A cluster headache (CH), a severe form of primary headache, is characterized (similarly to migraine) by a trigemino-vascular activation. In some cases, standard treatments don’t offer help, so this study examined the potential beneficial ketogenesis-induced effects on CH,studying a group of drug-resistant CH patients.
A total of 12 CH drug-resistant patients were recruited for the study (7 chronic, CCH) to undergo a 3-month trial with KD in order attempt an alternate treatment for their headaches. Patients received a
ketogenic “modified Atkins diet” or “Classic Diet” characterized by a 3:1 ratio (75% fat, 25% non-fat macronutrients).
Out of 5 episodic CH patients, all fully responded to the diet at the end of the first month (three became headache free in a couple of weeks, the other two reported to have had “shadows” and mild attacks up to the end of first month). Out of 7 chronic CCH patients, six reported a progressive reduction of bouts in terms of number and intensity.
At the end of the 3-month KD period, 4 patients reported not yet having had attacks, one reported only ‘shadows’ and one reported having 2-3 attacks per week.
Based on the studies’ observations, the author concludes that “ketogenesis can help CH patients, maybe by modulation of cortical excitability, or by dampening neural-inflammation.” Both CH and migraines, it was noted, are headache forms that involve the trigeminovascular system, possibly the actual target of ketogenesis in headache patients.
Di Lorenzo et al. (2015) Cluster headache improvement during Ketogenic Diet. The Journal of Headache and Pain, 16(Suppl 1):A99