Why ketones kill migraines.
A ketogenic diet is a low carbohydrate diet that allows your body to break down fat and metabolize ketones. Ketones can also be obtained by eating medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) such as coconut oil, MCT oil, or grass-fed butter.
The following seven reasons will explain why ketones kill migraines:
- In 2013, the ketogenic diet was found to reduce migraine frequency in 90 percent of patients (study link). These are extraordinary results that dwarf the success rates of migraine prevention drugs.
- Ketones block high concentrations of glutamate that are found in both migraine and epilepsy sufferers (study link). Anti-seizure medications that block glutamate have been used to treat both migraine and epilepsy sufferers (study link). Ketones have successfully treated epilepsy since 500 BC and the ketogenic diet became popular nearly a century ago (study link).
- The ketogenic diet, and many other diets that reduce processed foods, is extremely successful at reducing migraine. Avoiding top food triggers while on the ketogenic diet may greatly improve your chances of becoming migraine free (study links).
- The saturated-fat myth has been debunked by numerous studies (study links). Saturated fats and healthy fats are found in the ketogenic diet and may lower bad cholesterol and produce vitamin D and serotonin (study link) to provide migraine protection (study link 1, 2, 3).
- Hunger is a huge migraine trigger, but so is weight gain—obesity may increase migraine risk by 81 percent (study link). Ketones reduce hunger as well as glucose and insulin problems and promote weight loss (study link). This happens even when MCT oil or coconut oil is added to a normal diet (study link 1, 2). Imagine always feeling satisfied, having energy, a sharp mind, and loosing fat all at the same time.
- Oxidative stress has recently been tied to nearly all migraine triggers (Study link 1, 2). In fact, the next generation migraine drug blocks a peptide that is released during the buildup of oxidative stress, and it also prevents the rapid release of glutamate that can trigger migraines (study link 1, 2, 3). Ketones not only block this excess of glutamate, but also reduce total levels of oxidative stress (study 1, 2, 3). This suggests that ketones prevent migraines and may even eliminate the root cause of a migraine.
- MCT oil has improved memory recall in Alzheimer’s patients (study link). The white-matter brain lesions found in Alzheimer’s patients (study link 1, 2, 3) are also more common in migraine sufferers (study link 1, 2). Both Alzheimer’s and migraine research suggest that ketones may work by increasing the brain’s metabolism even in the face of oxidative stress or glucose problems (study link 1, 2, 3).
Our brains run on either glucose or ketones. According to Dr. Peter Attia, our bodies can’t store more than about twenty-four-hours’ worth of glucose and we would all die of hypoglycemia if it weren’t for ketones. Metabolizing ketones from body fat or MCTs puts us in a healthy state of nutritional ketosis (research link).
Brain fog, brain lesions, and oxidative stress make it clear that migraine sufferers are having problems metabolizing energy. Because most migraine brains are poorly metabolizing glucose into energy, it only makes sense to try the other brain fuel: ketones.
While the studies thus far on ketones and migraines are stunning, more research is needed to confirm these findings. It is critical that you learn as much as you can about the ketogenic diet (study links); its side effects, which may include headaches (research link); and how to reduce those side effects by consuming ketones. Removing processed foods and sugar from your diet isn’t easy and you should speak with your doctor and a nutritionist before embarking on any dietary changes.
Update: Read about two new studies that show the power of ketones, including two twin sisters that were migraine-free within 3 days of starting the ketogenic diet (New article).