Education Policy | Post Primary | Preschool | Primary | Tertiary | Search


Research uncovers potential relief for migraine

Research uncovers potential relief for migraine sufferers

A simple dietary supplement may not only give relief to some of the more than 400,000 New Zealanders that suffer from the pain of migraine headaches, but may also help to prevent strokes.

That's the view of Victoria University genetic epidemiologist, Dr Rod Lea, who, with colleagues at Brisbane's Griffith University, has discovered a gene that is linked to the most severe and debilitating form of headache, migraine with aura.

About 12 percent or 480,000 New Zealanders are estimated to suffer from migraine headaches with women more likely to be affected by the condition than men. Of those affected, about a quarter suffer from the most debilitating form of the disease, migraine with aura, which is characterised by neurological abnormalities such as blurred vision and unusual sensations flashing across the head. This is often followed by nausea, vomiting and a fear of light and sound, and, of course, headaches.

Dr Lea, from the School of Biological Sciences, says that migraines have long been suspected to have a genetic link since sufferers often had close relatives that also suffered from the condition.

Blood samples were taken from 550 people of which half suffered from migraines. After analysing the DNA, the team discovered that a mutation of a particular gene (Methylene tetrahydrofolate reductase) was far more common in those with the migraine with aura than those without.

"We decided to hone in on this gene because it had been implicated in a higher risk for strokes by other researchers and it is known that people who suffer from migraines are at greater risk of having a stroke later in life”.

"This mutation means migraine sufferers are likely to have higher levels of a particular amino acid or protein called homocysteine in the blood. But a diet rich in folate can reduce levels of homocysteine. For many people folate-rich foods such as green vegetables or folate supplements could not only help ward off migraines but may also help prevent strokes."

Dr Lea says it is too early to say whether folate rich diets are the cure-all for people who suffer from migraine. But the appeal of this therapy is that it is not only simple and cheap, but may also help prevent migraine attacks in people for whom traditional drugs are not effective.

The results of the study have been published in a leading international medical journal. The team is now hoping to organise clinical trials to assess how effective folate can be in reducing migraine symptoms.

© Scoop Media

Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines

Legendary Bassist David Friesen Plays Wellington’s Newest Jazz Venue

Friesen is touring New Zealand to promote his latest album Another Time, Another Place, recorded live at Auckland's Creative Jazz Club in 2015. More>>

Howard Davis Review: The Father - Descending Into The Depths of Dementia

Florian Zeller's dazzling drama The Father explores the effects of a deeply unsettling illness that affects 62,000 Kiwis, a number expected to grow to 102,000 by 2030. More>>

Howard Davis Review: Blade Runner Redivivus

When Ridley Scott's innovative, neo-noir, sci-fi flick Blade Runner was originally released in 1982, at a cost of over $45 million, it was a commercial bomb. More>>

14-21 October: New Zealand Improv Festival In Wellington

Imagined curses, Shibuya’s traffic, the apocalypse, and motherhood have little in common, but all these and more serve as inspiration for the eclectic improvised offerings coming to BATS Theatre this October for the annual New Zealand Improv Festival. More>>


Bird Of The Year Off To A Flying Start

The competition asks New Zealanders to vote for their favourite bird in the hopes of raising awareness of the threats they face. More>>

Scoop Review Of Books:
Jenny Abrahamson's John & Charles Enys: Castle Hill Runholders, 1864-1891

This volume will be of interest to a range of readers interested in the South Island high country, New Zealand’s natural environment, and the history of science. More>>