone call I had been wishing, praying, hoping for…my magic formula had stopped a migraine!
Migraine Escape was born!
Thinking back, my emotion was one of almost disbelief. Had I really cracked the riddle?
Over the next three months, we effectively stopped every migraine within 10-20 mins of it raising their ugly head.
Judy’s results improved and improved, as we fine-tuned and tested using the extract in different ways.
Her life began to change. She was getting relief like never before.
We were cautious of getting ahead of ourselves and wanted to make sure this was no fluke.
Slowly, we started sharing the product with some of Judy’s migraine-suffering friends to see if we could duplicate the results. In total twenty-eight of her friends used it and we had a 95%+ success rate!
That gave me the confidence to now proceed with more comprehensive testing of the product to demonstrate whether we did indeed have something to take to market.
No, No, No!
But nothing is ever that simple.
No. No. No… I became very accustomed to hearing that word!
It seemed everyone was happy to tell me what I couldn’t do, which of course I was not interested in hearing.
My crazy journey was self-funded, and by now I was spending large sums of money on specialist lawyers, regulatory consultants, advisers, laboratory testing... all coming from an ever increasing mortgage against our family home, much to the distress of my wife.
As this was my first adventure into the world of pharmaceuticals, I could not believe how complicated the whole process was. How rigid, how controlled, how difficult.
Every week was thousands of more dollars on specialist lawyers and regulatory consultants who laboured over every word that we could or could not say, and over what was authorized and what was not, over what constituted a “complementary medicine”, and how they differed from a “homeopathic” remedy, or an approved pharmaceutical product.
Overwhelmed with regulations, rules and red tape I just kept plugging on. I was on a mission to help the millions of Judys and would die trying if required!
Pilot Clinical Trials
Of course, nobody is going to accept some wild claims about a breakthrough migraine treatment without substantial evidence. We wanted to test Migraine Escape against the same standards as are used in developing registered drugs to give people the confidence in our discovery.
Discussions with pain research institutions about conducting clinical trials for Migraine Escape were met with blank stares and quotes for substantial sums of money, as nobody at that time conducted clinical trials for complementary medicine. As a small self-funded company, it was impossible to fund these proposed quotes.
Refusing to give up, we believed there had to be some avenue that allowed us to validate our preliminary results on a larger scale, to assess the commercial viability of Migraine Escape.
From here we started looking into double blind placebo trials - the holy grail of medical clinical trials.
Our research brought us into contact with ‘The Ethics of Placebo Controls’, which were derived from The Nuremberg Code that was formulated after World War II in response to Nazi atrocities. The World Health Organization adopted a version of the code in 1964 as the Declaration of Helsinki.
When it comes to medical studies, the Declaration prioritises the health and rights of individual patients over the benefits for society, future patients or science. It asserts, "In any medical study, every patient -- including those of a control group if any -- should be assured of the best proven diagnostic and therapeutic method."
Based on that, we determined that double blind placebo trials for Migraine Escape would be considered unethical.
We decided if we were going to conduct a trial, every patient would receive the real Migraine Escape and they would be kept up to date with our learnings and experiences, so they could have the best chance possible of treating their migraines.
Migraine Escape had the input throughout of many great people in helping to resolve the puzzle, and one of those people was Professor Alan Bensoussan, Head of the Complementary/Alternative Medicine Department at the University of Western Sydney.
Professor Bensoussan is the recipient of many awards for the recognition of his contribution to the field of complementary medicine over a lifetime. He provided the necessary guidance and advice concerning the required protocol for designing a trial to verify our results.
The critical distinction with our trials is that they are PILOT TRIALS conducted in-house, not formal CLINICAL TRIALS undertaken by a third party.
From those discussions and with the help of other medical experts, a pilot trial protocol was designed for ‘Migraine Escape’.
The trials for Migraine Escape were conducted over a number of phases with new participants in each phase who were unfamiliar with the product. In total, the final number of participants exceeded 130.
I was not personally involved in the trials, as it was considered I had too great a personal investment to remain unbiased!
The final results demonstrated 97.2% efficacy in preventing migraines progressing to the pain stage!
As the trials progressed, we noticed that people were using the extract in different ways. As a result, they were reporting a wide variance in effectiveness.
We studied the results and realised that those people who suffered “classic migraines” (i.e. migraines with preceding symptoms like: spots before your eyes, dizziness, nausea, etc) AND were applying Migraine Escape at the very first indication of those symptoms were preventing their migraines from progressing to the pain stage in nearly every case!
When we passed this information on to the rest of the trial participants, their results improved too almost immediately.
Our trial participants continued to experiment with the extract in different ways, adapting it for their own migraine patterns. They would feed back what worked and what didn’t, allowing us to continually improve our understanding of how best to use it.
By the final phase we had established a clear application protocol that worked well across the board. This has become the basis for our recommended usage guidelines today.
The final phase of the trials consisted of 38 people who were each suffering at least 8 migraines a month. They were to use Migraine Escape over the next 3 months.
Armed with knowledge on how best to use the extract, they successfully prevented their migraines from fully progressing to the pain stage in 97.2% of cases, a remarkable result!
We were ecstatic.
Ready set, Go!
The pain, financial pressures, disappointments both them and I had experienced...all faded in importance when I saw the results.
With Migraine Escape demonstrating it could prevent early symptoms from developing into a full-blown migraine - AND without the side effects of many drugs - we were finally confident this was a product worth bringing to the rest of the world!
And for the people who were successful in stopping their migraines, no more skull-splitting pain. They all shared a confident attitude and determined mindset that we realised are crucial to the success of Migraine Escape.
We were elated that we could help them realise the freedom, the escape from pain, that they had sought after for years and years.
We now had the proof to push full steam ahead with the commercialisation of our wonder product Migraine Escape.
We applied to be listed as a Complementary Medicine with the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) - Australia’s official body governing all medical products and devices, the equivalent of the US FDA - and were successful.
That gave us license to sell the product in Australia and New Zealand, and we commenced sales online in August 2016.
Regulatory Approved and Patented
Despite our story, we know that migraine sufferers are understandably cynical of claims of a “new breakthrough migraine treatment”. They have heard all those promises before.
One of my goals right from the beginning was to be able to validate that we had indeed created something unique and extraordinary, thus explaining why the results of this product were different to anything else they’d tried before.
So rather than asking them to take my word for it, we decided to file a Patent Application for our breakthrough migraine treatment and let the world authority on “uniqueness and innovation” - the World Intellectual Property Office (WIPO) in Geneva, Switzerland - decide the validity of the product and claims.
Our PCT Application was filed in December 2014 and resulted in WIPO granting all twenty-eight of our claims in a Patent titled ‘Treatment of Pain’ in November 2015. An extraordinary achievement and validation from the highest authority on the uniqueness of Migraine Escape.
Our Patent for the Treatment of Pain was then filed in worldwide jurisdictions.
And in June 2018, we received notification that our Patent was to be granted in the USA* - good news!
The New Alternative...No More Pain!
Can you imagine what it would be like to go from having a life of almost daily migraine pain to one of no pain?
Well, that is what I have achieved for Judy and now, an ever-increasing number of people whose lives were dictated by pain.
Judy finally discovered what most of us take for granted, a life free of pain!
Did Migraine Escape stop all of Judy’s migraines...No?
But she no longer qualifies for Gold or even Bronze in the Migraine Olympics, as she now only gets one migraine every three to four months. Not bad if you ask us!
Judy is no longer a prisoner in her own house.
- She is no longer in the hospital every other week.
- She can venture away from the sanctuary of home.
- She can travel.
- She can fly in an aircraft without the fear of crumpling into a corner in public with the onset of a migraine due to anxiety.
- She has discovered happiness in the form of a new relationship from online dating!
- She is no longer afraid to experience life.
I am ready to help the next Judy
Does pain dictate your world?
Or maybe you know someone like Judy?
As you now know, Migraine Escape is the result of an extraordinary process, and because of the limited harvest window of 6 weeks each year for the high-quality ginger we use, there is limited product availability.
Once the product is sold out each production run, there is no more available until the following June.
We now know that Migraine Escape is not right for everyone - whether because you find a topical application too fiddly or don’t like the heat from the application; or maybe you are one of the 10% of migraineurs that Migraine Escape simply does not seem to be effective for.
In either case, you have nothing to lose, as we will refund you the purchase price of the product if you are unhappy under our 100% Customer Satisfaction Guarantee*.