Zuzana Bic


Migraine headaches are a common and debilitating syndrome causing untold suffering and loss of productivity. A review of the literature indicates that there are two primary factors involved in triggering these headaches: high levels of blood lipids and high levels of free fatty acids. Under these conditions platelet aggregability is increased, which is associated with decreases in serotonin and heightened prostaglandins levels. These conditions may produce vasodilation, the most immediate precursor to migraine headache. A high fat diet is one factor that may directly affect this process. This study was undertaken to evaluate the impact of dietary fat intake on incidence and severity of migraine headache.

Methods: The study was conducted over a 12 week period on 54 previously diagnosed migraine headache patients. During the first 28 days the study subjects recorded all food consumption in a diet diary and maintained a headache diary. At the conclusion of this 28 day baseline period subjects were individually counseled to limit fat intake to no more than 20 grams per day. A 28 day run-in period was then allowed for adaptation to the low fat diet. Study results are reported on a final 28 day post-intervention period.

Results: The decreased fat dietary intervention was associated with a statistically significant (p < 0.0001) decrease in headache frequency, intensity, duration, and medication intake. There was a significant positive correlation between dietary fat intake and headache frequency (r=0.70, p < 0.0001), intensity (r=0.72, p < 0.0001), headache index (r=0.65, p < 0.0001), and medication intake (r=0.67, p < 0.0001). Subjects significantly decreased (p < 0.0001) the ingestion of dietary fat (in grams) between baseline (mean=65.9, p < 0.001) and the post-intervention period (mean=27.8)

Conclusion: This study indicates that a low fat diet can reduce headache frequency, intensity, duration and medication intake.


School of Public Health

First Advisor

Glen G. Blix

Second Advisor

Helen P. Hopp

Third Advisor

Frances M. Leslie

Degree Name

Doctor of Public Health (DrPH)

Degree Level


Year Degree Awarded


Date (Title Page)




Library of Congress/MESH Subject Headings

Diet, Fat-Restricted; Migraine.



Page Count

x; 148

Digital Format


Digital Publisher

Loma Linda University Libraries

Usage Rights

This title appears here courtesy of the author, who has granted Loma Linda University a limited, non-exclusive right to make this publication available to the public. The author retains all other copyrights.


Loma Linda University Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Collection Website


Loma Linda University. Del E. Webb Memorial Library. University Archives