Treat Your Migraines by Eating More Greens


Anyone who has suffered a migraine knows how crippling it can be. Native Hawaiians, and women in general, are among those at higher risk of having migraines.

Migraines are a type of headache commonly accompanied by blurry vision, nausea, vomiting, and sensitivities to touch, smell, sound, and light. A migraine can last from four hours to three days. Nine out of 10 people who get a migraine cannot work or perform their everyday activities.

Certain things can trigger a migraine attack.

Daily caffeine use of more than 100mg per day is a common trigger, regardless of whether the caffeine is from medications or beverages. If you are experiencing daily headaches, try avoiding caffeine completely. If that is difficult, then reduce your intake of caffeinated beverages by about 25% per day. This helps to minimize caffeine withdrawal symptoms.

Skipping meals or long periods of time between meals may trigger a migraine due to low blood glucose levels. Eating regular meals at regular times each day, along with a regular sleep schedule and exercise, may help reduce the frequency of migraines. Staying hydrated and avoiding excessive heat also help.

Dietary triggers of migraines include alcohol, chocolate, aged cheese, processed meats, smoked fish, yeast extract, and certain food preservatives (nitrates, artificial sweeteners, and MSG (monosodium glutamate).

Some people are only sensitive to specific foods; others may find that a combination of these foods will do them in. Pay attention to what you eat and drink on the days you get migraines and see if you notice a pattern. Then try avoiding those specific foods or beverages to see if that makes a difference.

While all these things can help reduce your risk of getting migraines, health experts caution that following each recommendation closely may not prevent migraines altogether.

It is believed that one’s genetics play a critical role in the onset of migraines, along with environmental and lifestyle factors. However, research is showing that a person can change the way their genes work by changing their dietary habits.

A recent study described a patient who was able to treat and prevent his migraines by switching to a plant-based diet rich in dark green leafy vegetables. For years he tried medication, eliminating known migraine triggers from his diet, and practicing yoga and other stress-reducing techniques without success. As part of his new diet, he drank a 32-ounce smoothie that included 8 ounces of leafy greens and ate 5 ounces (about ¼ cup) of cooked dark leafy greens daily.

Two months after changing his diet, he went from about 18-24 migraines a month to just one migraine. After three months, he was migraine-free and hasn’t had another one in nearly eight years. Doctors believe this may be the longest period that a migraine has been in remission.

Examples of leafy dark greens include lūʻau, bok choy, spinach, kalamungay, and kale. Our ancestors knew what was right in eating their greens daily.