June 29, 2022
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For more than 12 years a 60-year-old man endured severe migraine headaches. The man—who features in a recent medical case study but whose name has not been released—was among a billion people around the world who suffer from migraines, which are described as pulsating one-sided headaches that can last anywhere from four to 72 hours.
Migraine headaches often are accompanied by sensitivity to light and noise. Sometimes they produce what are known as prodromal aura. The migraines suffered by this man were not accompanied by aura.
The man tried a variety of ways that were recommended to eliminate or at least reduce the frequency and severity of the headaches.
He tried cutting out foods that he was told would reduce the headaches or render them less severe. He dropped cheese, caffeine, chocolate, nuts, and dried fruit.
He tried medication, including a seizure medication called topiramate and zolmitriptan which is said to reduce the symptoms of migraine headaches.
He tried meditation and yoga. None of those purported solutions worked.
Eventually the man entered a new phase. His migraine headaches changed from episodic, that is fewer than 15 days in a month, to chronic, which is 15 or more days each month. He was suffering from migraines on about 18 to 24 days in every month.
He says the pain started suddenly and intensely in his forehead and left temple. They lasted for about 72 hours. The headaches were accompanied by sensitivity to sound and light, vomiting, and nausea. He described the pain as 10 to 12 on a scale of 0-10.
Physicians advised him to follow the Low Inflammatory Foods Everyday (LIFE) diet. The diet is plant-based, dense in nutrients, and consists of whole foods. It includes drinking a 32-ounce LIFE smoothie daily, eating at least five ounces of raw or cooked green, leafy, dark vegetables and cutting down on the intake of starchy vegetables, oils and whole grains as well as reducing the intake of animal protein, specifically red meat and dairy.
After following the LIFE diet for two months, the man said the frequency of his migraine attacks fell to about a day a month. The severity and length of the migraines was reduced. Blood tests showed a substantial rise in beta-carotene.
He also stopped taking all his medication for migraines. When he tried foods that were said to trigger headaches, such as iced tea, egg whites, or salmon, he found the headaches to be shorter and less painful that they had been before.
After three months his migraines stopped. They have failed to return in seven-and-half years.
The conclusion: Physicians involved in the peer-reviewed study say it might be worth adopting a plant-based diet to ease chronic migraine symptoms. The diet should be rich in leafy, dark, green vegetables and you should avoid animal proteins. It offers a permanent, safe, and effective treatment to reverse chronic migraines, they add.
The authors of the study note that the man was allergic, which earlier studies have shown might lead to fewer migraines. In this study his allergies improved so that he no longer needed to take seasonal medication.
The man also was HIV positive. HIV has been linked to a greater risk of suffering from migraines. It is possible, therefore, the authors of the report note, that his status combined with antiretroviral drugs added to his symptoms. It was not possible in this study to stop the antiretroviral treatment, which was a limitation of the study, they add.
The case study is recorded in BMJ Case Reports