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Nutrition and Headaches

by Dr. Paul G. Varnas & WholeHealthAmerica.com (The Better Health News, June, 2010; Volume 7, Issue 6)

            Often people who get headaches have habits that are causing the headaches, but have not made the connection between their lifestyle and their symptoms. One obvious thing that can be done is to quit eating refined sugar and to eat regular meals. Research that appeared in the journal Headache (May 1978;18:91-94) looked at 74 subjects who suffered from migraine headaches and their blood sugar levels. The subjects were given glucose tolerance tests (GTT) and it was found that six of the patients had results that suggested diabetes and 56 had results that suggested reactive hypoglycemia. A diet free of sucrose, and eating six small meals per day improved the GTT results in most of the six patients with the diabetic patterns and half of those subjects became headache free. Of the 56 subjects with the hypoglycemic result, 43 subjects returned for a follow up and just about every one had improvement of their GTT curve and reduction in pain.

The kinds of fats in the diet can also play a role. One article appearing in the journal Medical Hypotheses (1998;50:1-7) postulated that migraines may be linked to blood lipids, much the same way that cardiovascular disease is. Research appearing in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (1985;41:874) found that supplementation with fish oil reduced the frequency and severity of migraine headaches. Indeed, many research articles have shown the value of omega-3 fatty acids for pain and inflammation. Biomega-3™ is a very pure source of omega-3 fatty acids, free of dioxins and mercury.

B-vitamins may be of value for migraine patients in the same way that bringing blood sugar under control is helpful. Also, there is some research to show that a high dose of riboflavin can help migraine patients. Research appearing in the journal Ceplalgia (1994;14:328-329) tested the results of giving 400 mg/day of riboflavin to subjects with migraine headaches. Half of the subjects were also given 75 mg of aspirin. There was a mean global improvement of a little over 68% in the headache scores. The group receiving the aspirin did no better than the group receiving riboflavin alone. The European Journal of Neurology (1992;12:21-7), also ran a study that found that giving riboflavin reduced the frequency of headaches and use of medication. Bio-GGG-B™ from Biotics Research is a B-complex vitamin that has extra riboflavin in the more biologically available phosphorylated form.

In the journal Cephalgia (1992;12:21-7), a study involving 90 headache patients were compared to 40 patients without headaches. Patients with both migraine and tension headaches had lower salivary and serum magnesium levels than the age-matched controls. In addition, serum magnesium tended to be even lower during migraine attacks. In another study, appearing in the journal Headache (2001;41:171-177), 30 migraine sufferers were given either one gram of IV magnesium or 10 milliliters of saline solution as a placebo. In the group receiving the magnesium, nearly 87% of the subjects experienced complete relief of their pain, over 13% had a reduction in pain. In the group receiving the magnesium, accompanying symptoms like nausea and photophobia were eliminated in all subjects. Research in the Medical Tribune (May 18, 1995;7) found that about half of a group of subjects who suffered from frequent migraines had low ionized magnesium and that IV magnesium therapy provided these patients with relief. Mg-Zyme™ is a source of organically combined magnesium (100 mg of magnesium per tablet).

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