With an estimated 12-15% of people suffering from migraine, this means that roughly seven million people suffer in the UK alone. Stats from the charity Migraine Action reveal that migraines affect twice as many women as men, they affect people from all age groups (even young children) and all social classes, and they cost the UK around £2.25 billion per annum. The World Health Organisation has classified headache as a major health disorder and has rated migraine amongst the top 20 most disabling lifetime conditions. A migraine attack can last for between 4 and 72 hours and sufferers experience an average of 13 attacks each year. Sobering statistics indeed.
Doctors know very little about migraine headaches except that they run in families, and may be caused by many conditions ranging from nervous excitement, disturbed sleep patterns, stress and reactions to certain foods. These headaches can last hours, sometimes days, and often come with nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to sound and light, and, perhaps most strangely of all, distorted sensory perception, especially vision. If you add together the range of different symptoms and so many different potential triggers, it is no surprise that researchers are perplexed about the science behind these headaches, or that sufferers seem to find treatments so hit-and-miss.
A recent survey of a 1,000 people suffering with migraine by the charity Migraine Action has revealed that over two thirds of Migraine Action members affected by frequent migraine attacks believe that certain foods could be the cause. As I have mentioned before, the best accepted method for confirming food reactions is by elimination diet. This involves eating a restricted diet for several weeks. If there is no improvement in the incidence or severity of your migraines during this time, it is assumed that the food type that has been restricted is not contributing to the symptoms (migraines), and the process is repeated with another food type. This method is time consuming, and it is very difficult to test all the different combinations of food types that may be contributing to the problem.
The survey found that 85 percent of people affected by debilitating migraines had their symptoms reduced, and quality of life improved, when their food triggers were discovered and avoided. Additional research from the University of York, the largest clinical trial of its kind in migraine-like headaches, just published in Nutrition Journal, has further supported the Migraine Action findings, uncovering that the frequency of migraine attacks was cut by almost a quarter (23%) over 4 weeks when the YorkTest food-specific antibodies test from www.yorktest.com was carried out to identify potential food triggers.
Professor David Torgerson, co-author of the paper and Professor and Director of the York Trials Unit at York University commented: “This study, which we believe to be the largest randomised controlled trial of its kind in migraine-like headaches shows the potential for elimination diets based on food-specific IgG measurement with a 23% reduction in the number of migraine-like headaches after four weeks of dietary change based on YorkTest FoodScan results”. Dr Andrew Dowson, head of headache services at King’s College and member of the medical advisory board of Migraine Action, commenting on the research said: “A link between food intolerance and migraine has long been suspected. Recent research has shown that when people with migraine follow tailored diets to eliminate trigger foods their symptoms significantly improve, however the treatment of migraine is not a ‘one size fits all’ situation, each person needs to establish their own specific combination of triggers, which can also include factors like stress and irregular sleep patterns. The link between food intolerance and migraine is a interesting new field and warrants more detailed research.”
We have been really delighted with the positive feedback that we have had about this exciting research which supports our findings over many years now.