More than 1 billion people worldwide have migraines, defined as one-side, pulsating headaches, sometimes with a variety of other symptoms, that last between four and 72 hours. Migraines are also defined as the 2nd leading cause of disability worldwide. Despite such a large number of Americans suffering from this neurological disease, it is often underestimated, underdiagnosed and underrated, especially in the Black community. Could a plant-based diet, credited with a variety of positive health impacts, help ease the chronic symptoms people with migraines often deal with?
People who live with chronic migraines suffer intense throbbing and pulsing, sensitivity to light and sound, nausea and vomiting.
Researchers in New York have published a case study of one man with severe chronic migraines who had tried everything to curb them, and then switched to a plant-based diet — loaded with a lot of dark green leafy vegetables.
He quickly found significant relief from the headaches, doctors reported online Nov. 18 in the journal “BMJ Case Reports”.
“This report suggests that a whole food plant-based diet may offer a safe, effective and permanent treatment for reversing chronic migraine,” wrote a team led by Dr. David Dunaief, who specializes in nutritional medicine and has a private practice in East Setauket, N.Y.
One expert in migraine who wasn’t connected to the study was cautiously optimistic about the findings.
“It is hard to make much from one case report, [but] it does illustrate the importance of all of these non-pharmacological, evidence-based treatments,” Dr. Noah Rosen, who directs Northwell Health’s Headache Center in Great Neck, N.Y. says.
Episodic migraines vs. chronic migraines
Some migraines are episodic, meaning they happen fewer than 15 days per month. Others are chronic, with 15 or more migraine days per month plus migraine features on eight days per month.
To be considered successful, migraine treatment must cut the frequency and length of