Background: Limited evidence suggests that dietary interventions may offer a promising approach for migraine. The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of a low-fat plant-based diet intervention on migraine severity and frequency.
Methods: Forty-two adult migraine sufferers were recruited from the general community in Washington, DC, and divided randomly into two groups. This 36-week crossover study included two treatments: dietary instruction and placebo supplement. Each treatment period was 16 weeks, with a 4-week washout between. During the diet period, a low-fat vegan diet was prescribed for 4 weeks, after which an elimination diet was used. Participants were assessed at the beginning, midpoint, and end of each period. Significance was determined using student's t-tests.
Results: Worst headache pain in last 2 weeks, as measured by visual analog scale, was initially 6.4/10 cm (SD 2.1 cm), and declined 2.1 cm during the diet period and 0.7 cm during the supplement period (p=0.03). Average headache intensity (0-10 scale) was initially 4.2 (SD 1.4) per week, and this declined by 1.0 during the diet period and by 0.5 during the supplement period (p=0.20). Average headache frequency was initially 2.3 (SD 1.8) per week, and this declined by 0.3 during the diet period and by 0.4 during the supplement period (p=0.61). The Patient's Global Impression of Change showed greater improvement in pain during the diet period (p<0.001).
Conclusions: These results suggest that a nutritional approach may be a useful part of migraine treatment, but that methodologic issues necessitate further research.