Nutrition making waves in migraine research


As human beings, we have a tendency to research something and think ‘ah ha, we’ve got it’, only to look deeper into the subject and realise we haven’t quite got the whole picture. Migraine research is a prime example of this. The mechanisms behind migraines remain poorly understood but it has long been thought that their development was related to the vascular system and specifically vasodilatation (widening of blood vessels) around the brain. New research has identified that complex neurovascular mechanisms are more likely to be behind their occurrence and that nutrition could play a vital role in their reduction. 

There is now increasing research to demonstrate that nutrition could help in the reduction of migraines by reducing levels of substances which appear to have a massive impact on the onset of migraines.

Top Foods for migraine sufferers - 

  • Garlic . Garlic oil has shown in animal models that it may be a viable approach in suppressing processes leading to migraines. (1)
  • Grapes. Although wine is often viewed as a trigger for migraines, grapes in the form of pomace (dried grapes, stem and pulp) has shown to ‘dramatically’, in the words of the study’s author; inhibit the secretion of substances leading to migraines by up to 87 per cent. (1)
  • Ginger also showed promise in the reduction of migraines. Ginger reduced cellular uptake of calcium (calcium uptake has been seen to stimulate the release of migraine causing substances) in turn reducing chances of migraines.(1)
  • Cocoa. Chocolate has long been associated as a trigger of migraines, however this appears to lack a real scientific basis and in fact, cocoa has been shown in recent research to not only reduce the secretion of substances leading to migraines but also prevent inflammation in the nerves associated with headache pain in migraines. (2, 3)

Top Nutrients for Migraine sufferers - 

  • Magnesium – A deficiency in magnesium may contribute towards migraines through alteration of mitochondrial metabolism having an effect on the sensitivity of tissue surrounding the brain. (4)
  • Vitamin D – Vitamin D is needed for the absorption of magnesium and also could help migraines through aiding serotonin production, which has been seen to reduce migraines.(4)
  • Riboflavin (B2) – Supplementation with Riboflavin helps with mitochondrial energy metabolism and therefore may help to support normal mitochondrial function, which could help reduce migraines.(4)
  • Co Q10 – Co Q10 is vital in mitochondrial function and could aid in both reducing the severity and the frequency of migraines.(4)
  • Cobalamin (B12) – Deficiency in vitamin B12 can cause increased levels of homocysteine, which is linked to neurogenic inflammation and migraine.(4)
  • L-Carnitine – Often described as the ‘ferry’ nutrient due to its role as a transporter of substances such as long chain fatty acids into mitochondria. It Is also noted to regulate nitric oxide , which is implicated in migraine development. (4)

References - 

  1. Slavin M, Bourguignon J, Jackson K, Orciga M. Impact of Food Components on in vitro Calcitonin Gene-Related Peptide Secretion—A Potential Mechanism for Dietary Influence on Migraine. Nutrients. 2016;8(7):406.
  2. Cady R, Durham P. Cocoa-enriched diets enhance expression of phosphatases and decrease expression of inflammatory molecules in trigeminal ganglion neurons. Brain Research. 2010;1323:18-32.
  3. Lippi G, Mattiuzzi C, Cervellin G. Chocolate and migraine: the history of an ambiguous association. Acta Biomedica. 2014;85(3):216-21.
  4. Nattagh-Eshtivani E, Sani M, Dahri M, Ghalichi F, Ghavami A, Arjang P et al. The role of nutrients in the pathogenesis and treatment of migraine headaches: Review. Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy. 2018;102:317-325.