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National Migraine Centre
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Cutting out milk from my diet reduced my migraines by 70%

Hi fellow migraineurs,

I'm sorry title to this post sounds like the common spam articles on the web.

But it is not, so i wanted to ask if anyone else had a similar experience to mine with managing their migraine or maybe they did something else that helped reduce their headache frequency.

I've been having migraines on about 20-25 days per month. For the last 7 years. They are usually 5-6/10 and once a week there is a 10. Recently I've been on steroid injections to prevent them. Minor results - maybe 15% effective. So i was getting desperate to try something else as I run out of preventative medications I could take and the next option would be neuromodulation or whatever else they have. (and now there is the CGRP injection)

So 2 months ago I decided to stop drinking milk. Before that I've been having tiny amounts - just some every day with my americano. Maybe once every two weeks i would have cereals with milk, then maybe 1 or 2 yogurts per week. Some creme cheese on toast once or twice a week. Now i don't drink milk at all and just some yogurt once a week. I still have cheddar cheese 4 times a week.

And my migraine frequency reduced by 70% to that one week when I am on my period. I was shocked. I know there is a massive backlash against gluten, lactose, and carbs in general and I really didn't want to get on the bandwagon. But then I started researching why cutting out the milk helped even though I am NOT lactose intolerant. So apparently I am super sensitive to foods that have or can lead to production of more hormones of some type. A cup of soya latte will stop my period from heavy to zero for the whole 8 hrs. So apparently the tiny amounts of milk I've been having all my life has been causing the majority of my migraines. ( I am still evaluating in disbelief)

Maybe that interest in hormone issues developed from my ongoing acne at 30 years old, and PCOS - but according to doctors I do not have hormone imbalances. I am healthy with acne at 30 and an ovary that is loaded with cysts.

Did anyone else have a weird experience with cutting out a food from their diet and noticing some relief from migraine? I am looking for next steps to hopefully reduce them to a couple of headaches a month or zero.

I wanted to highlight that I would not get a headache after drinking milk. So milk is not a typical trigger for me like wine for example. But it was a long-term environmental factor.

Anyways, tips? experiences? Please share :)

Anna

17 Replies
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Congrats - it's lovely to hear that you are feeling better. We went vegan, and it made a huge difference to my daughter, but it didn't help me as when I was tested it was chocolate and tomato with me :( but vegan has helped me in so many other ways - yes there is a bandwaggon - but guess what - that's because it works!

However, if you have migraines and cysts I would get that thyroid tested asap and if it shows nothing I would go to a specialist, you may have a t3 issue - NHS don't test this in the UK normally so your normal GP tests won't show it. You say your 'hormones' are OK. Why not go over to the thyroid pages and actually post your results - you can ask for a printed copy of all your pathology results from the last tests, it's your right to get these.

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I have got my thyroid tested many times over the past few years and it was normal. But what you wrote here, just today my friend from work mentioned her friend had a specialist tests for Thyroid done and they found some issues.

Where do you suggest I go to get the specialist tests? Since I was seen by an endocrinologist so they checked for everything, and told me to .....erm lose weight because i am apparently fine, and my acne should improve - I am not overweight or anything. (facepalm). But 5 kg ago and 4 years ago I had the same amount of acne and still had cysts on my ovary. ( I wanted to stab her with a pen or strangle her with a mouse cable for such an idiotic recommendation)

Also thanks for the idea of sharing the results on other pages of this forum. Will need to dig them out or request them again from the hospital as when i was there they couldn't even print them out due to a printer issue...

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What you say is interesting, though I don't understand why you can still eat dairy in the form of yoghurt or cheese and still have no migraine, because if dairy is a factor, both those will be contributing.

I have suffered from optical migraine (now called aura migraine) for the last five years, with increasing frequency. I had surgery for ovarian cancer in January, and 6 weeks later, decided to cut out dairy completely, along with meat, eggs and fish, more in relation to not encouraging my cancer to grow back too quickly than anything else. I thought maybe removing dairy might mean my asthma and chronic allergic rhinitis would improve, but it made no difference at all to those. But here we are, 9 months later, and I've not had a single optical migraine. They usually clustered around spring time (daily if not two or three times a day for a couple of months), then random, occasional ones during summer, with another cluster during autumn, and random ones during winter.

I do now eat meat and fish about once a month, but I still avoid dairy like the plague... and although there's been a couple of occasions where I've thought a migraine attack was about to happen, it hasn't. Not one. And it never occurred to me until I read your post that it might be the complete removal of dairy from my diet... I've been thinking maybe its cos the cancer was cut out, or some drug or other they gave me has done it, or was it the CBD oil I take daily... so thanks for posting this, because actually, the removal of dairy is a much more obvious factor that I never even considered...

I missed cheese terribly for the first 3 months,used to dream about Brie... but I've got used to it now. I'm not lactose intolerant either, so lord knows why some of us have this response to dairy. And I didn't know you could get a soya latte - I've never drunk much coffee anyway, but have avoided even the occasional one too (I like Americano, don't like it black, and have to have sugar in it, and that's another no no...) but I might be tempted to try a soya latte instead, though to be honest, coffee always smells so much better than it tastes anyway. Thanks!

Miriam

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Hi Miriam,

I am really sorry to hear that you had to go through ovarian cancer. I am sending my best wishes to you.

And I am also happy to hear that quitting dairy altogether helped you a lot with the migraines. Can i ask just out of curiosity why did you stop eating fish, eggs and diary to help prevent your cancer from growing back? Is this something your doctors told you to do or did you read some research? I am asking because my mum has breast cancer and she also had to change her diet to prevent it from growing back and I am generally interested in the impact of diet on risks of various cancers. However the hospital she was treated as 'prescribed' diet changes, while another hospital that didn't had much higher rates of cancers coming back - but they are equally great hospitals. It's just the diet recommendation that made a massive difference.

With that in mind I would caution you against drinking soya milk as it contains natural estrogens which can feed some forms of cancer. I would suggest almond or coconut milk.

It also makes me wonder if I should cut out all dairy including the cheese, whipped cream etc. But i am not sure if I am ready for this.

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No recommendations from my oncology team - they think I'm nuts, not least because I refused chemo. They were telling me I didn't need to make any changes at all, not even cut out sugar. But in France, there's a no sugar rule if you have cancer, any cancer. I also cut out meat... I'm stage 4b, couldn't see the point of chemo, so I did the research and changed my diet myself, just to try to slow down the cancer's return. By rights, I should be really ill or dead by now.. but I'm not, not yet, so I've won myself over 9 months of feeling well which I wouldn't have been with chemo. With my sort of OC (rare), of the 19 documented cases, all those who were past stage 2 at diagnosis were dead within 8-11 months, all treated with chemo. The trouble with OC is, it gets you in the end, chemo or no chemo... but I'm quite old anyway, 68. As for plant milks, I do drink soya, I alternate between that and unroasted almond mostly, not happy about the sunflower oil content in the almond and other plant milks, so that's why I have soya in between. My cancer's not hormone sensitive... But it is nice not have all those migraine attacks... and oddly, no herpes either...

As for leaving out the dairy, yes, cheese is a problem and I don't think anybody's made a whipped cream from soya milk.... but maybe if you did cut it all out, you wouldn't have any migraine at all. I guess you could cut it all out for ,what, 3 or 6 months, see if it makes a difference, maybe... If it does, then you could still eat some cheese occasionally, knowing you'd pay a price!

I'm intrigued as to which hospital recommended a diet though, if you're in the UK...? Or was it a diet to have during and after chemotherapy rather than helping keep the cancer at bay?

Thanks for responding

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Ha! congrats on beating the odds! Keep up the good work! T

hese are two hospitals in Cracow in Poland. They said that my mum had to stop sugar, processed foods like pizza, any coke or other fizzy aritificial drinks, also - no fried foods, baking in low temperatures, no red meat, no preservatives in any food - like cheddar or cream cheese is sometimes loaded with preservatives. No candy or any processed sweets - just natural dark chocolte. And no alcohol except an occasional glass of wine. No parabens in cosmetics, no hair dyes hair spray and any chemical or artificial stuff like body lotions that smell better than some flowers. Also - no using harsh chemicals to clean bathroom/kitchen - just natural stuff like vinegar. This was supposed to be during and after chemo therapy. But also during chemo no citrus fruits. But this diet was primarily to change the environment in which the cancer would be ripe to grow. Also she was advised to exercise vigorously after she felt strong enough.

For me cutting out the rest of dairy even for a week would be a struggle but the milk-related reduction in migraines followed almost immediately - about 3 days after i stopped. So maybe that's all it takes to find out.

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Very interesting - more or less what I found out myself, that diet. The no fried foods and baking at low temperatures is difficult though, also the 'no bottled oils' rule which is part of a whole food plant based diet. I still have a stirfry using a little rapeseed oil, but I lowered the oven temperature a bit where possible... and never eat anything blackened, caramelised or burned... I don't drink anyway, and hate fizzy drinks, but I used to love sweet things - now its just a couple of squares of 85% cocoa dark chocolate. Though to be honest, from the research I did, the most dangerous thing to consume if you have cancer is actually dairy... even over and above sugar, followed by meat, then fish, then eggs... I eat a lot of vegetables and am concerned about getting the full range of those after the ridiculous Brexit happens - all we used to get here in winter before we joined the EU was cabbage, brussels sprouts, spinach and kale as green vegetables. With no imports, that's all there'll be... Utter idiocy...

As for your stopping dairy, 3 days might not be long enough, since you're only having migraines during your menstruation time... might have to be a month at least! Good luck, and I hope your mother is doing well...

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I'm not saying this is the case, but I just did some journaling over the past couple of months and narrowed down a couple of possible culprits for me, and one of them was palm kernel oil which was an ingredient in a yogurt I ate a few times that had mix-in granola type stuff. I don't think it's normally in yogurt. Anyway, I did some further research and found a website about a child who has severe allergic reactions to palm oil and anything derived from palm. That includes ingredients in food that start with "stear" and "capry" and many other ingredients. Like magnesium stearate which is found in a lot of supplements and medications. Also, in the US any milk that has reduced fat contains vitamin A in the "palmitate" form, which is derived from palm oil! I have recently switched to 2% fat milk from whole fat milk, and my migraines have increased in frequency resulting in my going to the neurologist and thinking something is seriously wrong. My migraines always get worse around my period, so it seems like this "sensitivity" to the palm ingredients happens more when I am higher in estrogen (at least that's what I think.) But I went through all my supplements and meds and found at least half of them had magnesium stearate. And propylene and polypropylene glycol and glycerine are also derivatives of palm. Just something to be aware of! I also know that polysorbate gives me a migraine for sure. This is the website about the boy with the allergy, and the parents have gone to great lengths to find products that are free from those ingredients, including soaps, toothpaste, etc. I think the soaps and stuff are good recommendations because hygeine products can be serious endocrine disruptors and these palm free soaps also happen to have very few ingredients and they're pure, made with good oils like olive.

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I wonder if the calcium in dairy interferes with the magnesium you absorb. Just this year (I’m 63!) years of migraines, I tried magnesium for headaches and have had a lot of success. Somebody told me on days they eat a lot of calcium they up their magnesium. Just wondering

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ha! very interesting question - there are migraine prevention drugs that work on calcium receptors in the brain, i might need to look closer at the research and the mechanisms of how they work. Might be worth trying out the magnesium during my period. But I had a friend with menstrual migraines who was put on magnesium treatment because her levels were quite low (that girl barely eats, she is very skinny), but anyways.

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I just wanted to say thanks a million to you ladies - you're sharing very important tips and observations and I am very happy that my post helped some of you to realise a few things about their migraines. Hopefully this thread will continue bringing in good ideas.

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we went vegan a few years ago, and it cleared up my pituitary adenoma, consultant says he's seen this before with veganism; unfortunately, it didn't help my daughters migraines but it helped

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I read that migraine sufferers are inherently low in magnesium but unfortunately one can’t find out through a lab test if that is so, you just try it. The research was done post-mortem. Magnesium oxide works but gives diarrhea like crazy. I have had better results with a magnesium maleate/citrate formula, 400 mg as I go to bed. Also a soak in an Epsom(Magnesium also) salt bath can relieve a headache, like heaven. Wish I’d known sooner!

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Hmm how is it exactly not possible to check if you are magnesium deficient or not? Magnesium is regularly prescribed by doctors following blood tests. What do you mean exactly?

on the point of magnesium baths - i will definitely try it - what salt should i buy and do you know a tested place where I could get it from?

thanks

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I don’t know that one form of Epsom is superior to another but if I use a cup of it in a warm bath the pain relief is good. I once ordered some magnesium crystals from some super duper ancient source... expensive. Did not seem superior to me. They all work. As for the magnesium tests, I have been that when my stools become very loose, I’m probably at my personal maximum.

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If your stool changes this is because there is too much magnesium consumed at a time and the excess is being removed - this doesn't mean your blood levels are good or not good

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OMG I just had an acupuncture appointment for my migraine and this is such a torture....the needles sitting in were quite painful but after that i felt all day as if someone actually stabbed me 9 times - i can barely move, everything hurts and i had an emotional metldown during the morning hours afterwards.... is this how a body is supposed to react to acupuncture??? ;((((

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