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Possible Source of Relief for Migraine Sufferers

A mutation or dysfunction in the gene known as MTHFR reportedly makes people more susceptible to migraine attacks.  The dysfunction results in higher levels of the amino acid homocysteine, which has also been shown to increase risk of stroke and coronary disease.
A study that will be published in the May, 2009 issue of Pharmacogenetics and Genomics found that daily supplements of B vitamins such as folic acid produced a two-fold reduction in severity and frequency of migraine attacks.
Researchers at the Genomics Research Centre, located in Brisbane, Australia, recruited 52 people diagnosed with migraine with aura.  Migraine with aura is characterized by visual disturbances such as flashes of light and zigzagging patterns.
Participants were randomly assigned to receive either a daily vitamin B supplement (2mg of folic acid, 25mg vitamin B6 and 400 micrograms of B12) or a placebo for six months.
After six months, the group that received the supplements had a 39% reduction in homocysteine levels and experienced significant reduction in both the frequency and severity of migraines.
The supplements were also associated with a reduction in “migraine disability” from 60% to 30%.  Migraine disability occurs when the headaches interfere with a sufferers ability to perform normal daily tasks and functions.
There was no reduction in either homocysteine levels or migraine disability associated with the placebo.
The researchers noticed that the genetic makeup of participants influenced results.  They plan to use these findings to determine the best dosage of B vitamins based on an individuals genetic profile.
A number of migraine triggers have been identified including stress, sleep disturbances, consuming aged cheeses, monosodium glutamate, flickering lights and hormonal changes.  Migraine sufferers are advised to avoid these triggers as much as possible.  Regular exercise, avoidance of caffeine and alcohol, abstaining from trigger foods and getting adequate amounts of sleep can all help prevent migraines.
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