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Hello all - I'm a 40+ year survivor of chronic migraines, neurologists, headach clinics and life. I've been retired for 3 years and I'm beginning to get some control over my migraines. Since retirrement, I've found great improvements from a low fat diet, coq10 gell (300 mg per day), Petadolex, and assorted supplements related to migraines. My migraines now occur every 10 to 12 days. I am careful about getting 8 to 9 hours of sleep, eat every 2 to 3 hours, avoid intense bursts of light, avoid tv watching (I listen), eliminated anything that causes a rush to the brain (alcohol, sugar, dairy, etc.)
My next attempt at migrain control is leading me to calorie restriction. Has anyone else tried severe calorie restriction? I'm going for 1200 calories. I'm already doing a treadmill walk of 2 hours a day so I'm fairly active.
And, does anyone have any thoughts on the 10 to 12 day cycle?
Thanks for any comments.
Welcome to the forum and congratulations on finding things that have helped your migraines so much. It's always great to hear in detail what has worked (and not worked) from other migraineurs. I've also seen some improvement from using CoQ10 and other supplements and making a number of similar dietary and lifestyle changes, but I have to say I've never tried calorie restriction. Not sure it's something I could entertain.
What caught my eye about your post is your question about the every 10-12 day cycle. For a good six months now I've had a cycle of getting a migraine every 8-9 days (with a few multiple day migraines thrown in for good measure.) I still haven't been able to figure out what exactly causes this cycle, and my doctor hasn't given me any clues about it either. What it feels like to me is an internal chemical or hormonal cycle in my body (but not estrogen or progesterone) that goes through a natural ebb and flow, and every 8-9 days reaches its lowest point which then makes me ultra susceptible to my normal migraine triggers. That's my best attempt at explaining it. If that sounds at all like your experience, or even if it doesn't, I'd be curious to know.
I don't think calories in themselves have a direct bearing on migraine. Any impact restricting calories would have on migraine would be indirect. I would imagine restricting calories severely would be a stressor to your system as a whole, and that could be an exacerbating factor as far as migraine goes. If it compromises you to the point that your system can't roll with the punches, then it leaves you more vulnerable to triggers you encounter, setting yourself up for potentially more migraine activity, since you decrease your defense toward encountered triggers. I just can't see logically how restricting calories could be a good thing in terms of migraine prevention. It doesn't follow.
Hi and thanks for the comments. The 10 day cycle is a newish event in my migraine history and has been going on since this summer. I also think it's a chemical or hormal ebb and flow but have found no information that seems to speak to the events. I know I can predict a headache from dietary fat - follows in 2 1/2 days for me. I would love to find the predictors on the 10 day cycle.
Calorie restriction for me is a new thing to try. I'm trying it because the two times in my life when I was migraine free for over a month was with both pregnancies (I watched my calories and food very, very carefully). And the one time I got my weight down to 125 I had no migraines for several months. Couldn't maintain the 1200 calorie diet forever. For me to do that - with my activity level - meant severe calorie restrictions, always being hungry and miserable. But I had no migraines. It's probably not the level of calories, but that with the calorie restriction being so strict, I dropped a trigger that I didn't know I had. Was it reduced protein intake? Lower fat? No wheat? who knows. But - I was migraine free. And grouchy, and miserable, and not sleeping well, and finding everything more difficult because I could only think about food. So started eating again and the migraines came back.
I'm 62 now and I find that after the migraines my cognitive delays may last for 2 or 3 days after the migraine fades. I'm not healing as fast as I did in my 40s and 50s. It's getting scarier as I lose my phone number, my address, vocabulary. It's time I got control over the migraines. My working brain does return eventually, but the day after a migraine is as bad as day 1 of the migraine. This is just another attempt to find a solution.
Thanks for all the feedback. I think one of my best tools in this latest fight is going to be the feedback from other sufferers. I really appreciate your thoughts.
Hi all - this is just a follow up on my calorie restriction experiment. My cycle of migraines has recently been a migraine every 10 to 12 days. I'm on day 14 without a migraine and I've been able to keep to my 1200 calories on all but 2 days of the past 14 days. So far - my head is better with calorie restriction than without. I'll report back if I make it another 14 days without a migraine.
Quote: "It's probably not the level of calories, but that with the calorie restriction being so strict, I dropped a trigger that I didn't know I had. Was it reduced protein intake? Lower fat? No wheat? who knows. But - I was migraine free."
This is the part I wonder about too. Because it could be you are actually avoiding a trigger now by no longer eating something on this strict diet that you were eating before. Are you tracking exactly what you are eating now and what you are cutting out? You might uncover a trigger food/substance that could be the key to the whole thing.
A calorie is just the measure of energy in a substance. Calories are a unit of measurement, and not a tangible thing, so calories themselves aren't responsible in any way for a change in your migraines. What's likely happening if you've reduced calories and you're doing better is that you've eliminated a food that's a trigger. But there's no way of knowing what that particular trigger is unless you do some experimenting in the way of actual food elimination, not caloric elimination. Rather than a calorie-restricting approach, if you want to get anywhere you'd need to do an elimination diet, where your focus is on eliminating and then slowly reintroducing potential trigger foods. That way you can identify specific triggers, which are then avoidable.
Many thanks for all your comments.
The food triggers make a lot of sense. I also don't think it's just calories. And, I've done lots of food diaries and the connections with the migraines have been alcohol, fat, sugars, going too long without eating, interrupted sleep patterns, bright lights, sudden noise, anything that causes a 'rush' to the head. Or, anything that causes a stiff neck. The problem is also that the migraine does not necessarily follow the same day - as the fat reaction for me is 2 1/2 days later. I would never have made that connection except that I read somewhere about dietary fat reactions occurring days later.
I believe it is a synergy between foods, for me, that causes the reaction. Maybe dairy is ok, wheat is ok but not dairy and wheat at the same meal. Somehow, with restricted food intake, I've kept the migraines away a bit longer. But, calorie restriction is getting very hard to maintain so I don't really think I'll be able to continue this. After 40 years of chronic migraines I'd push jelly beans up my nose if some researcher thought it was plausable. Anyway, this is day 15 without a migraine.
Even without jelly beans up the nose... congratulations on fifteen days without a migraine, that's awesome. My current "record" for the last six months is eleven days.
I've also noticed that certain combinations of foods are far more likely to trigger me. For instance a dessert that combines, let's say, cake (wheat flour), frosting (sugar) and ice cream (fat) is a "guaranteed migraine on a plate," while I can occasionally get away with a small piece of unfrosted cake or a small cup of ice cream--as long as neither have chocolate in them!
Good luck with keeping the migraines at bay.
Here's an update on calorie restriction experiment. On day 17 of my 'calorie restriction' experiment I began having signs of migraine. Thought I could sleep it off - didn't work. Next morning woke with left side migraine and eventually Zomig worked to bring it under control. My calorie restriction was 1200 calories a day. Day 13, 15 and 16 was 400 calories over the 1200 limit. I'm back on the 1200 calorie a day plan to see if I can stick to 1200 calories for longer than 13 days. Before the calorie restriction I was having a migraine every 10 to 12 days - so I did get a few more days of relief.
It's not carb restrictions that count but the type of carb. This is a condensed version of an 11 page paper I have written on the subject which covers every aspect of the disorder. It works!!
MIGRAINE 1. If I said that getting rid of migraines was as simple as TOTALLY ELIMINATING REFINED SUGAR from your diet you'd probably say that I'm mad. That's the problem. It sounds so simple that it couldn't possibly be true. IT IS TRUE. Ok I'll explain. When you eat refined sugar and without fibre accompanying it as with an apple, it enters the bloodstream too quickly because fibre exert osmotic pressure and resists the absorption. Many refined sugars are single sugars which go straight into the bloodstream whereas natural sugars are double sugars whose absorption is controlled. The result is a sharp unnatural rise in blood glucose. The pancreas is behind the eight ball in releasing insulin and when it does it produces too much. This drives the blood glucose down too fast and too far. However, because of liver pathology, it does not take up much glucose whilst the muscles take the bulk.
The neurologist says that migraines are caused by SPONTANEOUSLY occurring 'vasospasm' meaning a sudden constriction of blood vessels to the brain right out of the blue. This leads to severe hypoxia or oxygen starvation and severe hypoglycaemia or low blood sugar in the brain that triggers the opposite reaction, reflex dilation or opening up of the blood vessels so extreme that pain receptors are activated. MIGRAINE. The vasospasm DOESN'T just happen!!! It is connected to the SWINGS. It's not just low blood sugar. There has to a swing.
Now I've done a number of 5hr Glucose Tolerance Tests that clearly show that when blood glucose falls after the peak the visual disturbances and confusion take place. THAT is the constriction phase, a seeming paradox in that why should the blood vessels narrow when they should be doing the opposite. It's all to do with simple physics, back to osmotic pressure. When the blood glucose in the brain goes way up it pours into neurons in toxic concentrations as they don't have insulin receptors and cannot store glucose as glycogen. The brain normally controls blood glucose to suit itself but here it loses control. So the neuron converts the toxic level off glucose first to sorbitol then to fructose which crystallises at a lower concentration than glucose. Then suddenly the blood glucose level outside the neuron falls sharply as insulin floods into the bloodstream and the osmotic pressure exerted by the glucose outside the neuron falls accordingly, whereas those fructose crystals inside exert a lot of osmotic pressure and pull water into the cell and the brain begins to swell dangerously. So the brain has to release a constrictor, probably noradrenalin, to hold ions of sodium, calcium etc. outside the neuron in an attempt to balance osmotic pressure between the inside and the outside. However, this constriction reduces the amount of glucose and oxygen to the brain severely, but resolving the osmotic pressure crisis is far more important. But after a time the hypoglycaemia and hypoxia become so severe that THIS becomes the predominant crisis and a flood of vasodilator is released, probably adrenalin and ADP and the blood vessels dilate to such an extreme, enter MIGRAINE. Next. How to break the sugar addiction and all the sugars to look for.
|MMC Lead Expert|
Actually, this is an old and abandoned theory.
It is now known that once we encounter a trigger, the Migraine is caused by what's caused cortical spreading depression, which is a wave of electrical activity spreading across the brain.
What I'm saying is that the vasospasm is NOT spontaneous but diectly related to the swings in blood sugar. The osmotic pressure disturbance is also a disturbance in electrical potential across the membrane of the neuron which is probably the same as what you are referring to.
|MMC Lead Expert|
Did you paper appear in a peer reviewed journal?
What I'm telling you is that what you're saying about all of this in connection with Migraine is contrary to current theory and medical literature.
You're new to this forum, and none of us know you. Posting this kind of "paper" is akin to giving medical advice, which is not the purpose of this forum. Kindly refer to the forum policies and guidelines posted in the "STAERT HERE" folder.
hi all - here's an update on my calorie restriction experiment. Yes, I feel better on the calorie restriction but I'm still getting migraines. The days of 1200 calories don't produce a migraine but after 2 days of 1400 calories or more per day I did have a migraine. Then, tried again, and 9 days of 1200 calories a day with no migraine - then I had lunch at an Indian buffet and just tasted too much of everything and had a migraine before leaving the restaurant. I could have predicted that - of course. Learning is so difficult at times. Anyway, then back on the 1200 calories and everything was fine for about a week. 2 days of a driving trip and being super careful about food and calories and I still came down with a migraine.
so - my learning experience is this... yes it works for me at home if I'm living on fresh fruit and rice and low protein and I can carefully manage what I eat. Outside the home it doesn't work. And, even with food control there are still the environmental triggers of weather, bright lights, etc. so the only way calorie restriction works for me is by understanding that in general for better health and longer life span keep calories low. It helps to prevent migraines but won't stop them completely. And, with low calorie I had lots more 'headaches' so it wasn't a pain free experience. The headaches did not become migraines but they were painful. Thanks for your comments on this.
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