3

votes

Headaches and Diet (Can diet improve migraine?)

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created January 09, 2012 at 6:07 PM

Just started visiting and saw an old thread about the diet and migraines. Wondering how some people have done with low carb diets and their migraines. I'm currently on Topamax and not doing well even at 100mg. Leg cramps and paresthesia have seem to become the norm. I've been told they could stop after a time, and because 100mg. doesn't seem to be working, I can gradually up this dose to 200mg. Before this med, I was on a beta blocker. Even during vigorous exercise, I couldn't get to a heart rate above 100. After 7:00-8:00 at night, I wasn't much good to my family. Won't say more about that. Take Imitrex which seems to be helping less and less, and also giving me muscle ache and weakness. Age 51. Female. Still have regular cycles. Have been on a gluten free diet for over a year which has seemed to help some. No MSG. No soda. No peanuts. Recently cut the chocolate. Moderate coffee, wine and dairy. Organic when possible. Disc neck problems for over 12 years, other than that, no major health issues. Tried Atkins once, but didn't feel real great with it. Tired of feeling like this...

5fca1ceaa4c6c65a4beea4a832aadcbe

on January 11, 2012
at 07:25 PM

You might find this article from PHD interesting as well. It started me on my journey to fix my migraines: http://perfecthealthdiet.com/?p=2921

5fca1ceaa4c6c65a4beea4a832aadcbe

on January 11, 2012
at 08:25 AM

I can't find the link to the one I was referring to but I have attached a link to a recent study which shows benefit from taking magnesium: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/18705538/

Bece741db5f5fed6bafa12e3548f973f

(715)

on January 10, 2012
at 10:34 PM

Oh, and I have not had hormone checks at all. Would you suggest and endocrine person?

Bece741db5f5fed6bafa12e3548f973f

(715)

on January 10, 2012
at 10:34 PM

I tend to get more rebound headaches with Tylenol and the like. I rarely take them anymore. Can't take motrin and aleve because my gut can't handle it. The neuro told me that too low of a dose of Imitrex or at too late a time will cause the headache to return and that getting it at the start and knocking it down right from the start will stop the rebound affect. I used to use half doses, 50mg/100mg and only when unbearable. He told me to use the 100s right away. I did that partly because my insurance didn't cover it and it was dog gone expensive, but I was going through an awful lot of 50s.

Bece741db5f5fed6bafa12e3548f973f

(715)

on January 10, 2012
at 10:27 PM

Thanks! That would be helpful.

5fca1ceaa4c6c65a4beea4a832aadcbe

on January 10, 2012
at 09:17 AM

I would call sweet potato, potato and even a bit of rice as safe starches. I would recomend cutting out the GF bread etc as a possible cause of migraines. From looking at your previous posts I would try to up your fat and protein instead and see if that helps. Also try the magnesium supplement as migraine has been linked to a imbalance between magnesium and calcium in the brain. There was an article I read on it. Will try to get you the link if you interested?

7c9f81d68c78de1a31eab9c91c17b4b8

on January 10, 2012
at 03:15 AM

@ Faky, Interesting about the onions. how did you discover that?

46bee6b93ee79082ea1094f26c2da5a4

(837)

on January 10, 2012
at 12:25 AM

6 weeks! This may just be your answer. I went cold turkey all the way, headaches gone in 2 days. I don't know if rice/potatoes is a problem for me or if it's just the bread/noodle type starches but right now I'm trusting in Paleo and not taking any chances, it's working and I like not having headaches.

Bece741db5f5fed6bafa12e3548f973f

(715)

on January 09, 2012
at 11:15 PM

Usually I have hot sorghum cereal and fruit or eggs and gluten free toast for breakfast. For lunch I'll take carrots, V-8, salad or some other veggies. Also fruit, raw or canned. Other examples, natural yogurt, egg salad, left overs from last night's supper. Gluten free raisin toast with butter. Occasional corn chips and salsa. I get a 1% milk (teach at school) Suppers are usually a meat or fowl, veggie and starch like rice or potato. If I make a casserole or pizza, I'll make myself a gluten free version or eat leftovers. We still have 6 kids at home, so have to keep the hungry fed. Not easy.

Bece741db5f5fed6bafa12e3548f973f

(715)

on January 09, 2012
at 11:02 PM

We grind our own coffee, I've cut down to 1 cup in the early A.M. I get up at 4:45 so I'll have a big glass of water, eat breakfast and then have coffee with my hubby. A few times a week I try to fit 15 minutes of aerobics in there. Thanks for sharing your experiences. What do you consider safe starches?

Bece741db5f5fed6bafa12e3548f973f

(715)

on January 09, 2012
at 10:57 PM

I'd love to live in a tropical place for awhile to see if it helped. Unfortunately that will never happen. I got a storm/sharp weather change related headache once this summer without a doubt, but that's the only time that I could tell that for sure. I would think that if everything else is healthy, that it would be minimal.

Bece741db5f5fed6bafa12e3548f973f

(715)

on January 09, 2012
at 10:54 PM

Still eating the starches, but since finding out about the Paleo diet, I'm starting to cut back. When I first went gluten free and didn't know what to make, I was sort of on what might have looked a bit like a Paleo diet. Went 6 weeks without a migraine. I think the thing I'd miss the most is the potatoes.

Bece741db5f5fed6bafa12e3548f973f

(715)

on January 09, 2012
at 10:52 PM

Once in awhile I'll chew some after lunch, but only for a short time. Will tend to clench during stress, but have gone through lots of P.T. and have really turned the jaw clenching thing around, quite a bit.

Bece741db5f5fed6bafa12e3548f973f

(715)

on January 09, 2012
at 10:50 PM

Just started keeping a log again. But since I am restricting myself, I'm not sure what I'll find out unless I reintroduce stuff. Yeast might be a trigger. When I went gluten free I didn't know what to make, so they seemed to let up for awhile. I know that hormones are a trigger, but it has been a bit difficult to figure out the pattern. Was always very regular and 28 day, but in the last year, my cycles have moved off pattern by about two weeks. Last cycle was 33 days and I had a migraine from day 28-31 with aura on day 27. The cycle before that was a week early. No headache, no warning.

B8592e62f9804ddabae73c1103d6bcb9

(1956)

on January 09, 2012
at 07:31 PM

What's your current diet like?

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11 Answers

2
5fca1ceaa4c6c65a4beea4a832aadcbe

on January 09, 2012
at 08:37 PM

I used to be a regular migraine sufferer. Going primal has made a huge difference for me. I have gone from several a week to having less than 5 since April. It really has made a massive difference! The difference to Atkins is to eat cleanly. The more rubbish and chemicals the more likely I am to have a migraine. Try to limit carbs as that can cause attacks. I eat safe starches but always with fat to reduce the blood sugar effects. I also supplement with Vit D and Magnesium and have regular Epsom salt baths. I also try to keep up my sleep to 7-8 hours as I know that is a trigger. One of my biggest triggers (my monthly cycle) has also gone. Try cutting out the coffee. Instant coffee always gives me migraines (whilst ground coffee doesn't). Good luck and I hope your migraines improve!

5fca1ceaa4c6c65a4beea4a832aadcbe

on January 10, 2012
at 09:17 AM

I would call sweet potato, potato and even a bit of rice as safe starches. I would recomend cutting out the GF bread etc as a possible cause of migraines. From looking at your previous posts I would try to up your fat and protein instead and see if that helps. Also try the magnesium supplement as migraine has been linked to a imbalance between magnesium and calcium in the brain. There was an article I read on it. Will try to get you the link if you interested?

Bece741db5f5fed6bafa12e3548f973f

(715)

on January 10, 2012
at 10:27 PM

Thanks! That would be helpful.

Bece741db5f5fed6bafa12e3548f973f

(715)

on January 09, 2012
at 11:02 PM

We grind our own coffee, I've cut down to 1 cup in the early A.M. I get up at 4:45 so I'll have a big glass of water, eat breakfast and then have coffee with my hubby. A few times a week I try to fit 15 minutes of aerobics in there. Thanks for sharing your experiences. What do you consider safe starches?

5fca1ceaa4c6c65a4beea4a832aadcbe

on January 11, 2012
at 08:25 AM

I can't find the link to the one I was referring to but I have attached a link to a recent study which shows benefit from taking magnesium: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/18705538/

5fca1ceaa4c6c65a4beea4a832aadcbe

on January 11, 2012
at 07:25 PM

You might find this article from PHD interesting as well. It started me on my journey to fix my migraines: http://perfecthealthdiet.com/?p=2921

2
50e94d7b6b01e6cb87889c6541adc90c

on January 09, 2012
at 06:54 PM

Histamine could be the trigger. A histamine free diet changed everything for me. And with the link below comes another person, who suffered for 20 years and got rid of the migraine because of a histamine free diet.

http://www.migrainepage.com/dcforum/discussion/14166.html

Your low blood pressure could also be caused by a high histamine level. Histamine dilates blood vessels.

1
Fe33d1321dad116f6fedd60266d0498b

on January 10, 2012
at 02:47 AM

I have migraines; the imitrex-type drugs never worked for me. What has worked- cutting out onions (so- the salsa would be a no-go for me), chocolate, and soy. Beer/wine/nitrates are a trigger, too. I also started taking magneium glycinate- 400mg per day at least, up to 800 mg per day- and that's been pretty damn fantastic. Adding Effexor also helped a bit; another ssri (or even an epilepsy drug) might be of similar use.

That's all I got for now. Good luck.

7c9f81d68c78de1a31eab9c91c17b4b8

on January 10, 2012
at 03:15 AM

@ Faky, Interesting about the onions. how did you discover that?

1
1f0e3d43da38ef9fc064e1dc514a3e0f

on January 10, 2012
at 12:43 AM

For me, eliminating caffeine made a huge difference. I also don't tolerate fermented foods, so wine & vinegar are both out as is cheese.

Be careful with the Imitrex. It can have a "rebound" effect - you take it, feel better, but if you take it again too soon, your headache comes back. Neurologist David Buchholz (author of "Heal Your Headache") says "too often" is twice a month. That was definitely true for me. I also get rebound headaches with ibuprofen, which I now avoid for other reasons as well.

What about hormone levels? Have you had yours checked?

Bece741db5f5fed6bafa12e3548f973f

(715)

on January 10, 2012
at 10:34 PM

Oh, and I have not had hormone checks at all. Would you suggest and endocrine person?

Bece741db5f5fed6bafa12e3548f973f

(715)

on January 10, 2012
at 10:34 PM

I tend to get more rebound headaches with Tylenol and the like. I rarely take them anymore. Can't take motrin and aleve because my gut can't handle it. The neuro told me that too low of a dose of Imitrex or at too late a time will cause the headache to return and that getting it at the start and knocking it down right from the start will stop the rebound affect. I used to use half doses, 50mg/100mg and only when unbearable. He told me to use the 100s right away. I did that partly because my insurance didn't cover it and it was dog gone expensive, but I was going through an awful lot of 50s.

1
Ed983a42344945b1ff70fd9597a23493

on January 09, 2012
at 08:41 PM

I'm currently trying the Jaminet's instructions on ketogenic diet. I have tried so many things, and when initially giving up grains and sugar, I went from 3-4 migraines per month to one. I'm hoping The Perfect Health Diet can help get rid of the one. Have you kept a migraine log to identify your triggers? I used one to figure out mine, and avoid all triggers as much as possible. Hormonal fluctuations are my last main trigger, hence the ketogenic diet as an attempt to correct hormone balance.

Bece741db5f5fed6bafa12e3548f973f

(715)

on January 09, 2012
at 10:50 PM

Just started keeping a log again. But since I am restricting myself, I'm not sure what I'll find out unless I reintroduce stuff. Yeast might be a trigger. When I went gluten free I didn't know what to make, so they seemed to let up for awhile. I know that hormones are a trigger, but it has been a bit difficult to figure out the pattern. Was always very regular and 28 day, but in the last year, my cycles have moved off pattern by about two weeks. Last cycle was 33 days and I had a migraine from day 28-31 with aura on day 27. The cycle before that was a week early. No headache, no warning.

1
96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on January 09, 2012
at 06:21 PM

I don't know where you live, CJ, but I and at least one other PH commenter are affected by weather. When I lived in Wisconsin--eating SAD--I suffered 2-5 days of severe migraine per week. When I moved to southern Nevada, still on SAD, I enjoyed a drastic decrease in frequency of attacks and the ones I still had were triggered mostly by driving/being outside in bright sun.

EDIT: While in Wisconsin, I went through all the prescribed medications and all they did was move my attacks a little farther apart while making them even more severe. And taking all that crap made me very sick and I felt like I was drunk half the time and couldn't think.

Since I began ancestral eating last April, the frequency of migraine has pretty much become zero. I can sit outside for a little while but usually have to seek shade while others are still sitting happily in the sun, but I don't have a migraine attack later which is pretty miraculous for me.

So, you may want to log weather vs. attack frequency to see if you are responding to weather in addition to food.

Bottom line: I eat moderate carbs rather than low; I'd say it has helped to reduce my migraine but if I were eating this way in Wisconsin I believe I'd still be having frequent attacks because my dominant trigger is weather rather than food.

EDIT: CJ, you need to check out Paul Jaminet's new post. He mentions migraine may indicate difficulty using glucose in the brain and says a ketogenic diet may help. I'm not full-time ketogenic, but I have been thriving on IF and I frequently go 18-24 hours between meals feeling great.

Bece741db5f5fed6bafa12e3548f973f

(715)

on January 09, 2012
at 10:57 PM

I'd love to live in a tropical place for awhile to see if it helped. Unfortunately that will never happen. I got a storm/sharp weather change related headache once this summer without a doubt, but that's the only time that I could tell that for sure. I would think that if everything else is healthy, that it would be minimal.

0
746c52e90b06c709d66a5bac5b1589c7

on January 19, 2012
at 03:47 AM

I have very chronic severe migraines that were misdiagnosed as anything from schizophrenia to epilepsy. The neurologist put me on blood pressure medications which greatly relieved my issues. But I have found on paleo that some days I only end up taking one dose in the morning and I don't have to bother with my afternoon dose. One of my biggest triggers is casein and just avoiding milk helps a lot with that.

Yes exercising on a beta (and calcium channel) blocker really sucks but my resting heart rate now is about 50 bpm and I try to work out when my medicines are nearly worn off in the late afternoon/early evening before the next dose. I just take more breathers than a normal person. Migraine relief is of the utmost importance to me so that's what I'm sacrificing.

0
C8b2136ef95ba6aac211825ff38cc0e9

on January 09, 2012
at 11:48 PM

I have pretty much had a constant headache for six months. I'm working on it now and have actually had some "clear" days. Lots of great suggestions, but I would definitely get rid of all processed foods and gluten free breads. I am really sensitive to msg and other additives. I tried upping carbs (fruit) a little to help, didn't seem to work much and then I increased fat. I think that's helping. I'm still working on it and trying to find my right balance, but I think and hope you will figure yours out! Some supplements may help...keep doing searches on here. I'm feeling so much better and sleeping better after a few weeks. Best to you!

0
8c8e71eb729c0edb4786c6f3ba8614e4

(568)

on January 09, 2012
at 07:30 PM

Certain foods can definetely trigger migraines. Cheese and wine are pretty common ones, but really it can be anything.

This might sound odd but do you chew much gum? That constant clenching and chewing can cause headaches too.

Bece741db5f5fed6bafa12e3548f973f

(715)

on January 09, 2012
at 10:52 PM

Once in awhile I'll chew some after lunch, but only for a short time. Will tend to clench during stress, but have gone through lots of P.T. and have really turned the jaw clenching thing around, quite a bit.

0
46bee6b93ee79082ea1094f26c2da5a4

(837)

on January 09, 2012
at 07:18 PM

I was having hairloss on Topamax. Are you still eating Gluten Free starch products, like GF Bread, GF crackers, GF cereals etc? I've noticed a significant reduction in headache when I went completely starch free with Paleo Diet. I mean no bread, crackers, noodles, rice, potatoes etc. I hope you can find your answers!

46bee6b93ee79082ea1094f26c2da5a4

(837)

on January 10, 2012
at 12:25 AM

6 weeks! This may just be your answer. I went cold turkey all the way, headaches gone in 2 days. I don't know if rice/potatoes is a problem for me or if it's just the bread/noodle type starches but right now I'm trusting in Paleo and not taking any chances, it's working and I like not having headaches.

Bece741db5f5fed6bafa12e3548f973f

(715)

on January 09, 2012
at 10:54 PM

Still eating the starches, but since finding out about the Paleo diet, I'm starting to cut back. When I first went gluten free and didn't know what to make, I was sort of on what might have looked a bit like a Paleo diet. Went 6 weeks without a migraine. I think the thing I'd miss the most is the potatoes.

0
Eedf46c82d0356d1d46dda5f9782ef36

(4464)

on January 09, 2012
at 07:16 PM

Migraines can have different triggers - so that's a definite maybe.

My wife gets migraines if she eats any amount of MSG. I rarely get migraines, and haven't had one in more than two and a half years. I can say I've had no migraines at all after switching to paleo.

General headaches - I used to have headaches on a very regular basis. For years I kept Excedrin in my desk drawer, as I'd have headaches several times a week. Since switching to paleo I have had almost no headaches. It was a noticeable change the first week and it's been consistent. Something I was eating was obviously causing them. I couldn't tell you what - I switched from the SAD to paleo and ate all kinds of garbage.

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