Headaches and Migraines
- A Nutritarian diet without modification can most often resolve chronic headaches. It is helpful to avoid the most allergenic foods, like eggs, dairy, chocolate, sweets, soy, meats, protein powders, caffeinated beverages, food additives, alcohol, and salted foods.
- If headache is persistent and not significantly improving after a month, follow an elimination diet for 2-4 weeks, further avoiding nuts, vinegar, and even in some rare cases, beans. If that helped, then begin reintroduction of all types of beans again individually; each type of nut individually; then vinegar, tofu, and tempeh (in any order). For example, after avoiding the above foods and noticing improvement, introduce almonds and monitor for symptoms over the next 48 hours. If tolerated (no headaches), then reintroduce each of the other nuts and monitor separately. Later, reintroduce each type of bean, tofu, tempeh, and vinegar to see if these are triggers.
- All other foods eliminated should not be reintroduced. If there are any other known triggers, then they should be eliminated from the beginning.
- Avoid caffeine. Patient will initially suffer withdrawal symptoms.
- Avoid alcohol.
Continued use of headache medication, such as anti-inflammatories, triptans (e.g. Imitrex), caffeine, etc. will perpetuate reoccurrence at regular intervals due to the need for detoxification. Stopping medications will cause rebound headaches but this will slowly resolve while on the Nutritarian diet. Work with your physician to reduce and then eliminate medications, especially because some medications, such as narcotics, beta blockers, and others, require a gradual weaning and should not be suddenly discontinued.
- Meditation and other stress relieving techniques can decrease migraine frequency.
- Exercise and physical therapy are effective for those with migraines and tension headaches. 1
- Gil-Martinez A, Kindelan-Calvo P, Agudo-Carmona D, et al. [Therapeutic exercise as treatment for migraine and tension-type headaches: a systematic review of randomised clinical trials].Rev Neurol 2013, 57 :433-443.
Ask The Doctor
The following are sample questions from the Ask the Doctor Community Platinum and higher members can post their health questions directly to Dr. Fuhrman. (All members can browse questions and answers.)
I have been following a Nutritarian diet with great results. I was off blood pressure medication within six weeks (after having been on it for ten years), and I’ve lost 20 pounds (I now weigh what I did when I was 22). At age 47, I feel more athletic and healthier than I have since I was in my mid-twenties.
My final area of struggle is migraine headaches. I’ve had them since high school. When I was on blood pressure medication, they were suppressed. Since coming off the blood pressure medication, my migraines have returned.
I have twice gone on your “headache diet” with limited results (I did a three-day and five-day fast before going on the headache diet). My frequency of headaches has not diminished at all (about once a week). The duration time of the headaches seems to be lessening; however, it often seems like a small consolation.
Do you have any suggestions?
I promise you that I can get rid of your migraines now, because you have improved your health so much already and have been following the plan and are off meds. The last piece of the puzzle for you is to increase the detoxification potential by using cruciferous juices and blended salads to increase the intake of raw cruciferous compounds from watercress, broccoli, arugula, parsley, bok choy, and others. Have the green stuff in a base of carrots sometimes and tomatoes at other times. Have the raw baby bok choy, the raw broccoli, and shredded cabbage every day and then have fresh squeezed juice twice a day.
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