Written by Slawomir (“Swavak”) Gromadzki, MPH
Migraine is a condition that produces recurring and severe headaches (usually one-sided). The pain is often pulsating, accompanied by nausea, light and noise sensitivity, and lasting from a few hours to a few days.
Migraine is a common health condition especially among women. It is estimated that around one in every five women in the UK suffer from migraines. Some individuals have migraines several times a week, while others experience it only occasionally.
PATHOPHYSIOLOGY OF MIGRAINE
It is believed that migraine is linked especially to a drop in the level of neurotransmitter serotonin (vasoconstrictor) in the brain, causing a widening in the blood vessels which stresses nerve fibres forcing them to release peptides which travel to the brain’s outer covering (meninges) leading to inflammation and migraine pain. One of the arguments used to prove this idea is the fact that the levels of serotonin decreases during migraine headache whereas an intravenous infusion of serotonin can stop it.
According to another theory migraine may be also caused by vascular abnormalities mainly contractions and dilations of brain blood vessels also triggered by serotonin and other neurotransmitters abnormalities, for instance increased levels of glutamate which causes vasodilation.
Although it is still controversial whether migraine is primarily a vascular problem (dilation of blood vessels) or a neurological dysfunction, yet it is possible that both of them play a significant role in the development of migraine headaches. In addition, both factors (vascular and neurological) are likely to be triggered by various types of inflammation in the body and possibly other mentioned below lifestyle and environmental causes.
POSSIBLE CAUSES & TRIGGERS
– Drop in neurotransmitters, especially serotonin (vasoconstrictor), but it is believed low levels of other neurotransmitters, such as acetylcholine (vasoconstrictor) or dopamine, and increase in glutamate (causes vasodilation) also contribute to migraine
– High levels of inflammation in the body
– Caffeine, wine (sulfites), beer, cheese, pizza, gluten, chocolate, tea, sugar, white flour products and other refined foods, MSG, additives, most margarines and high in pro-inflammatory omega 6 fatty acids refined commercial oils (sunflower oil, soya oil, vegetable oil, corn oil), processed foods, carbonated drink, eggs, yeast, corn, citrus
– Monosodium glutamate (MSG) increases oxidative stress and is a known migraine trigger
– Deficiency of Magnesium, B2, B3, B12, zinc
– Psychological stress, depression, anxiety
– Aspartame & sucralose
– Certain medications
– Deficiency of CoQ10 & Lipoic Acid
– Allergies & food sensitivity
– Nitrates in meat products
– Hormonal imbalance (low oestrogen & progesterone)
– Hypoxia (lack of oxygen) mainly caused by lack of physical activity and shallow breathing
– Hypoglycaemia (low blood glucose levels)
– Drop in barometric pressure
– Lack of sleep
– Dehydration caused by drinking insufficient amount of water and diet low in fruits and vegetables
– Pineal gland calcification (caused by fluoride)
SEROTONIN & MIGRAINE
Studies have found that increased brain synthesis of serotonin offers natural relief for migraine symptoms, including pain. Serotonin aids in relieving migraines because it prevents dilation and promotes constriction of intracranial blood vessels. Studies have proven the link between migraines and low serotonin levels in the brain. The link is so strong that some researchers and experts have started referring to migraine headaches as “low serotonin syndrome.”
When someone is experiencing a migraine headache, the body dramatically increases urinary excretion of the main metabolite of serotonin (5-Hydroxyindoleacetic acid), which results in low serotonin levels. It means that low serotonin not only causes migraines, but when someone starts experiencing a migraine headache serotonin is excreted with the urine leading to even deeper deficiency and intensifying the whole problem.
If it is true that serotonin deficiency is the most important problem behind migraine headaches, those who suffer from this condition should do their best to increase levels of this neurotransmitter in the brain to prevent migraine or easy the symptoms. In addition, since serotonin is also known for its ability to increase body’s pain tolerance, raising its concentration in the brain should make migraine pain more manageable.
Fortunately, there are some simple means which are helpful and effective in raising brain levels of serotonin. One of the most important ways to achieve this goal is by providing the body with amino acid tryptophan, or even better 5-HTP (5-Hydroxy L-Tryptophan), which is made from tryptophan.
Because of its ability to boost serotonin levels, 5HTP synthesized from tryptophan, has been used to help individuals suffering from numerous disorders, including: migraines, tension headaches, depression, or anxiety.
It is very important to remember that sufficient amounts of vitamin C, B3, B6 (pyridoxine), folate, zinc, and magnesium are necessary for the formation of tryptophan, which, in turn, is necessary in our body for the synthesis of serotonin. Apart from that, it has been shown that magnesium, vitamin B6 and B3 can also assist conversion of tryptophan to serotonin.
It is true that tryptophan is also found in animal foods especially milk, but animal sources (including milk and dairy) are much higher in other competitive amino acids thus hindering absorption of tryptophan. Because tryptophan is an amino acid (protein), therefore a diet rich in other types of protein (meat and dairy products) greatly hinders tryptophan from passing from the blood to your brain. It is so because tryptophan has to compete with many other amino acids (proteins) while trying to enter the brain and as a result only small amount of this important amino acid gets in. That is another reason why it is much better to supplement tryptophan in the form of 5HTP instead of relying on animal foods. In addition, unlike 5HTP, meat and dairy products also contain numerous high-risk factors such as cholesterol, triglycerides, antibiotics, or dioxins.
Study by Professor J. Wurtman (2009) demonstrated that tryptophan, which is the building block of serotonin, can get into our brains only when sweet unrefined carbohydrates are consumed. Thus, more serotonin is made after you consume sweet unrefined carbohydrates such as fruits (especially bananas and dried fruits).
Numerous studies have demonstrated that the amino acid 5-HTP (5-Hydroxy L-Tryptophan), which is made from tryptophan, and that in turn is used by the body to produce serotonin is helpful in coping with migraines, obesity, insomnia, anxiety, and depression. 5-HTP is also regarded as a potent antioxidant able to protect the body against the free-radical damage, thus reducing the risk of numerous health problems such as cardiovascular diseases, fatigue, cancer, etc.
In 1989, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control reported evidence linking L-tryptophan supplements to a disorder characterized by an elevated white blood cell count. However, subsequent research showed that it was contaminants in the supplements, not the tryptophan, that was responsible for the problem.
L-TRYPTOPHAN VS 5HTP
Supplementing with L-tryptophan instead of 5-HTP is much less effective way to increase serotonin levels because L-tryptophan has to be first converted to 5-HTP. It means that taking L-tryptophan will result in producing less serotonin than after supplementing with 5-HTP. Both L-Tryptophan and 5-HTP must cross the blood-brain barrier to make serotonin in the brain. However, unlike L-Tryptophan 5-HTP doesn’t have to compete with other amino acids to cross the blood-brain barrier. As a result 5-HTP is much more effective in getting into brain than it is in case of L-tryptophan. For this reason 5-HTP is regarded as significantly more effective form of tryptophan in boosting brain serotonin levels. Human body uses L-tryptophan to produce a number of compounds including Niacin (Vitamin B3), but 5-HTP is only used to produce serotonin and melatonin (from serotonin). Your body can convert L-Tryptophan and 5-HTP to serotonin in the liver and also in the brain. When Part of L-tryptophan can be converted to serotonin in the liver and this serotonin can’t be used by the brain to improve mood or prevent migraine.
While supplementing with L-tryptophan and 5-HTP it is also very important to make sure that the first is taken with vitamin B3 and the second with vitamin B6. Tryptophan is crucial in boosting serotonin levels because serotonin is made in the body from tryptophan. Tryptophan is first converted in the liver into 5HTP (5-Hydroxy L-Tryptophan) by the enzyme tryptophan hydroxylase with the help of vitamin B3 (niacin). The problem, however, is that when the liver attempts to convert tryptophan to 5HTP in the absence of adequate levels of vitamin B3, it will use tryptophan to synthesize it, and it uses 60mg of tryptophan to produce 1mg of niacin, thus leading to tryptophan and serotonin deficiency! That is why if L-tryptophan supplements are taken instead of 5-HTP it should be used with B3. On the other hand, when 5-HTP gets into the liver another enzyme (decarboxylase) converts it to 5HT, but it can do it effectively only with the help of vitamin B6 (pyridoxine). Unfortunately, when body is deficient in this vitamin, liver will convert 5HTP to some toxic metabolites! For this reason 5-HTP, which effectiveness in boosting serotonin levels is higher than that of L-tryptophan, should be supplemented with pyridoxine (vitamin B6).
VITAMIN B2 (RIBOFLAVIN)
Apart from 5-HTP (Tryptophan) also vitamin B2 (riboflavin) supplementation seems to be beneficial in coping with migraine headaches. In mentioned below studies usually about 300-400mg of a daily dose of riboflavin was used:
“A 2016 review on the clinical evidence behind Riboflavin for Migraine concluded that daily doses of B2 may improve mitochondrial function, thereby preventing attacks and reducing the need for treatment.”
“A 2004 study found that patients who took Riboflavin experienced significantly fewer headaches and used fewer migraine pain killers or could completely avoid medications.”
“A 2016 review on the clinical evidence behind Riboflavin for Migraine concluded that daily doses of B2 may improve mitochondrial function, thereby preventing attacks and reducing the need for treatment.”
“A 2015 trial of 55 migraine patients on vitamin B2 showed decreased migraine ‘attack frequency’ and ‘headache days’.”
“1998 study of 80 patients with migraine found that those in the Riboflavin group experienced 50% fewer migraines and reduced severity of pain than those in the placebo group (15% reduction).”
“Since in case of migraine headaches Vitamin B2 may be able to achieve similar results to prescription alternatives with much fewer problems, riboflavin can be considered as safe and more natural alternative to meds.”
In addition, Vitamin B2 is also needed to make serotonin, which deficiency is regarded as the key trigger of migraine headaches.
OTHER SEROTONIN BOOSTERS
Apart from 5-HTP (tryptophan) and vitamin B2 also the following are beneficial in increasing Serotonin levels: Vitamins C, B1, B3, B6, B12, D, folic acid, calcium, selenium, zinc, & magnesium, regular exercise, and sunlight.
LIFESTYLE AND SEROTONIN
In the book ‘The Natural Way to Overcome Depression, Obesity, and Insomnia’ Dr. Michael Murray wrote: “Bad diet, lack of exercise, use of harmful substances such as alcohol or caffeine (coffee, tea, cola drinks, etc.) can rob your brain of the ability to make enough serotonin. This produces a range of significant complications: depression, obesity, insomnia, migraine headaches, or chronic fatigue.” It means that in order to have more serotonin you have to exercise and avoid stimulants such as alcohol and foods or drinks which contain caffeine (coffee, tea, cola drinks, etc.).
In January 2009 Psychopharmacology reported that one of the studies found that also stress greatly decreases serotonin levels.
If you want to have enough serotonin you should stay away from the low-calorie slimming diets as experiments with rats demonstrated that reducing calories in their diet decreased serotonin levels. Instead, follow the normal-calorie unrefined plant-based diet which is the best, most healthy and effective way to elevate serotonin levels in the body.
Fortunately there are some natural ways you can use to have more of this precious hormone. According to Harvard psychiatrist Joseph Glenmullen serotonin can be enhanced by positive thinking, stress control, and by aerobic exercise such as brisk walking. Exercise can raise serotonin levels by both increasing the synthesis and release of it.
According to Dr. Sang Lee even looking at certain lights and colours such as blue or green can positively affect serotonin levels. That is why seeing the green colour of grass or trees and blue colour of the sky, ocean, lake, river, or even swimming pool water may positively influence serotonin levels. Knowing this we can understand why the surrounding us nature is dominated by these two colours. Our loving Creator, who intended us to spend most of the time outside, gave us so much blue and green colours in order to boost good hormones, soothe our nervous system and to energize us at the same time during the day stimulating our metabolism.
It is now a well-documented scientific fact that it is the lack of light (especially during winter season) which is responsible for causing a popular form of depression called SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) that occurs at the same time every year. For this reason light therapy is used in this case with excellent results. That is why in the northern areas of the United States significantly more people suffer from depression than in the southern and sunny states.
In one interesting experiment scientists asked patients with depression to wake up early in the morning at 5 am, go out and expose themselves to the sunlight. As a result the symptoms of depression disappeared. They also demonstrated that the early morning sunlight was the most effective in fighting depression. However, in order to wake up early in the morning you also need to go to bad before 10pm.
It was demonstrated that the full-spectrum light stimulated chickens to release serotonin so well that they lived twice as long! In addition to that, they were also calmer and produced eggs which were much lower in cholesterol! That is why also when we wisely expose our body to the sunlight we feel more relaxed, have stronger immune system, and have lower blood cholesterol.
It was reported that the non-full-spectrum lighting, which is often used in work places and our homes, has created stressful amounts of hormones such as cortisol and ACTH. On the other hand, the artificial full spectrum lighting, which imitates the natural light found in sunlight, can significantly improve our mood and energy level.
Some experts, however, conclude that it is not the type of light but rather its intensity which is more important as the therapeutic value comes from the brightness of the light. They seem to agree that the full spectrum light is healthier but they suggest that at the same time any bright light therapy helps to decrease the symptoms of SAD, PMS, heart rhythm disorders, insomnia, or fibromyalgia, and help to cope with obesity through elevating the serotonin levels.
Unfortunately, for therapeutic purposes we need very bright light of at least 2,500 lux. The stronger the light the better results can be achieved. That is why it is so important to go for a walk and use benefits of the natural sunlight any time the weather is fine because in a full daylight even without direct sun the strength of light is 10,00025,000 lux, while in direct sunlight it is 32,000130,000 lux! Even on a cloudy day we have about 1,000 lux of light available. Unfortunately, the artificial light we have at home or work is usually only between 50 to 150 lux.
– Some reports suggest ginger may help prevent and treat migraines with none of the side-effects of drugs.
– The herb feverfew also effectively prevented migraines in placebo-controlled research studies.
– Boost your serotonin (vasoconstrictor) levels by regular outdoor exercise, sunlight, including Tofu in your diet, taking supplements: 5-HTP, B2 (3 times 100mg with meals a day), B3, B6, magnesium, zinc
– Treat inflammations
– Avoid: Caffeine, wine (sulfites), beer, cheese, pizza, gluten, chocolate, tea, sugar, white flour products and other refined foods, MSG, additives, most margarines and high in pro-inflammatory omega 6 fatty acids refined commercial oils (sunflower oil, soya oil, vegetable oil, corn oil), processed foods, carbonated drink, eggs, yeast, corn, citrus, wheat
– Avoid monosodium glutamate (MSG) as it increases oxidative stress and is a known migraine trigger
– Take supplements with magnesium citrate and sublingual methylcobalamin B12
– Learn to control psychological stress
– Avoid aspartame & sucralose
– Check if your medications may trigger migrain
– Take 100mg 0f CoQ10 & 600mg of Lipoic Acid per day
– Test for allergies & food sensitivity and try to eliminate triggers
– If possible go on completely plant-based unrefined diet to void all dairy, meat products and fish
– Regulate oestrogen & progesterone (read PMS & Menopause)
– Practice deep breathing
– Treat hypoglycaemia (low blood glucose levels) >
– Sleep 7-8 hours. Go to bed before 10pm
– Drink more distilled or at least filtered water to hydrate body
– Avoid fluoride (tap water, toothpastes, etc.) and treat pineal gland calcification by taking chlorella >
– Avoid constipation
– Try ginger, Feverfew
– Eat a diet high in raw plant foods (especially raw vegetable juices, smoothies, slalds)
– Take 1 heaped tablespoon of each of the following 30 minutes before breakfast every day: chlorella, ground flax seed, & barley grass
COMPRESS AND HOT FOOT BATH
Try either cold compress or worm to your head to figer out which one works better for you. People with tension headaches usually prefer using a warm compress, while those with migraines often prefer cold. At the same time keep your feet in very hot water to remove congestion from yur head.
Keeping your feet for about 30 minutes in hot water can be very helpful in boosting immunity and reducing congestion and pain from any area of the body. The very important benefit of water treatments such as hot foot bath is its ability to move blood from different parts of the body such as brain, chest, abdomen, etc. which is very helpful when the blood in brain and internal organs is congested, inflamed and often overloaded with toxins and impurities. It might be very beneficial in case of pain, sinusitis, headaches, cancer, arthritis, any inflammation or even fibromyalgia which is believed to be caused by too much blood in the brain which overstimulates the nervous system leading to increased sensitivity to pain. Hoot bath can be very beneficial in those conditions because high temperature of water dilates blood vessels in feet. As a result the congested blood moves from the upper parts of the body including chest, brain, internal organs and any part of the body to the lower parts bringing great relief. At the same time you need to wring out two clothes in ice water and put them on your forehead and neck, as it will constrict the blood vessels in the head, which also helps to ease the congestion. If you are a diabetic use thermometer or ask someone to check the temperature as diabetics have lower sensitivity to heat and may burn themselves.
Again, let me remind you that it is very important to drink plenty of water (possibly distilled or at least properly filtered) before and during this and any heating treatment, because heating raises body temperature and causes sweating, thus dehydrating the body. And, if you are a spiritual or believing person, don’t forget to pray before and after the treatment, asking the Great Physician to bless your efforts in sustaining the gift of health or cope with your health problems.
In order to increase the benefits of hydrotherapy use it together with Ginkgo biloba (blood circulation booster), alpha lipoic acid (most powerful antioxidant), Livercare or Gastone (to improve detoxification), and one of super grasses such as chlorella, spirulina, alfalfa, moringa, etc. (to boost energy, provide chlorophyll and nutrients). >
Beth Burns: Goodbye to Migraines!
I started having migraine headaches when I was four years old. My mom called them “hungry headaches,” and every time I got one she fed me. I quickly learned to associate food with easing my pain. The problem, though, was that eating never made my headaches go away. I would continue to cry in pain, which only made things worse.
While growing up in Michigan, my dad struggled throughout most of my childhood to find work to provide for our family of seven. My mom was always a loving person, and giving and serving is how she showed her love to us kids. Since we didn’t have money for the things other kids had, my mom gave to us by baking and cooking. She was really good at it, and I was really good at eating whatever she made. If we said we didn’t like something or if we said we were full, you could see the pain on her face. So I ate everything.
I can remember my mom’s can of fat on the back of the stove. She would save the drippings from the meats she cooked for the evening meal (hamburgers, bacon, pork chops) and would use it the next day to fry the eggs for breakfast. Thursdays were baking day, and all that fat on the stove would go into mom’s cookies, cakes, breads and pies.
Although my mom did what she could to serve her family, she spent much of my childhood in bed. It seems like her head hurt all the time. I can remember she would often ask me to bring her a handful of aspirin—literally a handful. While the other kids in the neighborhood were running and playing outdoors, I, like my mom, was often lying in a dark room with an icepack on my head. Each of my migraines ended with violent vomiting and then several hours of exhausted sleep.
When I was twelve years old I contracted meningitis, the symptoms of which were very similar to what I experienced during my headaches. My parents didn’t realize I was sick because they were so used to me being in pain from the headaches. By the time my dad decided to take me to the emergency room, I almost died. I spent a week in the hospital suffering from severe pain, dehydration and hallucinations.
Alone with the pain
In school, even though I was academically advanced, my teachers often accused me of using headaches to get out of doing my work and to avoid participation in gym class. The truth is, I loved to run and play, it was just so hard to do with an almost constant headache. My siblings accused me in the same way, saying it was convenient for me to have a headache whenever it was time for chores (although, I have to admit, I liked getting out of chores).
By 10th grade my headaches were a daily event. I was taking prescription narcotics and had to have my teachers’ permission to be in their classes. It didn’t matter that I pulled straight A’s, the school secretary would still roll her eyes every time I asked to go home because of a headache. In college my migraines grew even worse. While the campus doctor told me that “some people are just prone to headaches”—a very discouraging comment—some of my professors were worried that there might be something else wrong besides “just migraines,” as if that’s not enough.
My heart was broken, and I lost hope of ever being normal. From this point I started a long trip down the road of depression. I didn’t want to get out of bed for class. I didn’t want to participate in campus activities. I didn’t even want to live. And by now, it wasn’t just the migraine pain that was out of control, so was my eating.
After college, when I started my career as a Worship Pastor, I decided it was time to take control of my migraine pain. After dozens of doctor visits, tests and drugs, I still had migraines at least three times a week. I also developed gastro-intestinal issues, such as constipation, diarrhea and acid reflux, which were thought to be the result of all the medications over so many years. My doctor also suggested I was allergic to tomatoes, wheat and garlic, so I cut these things out of my diet, plus sugar and caffeine. But I still continued to have migraines.
On two separate occasions I was in a serious dating relationship that was headed toward marriage. Both men, however, felt that they couldn’t commit to someone who may or may not ever be free of the migraine pain. By this time my depression was affecting my work and it was suggested that I seek counseling, which I did. My migraines improved somewhat but I still had one or two a week. If you’ve ever had a migraine headache you know that even one is too many.
I eventually got a job as a counselor in that same office. But I hated that clients were counting on me to help them with their problems; meanwhile I would often have to cancel appointments because my head hurt so much. At this point, it was clear that migraines controlled my life, not me. I spent a lot of money going in for shots to help relieve the pain when I just couldn’t bear it any longer. But generally I resigned myself to the pain and decided not to fight it so hard anymore.
In addition to living with migraines, I also wanted to lose some weight. One day while talking to a friend about how I wanted to eat healthier in order to shed some pounds, she recommended The McDougall Program and gave me The McDougall Quick and Easy Cookbook. After reading the book and some other information from the McDougall website, I decided it was not going to work because everyone else out there (the media, other health authorities and authors, etc.) was saying that carbohydrates are bad. I figured I would just get fatter.
But I started following the program anyway because my friend had been so nice to give me the book. I kept telling myself, “It’s only 12 days—if it doesn’t work I can stop.” The funny thing is, my migraines disappeared! I also began to lose weight, especially after reading The McDougall Program for Maximum Weight Loss.
Within a week, because my blood pressure was so low (in other words it was now normal), I had to stop taking the beta blocker my doctor had prescribed as a migraine preventative. My migraines became fewer and farther between. They appeared once a week, once a month, once in a while, and then they completely disappeared. The last time I had a migraine headache was October 2006 when I was 31 years old. GI problems became a thing of the past, and I was able to eat tomatoes and wheat (although garlic still disagrees with me).
On and off the wagon
In November 2007 my mom died unexpectedly from Coronary Artery Atherosclerosis. At this time I had gotten away from eating McDougall style for various reasons and was starting to see a return of the headaches, although they were not yet migraines. My mom was only 64. Sitting at her funeral I realized that if I continued in my mom’s footsteps, at 32 years old I have already lived half of my life. That was a sobering thought.
So I explored other diet programs that allowed for the consumption of meat and dairy (I missed them) and, once again, daily headaches became routine. But I kept going because, after all, they weren’t migraines. In May 2008 I had my first migraine headache in almost two years. It scared me enough to bring me back to eating McDougall style. Within two weeks I was once again free of migraines. So what if I miss meat and dairy; it’s better than returning to a life of migraine pain.
I now take no cholesterol meds, no blood pressure meds and, most importantly, no headache meds! Now I can hike, bike, walk, travel, work, read and go to the movies. All of the things that used to trigger migraines are the things I now enjoy the most.
My advice to others who are looking for change is to just try the McDougall diet for 12 days; even if you have to tell yourself the same thing I did: “It’s only 12 days—if it doesn’t work I can stop.” But once the 12 days are up you will probably not want to stop.
Don’t worry if you fall off the wagon, you’ll eventually get sick of feeling sick and won’t care about missing the taste of meat and dairy foods. You will discover a host of new fruits, vegetables, grains and spices while still being able to enjoy healthier and delicious versions of your old favorite dishes, such as spaghetti and baked potatoes.
Before, on the standard American diet, I never felt full until I was so stuffed I felt sick. But on the McDougall diet I finally know what satisfied feels like, and it feels good!
Dr. McDougall’s Comments
Beth’s headaches ruled her life. We can only guess how different her childhood and early adult years would have been if she had, instead, lived pain-free. After searching and experimenting she has found a way to cure her migraines and improve her overall health—and it is a cost-free and side-effect-free method.
About 28 million Americans suffer from disabling headaches. When the pain is very severe, they are often called migraines—whether or not they truly are. Classically this kind of headache is preceded by characteristic symptoms called an aura. The aura is commonly visual disturbances, described as zig-zag lines and impairment of vision, but numbness and tingling of the face and arms, and speech disturbances also occur. These symptoms develop over a few minutes, usually last for less than 1 hour, and disappear before the headache begins. The headache pain is intense and throbbing and usually restricted to one side of the head—and lasting from minutes to days. The brain tissue has no pain fibers, but the blood vessels to the brain do have these sensory nerves. The migraine aura is believed to be caused by constriction of the blood vessels in the brain (cerebral vasoconstriction) and the headache by the dilation of the blood vessels that follows (reactive vasodilatation).
Worldwide, migraine headaches are reported more commonly in countries where people consume the Western diet.1 Obesity is also associated with the frequency and severity of migraines.2 These observations have led to the idea that rich foods play an important role in migraine headaches. As with many Western diseases (type-2 diabetes, heart disease, etc.), the large amount of fat people consume is suspect, and for good reason. Saturated fat (animal fat) causes blood-clotting elements called platelets to aggregate, and causes the activation of tiny hormones called prostaglandins. These fat-induced changes constrict and dilate the blood vessels.
A low-fat diet treatment used at Loma Linda University has been found to be highly effective for migraine sufferers. In their published study, 54 patients were taught a diet containing 20 grams of fat.3 There was no calorie restriction and the diet was primarily made of fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes, in other words, a low-fat, vegan, diet. Their daily fat intake actually decreased among participants from an average of 66 grams to 28 grams daily. The results reported after 4 weeks on the diet were statistically significant decreases in headache frequency, intensity, duration, and medication use.
In addition to changes in fat content, there are other reasons a plant-based diet, like the McDougall diet, may help people with migraine headaches. Since 1913, allergic reactions have been found to cause migraine headaches in children and adults. Treatments with simple diets that avoid foods known to commonly cause allergies, such as dairy, wheat, and corn, have been highly effective at providing relief.4-6 (If the basic McDougall diet without wheat and corn fails to give relief then a highly effective elimination diet, found in my December 2002 newsletter, should be tried before food is discounted.)
Most people suffer from pain in the head area, but rarely do they make a connection between their headache and their food—other than the well-recognized sufferings that result from too much alcohol and caffeine withdrawal. Since diet has such a profound effect on every part of the body, food should be carefully looked at early on when the cause of headaches is being investigated. The benefits of a change in diet are not limited to migraine patients. I usually see complete relief of headaches of most kinds—even those with no name or identified cause—within days after a change in diet. So as Beth says, “just try the McDougall diet for 12 days.”
1) Morillo LE. Migraine headache. Am Fam Physician. 2002 May 1;65(9):1871-3.
2) Bigal ME, Liberman JN, Lipton RB. Obesity and migraine: a population study. Neurology. 2006 Feb 28;66(4):545-50.
3) Bic Z, Blix GG, Hopp HP, Leslie FM, Schell MJ. The influence of a low-fat diet on incidence and severity of migraine headaches. J Womens Health Gend Based Med. 1999 Jun;8(5):623-30.
4) Egger J, Carter CH, Soothill JF, Wilson J. Effect of diet treatment on enuresis in children with migraine or hyperkinetic behavior. Clin Pediatr (Phila). 1992 May;31(5):302-7.
5) Egger J, Carter CM, Wilson J, Turner MW, Soothill JF. Is migraine food allergy? A double-blind controlled trial of oligoantigenic diet treatment. Lancet. 1983 Oct 15;2(8355):865-9.
6) Monro J, Carini C, Brostoff J. Migraine is a food-allergic disease. Lancet. 1984 Sep 29;2(8405):719-21.
End of the 40-Year Migraine
After reading tens of thousands of testimonies of what many would consider miraculous healings of numerous physical and psychological problems over the past nearly 20 years, you would think I would be used to them by now, but I still stand amazed when I read testimonies like the following one received this past week:
Where do I begin? Nine weeks ago after reaching the point of migraine headache pain that was no longer tolerable, even with medication, I told my clinical pharmacist husband I would do what he had been encouraging me to do for the past five years – adopt The Hallelujah Diet.
He almost went on the diet and lifestyle himself before we met, but then we were married, and life got in the way. It was my husband that first diagnosed my severe headaches as migraine headaches after doctors had told me since I was a teen that they were simply sinus headaches. I am now 53 years old.
Within two weeks of making the diet and lifestyle change at a slow pace due to my days of pain, reorganizing and replacing my kitchen equipment, and with green smoothie in hand I looked at my husband and said – ‘this is my only hope!’ I was still experiencing some painful days, but they were less frequent and less intense, and I was able to reduce my pain medicine.
Prior to the diet change I used to have horrible pain almost every day, and the pain medicine, while relieving the pain somewhat, increased my fatigue and it took days to recover from the medicine.
Three weeks after making the diet and lifestyle change, I had such a light day of pain I didn’t need my medicine and since then I haven’t had any pain of any kind, nor any need of medicine, and I awake every morning with energy – energy like I experienced only on my best days when in my 20s.
It was then, three weeks after making the diet and lifestyle change, that my clinical pharmacist husband said ‘I think your migraines are gone!’ Tears welled up in my eyes to those words. No one knows how painful migraines are unless they have suffered with them themselves.
Through the years, because of the intense pain, I had even had thoughts of ending my life at times if only I had the courage. A migraine is not a headache – it is far worse than anything you can imagine.
I have carefully reviewed many of the Hallelujah Acres videos and materials and taken this new information to heart. What I had learned from independent and formal training in prior years was just the tip of the iceberg compared to what I have learned from Hallelujah Acres in just the past nine weeks.
We have purchased a second refrigerator to hold all of our veggies for juicing and our salad box. We have all of your recipe books and kitchen tools, including the Green Star 5000, our juicing hero.
I left North Carolina to marry my husband in Dallas, Texas five years ago. Soon my husband will be retiring and we are moving back to North Carolina, hopefully near where Hallelujah Acres is located, so that we can share the wonderful blessings of true health that you have given us.
You have already saved my life and my marriage and I am so excited about continuing on this healing journey with my husband at my side. Thank you and God bless you in all things!
Cynthia A., BSN, RN, Dallas, TX
ANOTHER TESTIMONIAL: How I Virtually Eliminated Migraines – Naturally! >
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