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Dietary fatty acids and migraines.

Sixty-seven adults (mean age, 42 years) with chronic headaches (93% of which were migraines) occurring a mean of 23 days per month were randomly assigned to 1 of 2 intensive dietary interventions for 12 weeks: a diet low in omega-6 fatty acids and high in omega-3 fatty acids (eicosapentaenoic acid [EPA] and docosahexaenoic acid [DHA]) or a diet low in omega-6 fatty acids and containing the low amount of EPA and DHA present in a typical US diet. Both groups achieved targeted intakes of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Compared with the diet low in omega-3 fatty acids, the diet high in omega-3 fatty acids produced a greater improvement in the mean Headache Impact Test score (-7.5 vs. -2.1; p < 0.001), the number of Headache Days per month (-8.8 vs. -4.0; p = 0.02), and the number of headache hours per day (-4.6 vs. - 1.2; p = 0.01).

Comment: Some, but not all, previous studies have found that supplementing with fish oil (which contains high concentrations of EPA and DHA) can reduce the severity and possibly the frequency of migraines. The results of the present study suggest that these benefits can also be achieved by increasing dietary intake of EPA and DHA. The dietary modifications employed in this study included a reduction in intake of omega-6 fatty acids. That component of the diet may have been important, because high intake of omega-6 fatty acids can interfere with the effects of omega-3 fatty acids.

Ramsden CE et al. Targeted alteration of dietary n-3 and n-6 fatty acids for the treatment of chronic headaches: a randomized trial. Pain. 2013;154:2441-2451.

by Alan R. Gaby, MD

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Title Annotation:Literature Review & Commentary
Author:Gaby, Alan R.
Publication:Townsend Letter
Article Type:Brief article
Date:Oct 1, 2015
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