What's causing migraines?

  • 6 Sep 2011
  • Reading time 2 mins
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This week a study shows that 85% of people affected by debilitating migraines had their symptoms reduced, and quality of life improved, when their food triggers were discovered and avoided. Having a hidden food allergy is one of five common causes of migraines.

This recent study, published in the Nutrition Journal, tested migraine sufferers for food allergy using Yorktest.com's Food Scan test. Eighty four of the volunteers were put on their food allergy free diet, while 83 were given a sham ‘allergy’ diet based on fake test results. At the end of four weeks those on the real allergy free diets had had 23% less migraines than those on the shame diet. Professor David Torgerson, co-author of the paper and Professor and Director of the York Trials Unit at York University commented: "This study, which we believe to be the largest randomised controlled trial of its kind in migraine-like headaches shows the potential for elimination diets based on food-specific IgG measurement with a 23% reduction in the number of migraine-like headaches after four weeks of dietary change based on YorkTest's FoodScan test results".

A previous survey (July 2011) by the charity Migraine Action also found that over two thirds of members affected by frequent migraine attacks believe that certain foods could be the cause. The survey revealed that 85 percent of people affected by debilitating migraines had their symptoms reduced, and quality of life improved, when their food triggers were discovered and avoided. Other factors Another common contributor to migraines is the C2/C3 vertebrae in the neck being out of balance. If you do have any upper back or neck tension it is well worth seeing an osteopath or chiropractor and getting this checked. When your blood sugar dips, which is what happens about an hour or so after a high sugar intake, or when you haven’t eaten for several hours, it is possible that this may also trigger a headache, as can not drinking enough water.

It is possible that a lack of B vitamins may contribute to headaches. Vitamin B2, when supplemented, has been shown to decrease incidence of headaches. Niacin, vitamin B3, may also relieve migraines, according to a review of nine trials. Whether this happens because niacin is a vasodilator, and makes you blush for about 15 minutes, or because we can make serotonin from niacin, is unknown. People who experience visual changes or auras during migraines have been shown to have lower serotonin levels. Supplementing 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) has been shown to help relieve migraines. Some migraine drugs are based on this effect. I take a niacin tablet, plus 100mg of 5-HTP at the first signs of a migraine, which I now get very rarely since identifying and avoiding dairy products, to which I am allergic. I’d be interested to know what helps you prevent or stop a migraines. If you’d like to find out more about nutrition headaches and migraines read my Special Report.

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