Eating lots of fatty fish and cutting out polyunsaturated fats may reduce the frequency and intensity of migraines, a study suggests.
Omega-3 fatty acids from fish like tuna, salmon, bluefish and mackerel may help manage migraine, especially in tandem with eliminating omega-6 fatty acids from vegetable oils, the researchers found.
“It’s moderate evidence that diet changes can decrease headache, but for me, it’s that we’re just beginning to understand the role of diet and pain, and that likely needs to be looked at and other chronic pain conditions, other nutrients and so forth,” says lead researcher Dr. Christopher Ramsden. He is a clinical investigator at the U.S. National Institute on Aging, in Baltimore.
Ramsden doesn’t think that changing one’s diet is a magic bullet to ending migraine or other chronic pain, however.
“I don’t think this is ever going to be the be-all-end-all, but I think it might end up being one tool that can be combined with medications and other treatments to improve people’s lives who are in chronic pain,” Ramsden says.
Dr. Noah Rosen, director of Northwell Health’s Headache Center in Great Neck, N.Y., found hope in the findings.
“It is encouraging to see more evidence based on the effect diet can have on migraine,” Rosen says after reviewing the results.
Other studies have suggested that diets high in omega-3 may be beneficial for pain syndromes, and this study extends that to chronic migraine. Research has suggested that including omega-3 in one’s diet as opposed to taking supplements, is important, and this study supports that more natural approach, he says.