Over eight million people in the UK suffer from migraines and until recently, Andrea Henson was one of them.
But the catering business owner, from Lincolnshire, claims to have beaten the severe headaches by changing her diet.
The 46-year-old stopped using cow’s milk and corn in her cooking and says she’s barely experienced a migraine since.
Henson suffered from migraines for 25 years before changing her diet.
“My episodes were always unpredictable, they could come on quickly and affect my vision or be a slow starter, lasting anywhere between one to three days,” she told the Daily Mail.
“I was left feeling exhausted and achy but there was nothing anyone could do. As I run my own business, I had to try to soldier on the best I could. It was really hard.”
For years she got by on migraine relief tablets, but would often experience unpleasant side effects such as drowsiness and nausea.
By chance, she took a food intolerance test by YorkTest when she was trying to learn more about allergies to improve her catering business.
The test revealed she was allergic to cow’s milk and corn and since cutting the two ingredients from her diet, Henson says her migraines have dramatically improved.
“Since starting my new eating regime, I’ve gone from having migraines on a weekly basis to having just three in total - they pretty much disappeared after six weeks. I was amazed,” she said.
According to Rebekah Aitchison from the charity Migraine Action, diet can trigger migraines for some sufferers.
“It is always a good idea to eat a balanced diet regularly, as a drop or spike in glucose levels can be a trigger for migraine,” she told The Huffington Post UK.
“Keeping a regular routine can be the key for those whose migraines are affected by diet.”
She added that chocolate, red wine and cheese are some of the foods most commonly linked to triggering a migraine.
“However everyone’s migraines are individual and foods will affect everyone differently,” she said.
“The most important thing is to keep a diary, noting any changes 24 hours before an attack strikes and ascertain your own migraine triggers.”
Geoff Hale, of Wolverhampton and Birmingham Headache and Migraine Clinics, also said looking at your diet is a great place to start when trying to figure out migraine triggers.
“Mrs Henson’s case is a great example of taking a wider view of food as a possible causative agent, dairy foods in particular being one of the first places to look as a potential migraine trigger,” he said.
“Others to consider are wheat, citrus fruits, alcohol, caffeine, spices and fermented foods.”
However, he pointed out that there are many other potential tiggers associated with migraines.
“Food could be at the root of your pain but there could be other contributing issues to tease out such as spinal or postural problems, stress, hormonal imbalances and many others so try not to overlook these,” he said.
“Drugs absolutely do not have to be the only answer for every migraineur.”
While there is currently no cure for migraines, the symptoms can be reduced and controlled
“Learning triggers and early warning signs, as well as finding the best treatment for you, from B2 vitamins to Botox, can really help reduce the impact migraine has on your life,” Aitchison said.
To access migraine support, contact Migraine Action on 08456 011 033 weekdays 10am to 4pm to talk through all phases of a migraine and what treatment options are available.