Ketogenic Diet and Migraine

The Future of Migraine Treatment

Not yet perfect but getting there!

I wanted to give a quick update on my personal research (always in continuation) about improving migraine treatment. I was on the ketogenic diet for 3 months before I was kicked off by prednisone (also uses insulin receptors and has priority) and so I went back on the Stanton Migraine Protocol®. I was on it until last Monday (a week ago). Thus I had 2 months out of ketosis. I was curious how long the “keto brain” will function well on the protocol but with increased fruits carbs. I wanted to see if the length of time I was in keto would change my brain in any way.

It was kind of hard to increase carbs since my body learned to not even like carbs (I know it is weird) but I ate a few of the fruits at least that I used to like. I want to report to you what happened so you understand

  1. what glucose does and
  2. how long the keto protection lasted.

The findings

  1. Biting into my first pomegranate was a major shocker! I used to just inhale a large pomegranate and want more. Coming out of keto I could not finish half AND I felt “high” like on a drug.
    1. This clearly tells you that sugar is a drug and
    2. Also tells you that if one is not used to sugar it is actually not comfortable to eat it even in a fruit!!! I actually didn’t like it! It took me several days to learn to like carbs again!
  2. I increased my carbs to over my personal preference and went to ~120 net carb grams for a few days (the Stanton Migraine Protocol® carbs level for women is between 50-70 net carb grams); just applied the protocol protection after and I had absolutely no discomfort but I saw the edema building up! So even if the keto brain protected me from getting a migraine, I built up a sizable edema every single day and by the evening my ankles were nearly twice the circumference of what they normally are under the ketogenic diet!
    1. This is very important: while the ketogenic diet may save us from pain for some time, the physiological effects of carbs remain AND harm us!! So migraine is not about the pain!
  3. One night we went out for dinner (anniversary celebration) and though I ordered as low carbs as possible, everything had sugar on it, even the butternut squash was covered with sweet liquid and the bone marrow I ordered was soaked in balsamic vinegar that I could not scrape off… I also wanted to test my sugar tolerance (direct sugar and not just fruit) so I ordered a sorbet after dinner.
    1. I ate only about 5 bites because I must tell you what sugar tasted like: sugar had a BITTER AFTERTASTE!!!

So a few things… after my sugar experiment part, I did come down with a migraine but very mild and the only other symptom I had very mild nausea, extreme light sensitivity, and irritable. It was mild and I didn’t medicate (not even OTC) but it was a 4-dayer!

  • So the keto protection worked against natural fruit carbs for 6 weeks but NOT against direct sugar and
  • The physiological symptoms of a migraineur were there even for the fruit carbs.
  • Also, a week later I tested potatoes!!! Nope, no go at all!!! Migraine (mild again and shorter, 2-dayer) so keto can only go so far after 3 months of being in it. I will keep on testing for longer and longer periods.

Ketosis and Myelin

Ketosis protects the brain by allowing the brain to build up myelin (insulation) so we can send our crazy migraine excess voltages securely and it gives enough protection that the potassium/sodium content was less important.  You could eat more fruits and veggies. However, it did not protect against sugar or high starch. Sugar and starch are instant insult on our compromised electrolyte system.

Ketosis is great since while you are in it, assuming you are in at the right level for your person, you are absolutely migraine-brain free! I am back into my jogging routine in the mornings on empty stomach!!! In ketosis you can do that and not be hungry (and not get a migraine!) but be full of energy.

Those of you who can afford the luxury of controlling what you eat, I highly recommend you try the ketogenic diet–but be aware that there are many “fake” ketogenic diet instructions out there! If you want to try the real ketogenic diet for migraine join my keto mild for migraines facebook group (or contact me in private) and I will help you get started.

Join the good life and become migraine free!

Comments are welcomed as always,


About Be Healthy

Angela A Stanton, PhD, is a Neuroeconomist who evaluates changes in behavior, chronic pain, decision-making, as a result of hormonal variations in the brain. She lives in Southern California. Her current research is focused on migraine cause, prevention and treatment without the use of medicines. As a migraineur, her discovery was helped by experimenting on herself. She found the cause of migraine to be at the ionic level, associated with disruption of the electrolyte homeostasis, resulting from genetic mutations of insulin and glucose transporters, and voltage gated sodium and calcium channel mutations. Such mutations cause major shifts in a migraine brain, unlike that of a non-migraine brain. A non-migraineur can handle electrolyte changes on autopilot. A migraineur must always be on manual guard for such changes to maintain electrolyte homeostasis. The book Fighting The Migraine Epidemic: How To Treat and Prevent Migraines Without Medicines - An Insider's View explains why we have migraines, how to prevent them and how to stay migraine (and medicine) free for life. As a result of the success of the first edition of her book and new research and findings, she is now finishing the 2nd edition. The 2nd edition is the “holy grail” of migraines, incorporating all there is to know at the moment and also some hypotheses. It includes an academic research section with suggestions for further research. The book is full of citations to authenticate the statements she makes to be followed up by those interested and to spark further research interest. While working on the 2nd edition of the book she also published academic articles: "Migraine Cause and Treatment" Mental Health in family Medicine, November 23, 2015, open access "Functional Prodrome in Migraines" Journal of Neurological Disorders, January 22, 2016, open access "Are Statistics Misleading Sodium Reduction Benefits?", Journal of Medical Diagnostic Method, February 3, 2016, open access “A Comment on Severe Headache or Migraine History Is Inversely Correlated With Dietary Sodium Intake: NHANES 1999-2004” Angela A Stanton PhD, 19 July 2016 DOI: 10.1111/head.12861 not open access, subscription is required to read it. Dr. Stanton received her BSc at UCLA in Mathematics, MBA at UCR, MS in Management Science and Engineering at Stanford University, PhD in NeuroEconomics at Claremont Graduate University, and fMRI certification at Harvard University Medical School at the Martinos Center for Neuroimaging for experimenting with neurotransmitters on human volunteers. For relaxation Dr. Stanton paints and photographs. Follow her on Twitter at: @MigraineBook
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4 Responses to Ketogenic Diet and Migraine

  1. Kate Williams says:

    Hello I would really like to talk with you about your experience as I have tried keto for the past 2 weeks and had the worst migraines so I think I need advice and help
    Thank you

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Deb says:

    I keep thinking of my poor father who had congestive heart failure. Back in the 90s, he ate nothing but carbs, little fat, no red meat, no greens (fear of vitamin K), only 1 quart of water a day, and no added salt. It’s a wonder he lasted as long as he did.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Be Healthy says:

      Oh dear. I am so sorry Deb. Unfortunately we have been so misled for so long–it will affect many generations. It was not his fault. Nothing would have changed things for him. But you can change things for yourself and for your family. ❤



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