Only the most learned will view migraine headaches and seizures through the same lens, despite some very apparent similarities in the underlying causes.
One of the learned would of course be me. I can say this because I’ve written a book on the integrative management of migraines and epilepsy (which is, unfortunately not the name of the book–my select members of a focus group nixed this title pretty quickly, leaving me with less dramatic: Migraines and Epilepsy; How to find relief, Live well and Heal your brain).
As this particular article points out, the mechanisms leading to chronic migraine headaches and epileptic seizures overlap. These include (but are not limited to):
- Neurotransmitter problems (GABA, glutamate)
- Ion channel dysfunctions (such as sodium and potassium pumps)
- Photosensitivity plays a role in the connection
- Medications used to treat seizures are now well accepted for migraine treatment as well
The nice thing about this relationship is that natural approaches that have been shown to be effective for one can be tried in the other without waiting years for clinical studies to be done to demonstrate efficacy. You can almost consider it double the research.
As an example, let’s look at the ketogenic diet. This has been shown to be a very powerful tool in the management of refractory seizures (as to why we wait to use a dietary approach last, I haven’t yet figured that one out…) across many studies. The use of the ketogenic diet in migraines, however, is not as well studied, and yet it’s use certainly seems to make sense.
Another very compelling argument is the contribution of gluten sensitivity to both migraines and seizures. Several studies have found strong links in migraine sufferers and epileptics and the presence of gluten sensitivity. This data is solid enough to recommend a trial of gluten free living to see if it has an impact on your condition.
The benefit of supplementation like CoQ10, magnesium and vitamin D are established in both conditions as well.
The bottom line is that, luckily for chronic migraine headache sufferers and epileptics, the research community seems to be coming together around the linkage between these two conditions, albeit slowly. Personally, I think this bodes well for the future of these conditions and medicine’s ability to manage, improve or even eliminate them.