Migraine is a frequent and disabling disorder characterized by intense headache. According to the classification of the International Headache Society there are two types of migraine: aura migraine when there are focal neurological symptoms preceding or accompanying the pain, auraless migraine when these symptoms are not present. The treatment possibilities for migraine are many, but not all patients respond in the same way and there are cases where it is difficult to find effective therapy. A recent study published in the European Journal of Neurology indicates the usefulness of a particular type of diet, the ketogenic diet, for the treatment of migraine. We talk about it with Dr. Stefania Della Ventura, a medical specialist in Food Science, responsible for the new outpatient clinic dedicated to the dietary treatment of headaches at Humanitas San Pio X.
About the ketogenic diet?
“The term ketogenic diets is used to define the diets capable of producing ketosis, i.e. inducing our bodies to use molecules called ketone bodies instead of sugars for energy purposes – explained the specialist -. These molecules derive from the metabolism of fats and their production is what normally happens when we are fasting. With a particular distribution of macronutrients it is possible to induce the organism to produce ketone bodies. This type of diet has proved very effective in some patients who suffer from migraine, and who have experienced in a short time a sharp reduction in the number of attacks and the intensity of migraine, until complete zeroing.
The study published in the European Journal of Neurology
A study published in the European Journal of Neurology described the effect of the ketogenic diet in 96 migraine patients who turned to a specialist for help. The patients were randomly divided into two groups: one group was treated with a ketogenic diet and the other group with a standard diet. The patients who were treated with the ketogenic diet showed a clear and immediate improvement in the frequency of attacks and a reduction in the use of analgesic drugs. The patients who were treated with a standard diet also obtained a benefit but slower and less marked. Weight loss in overweight patients has in itself a positive effect on migraine.
“This effect of the ketogenic diet has been attributed to the regulation of the balance between excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmitters, to the reduction of oxidative stress, to the anti-inflammatory action of the diet – said Dr. Della Ventura -. Ketogenic diets, mimicking the physiological effects of fasting, are also used to allow rapid weight loss in case of overweight/obesity. For this reason, overweight migraine patients can benefit considerably from this type of diet therapy.
The Humanitas San Pio X Outpatient Clinic
In Humanitas San Pio X there is an outpatient clinic dedicated to the dietary treatment of headaches. The service takes care of framing patients with headache with the prescription, if necessary, of in-depth examinations and propose the best personalized dietotherapy for each patient.
Due to its particularity, it is useful to underline that the ketogenic diet can be dangerous for the health. For this reason it should only be prescribed under strict medical supervision.