Treating migraines with a plant-based diet
More than a billion people worldwide experience migraines. While drugs can help prevent and treat them, the report states that growing evidence suggests that diet may also offer an effective alternative without any of the side effects associated with some of the drugs.
In the report, doctors advised the man to adopt the Low Inflammatory Foods Everyday (Life) diet, a nutrient-dense whole-food plant-based diet.
He was advised to consume one 32 ounce ‘LIFE’ smoothie every day, at least five ounces by weight of dark green leafy vegetables in salad or cooked vegetables per day, and to limit consumption of whole grains, starchy vegetables, oils, dairy, and red meat.
Within two months, the frequency of his migraine attacks had fallen from six to eight in a month to just one day per month. The length and severity of the attacks had also improved.
After three months his migraines had stopped completely. He has now been free from severe headaches for over seven years.
Prof Gunter Kuhnle, a professor of nutrition and food science at the University of Reading, who was not involved in the case, said: “This is a case report and therefore it is impossible to generalise the finding.
“Migraine is a debilitating condition, and it is important to find ways to treat and manage it. Diet can play an important role in the management of many diseases, and some foods are known to trigger migraine.
“Bioactive compounds found in dark-green leafy vegetables and other foods might have an important role in the management of many diseases, but in order to make definitive statements and recommendations, considerably more research is needed.”
Dr Duane Mellor, a registered dietitian and senior teaching fellow at Aston University’s medical school, said the report was “interesting” but “cannot be taken as a solution for all people with migraines”.
“The diet that was used was one which is largely in line with many countries’ dietary recommendations and included eating more vegetables – especially dark-green leafy vegetables.
“The problem with this type of report is that there is no control or comparison intervention, it could be an effect of the diet which was started, but also it could be a response to something they were no longer eating or even just the behavioural effect of a change in diet which may have led to the reduction in migraines.”