Low carb diet is significantly helping my migraines

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Low carb diet is significantly helping my migraines

Post  jwar on Wed May 26, 2010 6:30 pm

About 40 days ago I started doing P90X, which I'm sure some of you know is a pretty intense exercise/diet plan. Since I started my headaches have been a lot less frequent, much shorter and also less severe (though not eliminated - have a whopper right now in fact). It's hard to say how much of this is the diet/exercise versus how much is the Petadolex that I recently started taking, but I noticed an improvement very quickly after starting the diet/exercise. I've always been an avid exerciser, so I don't think the exercise was primarily responsible for the change.

Intrigued, I googled around to see if other people had noticed a low carb diet helping their migraines. I came across this pretty thorough explanation: http://livinlavidalocarb.blogspot.com/2007/10/complicated-french-study-explains-how.html

In brief, neurologists often suggest low carb diets to people with seizure disorders as a way of reducing seizure activity. Basically, a byproduct of carbohydrate metabolism is glutamate production. Glutamate is the brain's excitatory neurotransmitter, and the abundance of glutamate can overstimulate the nervous system (for example, monosodium glutamate - the glutamate-derived food additive is a potent migraine trigger for many people, including myself).

Additionally glutamate and GABA (the brain's primary "calming" neurotransmitter - the type of transmitter targeted by things like Xanax) exist in a sort of tonic antagonism in the brain. Which is to say that the less glutamate you have the more GABA you have and vice-versa. So you're not only exciting the brain less, but simultaneously calming it more.

Anyway, it's pretty interesting. We all know seizures and migraines some sort of common denominator based on the efficacy of anti-seizure meds as preventatives. You guys should check it out.
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Re: Low carb diet is significantly helping my migraines

Post  Ivy on Thu May 27, 2010 1:22 am

The theory is interesting.

I have personally tried the low carb diet. Not for migraine, but to loose weight. I lost weight but my migraines were not touched a bit. I'd rather say that they worsened No

When I tried the elimination diet, instead, I felt great. 4 weeks without migraine!
The preparation to the elimination tests means 3/4 weeks of only RICE and POTATOES. So, only carbos. Just a case? Another theory?
I would have continued to eat only rice and potatoes, my sihouette was even improving from this diet, but i find it's too unbalanced. Our body needs a little bit of anything.

I want to think that the science will soon find the explanation to our disease. All these theories are helpful and interesting but they DO NOT solve the problem....

Thanks for sharing, anyway. If it's helping you, it can be good also for someone else and it's woth tyring.

Have a nice day
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Re: Low carb diet is significantly helping my migraines

Post  jwar on Thu May 27, 2010 6:23 am

I think the reaction to the low carb diet would be highly dependent on what you choose to eat. For instance, if you were eating a lot of things laced with MSG at the time it would totally defeat the purpose. Ditto if you were eating things with nitrites/nitrates, a lot of cheese, etc. I have no idea what you were eating, but I'm just saying.

I think if you do a low carb diet and embrace eating whole, natural and organic foods then it has a pretty good chance of working. It's very regularly prescribed to epileptic patients. When I did the elimination diet via Heal Your Headache I also experienced good success, but I was basically eating mostly meat and vegetables and fruits on it, which is the same as what I'm doing now.
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Re: Low carb diet is significantly helping my migraines

Post  HeelerLady on Thu May 27, 2010 10:00 am

Jayme,

I'm glad it works for you. I know it wouldn't work for me - just the diet itself. I have other blood sugar issues and sometimes need those carbs to level it out.

Funny thing was, I was cutting out all the "junk" and eating better when my m problems started. I joined Jillian Michaels Online and she touts eating only whole foods. Fresh being better so I did that. I'm probably the oddball but I do feel better when I eat whole grains and fresh but trying to do that with an M can be tricky. However, her big things were no MSG or HFC.

Just interesting - thanks for posting. Smile

Becky
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interesting...

Post  Guest on Thu May 27, 2010 10:25 am

I had a 'suspected' seizure disorder for 20 years. During that time, sporadic migraine with aura began. After the seizures calmed down so did the migraine with aura. (actually the m with a stopped) I had a very brief (and I do mean breif) respit from both. Then one night , out of the blue, i felt a strange heaviness come over my head (along with hissing sound in both ears) That was the beginning of a now 12 year period with persistent, non stop, 24/7 pain. Worsening as time goes by. That's my story. Thought you all might be interested. Anyone in a similar position??

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Re: Low carb diet is significantly helping my migraines

Post  tdu on Thu May 27, 2010 5:15 pm

jwar wrote:About 40 days ago I started doing P90X, which I'm sure some of you know is a pretty intense exercise/diet plan. Since I started my headaches have been a lot less frequent, much shorter and also less severe (though not eliminated - have a whopper right now in fact). It's hard to say how much of this is the diet/exercise versus how much is the Petadolex that I recently started taking, but I noticed an improvement very quickly after starting the diet/exercise. I've always been an avid exerciser, so I don't think the exercise was primarily responsible for the change.

Intrigued, I googled around to see if other people had noticed a low carb diet helping their migraines. I came across this pretty thorough explanation: http://livinlavidalocarb.blogspot.com/2007/10/complicated-french-study-explains-how.html

In brief, neurologists often suggest low carb diets to people with seizure disorders as a way of reducing seizure activity. Basically, a byproduct of carbohydrate metabolism is glutamate production. Glutamate is the brain's excitatory neurotransmitter, and the abundance of glutamate can overstimulate the nervous system (for example, monosodium glutamate - the glutamate-derived food additive is a potent migraine trigger for many people, including myself).

Additionally glutamate and GABA (the brain's primary "calming" neurotransmitter - the type of transmitter targeted by things like Xanax) exist in a sort of tonic antagonism in the brain. Which is to say that the less glutamate you have the more GABA you have and vice-versa. So you're not only exciting the brain less, but simultaneously calming it more.

Anyway, it's pretty interesting. We all know seizures and migraines some sort of common denominator based on the efficacy of anti-seizure meds as preventatives. You guys should check it out.

At 2 points in my life I went low carb and cut all sugar out of my diet. It was great for my general health, but unfortunately for me it didn't seem to affect my migraines one way or the other. Cutting out the sugar helped with general inflammation, which possibly helped a bit with some on my non-migraine headaches.

Exercise on the other hand made a huge difference. I mentioned this in another thread, but I used to have month long periods where I would pretty much have headaches the entire time. I have been training for about 5 years now (I very gradually worked my way up to intense training), and I just don't get those bouts anymore. Diet wise, I just follow the 'everything in moderation' theory, but would say I eat quite healthy (little meat, organic veges, rarely eat out).

I think low carb is worth trying though done in a healthy way, and I definitely think cutting out all sugar is worth trying (unless you have a medical reason you can't obviously). It can make a big difference in your life.

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Congratulations, but the main reason is a bit different

Post  Peter Mersch on Fri May 28, 2010 5:11 am

jwar wrote:About 40 days ago I started doing P90X, which I'm sure some of you know is a pretty intense exercise/diet plan. Since I started my headaches have been a lot less frequent, much shorter and also less severe (though not eliminated - have a whopper right now in fact). It's hard to say how much of this is the diet/exercise versus how much is the Petadolex that I recently started taking, but I noticed an improvement very quickly after starting the diet/exercise. I've always been an avid exerciser, so I don't think the exercise was primarily responsible for the change.

Congratulations to your success. It's a bit a pity, that everytime somebody is reporting a success by living low carb, somebody else mentiones, that it did not help him/her. This method is not easy (you have to change your life) and most people need support for having success by this.

My name is Peter Mersch, and I am running one of the largest (cost free) migraine sites world wide:
www.miginfo.de
The bad message is: It is in German.
We have a board there too. The people over there say: This is the only migraine board they know, where most users claim after some while: I am much better now.

I suffered from migraine from 15 up to 38. I ususally had 100 migraine days per year. You can image, that this was no real life at all. Then suddenly I detected this diet:
http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lutz-Di%C3%A4t from an Austrian doctor, who detected LowCarb years before Atkins. He is currently living in London at the age of 97 (yesterday was his birthday).

I have also written a very thick book about the theoretical background of migraine. Though it is very thick, theoretical, expensive and printed by Books on Demand, it is one of the best selling migraine books at the German amazon. Go to www.amazon.de and type "Migraene" (as you probably don't have have German "รค" on your keyboard) into the search field: you will find it always close to the top.

One side effect of eating low carb over years and years was, that I became very creative. I am able now to concentrate over 20 hours without any problems. I wrote many books and articles. You will find my Google-Knol profile here:
http://knol.google.com/k/peter-mersch/peter-mersch/6u2bxygsjec7/31

Look what some very respectable persons are saying about me.

But now to the theory. I would say, that Low Carb is the one migraine cure, which has the most scientific support (pills included). It is the only cure, where one can really explain, why it works. It does not help everybody, but I would say: it helps in most cases, if it is done correctly. The GABA/Glutamate effect may be important, especially for epilepsy, but it is not the main effect regarding to migraine.

You will find a collection of my migraine articles at Google Knol here:
http://knol.google.com/k/peter-mersch/migr%C3%A4ne-und-stoffwechsel-sammlung/6u2bxygsjec7/29

The article, which explains the theoretical basics is this one:
http://knol.google.com/k/peter-mersch/kohlenhydrat-versus-fettstoffwechsel/6u2bxygsjec7/30

Again: I'm sorry, it is in German.

Let me try to explain, what the main problem with migraine is:
Humans have a large brain. Animals with small brains (like sheeps) have a brain, which can only live from glucose. There is no mechanism to metabolize ketones.

This would not work for humans, especially for babies. Human babies are born with a lot of body fat. In nature, human babies are exceptional regarding to that. The reason is: In wilderness it is always possible, that the mother is not immediately able to spend milk. Or think of Moses: Moses could only survive as a baby, because his brain was able to burn ketones (from the fat of his body).

But the same is true for adults, living in the wilderness. Think of a human, who saves himself on a tree, and the tiger is still waiting below him for a day or so: Most migraine sufferers would fall to ground after a while. Their genes would not survive. In the wilderness, human brain was always able to switch immediately to keton bodies as its main energy fuel.

But let us come to the migraine problem: If you eat like most people do, brain looses the ability to use ketones after some while. It is then only able to burn glucose. To cure migraine, it must first be trained to use ketones again. This usually takes 4 or 5 days (very very bad days). Typical training methods are Null diet, Atkins, ketonic diet etc.. The earlier you begin in your life with that, the better. I know some (older) sufferers, where it obviously does not work anymore.

But please remember: We are talking about a functionality, which is standard to normal human brains. Human brains would not have been able to grow in human history without such a functionality. If you need 5 days to restore this functionality, we are talking about your deficiencies. Low Carb is a method for eliminating deficiencies!

This does not mean, that you now have to live in a ketonic state for the rest of your life. The main message is: You must live in such a way, that your brain will always be able to burn ketones immediately (not within 5 days, but within seconds).

Look, what is happening during a migraine attack:
1. The brain is detecting, that it will probably have a lack in energy very soon.
2. In most cases you get hungry. Many people then start sugar or fat cravings.
3. Internally it will command the body to produce energy. The fat metabolism will begin to mobilize body fat and the liver will start to produce keton bodies. There are tons of scientific papers, which have shown this. Unfortunately: In your case, thhe brain is not able to make any use of the keton bodies, it is delivered.
4. The body will begin to produce glucose by gluconeogenesis. This has 2 disadvantages: a) You will not loose fat, but body mass. The body is then eating itself (your muscle and skin proteins). b) This is done by stress hormones (especially cortisol). Therefore: This means: your are feeling stressed.

All this would not happen (at least not as severe), when 3. would work as it was designed by nature.

By the way, this is also the main reason, why diets like atkins work. Humans become overweight mainly due to problems with their brain metabolism.
The human metabolism stores almost any additional calorie as body fat. Unfortunately, it cannot make glucose out of fat (only 10% of it), but free fat and ketone bodies instead. When your brain needs energy, you have to eat again, even if you are overweight, because your brain wants glucose instead of fat. If you then eat some calories too much, your metabolism will store these as fat again: You become fatter and fatter for one simple reason: Your brain is not trained to burn keton bodies!

Please excuse my bad English. I hope, you could understand at least parts of it. I am very very frustrated about how official medicine is handling this severe illness. Maybe we need a Meryl Streep (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2_8D1hH7mzo) too, before things will change.

Peter
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Re: Low carb diet is significantly helping my migraines

Post  pen on Fri May 28, 2010 5:45 am

Willkommen Peter,

First can I just say that if people open your web site in GOOGLE CHROME it will ask if you want to translate it.
I have German family, but no German, so I need to do this. It works well.

Second, thanks for finding us. At first glance the site looks good and I shall be taking a look around later.
I have not tried the low carb, but it is sounding very interesting.

Last, thank goodness your English is a lot better than my German. You apologise for your bad English. It is very good English.
Coming from England I am always embarrassed how people who do not have English as their first language speak and write it so well. We are very bad here, we just expect everyone else will have English....good job I suppose, we do not do well with language in school

Thanks for posting Peter.

Pen

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Re: Low carb diet is significantly helping my migraines

Post  tdu on Fri May 28, 2010 3:01 pm

Congratulations to your success. It's a bit a pity, that everytime somebody is reporting a success by living low carb, somebody else mentiones, that it did not help him/her. This method is not easy (you have to change your life) and most people need support for having success by this.

Thanks for the useful post, but one point. We post our experiences here. If it didn't work for some of us, it didn't work. I don't think any posts are attempting to persuade anyone from not trying the diet, just posting our own experiences so people can read all points of view. I fully support anyone doing anything to live a healthy lifestyle, and think anything is worth at least trying for a migraine treatment. But I also share my own experiences to hopefully help people out. My own experience was that unfortunately it just didn't have an effect either way on my migraines. There were a lot of other health benefits though, so it was by no means a waste of time.

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Re: Low carb diet is significantly helping my migraines

Post  Peter Mersch on Fri May 28, 2010 6:58 pm

tdu wrote: But I also share my own experiences to hopefully help people out. My own experience was that unfortunately it just didn't have an effect either way on my migraines. There were a lot of other health benefits though, so it was by no means a waste of time.

I had no problems with your post. But somebody else wrote:
"I want to think that the science will soon find the explanation to our disease. All these theories are helpful and interesting but they DO NOT solve the problem...."

I do not believe that science will soon find the explanation. I'm not even sure, they are interested in finding an explanation or a solution.

Fact still is, that humans were built to be able to live without any food for days. If not, they would not had survived the stone age. But who of the migraine sufferers is currently able to do this? Most of them request a meal every 3 hours at the latest.

Humans are also able to stay awaken for about 48 hours. If you fall asleep every 30 minutes (like with CFS), you have a severe problem. Again: Humans would not have survived the stone age with symptoms like that.

Therefore this has to be addressed. Not all people suffer from the same form of migraine. Some have a problem with their heart, others with their neck etc. But I believe, that in at least 60% of all cases, migraine is basically an energy problem. You get migraine attacks, because the brain lacks energy.

If you do not address this, you do not address the disease at all. It's like getting migraine from drinking red wine, but still requesting a solution, which allows to continue drinking red wine. Of course, the only solution for that would be to take a lot of drugs.
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Re: Low carb diet is significantly helping my migraines

Post  Reama on Sun Dec 28, 2014 11:37 am

I thought I'd bring this thread up for anyone who's interested in lowering carbs to help control migraine. I don't speak German, so can't access the German site, but it sounds possibly helpful for anyone who can.

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