Frequent headaches – Part II: A possible solution


As we said in a previous post, a dietary intervention could reduce headaches: An omega-6, the arachidonic acid (AA), is involved in several ways in pain processing (in different steps of its metabolism). Some diets may promote physical pain by increasing the amount and/or metabolism of AA in nervous and immune system tissues. Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), both of them omega-3, are competitors of AA. This means that they compete for some molecules needed to produce their metabolites (derivatives). On the other hand, AA is precursor of pro-inflammatory compounds, relevant to pain processing, while EPA and DHA derivatives have analgesic properties. To restrict omega-6 consumption and/or increase omega-3 EPA and DHA intake may decrease the consequences of elevated tissue concentrations of AA and/or the synthesis (formation) of its metabolites, and to increase the amount of EPA and DHA derivatives.

In order to study the effects of dietary omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in chronic headaches, the authors of this study made two groups with ambulatory patients with chronic daily headache: one followed a diet high in omega-3 and low in omega-6, the other a diet low in omega-6.

After 12 weeks, the group who had followed a diet high in omega-3 and low in omega-6 showed greater improvement in the “Headache Impact Test” score and greater reductions in the “number of headache days per month” and “headache hours per day”, compared to the other group.

Increasing omega-3 and reducing omega-6 fatty acids in the diet reduced headache pain and improved quality-of-life in this group of patients.





Frequent headaches - Part I: The problem

Headaches are a worldwide problem that affect people of all ages, races, income levels and geographical areas. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 50% to 75% of adult[...]