Dietary Treatment for Migraine Headache

A migraine headache is defined is a severe, pulsating, one-sided headache, lasting from 4 to 72 hours and which is aggravated by routine physical activity.  Migraines are often accompanied by nausea, vomiting and/or sensitivity to light and sound.  In addition, visual disturbances (auras) lasting from 4 to 60 minutes, may occur either before or during a migraine headache.

One of the best alternative therapies for a migraine headache is acupuncture combined with the ancient practice or “cupping”.  Cups are round vessels, 1″ to 3″ in diameter, which are applied to the body with vacuum suction.  The vacuum is created either by means of heating the air inside the cup or by a mechanical pump.  The result is that the cup sticks to the body and creates a local area of low pressure, which causes the blood to gather under the cup near the surface of the body.  The result is an immediate improvement of circulation.  In particular, cupping helps to regulate the tension in the arteries…helping to relax overly tense arteries and tighten those that are too lax.  Cupping certain areas on the back can produce this regulating effect throughout the entire body.

There are several different types of migraine headaches. One type in particular comes on a regular basis and can be predicted with accuracy. For example, they might come only once every three months or as often as once a week. If you suffer from this kind of headache that comes with a predictable regularity, there is a high probability that you would benefit from a specific diet therapy for migraine headaches. In particular, there are certain foods that can act as a migraine trigger. The most common problem foods are:

– tannins in tea, red wine and apple cider
– chocolate
– aged cheese
– other dairy products
– nuts, especially peanuts
– poultry, including eggs
– caffeine in coffee, tea and cola drinks
– sulfites in processed meats and seafood
– beef
– wheat
– yeast from yeasted bread, beer, wine, etc.
– food additives such as MSG, artificial sweeteners (especially those containing Aspartame) and food colorings
– heavily processed or packaged foods
– citrus fruit, including pineapple and mango

If you suffer from headaches that occur with predictable regularity, I recommend the following dietary regiment.

Beginning 3 days before your headache is expected, follow a strict diet of brown rice, mung dal (thick split mung bean soup), steamed vegetables, sea salt and olive oil. During this time, no other spices, foods or supplements  should be consumed except pure, room temperature water.

My clients who follow this regiment find in many cases that the headache does not come at all. Or, the headache still may come with normal regularity, but is much less severe and shorter in duration than before.

This diet will not only reduce the frequency and severity of your headaches, but it’s very cleansing while at the same time, nutritious and satisfying. Remember, you are only on this diet for three days before the expected headache and during the normal headache duration. If no headache comes, remain on the diet for the duration of a typical headache. For example, if you typically get a headache every three weeks and it lasts foe 2 days, you should begin this diet three days before the expected headache and remain on it for 5 days. Follow this regiment every three weeks.

Thank you for visiting my blog. If you have questions about acupuncture and shiatsu, or if you have a specific health concern, please contact me at:

Bart Walton, L.Ac.
Licensed Acupuncture & Shiatsu
Portland, Oregon
503/939-5805