I started Paleo seven months ago in part to reduce or eliminate my frequent headaches. Unfortunately, what I'm doing so far has not had the results I was looking for. So eliminating grains and presumably reducing inflammation has not been enough.
I'm thinking about going to a full-bore ketogenic diet, like what Johns Hopkins developed for combating epilepsy. It supposedly has helped some migraneurs. I read on the evolutionary psychiatry blog that the biochemistry of ketosis in the brain is remarkably like the effect of the medication I happen to be on.
In order to start, I'm going to have to wean off the medication (topiramate), because it's incompatible with the blood acidosis that results from being in ketosis. So I'm at least 2-3 weeks away from starting.
In the mean time, have any of you tried the ketogenic or modified atkins protocols for migraines, and what were your results? I'm also thinking about starting out with a relatively long fast (possibly 7 days).
I'm delighted to hear that you're thinking of doing this because I am currently on day 68 of exactly the same experiment, and I've been wishing there was somebody I could compare notes with!
At the beginning of November, in hopes of curing the migraines from which I had suffered for 47 years, I started fasting and stopped taking sumatriptan. After the fast ended I segued into a Hopkins-style ketogenic diet.
In recent years I was having migraines nearly every day. I had previously tried Atkins induction diets with and without MCT oil. I had been on a very low-carb diet for over three years. I stopped eating grains and legumes years ago. I had tried elimination diets. None of this had worked.
As I'm sure you know, a long fast induces a higher level of ketosis than any diet. That's why I decided to try fasting.
You probably also know that there is a report in the medical literature of a woman who was cured of migraine by a ketogenic diet. She was on an extreme hypocaloric diet (about 700 calories per day) for seven months. I couldn't try that because I wasn't fat enough.
Originally I planned to fast for about seven days, like you, but fasting turned out to be easier than I expected so I continued for thirty days. As the fast went on my migraines became less frequent, less painful, and briefer. The last painful one occurred on the 23rd day of the fast.
The results of the fast and diet have been wonderful. For the first time in 47 years I can say that I haven't had a painful headache in over a month. There are still some migrainey sensations but the migraine process seems to get blocked before it turns into a painful headache. These symptoms are diminishing as the days go on.
Before the fast, I was completely dependent on sumatriptan. Since day 23 of the fast, I haven't even thought about taking it. I don't need it anymore.
I'm not going to describe my fast here because it's described in detail on Paul Jaminet's Perfect Health Blog. Here's the link:
Since the fast ended I've been eating a paleo version of the Hopkins diet -- mainly tallow, meat, and eggs. Plus MCT oil which I guess isn't so paleo! :)
Please feel free to ask any specific questions you have. If you decide to go ahead with this, I would love to talk to you about it.
If I had known last November what I know now, I would have tried one more thing before resorting to a long fast. I would have bought an Abbott Precision Xtra blood meter so I could monitor my blood ketone levels and embarked upon a hard-core Hopkins diet with protein restriction and overall caloric restriction and MCT oil.
I have one of those meters now. (In fact I have three.) I believe the meter allows you to achieve a higher level of ketosis because you can adjust the diet by trial and error and measure the results.
The mistake I made in previous years, when I tried Atkins-induction diets, is that I didn't understand that protein restriction and overall caloric restriction are important factors for attaining deep ketosis.
I used to have migraines, took Imitrex for it. When I finally read the complete package insert, I vowed never to take it again. What helped me -
I haven't tried that, but I'd be interested to hear your results. And an interesting side note - I ate some wheat two days in a row (and had alcohol), and the next night I had a horrible migraine. I don't think that is a coincidence.
I tapered off Topamax a lot more slowly, FWIW. I tried that med because I had a headache every day and mild to moderate migraines lasting 3 days, several times a month.
You might consider checking your Omega 3/6 balance. Presumably, you have that in line with the diet; but it is my understanding that it can take awhile (up to 2 years?) to see the full effects of your inflammation reduction efforts.
I tried the Bernstein diet, which is quite low carb at 30g/day. I also experimented with zero carb. My migraines improved substantially, but the real key for me was to be strictly gluten free, as opposed to "not eating grains." I replaced my cutting board and I do not eat bacon wrapped scallops that are cooked on the same grill as crusted fish for example. I do not remove the bun from the burger, etc, etc. GF supplements too, although I am gradually eliminating as many of those as I can.
I would encourage you to consider trace amounts of gluten as a confounding variable. Also, are you eating any dairy? I only use ghee which is casein free; that seems to make a difference for me, but I haven't tested it enough to be certain.
I went primal/paleo in Nov 2009, I had one migraine since then. Before I would get them pretty much monthly, the kind where you crawl under the mattress and grind your head into oblivion if light enters the room.
I cannot say it was the reason I went primal/paleo/whatever but it has been a very nice side effect.
Do you supplement with magnesium? My migraines disappeared with the wheat, but I still got milder headaches (and other aches and pains) until I went on magnesium regularly. Something to think about before you go full-blown keto.
Hypertension is one of the possible causes of migraines. Even mild hypertensions, at levels of blood pressure that people considered safe in the past, could be the reason. If I were you, I would try cutting out all sodium, including the one in bacon or mayonnaise and find out whether your migraines improve with a lower blood pressure.
I suffered from migraines for 25 years. Turns out it was aspartame. I drank diet soft drinks on occasion. Never used the little blue sweetener packets, but in going through my pantry and fridge, I found several items that contained aspartame: sugar-free Jello, pickled ginger, and low-sugar pancake syrup as well as others. Now I read every label, and since I purged my diet of aspartame over a year ago, I have been totally headache-free. A miracle, and every day I'm thankful. I've been paleo for just about a year now, too, and never felt better. Here's hoping you find the relief you deserve.
I got rid of my migraine (which was daily in the end of july this summer), when I discovered that I strongly react on histamine. I threw out all histamine food and the migraine vanished THE VERY NEXT DAY and NEVER CAME back.
After having found out, that I'm sensitive to food in such a high degree, I totally switched to Paleo in the following weeks. Every day a little bit more Paleo. Because I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis 4 years ago, I'm on the autoimmune protocol and I'm a newborn person now. Big smile :-)))
Hi. I will be 54 next month. i HAD MY first migraine at 18, but they didn't really get going until I was 32. They have been just awful for the past three year. I have always exercised a lot, but went on 20 mg in Inderal this fall. I have noticed before that , that I was putting on weight. I decided to change my eating to low carb over a month ago. I have gone from having up to 13 migraines per month to NOT ONE, in over a month. I am going to decrease my Inderal to once per day, and keep going. If this is it, it has totally changed my life. I hope this happens to other migrainers. Laurie
Keto/Paleo questions... 2 Answers
Cravings, how do you deal with them? 1 Answer
Is Ketosis Safe? 2 Answers
Minimum Fat intake with ketogenic diet? 2 Answers