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Can a modified diet help migraine sufferers?

The British Medical Journal published an editorial by a medical doctor, Rebecca Burch, about the effects of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids on migraine.

Migraine continues to be one of the leading causes of disability across the globe, and is affecting up to a billion people. There is currently numerous drugs on the market to help migraine sufferers, from Sumatriptan, Candesartan to Botulinum Toxin injections. However, due to the multi-factorial nature of migraine, many will look towards non-pharmaceutical interventions to ease their suffering.

Many of us have heard of omega-3 and 6 fatty acids, which both have important functions within our body, such as regulating blood pressure and inflammatory responses. Sources of omega-3s exist in flaxseed, soybean and canola oils. Cold-water fish such as salmon, mackerel, tuna, herring and sardines are also rich in omega-3s. Omega-6s are highly prevalent in linoleic acid (present in vegetable oils), evening primrose oil and black currant seed oil. However, some derivatives of omega-6s have been shown to actually promote pain.

The study involved 182 migraine sufferers, who embarked on a diet programme over a 12-week period, with various combinations of high or low omega 3 and 6 fatty acid diets. Results elicited very positive responses, particularly those who underwent a high omega-3, and low omega-6 diet. Participants reported fewer days a month with headaches, and some were able to decrease their levels of medication. However, their perception of how headaches affect them was unchanged, which highlights the need for pain management techniques to improve their overall quality of life.


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