Migraine Prevention: Omega-3 Fats

Migraine Prevention: Omega-3 Fats

Studies show that increasing omega-3 fats (anti-inflammatory) and reducing omega-6 fats (inflammatory) may reduce migraine frequency.

Eating natural sources of omega-3 fat is best since supplements have mixed reviews.

This is one of the best strategies to reduce inflammation and migraines.

Nine reasons why omega-3 fats may reduce migraines:

1. A 2013 chronic headache study (93 percent with migraines) reduced headache frequency by increasing omega-3 fat and reducing omega-6 fat (study link).

Headache days per month dropped from 23.3 to 14.5. Headache days continued to drop all the way to the last day of the three-month study.

2. A small study from 2002 found that 23 young chronic migraineurs went from 15 migraines per month down to just two after consuming omega-3 fats from fish oil for two months (study link).

Olive oil was also successful, likely due to an anti-inflammatory effect that is similar to ibuprofen (study link).

3. A 2015 study found that a higher consumption of omega-3 fat was associated with a lower frequency of migraine attacks (study link).

4. High levels of omega-6 fat and low levels of omega-3 fat contribute to oxidation, inflammation, and chronic disease (study link).

Oxidative stress is associated with migraines and nearly all migraine triggers (article link).

Migraines are also associated with inflammation and multiple chronic diseases (study link).

5. Omega-3 fat activates glutathione—your most important antioxidant (study 1, 2).

Glutathione reduces oxidative stress and researchers believe that it may be the key to eliminating migraines (study link).

6. According to researchers at Oregon State University, omega-3 fat reduces the need for anti-inflammatory medications in patients with certain inflammatory conditions (research link).

Migraine risk is significantly increased by inflammatory conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome, fibromyalgia, and Sjögren’s syndrome (study 1, 2, 3).

7. A 2006 study found that 59 percent of people with neck and back pain discontinued the use of their prescription anti-inflammatory medications after 75 days of consuming fish oil (study link).

Reduced levels of inflammation will reduce migraine risk.

Migraines are also associated with neck pain (study link).

8. A 2001 study concluded that there was no benefit to omega-3 over a placebo.

However, the placebo effect was high with a 45 percent reduction in migraine frequency.

Omega-3 (6 grams per day for 16 weeks) had a 55 percent reduction in migraine frequency, which is exceptionally high (study link).

9. A 2016 study on a seizure medication used with children determined that omega-3 had no effect on reducing migraine frequency when compared to a placebo.

However, the study noted both groups had a significant reduction in migraine attacks and omega-3 should be studied without preventive medication (study link).

Humans evolved with about a one-to-one ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fat. However, we now eat approximately 25 times more omega-6 fat than omega-3 fat (study link).

Omega-6 fat is considered inflammatory and is associated with obesity. Migraines are associated with obesity and cardiovascular disease (study link).

Omega-3 fat is associated with the Mediterranean diet, which has been proven to reduce obesity and coronary heart disease (study 1, 2).

It is clear that we need more omega-3 fat from natural foods. Some information suggests omega-3 supplements will decrease migraine risk, but more research is needed.

Supplements with omega-3 fat:

Fish oil or krill oil.

Some foods rich in omega-3 fat:

Flaxseed, salmon, chia seeds, walnuts, mackerel, beef, spinach, sardines, cauliflower, basil, broccoli, and arugula.

Eat more organic and grass-fed meats:

Grass-fed and organic meats contain two to five times more omega-3 fat than grain-fed meats (study 1, 2).

In general, foods that are organic and grass fed will have higher levels of omega-3 fats.

This is not medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Read the disclaimer.

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