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An American study: Eating some fatty acids and omega-3 reduces the severity of headaches

A new study led by University of North Carolina healthcare researchers shows how a change in diet based on certain classes of fatty acids reduced headaches in patients over a 16-week period. The study, published in The Journal BMJ, showed an additional option patients could use.

"Our ancestors ate very different amounts and types of fat compared to our modern diets," said co-first author Daisy Zamora, assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine.

Daisy added: "Polyunsaturated fatty acids, which are not produced by our bodies, have increased dramatically in our diet due to the addition of oils such as corn, soybean and cottonseed to many processed foods such as potato chips and crackers."

The classes of polyunsaturated fatty acids examined in this study are omega-6 and omega-3. Both have important functions within our bodies but must be in balance, as fatty acids have been shown to reduce inflammation.

And 182 patients currently diagnosed with migraine seeking treatment for their migraine were enrolled in this randomized controlled trial, led by Doug Mann, professor of neurological and internal medicine at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine.

In addition to their current treatments, patients adhered to one of three diets for 16 weeks: a control diet that maintained average intake of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, participants reported fewer headache days per month, and some were able to reduce the amount of medication they needed For their pain however, participants did not report a change in quality of life.

Study co-author Keturah Faurot, associate professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation and associate director of the Integrative Medicine Program, said: "This study specifically tested omega-3 fatty acids from fish and not from supplements.