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Papers of the Week

2019 Nov 14

J Headache Pain



Association of diet and headache.


Jahromi S R, Ghorbani Z, Martelletti P, Lampl C, Togha M
J Headache Pain. 2019 Nov 14; 20(1):106.
PMID: 31726975.


The global prevalence of migraine as a primary headache has been estimated as 14.4% in both sexes. Migraine headache has been ranked as the highest contributor to disability in under 50 years old population in the world. Extensive research has been conducted in order to clarify the pathological mechanisms of migraine. Although uncertainties remains, it has been indicated that vascular dysfunction, cortical spreading depression (CSD), activation of the trigeminovascular pathway, pro-inflammatory and oxidative state may play a putative role in migraine pain generation. Knowledge about pathophysiological mechanisms of migraine should be integrated into a multimodal treatment approach to increase quality of life in patients. With respect to this, within the integrative health studies growing interest pertains to dietary interventions. Although the number of studies concerning effects of diet on headache/migraine is not yet very large, the current article will review the available evidence in this area. All publications on headache/migraine and dietary interventions up to May 2019 were included in the present review through a PubMed/MEDLINE and ScienceDirect database search. According to the current findings, Ketogenic diet and modified Atkins diet are thought to play a role in neuroprotection, improving mitochondrial function and energy metabolism, compensating serotoninergic dysfunction, decreasing calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) level and suppressing neuro-inflammation. It can also be speculated that prescription of low glycemic diet may be promising in headache/migraine control through attenuating the inflammatory state. Moreover, obesity and headaches including migraine could be attributed to each other through mechanisms like inflammation, and irregular hypothalamic function. Thereby, applying dietary strategies for weight loss may also ameliorate headache/migraine. Another important dietary intervention that might be effective in headache/migraine improvement is related to balance between the intake of essential fatty acids, omega-6 and omega-3 which also affect inflammatory responses, platelet function and regulation of vascular tone. Regarding elimination diets, it appears that targeted these diets in migraine patients with food sensitivities could be effective in headache/migraine prevention. Taken together, dietary approaches that could be considered as effective strategies in headache/migraine prophylaxis include weight loss diets in obese headache patients, ketogenic and low-calorie diets, reducing omega-6 and increasing omega-3 fatty acid intakes.