Written by Melbourne Naturopath Bree Jenner
Migraines are debilitating headaches that can last from 4-72 hours, often affecting one side of the head, and could affect up to 2 million Australians. Associated symptoms can include nausea and vomiting, light and sound sensitivity, throbbing pain that can be exacerbated with movement or physical activity. Many sufferers experience auras in the lead up to the onset of a migraine, which can include visual disturbances such as blurred or fractured vision, or flashing lights, or changes to smell, taste or other perception.
Migraine can be triggered by dietary and lifestyle factors. Chocolate, cheese, caffeine, nuts, citrus fruits, processed meats, food additives or sweeteners and alcohol are common food related triggers. Exposure to bright or flickering lights, loud noise, chemical exposure, sleep deprivation, stress, medications, weather changes, changes in brain chemicals (serotonin) or may be experienced pre-menstrually by some women.
What causes Migraines?
An exact cause of migraine is not clearly understood, however the triggers of migraine provide clues. Migraine is thought to be associated with changes in mitochondrial function. Mitochondria are responsible for energy production and impaired energy metabolism may trigger the onset of migraine attacks. When mitochondria become damaged as a result of many internal and external factors, the result is oxidative stress. Stress, low dietary intake of fruits and vegetables, environmental toxins can all lead to mitochondrial damage. Mitochondria require Co enzyme Q10 (CoQ10) to repair and act as an antioxidant to counteract oxidative stress. Oxidative stress plays a role in the regulation of blood flow to the brain, energy production and pain perception.
CoQ10 for Migraine Intervention
A recent trial of 80 patients suggested that CoQ10 supplementation may decrease the frequency, severity and duration of migraine attacks. The participants were split into two groups, both continued to take their preventative medication, however one of the groups was given daily supplementation of 100mg dose CoQ10. This trial found that with the addition of supplementation with CoQ10, the number and frequency of migraine attacks, and the severity of headaches were all significantly reduced. There were also no adverse side effects experienced in the CoQ10 group.
Whilst this study was relatively small, and participants and researchers were aware of the intervention, it comes off the back of other studies that have suggested similar and promising results.
Whilst migraine has no cure, nutritional and herbal supplementation may play a role in both the prevention and management of migraine, reducing frequency, duration and severity of the attacks, and with limited adverse reactions, compared to standard migraine treatment, natural treatment may be beneficial.
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Gupta, R, Pathak, R, Bhatia, MS and Banerjee, BD 2009, ‘Comparison of oxidative stress among migraineurs, tension-type headache subjects, and a control group’, Annals of Indian Academy of Neurology, vol. 12, no. 3, pp. 167-172, viewed 12 September 2017, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2824933/
Shaik, MM, and Gan, SH 2015, ‘Vitamin Supplementation as Possible Prophylactive Treatment against Migraine with Aura and Menstrual Migraine’, BioMed Research International, vol. 2015, pp. 1-10, viewed 12 September 2017, https://www.hindawi.com/journals/bmri/2015/469529/
Shoeibi, A, Olfati, N, Soltani, SM, Salehi, M, Mali, S, Akbari, OM 2017, ‘Effectiveness of coenzyme Q10 in prophylactic treatment of migraine headache: an open-label, add-on, controlled trial’, Acta Neorologica Belgica, vol. 117, no. 1, pp. 103-109.