To determine whether these pain-reducing properties could help mitigate headaches for people with migraine, researchers looked at 182 participants who experienced migraine headaches anywhere between five to 20 day per month. The participants were randomly assigned one of three diets for 16 weeks.
The control diet (meant to mimic the average American diet) contained typical levels of omega-3s and omega-6 fatty acids; another raised omega-3 intake without altering omega-6s; the final diet raised omega-3s and lowered omega-6s.
Over the course of the 16 weeks, participants documented headache frequency and how the headaches impacted their quality of life. At the end of the trial, the two groups that raised their omega-3 intake reported significantly lower headache frequency (2 to 4 headaches per month, respectively). When they did experience headaches, they were shorter and less severe compared to the control group.
“While the diets did not significantly improve quality of life, they produced large, robust reductions in frequency and severity of headaches relative to the control diet,” the study authors write. “This study provides a biologically plausible demonstration that pain can be treated through targeted dietary alterations in humans.”