Genetic Link to Prevent Migraines Discovered
Scientists from Griffith University in Queensland are close to a new treatment for severe headaches which consists of vitamin B and folate (B9) supplements.
Griffith postdoctoral researcher Bridget Maher said the remedy would help the 20 per cent of migraine sufferers whose condition is genetic. ”It basically reduces the frequency and severity of the migraines,” she said.
The gene has been identified as the MTHFR gene, which makes people susceptible to migraine attacks when there is a mutation or dysfunction in the gene.
People with this genetic mutation (about 20 per cent of migraine sufferers) have high levels of homocysteine, an amino acid, which causes problems in the lining of their blood vessels.
Migraines linked to genetics are also associated with auras, which refers to the experience of temporary neurological disturbances such as seeing stars, getting pins and needles and numbness.
Current treatments for migraine are not always effective and can be expensive and cause adverse effects.
Therefore the success of this trial gives migraine suffers a natural approach to treatment and prevention of debilitating migraines.
What is Homocysteine and Why is Too Much Harmful?
Homocysteine is a chemical in the blood that is formed from an essential amino acid called methionine.
About 50% is re-methylated (recycled) to methionine. Methionine is a powerful antioxidant involved in the synthesis of other amino acids.
The metabolism (break down) of homocysteine requires vitamin B9 (folic acid), B12 and B6 as cofactors and several enzymes, one of which is MTHFR – (Methylene-tetra-hydro-folate-reductase).
If there is a genetic error (called a mutation) in the MTHFR gene, homocysteine levels may not be regulated properly.
As a result, homocysteine builds up in the bloodstream, and the amount of methionine is reduced.
The Role of Vitamins in Reducing Homocystiene Levels
It has been well known and this recent study has also shown that high homocysteine levels can be lowered by vitamin B supplementation.
The three B Vitamins necessary to metabolise homocysteine are folic acid, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12.
Research has shown that lowering homocysteine (via folic acid supplementation) is not only beneficial for reducing the incidence of migraines but also reduces the risk of stroke by 18% overall and by 25% in those trials involving individuals with no previous history of stroke.
Folic acid (Vitamin B9) can be found in green leafy vegetables, asparagus, broccoli, yeast, lentils, beans, eggs, beef, organ meats, whole grains, and enriched cereals.
Bioceuticals Folinic Acid is the only available ‘activated’ form of folic acid. This form of folic acid is better absorbed and utilised within the body.
Vitamin B6 has been shown to prevent the toxic accumulation of homocysteine and is found in meat, poultry, fish, legumes, peanuts, walnuts, oats, brown rice, and whole wheat.
Vitamin B12 is found only in animal products and supplements. It is abundant in organ and muscle meats, fresh shrimp and oysters, fish, milk, eggs, and cheese – Vitamin B12 is not found in a vegan diet.
Processing foods (milling, canning, extraction of sugars and oils, bleaching agents, chemical additives) account for losses of B vitamins of ≥85%.
Highly processed foods should be minimized, because they are partially depleted of vitamin B6 and folic acid. Canned vegetables, fruit, meats, and seafood contain only one-half or less the vitamin B6 and folic acid that fresh foods do.
Foods containing sugar, white flour, or white rice are seriously depleted of vitamin B6 and folic acid.
MTHFR and Homocysteine Testing with Emed
Genetic testing for the MTHFR mutation is available. To test for mutations in the MTHFR gene, you must take a MTHFR DNA test.
If you think you may fall into the 20% of the population which is influenced by genetic causes of migraines, you can find out in one quick cheek swab.
Emed now offers MTHFR genetic testing through simple saliva swab test kits. Homocysteine is also tested through whole blood sample and referrals can be purchased through Emed. Click Here for more information on Homocystiene level testing.
From these results your Emed Practitioner can tailor a treatment plan including supplement doses which are specific to your genetics.