by David Gutierrez, staff writer
March 25, 2009
(NaturalNews) Increased intake of folic acid and other B vitamins may reduce the frequency and severity of migraine attacks, according to a study conducted by researchers from the Genomics Research Center at Australia’s Griffith University.
Migraine attacks are characterized by severe headaches, often accompanied by sensitivity to lights, sounds or smells; nausea; vomiting; and pins and needles sensations. Eighty percent of migraine patients suffer from at least one attack per month. Attacks can last up to 72 hours, and may be so debilitating that patients become unable to function.
Currently, migraines are treated with potent painkillers or anti-nausea drugs, with mixed results. Other treatments include antidepressants and beta-blockers, both of which carry the potential for severe and even dangerous side effects.
In the current study, researchers gave 50 migraine patients supplements of folic acid and vitamin B. According to researcher Lyn Griffiths, they observed “a drastic improvement in headache frequency, pain severity and associated disability for those treated.”
The researchers suspected that B vitamins would prove effective because they are known to help regulate levels of the amino homocysteine. Genetic research has shown that a mutation or malfunction of the gene MTHFR results both in elevated homocysteine levels and an increase risk of migraine. High levels of homocysteine have also been linked to a higher risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke.
The Griffith University team is now preparing to carry out a larger study to find out what doses work best for individual migraine patients, also taking into account any genetic predisposition to migraine that they might have.
Migraine is the most common neurological condition in the world, with approximately 6 to 15 percent of adult men suffering at least one attack per year and 14 to 35 percent of adult women. Between 12 and 28 percent of people will suffer at least one attack in their lifetime.