Eating more folate, which is found in various green leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale, may reduce migraine frequency, a research team from the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) in Australia has found. Folic acid, a synthetic form of folate, which is a B-vitamin, has been known to reduce migraine symptoms, but it has not been clear if dietary folate would have the same effect. 

Diet may affect migraines for a variety of reasons, and a group of Washington, D.C. researchers recently found that a low-fat, plant-based diet may be beneficial to migraineurs. The researchers, generally affiliated with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), randomly selected 42 migraineurs, who either received a placebo supplement for 16 weeks or ate a vegan diet (a diet with no animal products) for the same time period. A several-week phase was included in which the subjects eliminated common dietary triggers. After a 4-week period of no treatment, the groups switched to the other treatment modality.

Frequent migraine and obesity have long been linked, but now researchers understand that being overweight is also associated with migraine attacks that occur less frequently. B. Lee Peterlin, DO, of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, MD, and colleagues recently completed a study that evaluated the link between episodic migraine (migraine less than 15 days per month) and obesity, as well as how age, race and gender affect that link. They found that obese people were 81% more likely to experience episodic migraine

Q. Is there anyone out there who gets vacation migraines? My world is pretty stressed. With working out of town, crazy sleep schedules, and taking care of my elderly mother-in-law, I live at a pretty high level of stress all the time. I do have chronic migraines, but I seem to get headaches when we go on vacation or at least the first part of the vacation. My husband tries to keep my stress low when we go on vacation, but I still get the headaches, even without the stress of day-to-day life. Is it because of the change in hormones at the lack of stress? Is it the drastic change that gives me the headaches?

Health care professionals and researchers have known for several years that a link exists between irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and migraine, and a small recent study shows that food may play an important role in reducing symptoms in both disorders. Researchers in Istanbul, Turkey, designed a study to evaluate the benefits of a diet in which patients eliminate foods that provoke an immune response and elevate Immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibodies. Such diets have previously proven beneficial for improving symptoms in both migraine and IBS.

The first step in the nutritional management of diet-triggered headaches is eating a well-balanced diet. It is especially important to eat three meals a day with a snack at night or 6 small meals spread through out the day.  You should include a good protein source at each meal/snack (i.e. milk, meat, fish) and should avoid eating high sugar foods by themselves, especially when excessively hungry. These actions will help to prevent the "hunger headache." If you are taking an MAOI drug (i.e Nardil, Parmate) you need to follow a low-tyramine diet.

Q. I have been on Depakote® and amitriptyline for migraines since about 1996. I kept the headaches reasonably under control (I've had them since 1985) with those two preventive medications and lifestyle management (strict diet, regular exercise, enough sleep and decreasing stress). I do, however, have moderately severe arthritis of the neck from a car accident in the 1970s. For the past year, I have had a migraine every day except four intermittent days; I can't figure out what I could be doing wrong. I avoid rebound headaches by alternating my use of Norgesic Forte® with Tylenol 500®, or when necessary, Imitrex® or Amerge®. I'm careful not to take more than the prescribed amount of any medication. My question is this: Would Neurontin® be of help to me? Has Depakote ceased to be effective? Or could the arthritis in my neck have finally won the battle I've been having with it? My neck pain is excruciating at the end of a work day, especially if I've had a headache. Neck pain is one of the precursors to a migraine for me.