At least, that’s the results of preliminary research showing that switching to a low-carb diet can potentially reduce your migraines.
Ketogenic Diets for Neural Health
These days, we think of low-carb diets, sometimes called ketogenic diets, as being used for weight loss. But the truth is that ketogenic diets were originally introduced in 1921 to help treat drug-resistant epilepsy. These dietary changes had genuine impact, but it was unknown whether these diets could have a positive effect on other neurological disorders, such as migraines.
Low-carb diets are called ketogenic because when the body doesn’t have carbohydrates for fuel, it burns fat in a process known as ketosis, which produces ketones. It’s these ketones that are credited with the neurological benefit for migraine sufferers.
It’s believed that the ketones represent a more efficient energy source for neurons as well as muscles. They also help counter oxidative stress and inflammation which are suspected of playing roles in migraine. The combination creates a more efficient function of the brain, leading to a reduction in migraines.
Dramatic Headache Reductions
The original idea for this treatment plan came from twins who tried a ketogenic diet to lose weight. Both of them saw a dramatic reduction in their migraines, From this inspiration, the researchers recruited overweight migraineurs who were trying to lose weight at a local diet clinic. The 96 patients were randomly assigned to receive either a ketogenic diet (45) or to a standard diet.
Those assigned to a ketogenic diet stayed on it for a month before switching to a standard diet.
They found that, during the period they were on the ketogenic diet, patients saw a significant reduction in both the number of their migraines and the duration of migraines. Before dieting, patients reported an average of nearly five migraine attacks lasting 50 hours each. But while on the ketogenic diet patients reported an average of just over one migraine attack per month, lasting only about 12 hours each.
When patients switched back to the standard diet, their migraines came back slowly, although they didn’t return to pre-diet levels. Patients on a standard diet also saw their migraines decrease, but not nearly as much.
Should You Try a Ketogenic Diet for Migraines?
For now, these studies are considered preliminary. They are far from conclusive, and ketogenic diets are not currently recommended for migraine reduction. The researchers on this current study only recommend trying ketogenic diets for obese migraineurs.
But if you are looking for a drug-free approach to migraine treatment, we recommend TMJ treatment, which can reduce or eliminate migraines related to temporomandibular joint disorder. To learn whether your migraines are related to TMJ in the Detroit area, please call (248) 825-8277 today for an appointment with TMJ dentist Dr. Jeffrey S. Haddad at the Michigan Center for TMJ & Sleep Wellness in Troy, MI.