Can foods that fight pain really make a difference to us migraineurs? Can artichokes and ginger really prevent migraines? We know to avoid our triggers, but can eating beneficial foods help too?
We all know what foods to avoid:
coffee or sodas with caffeine in them,
fermented food like hot dogs or salami,
ice cream, citrus fruit ... and the list goes on!
Dr. Neal Barnard says in his book Foods That Fight Pain, there are some foods that can help reduce migraines.
He says to avoid the common migraine trigger foods completely until the attacks diminish or cease and to only reintroduce the food triggers "one at a time to assess their effect.”
He supports the idea of doing a migraine allergy elimination diet to help identify which foods are the problem, and whether food is actually a trigger for you.
He lists these foods for us migraineurs to eat to help fight our migraines.
Dr. Barnard says that pain safe foods are:
Cooked vegetables – broccoli, spinach, chard and
Cooked or dried non citrus fruits
Hmmmm .... seems like a short list! The non citrus fruits list could get nice and long. But keep reading.
Foods to keep hormonal shifts at a minimum are:
Avoid animal products
Use Vegetable oils minimally
Keep natural fiber in grains, beans, vegetables and fruits. This means – eat them in their purest form – unprocessed - fruit with the skins on, potatoes with the skins on, brown rice, or whole grains like Quinoa. Bananas with the skin on. OK - just kidding, I was just seeing if you were still reading and paying attention!!!
Dr. Barnard suggests trying these supplements to help fight Migraines under consultation with your own Doctor of course:
– drink the tea using 2 -3 fresh leaves or 250 mg per day. Or you can take the capsules. Dr. Barnard prefers fresh ingredients and so do I, but capsules are much easier to take on a regular basis.
– ½ to 1 teaspoon of powdered ginger per day.
He says fresh here, but I don’t know how to get fresh powder?
I prefer to either grate a tablespoon or slice it up and drink it as a tea in hot water.
Magnesium and Calcium
Everyone I see and everything I read suggests including Magnesium and Calcium in your supplement regime for migraines.
Dr. Barnard recommends 200 mgs per day of elemental Magnesium as a single supplement on its own and 1,000-2,000 mgs per day of elemental Calcium. Some Calcium supplements also have 200 IU of Vitamin D included which is also beneficial.
At the very least perhaps try to find a good multivitamin or combination that has both these amounts of Magnesium and Calcium in them.
And remember always consult your doctor first before you add any herbs or supplements to your diet. We are trying to find foods that fight pain, not foods that increase it. We have enough of that already!
One thing I wanted to add here is to stay hydrated. Drink enough water every day, all day long. Dehydration is known to cause migraines. I would even go as far to suggest natural spring water or properly filtered water over tap water. Feed that body!
For working on hydration I recommend reading Dr. Angela Stanton's book Fighting The Migraine Epidemic. It is amazing.
Reference: 1. Barnard, N. M.D. (1998) Foods That Fight Pain (1st Ed.). Three Rivers Press: Random House: NY, USA. p. 59.
Food & Recipes
Foods That Fight Pain Fight Migraines Too