Vitamin pills found to reduce migraines

Migraines can be a headache to treat, says an Australian professor who has identified simple vitamin supplements that can offer relief.

Professor Lyn Griffiths put 50 long-term migraine sufferers on a six-month course of vitamin B and folate supplements and said the results were very positive.

Study participants reported a "drastic improvement in headache frequency, pain severity and associated disability", said Prof Griffiths of Griffith University's Genomics Research Centre (GRC).

"Current treatments for migraine are not always effective and can be expensive and cause adverse effects," Prof Griffiths says.

"The success of our trial ... has shown that safe, inexpensive vitamin supplements can treat migraine patients."

The trial followed earlier work by the GRC which had identified a gene, known as MTHFR, which is known to make people susceptible to migraines when it has a mutation or dysfunction.

This results in heightened levels of the amino acid homocysteine, which is also known to cause an increased risk of stroke and other coronary diseases.

"The recent trial was founded on the theory that vitamin B supplements and folic acid will reduce the homocysteine and in turn, improve migraine symptoms," Prof Griffiths says.

"We are now going to undertake a more extensive trial ... to find out the best dosage of vitamin supplements for individuals as this may vary depending on a patient's genetic profile."

About 12 per cent of the Australian population is thought to suffer from migraines - a debilitating condition which involves severe headaches, nausea and vomiting.