Another migraine headache. You’re tired of curling up in a ball in a dark room all day. Head pounding, sick to your stomach. Another missed day of work. You’re also tired of taking medications for your migraines and worried about the long term side effects. You have heard about the ketogenic diet from friends who are using it for weight loss. You’re wondering if the ketogenic diet could also help with your migraines.
What is the ketogenic diet?
The ketogenic diet, or keto diet, is a very-low-carbohydrate diet (usually less than 50 grams per day) where the body breaks down stored fat into ketone bodies. The brain and body uses these ketone bodies versus sugar (glucose) for energy. For more information on the ketogenic diet and what foods to eat and avoid click here.
The ketogenic diet has been used successfully to treat epilepsy. As well, there has been strong research to use the ketogenic diet for weight loss, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Moreover, there has been promising research in using the ketogenic diet for cancer, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), acne, and different neurological conditions like dementia, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
A recent research review suggests that the ketogenic diet may be effective in the treatment of migraines. (1) The researchers reviewed seven studies and concluded that the ketogenic diet had a significant impact in reducing the frequency and intensity of migraines as well as reducing the use of pain medication.
Recent research concluded that the ketogenic diet had a significant impact in reducing the frequency and intensity of migraines as well as reducing the use of pain medication.
How the ketogenic diet helps migraines
Migraines have the following underlying cause or traits:
- Either too much or too little nerve activity in the brain. This would would be like blowing a breaker switch because of too much electricity in the circuit versus not enough electricity to turn on something. This is why chiropractic care is so effective with migraines. The chiropractic adjustments help balance out brain and nerve activity.
- The blood vessels to the brain constrict and open too much. Again this happens because of too much or too little nerve activity.
- Inflammation or swelling in the brain.
- Decreased energy production in the brain.
The ketogenic diet improves many of the underlying causes of migraines by:
- Decreasing waves of electrical activity in the brain that cause nerve death and may cause the migraines aura (called cortical spreading depression or CSD).
- Balances chemicals in the brain (neurotransmitters) responsible for too much or too little nerve activity in the brain. The neurotransmitters are called glutamate and GABA.
- Decreases inflammation and what is called oxidative stress.
- Increases energy production in the brain
Although larger and more well-designed studies need to be done to confirm these findings, the ketogenic diet is a promising therapy for migraine sufferers. If you suffer from migraines, experimenting with the ketogenic diet might be a game changer for you.
I’m interested to hear if you have had success in treating your migraines with the ketogenic diet.