Vestibular Migraine Prevention Diet

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Vestibular migraine prevention diet title

Vestibular migraine is the most common cause of neurological vertigo symptoms, yet very few treatments that are researched specifically for it. Often I get asked if a low tyramine diet like Heal Your Headache will also work for those with vestibular migraine and the answer is yes! In fact, it’s this particular diet that helped me go from constant chronic dizziness and vertigo attacks to migraine-free days. In this post I’ll share a little bit about my story, why this works as a vestibular migraine diet, and then give you some tips for success.

Why I Tried A Vestibular Migraine Diet

Technically this diet works for all types of migraine, but I’ll share how it was helpful for me in particular. About three years ago, I was hit hard with unexplained dizziness. To elaborate on that, I had feelings like I was moving when I was standing still. Migrainous vertigo, giddiness, brain fog and confusion, as well as light sensitivity and derealization were an everyday occurance. I won’t go into my full story, but my vestibular migraine symptoms were so bad, I ended up having to leave my career in watch development for Fossil (it also didn’t help they were horrible with accommodations and forced me to leave).

Eventually I found a wonderful neurologist who understood exactly what was happening to me and diagnosed me with vestibular migraine. Since I knew I wanted to start a family soon, I needed to get this illness under control quickly and as naturally as possible.

A Low Tyramine, Additive-Free Diet

I spent all my free time researching this illness, which there was hardly any information for at the time. Several resources, like Johns Hopkins Migraine Patient Handout, mentioned a low tyramine diet as being effective for migraines, which eventually led me to find the Heal Your Headache book by Dr. David Buchholz.

The moment I read it, I found myself constantly highlighting helpful notes about migraine disorders. Tips no one else ever told me! You also can’t possibly get from an hour long consultation with your doctor (and I know that’s long for most!). His list went through some of the most commonly reported triggers that he has found

While I started off with medication in the beginning and saw some slight relief, when I finally combined it with a migraine diet and supplements, along with a few other natural treatments, I saw amazing results. Sometimes it’s helpful to know that there isn’t only one component to finding relief. 

This is just a condensed version of the full diet, which can be found in this post.

Top Vestibular Migraine Doctors Believe in a Migraine Diet

If you’ve read my Vestibular Guide for Dummies you’ll realize there are less than 10 specialists in the nation for vestibular migraine specifically. However, many of them including Dr. Timothy Hain, Dr. Michael Teixido, and Dr. Edward Cho insist that diet is crucial when it comes to managing vestibular migraine symptoms.

Timothy Hain MAV Treatment Flow Chart
Source: Dr Timothy Hain from Chicago Dizziness and Hearing

Dr. Timothy Hain from Chicago Dizziness and Hearing has an incredibly helpful website and the first method of treatment on his flow chart of vestibular migraine medication is a migraine diet.

Dr. Michael Teixido who spoke on the topic at the 2019 Migraine World Summit claimed diet was an important part of treatment for his patients. He also wrote the Johns Hopkins migraine diet patient handout.

Dr. Edward Cho from the House Clinic has had great feedback from his patients which have tried the Heal Your Headache migraine diet to manage their vestibular migraine symptoms.

Migraine Strong believes that following a migraine diet may be even more crucial for vestibular migraine patients, as food appears to affect us more significantly than those with other migraine disorders. In the group with has ten thousand members, we see people with VM often have the best luck with a migraine diet. Meaning we notice sometimes they see faster results and it’s more effective long term than other migraine types. However, there’s currently no scientific research to back this claim. It’s simply based on the observations and feedback from the support group, as well as experts in the field.

Caffeine is an Important Factor for VM

While other types of migraine attacks can sometimes be eased or even aborted with caffeine, it seems that vestibular migraine patients are typically more sensitive. In one study, halting caffeine consumption resulted in a 15% improvement from the patients tested. For me, even conventional decaf coffees and teas set off an episode. I can only tolerate Swiss Water Processed coffee, or reputable water processed brands that are 99.9% caffeine free.

Eliminating caffeine and reducing salt intake can also have a positive impact on Meniere’s patients, another vestibular disorder. Occasionally there is also crossover when it comes to Vestibular Migraine and Meniere’s Disease. While more studies need to be performed to confirm, the overall conclusion is that refraining from caffeine consumption can help an overall positive impact on those who suffer from vertigo.

One thing that’s important to remember is that eliminating all of these items isn’t forever. The idea is to eliminate everything at once to allow the brain to calm down. This will also raise your threshold where an attack may happen before reintroducing potential trigger foods. The list above isn’t a list of everything that will be a trigger for you, just common triggers based on tyramine content, MSG, caffeine and additives.

For more information on a Vestibular Migraine Prevention Diet: 

What is the Heal Your Headache Diet
Pantry Staples for a Migraine Diet
How to Start a Migraine Elimination Diet
Caffeine Free Coffee Alternatives for Vestibular Migraine
Vestibular Migraine Guide
Vestibular Migraine Symptoms

Alicia was diagnosed with Chronic Vestibular Migraine in 2016 and has been able to successfully manage her symptoms through medication, supplements, lifestyle changes, and the Heal Your Headache Diet by Dr. David Buchholz from Johns Hopkins. She's the owner of The Dizzy Cook.

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