Can Large Doses of Folic Acid Relieve Migraines?

Migraine is the third most prevalent illness in the world, affecting 1 billion individuals worldwide.

Migraine is the third most prevalent illness in the world, affecting 1 billion individuals worldwide.

Current medications available for migraines have varying efficacy and significant potential for adverse effects. Research is ongoing to develop safe, effective treatments.

A group of researchers conducted multiple studies exploring vitamin B deficiency as a contributor to migraines. Homocysteine is an amino acid that has been associated with an increased risk of several neurologic conditions, such as migraines.

Vitamins B6, B9 (folic acid), and B12 are involved in homocysteine metabolism. Thus, the research team investigated the homocysteine-lowering effects of vitamin B supplementation and its subsequent effect on migraine control.

The researchers previously tested the effects of 2 mg folic acid, 25 mg vitamin B6, and 400 mcg vitamin B12 supplementation. They found that these doses significantly reduced homocysteine levels and migraine symptoms. Because 1 mg/day is the maximum recommended dose of folic acid, they wanted to determine whether that lower dose would be equally effective.

The study, which was published in

The Journal of Headache and Pain

in June 2016, found that doses of 1 mg folic acid were less effective than 2 mg folic acid at reducing migraine symptoms.

The researchers selected their trial population considering the fact that more than 70% of patients who experience migraines are females in their peak reproductive years (ages 25-55). The trial included Caucasian females between the ages of 18 and 60 years, with a 5-year history of migraines, a current diagnosis of migraine with aura, and a 1-year history of long-lasting attacks.

They randomly placed 200 patients on a daily regimen of 1 mg folic acid, 25 mg vitamin B6, and 400 mcg vitamin B12. They placed 100 patients on a placebo regimen.

After 6 months, there was no significant reduction in homocysteine levels or migraine symptoms in the treatment group compared with the placebo group. This suggests that folic acid yields a dose-dependent reduction in homocysteine levels and migraine symptoms.

Further research is needed to determine the appropriate doses of folic acid and vitamins B6 and B12 for migraine treatment and prevention.