A man had severe, daytime migraines for 12 years and nothing worked. His doctors say they disappeared after they prescribed leafy vegetables and cut out red meat.

File photo showing salmon served with kale.The Washington Post / Contributor

  • A scientific article described a man plagued by migraines who suddenly left.

  • The 60-year-old stopped having debilitating headaches after switching to diets, it said.

  • He has been without a migraine for seven years. Doctors have a theory of why.

A 60-year-old man who has suffered 12 years of severe migraines has stopped experiencing them within three months after switching to a diet rich in leafy greens.

The patient, who had severe migraines for more than 12 years, was headless for more than seven years, according to a case study published Thursday by BMJ Case Reports.

The authors of the study said the man was exposed to the longest documented case of chronic migraine resolved after a change in diet.

Based on only one case study, it is impossible to conclude that a change in diet could cure chronic migraines. There were also other factors that could have influenced that patient’s symptoms, including his being HIV positive.

Patients sometimes track “exile” foods to try to minimize headache intensity. But so far there is no conclusive link between migraines and particular foods, according to the Migraine Research Foundation.

The patient, who was unnamed, had more frequent migraines in the six months prior to a clinical visit, according to the study. He reported having six to eight migraines a month.

In a brief testimony included in the case report, he said the migraines were “debilitating,” and some last up to 72 hours.

The migraines would become so bad that he “could end up in bed in the fetal position,” he said. When the migraines didn’t come, he spent days in recovery, which made his job as a photographer “almost impossible,” he said.

After the migraines stopped, he said, “I’m no longer a prisoner in my own body. I have my life back.”

The patient was advised to follow these recommendations:

  • eating at least five ounces of raw or cooked dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale and watercress daily.

  • drinking one 32-ounce daily green smoothie daily.

  • limiting consumption of whole grains, starchy vegetables, oils and animal proteins, especially dairy products and red meat.

Although the scientists did not have the ability to verify whether he followed the diet to the letter, the patient kept a diary.

After the change, the patient even stopped taking his migraine medication, according to the study.

The patient tried other lifestyle interventions and medications, including removing chocolate, cheese, nuts, caffeine and nuts, which he identified as possible “triggers,” the study said.

None of these interventions worked, according to the study

According to the American Migraine Foundation, studies have shown that migraines are a genetic disorder, but that lifestyle, diet, and environmental signals can play a “big role” in how often a patient receives a migraine.

The fund has warned patients to “be cautious” when trying extremely strict diets that could lead to nutritional deficiencies.

The authors of the case study propose a possible mechanism for the effect: The leafy vegetables are rich in beta-carotene and other foods they said in the study may have anti-inflammatory properties.

Although the man was already eating a balanced diet, the inclusion of leafy greens increased his serum level of beta-carotene, the study reported.

It is unclear whether their theory of what may have caused the change is correct. Other factors could explain the change in symptoms beyond the diet. For example, the man is HIV positive, which has been linked to an increased risk of migraines, the authors said in the study.

The man’s allergies also improved after he switched to a diet, which could be related, according to the study authors.

According to David M Dunaief, a New York City expert in nutritional medicine and lifestyle interventions who was the author of the study, “several” other patients whose names were not disclosed saw their migraines become less common within three months after changing their diet. .

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