An estimated 12% of the global population suffer from migraines, characterised by intense throbbing headache pain—often on one side of the head—that can adversely impact quality of life. Obesity is a known risk factor for migraine, which is related to inflammatory markers and cytokines. While there are some treatments, there is growing interest among consumers in more holistic approaches.
Researchers from the Tehran University of Medical Sciences (TUMS), Iran, sought to explore the impact of curcumin, known to have anti-inflammatory effects, on migraine in obese and overweight adults; the results were recently published (DOI: 10.1186/s13104-022-06074-4). In the randomized, clinical, double-blind trial, 44 patients with episodic migraine received either nano-curcumin (80 mg/d, as two 40 mg capsules) or placebo for two months. At baseline and the end of the intervention, the team measured serum levels of MCP-1, resistin and visfatin—compounds that activate expression of inflammatory cytokines. In addition, headache attack frequency, severity and duration of pain were recorded.
Participants taking nano-curcumin showed significantly reduced MCP-1 serum levels (P=0.015); there were no statistically significant changes in serum levels of resistin or visfatin. However, the group taking nano-curcumin also had a significant reduction in attack frequency, severity, and duration of headaches.
Previous research has suggested that curcumin may have analgesic effects by downregulating pain mediators, calcitonin gene-related peptide, and substance P, and by suppressing nociceptor activity and NF-kappa B signalling. The TUMS team concluded, “targeting curcumin can be a promising approach to migraine management,” but noted further research is needed to clarify the modulatory mechanisms in humans.