A group of researchers from Washington, D.C., affiliated with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) found that a low-fat, plant-based diet may help people with migraines.

In the study, 42 migraineurs either ate a vegan diet (a diet with no animal products) or received a placebo supplement for 16 weeks. A phase was included in which the subjects eliminated common dietary triggers. After a 4-week period of no treatment, the groups switched to the other treatment plan.

The vegan diet was linked with significant reductions in pain, with patients reporting a decrease of more than 2 points on a 10-point scale. The group taking supplements reported a decrease of less than 1 point in pain.

The researchers believe there is potential value in various nutritional approaches to treating migraine. The positive results of the study, the researchers suggest may be that a vegan diet excludes many common triggers. Because meat products have inflammatory properties, it’s elimination from the diet may have an anti-inflammatory effect. Weight loss can improve migraines, and a plant-based diet may have an effect on estrogen, a hormone which is connected to migraine.

They believe further studies are needed to compare vegan diets to other diets. They also believe a longer trial is needed, and if possible comparing the effects of a vegan diet from a food-elimination diet.

National Headache Foundation President, Dr. Arthur Elkind said, “eliminating dietary triggers may be easier for some individuals than a vegan diet, and it would be important to determine which diets, if any, have a real effect on migraine frequency.”

National Headache Foundation
November 2014

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