WRITTEN BY Dr. Stephanie Rubino, BSc. ND- 02 December 2011
Suffering from migraines but don't want to fill your system with all the drugs? Webber Naturals has got the expert nutritional advice for you!
Webber Naturals expert Dr. Stephanie Rubino has done the research and now she's sharing how your nutrition can do to treat migraine headaches...
If you have ever experienced a migraine, you know first-hand how it can negatively impact your daily routines. Migraine headaches can be extremely painful and are often accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and sound. You just want to lock yourself away in a dark room. More women suffer from migraine headaches than men, and migraines can be triggered by a number of factors such as stress , irregular sleep , hormone imbalances, skipping meals and smoking.
An increasing number of people are opting to ditch the migraine drugs for alternative, more natural therapies to help prevent and treat migraines. Unfortunately there is not one single treatment that would be effective for each person. Acupuncture, yoga, osteopathy, exercise, chiropractic, herbal medicines and nutrients have all received attention for their benefit in helping migraine sufferers. Let’s take a look at some of these therapies.
Identification of foods that may trigger migraine symptoms and restriction of these foods (once known) may help some people prevent migraine attacks. The following foods, beverages and additives are thought to trigger, or increase symptoms, and may need to be avoided by susceptible individuals.
• Alcoholic drinks (red wine, beer)
• Aged or strong cheese
• Aspartame, nitrites, sulfites
• Caffeine-containing drinks
• Citrus fruits
• Cured meats (hot dogs, bacon, ham, salami)
• Fatty or fried foods
• Food dyes and additives
• Ice cream, yogurt, sour cream
• Meat and vegetable extracts
• Monosodium glutamate (MSG)
• Pickled herring, chicken livers
• Pork and seafood
• Foods containing tyramine (examples: soy sauce, miso, cured meats and aged cheese)
• Foods containing phenylethylamine (examples: cheesecake, yellow cheeses, and citrus fruit)
• Foods containing histamine (examples: bananas, tofu, miso, tomatoes, wine, and yeast)
Avoidance of the above foods may not be the complete answer and I know it can be difficult to stay away from all of these foods, but it’s a good idea to keep a diet journal to help you identify any possible food triggers. Note any appearance of migraine symptoms after the consumption of a particular food. If you are able to identify your food triggers then avoidance of those foods may be helpful. You can also speak to your health care provider about the available tests to identify your food sensitivities. Eating inconsistently throughout the day may also cause low blood sugar levels, which can also trigger a migraine. Eating every 3 hours and focusing your diet on whole grains, good quality proteins , fruits and vegetables is a great nutritional foundation for prevention.
CoQ10 is a versatile antioxidant needed for energy production in the body and it has shown benefit in the treatment of many conditions such as hypertension, diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease. Now there is promising evidence from randomized controlled trials that supports the use of CoQ10 in migraine prevention or treatment. In one study, patients taking CoQ10 (100 mg three times per day) found CoQ10 was well tolerated and superior to placebo for reducing attack frequency, headache days and the number of days with nausea in the third month of treatment.
Riboflavin is an important nutrient for body growth and red blood cell production, and various clinical trials have looked at the use of a high-dose of it in migraine prevention. In one study, patients were randomized to receive 400 mg of riboflavin or placebo for three months. Riboflavin was superior to placebo in reducing attack frequency and headache days. The proportion of patients who improved by at least 50% was 15% for placebo and 59% for riboflavin. It has been suggested that high-dose riboflavin (400 mg per day) is worth trying in patients with at least two migraines per month. At this dose, it is best to take riboflavin on its own and not as part of a multivitamin.
Magnesium is needed for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body such as maintaining normal muscle and nerve function, supporting the immune system, and keeping bones strong. There is evidence that suggests a magnesium deficiency is involved in the development of migraines. Triggers for migraines, including stress, menstruation, alcohol ingestion, and some diuretics, are also known to cause magnesium depletion. Clinical studies have found that magnesium may reduce the intensity of migraine headaches. Magnesium supplementation appears to be a simple, safe, and effective way to reduce the frequency and/or severity of migraines. The general recommendation for magnesium intake is 300-400 mg daily.
Other nutrients such as fish oils , melatonin , vitamin B12 and folic acid have also been investigated for their roles in migraine prevention and treatment. Remember, always speak to your health care provider to determine which nutrients would be best for you.
Stay tuned for the rest of my migraine tips!
Image source: The Linos, Inc., Recharge Nutrition