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Salt For Migraines: Good Or Not?

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Salt For Migraines

Migraine is supposedly caused by the narrowing and dilating of blood vessels supplying blood to the brain. Serotonin, which is dependent on sodium and chloride (salt) to get in and out of cells, causes such an effect. Ayurveda claims that migraines are caused by an imbalance in the pitta dosha, which is made worse by salt. If you are prone to migraine attacks, having salt is not a very good idea.

We have seen quite a few Web sites claiming that if you have migraine, you ought to treat it by having salt mixed with lemon juice. Some even claim that it takes just a few minutes for the pain to subside. Let’s find out if this is at all true.

Why Do You Get Migraines?

Changes in the circulating levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter, is related to migraine.

The cause and pathophysiology of migraines is debatable and is still being extensively researched. Migraines are caused by several factors like:

  • Stress
  • Hormonal shifts
  • Fatigue and changes in your sleep pattern
  • Weather changes
  • Exposure to intense light or smells
  • Certain food sources

The brain is surrounded by three membranes and encased within the protective skull, the cranium. Several extracranial arteries supply blood to the brain and the dilation of these extracranial arteries during an attack is related to migraine pain.

Change In Serotonin Levels Induces Migraines

Serotonin can both narrow and dilate blood vessels.

Serotonin, a neurotransmitter, is a naturally occurring substance found primarily in the brain, in the tissue cells lining the gut, and in blood platelets. Serotonin can cause both dilation and constriction of blood vessels.1

It has been seen that during the phases of a migraine attack, there are changes in circulating levels of serotonin and its metabolites. The serotonin-releasing agents also have the ability to induce migraine-like symptoms.2

Salt For Migraines: Good or Not?

If you are victimized by recurring intolerable migraines, keep your salt intake to a minimum. Research suggests that salt will most likely worsen your migraines. Here’s why.

Common Salt Changes Serotonin Levels

Sodium and chloride are essential for the transportation of serotonin into neurons and platelets.

It has also been proved that high levels of sodium and chloride (common salt = sodium chloride) are associated with migraines.3

Serotonin is co-transported by sodium-chloride-dependent neurotransmitter transporters called serotonin receptor transporters (SERTs) into neurons and blood platelets.4 Blood platelets utilize SERTs to obtain serotonin from the environment because they cannot synthesize it themselves. The uptake of serotonin by blood platelets is, thus, dependent on sodium and chloride.5

Change In Serotonin Levels Make Blood Vessels Dilate

When serotonin makes arteries dilate, they push against the skull, producing the painful throbbing characteristic of migraine.

There are two principal migraine phases – prodromic phase and painful phase. During the prodromic phase, due to high levels of sodium and chloride in the body, serotonin is taken up by blood platelets from the surrounding plasma and causes narrowing of blood vessels.

During the painful phase, serotonin is released by platelets into the plasma causing dilation. The dilated or expanded arteries pressing against the skull produce the throbbing pain characteristic of a migraine.6

New Research Suggests Pain Pathway Theory

While it was previously believed that the dilation of the extracranial arteries was what caused migraine, a recent clinical study on 19 women found that their extracranial arteries were not at all dilated during a migraine attack; the intercranial ones were, but only slightly dilated. The study suggests that there’s need for further research on “the peripheral and central pain pathways rather than simple arterial dilatation.”7

Though in the light of this paradigm shift in understanding migraines, the role of common salt in aggravating migraines too needs to be researched, you can put your trust in Ayurveda and stay off salt if you are prone to migraines.

Ayurveda Blames Salt For Migraines Too

Salt disrupts the pitta dosha balance, which leads to migraine.

According to Ayurveda, migraines are caused because of an imbalance in our pitta dosha. This imbalance disrupts the flow of blood to the brain, resulting in throbbing. Imbalance in the hot pitta dosha causes a burning, severe, and sharp pain. These manifestations can be associated with light sensitivity and visual sensations.

Ayurveda suggests that migraines are triggered by digestive imbalances, accumulation of digestive toxins, exposure to environmental pollution, and excess stress. Salt disrupts the pitta dosha balance.

Ayurvedic Tips To Prevent Migraine

  • To free yourself of migraines, follow a pitta-pacifying diet and lifestyle.
  • Add more sweet, bitter, and astringent foods to your diet.
  • Avoid acidic, pungent, sour, and salty foods. Avoid tomatoes.
  • Avoid exposure to strong sunlight.
  • Meditate to eliminate stress.
  • Adopt lifestyle practices that will strengthen your digestion.

References   [ + ]

1.Frishman WH, Huberfeld S, Okin S, Wang YH, Kumar A, Shareef B. Serotonin and serotonin antagonism in cardiovascular and non-cardiovascular disease. J Clin Pharmacol. 1995.
2.Johnson KW, Phebus LA, Cohen ML. Serotonin in migraine: Theories, animal models and emerging therapies. Progress in Drug Research.
3.Campbell DA, Hay KM, Tonks EM. An investigation of the salt and water balance in migraine. British Medical Journal. 1951.
4.Hochman DW. Methods and compositions for treating conditions of the central and peripheral nervous systems using non-synaptic mechanisms. United States Patent. 1999.
5.O. Lingjaerde, Jr. Uptake of serotonin in blood platelets: dependence on sodium and chloride, and inhibition by choline. The University Aychiabic Clinic. 1969.
6.Van Nueten JM, Janssens WJ, Vanhoutte PM. Serotonin and vascular reactivity. Pharmacol Res Commun. 1985.
7.Amin, Faisal Mohammad, Mohammad Sohail Asghar, Anders Hougaard, Adam Espe Hansen, Vibeke Andrée Larsen, Patrick JH de Koning, Henrik BW Larsson, Jes Olesen, and Messoud Ashina. “Magnetic resonance angiography of intracranial and extracranial arteries in patients with spontaneous migraine without aura: a cross-sectional study.” The Lancet Neurology 12, no. 5 (2013): 454-461.
CureJoy Editorial

The CureJoy Editorial team digs up credible information from multiple sources, both academic and experiential, to stitch a holistic health perspective on topics that pique our readers' interest.

CureJoy Editorial

The CureJoy Editorial team digs up credible information from multiple sources, both academic and experiential, to stitch a holistic health perspective on topics that pique our readers' interest.

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3398 comments
ClaytonSmith1
ClaytonSmith1 5pts

Himalayan Pink Salt does work for my migraines on occasion, depends on which type of migraine is coming on (I get a few different types due to different triggers). I salt my food with it, a healthy dose at that. Works within minutes.

Gabrielle Kershaw
Gabrielle Kershaw 5pts

I don't get them hardly anymore but I'll sure check this out. Thanks Sum!

Tatia Hill
Tatia Hill 5pts

Kirsty Wilkin this may be of help

Puneet Nanda
Puneet Nanda 5pts

What about BP patients taking salt for headaches ? No disclaimer or is it ok ?

Sylvia Sophie
Sylvia Sophie 5pts

Thank you. I just had a migraine Wednesday and Thursday. I'll take a read :)

Emily McDonah
Emily McDonah 5pts

Sylvia Sophie & Jacqueline Edwards - another idea.

Thuan Quang Nguyen
Thuan Quang Nguyen 5pts

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Cynthia Lujan
Cynthia Lujan 5pts

I just read this, while I'm getting a migraine. Thanks

Đụtt Cu
Đụtt Cu 5pts

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Rachel Stulberger
Rachel Stulberger 5pts

It doesn't, also Don't ever do anything without consulting your doctor first. That goes without saying

Rachel Stulberger
Rachel Stulberger 5pts

Don't ever do anything without consulting your doctor first. That goes without saying

Rachel Stulberger
Rachel Stulberger 5pts

Just because it works for you doesn't mean it will work for someone else.

Rachel Stulberger
Rachel Stulberger 5pts

Don't ever do anything without consulting your doctor first. That goes without saying

Rachel Stulberger
Rachel Stulberger 5pts

Salt is a trigger this really is not likely to work. Sea salt actually makes my migraines worse and too much salt can trigger a migraine

Pat Johnson Steele
Pat Johnson Steele 5pts

I need the address that someone will sign for the package because it's over a $200 dress and I'm not just sending it out without it being signed for so give me an address that you have to sign for it text me on my phone on my phone now don't text me on my cell phone then I'll have it personally and after I get out of the hospital I will mail it to you I love you Natasha I love all of you I don't know what the f***** going on but after this its my last time I don't give a f*** to call me or do anything so I guess I got to do the same thing cuz I'm proud of my heart being broke and you guys broke it too many times already but give me a text or numbers 989 400 71 89 then I'll know I got your address later if I don't get it. I know you don't give a f*** neither then I'll sell the soccer I don't care no more love you

Carmen Benitez
Carmen Benitez 5pts

Himalayan pink salt is known for containing at least 80 minerals that balance each other out so I imagine that having this remedy just once in a while would not affect BP permanently

Tracey Pirie
Tracey Pirie 5pts

Exactly Kim , cheap to try as well, does make sense, right where's the salt \U0001f600\U0001f600\U0001f600

Kim Borthwick
Kim Borthwick 5pts

If it helps even one of you then that's great no problem tracey lol

Tracey Pirie
Tracey Pirie 5pts

We can all try it and then check our results out, thanks Kim Borthwick , had so many migraines recently, xxx

Donna Hall
Donna Hall 5pts

Thanks for the link \U0001f44d\U0001f3fc I've had migraine off n on since Tuesday \U0001f621

Louise Adams
Louise Adams 5pts

Thanks, I do love salty food so will try this x

Donna Hall
Donna Hall 5pts

I've saved it on my phone an will deffo try this I don't actually have a lot of salt so does make sense

Una Clohessy
Una Clohessy 5pts

Thanks for the link Tracey - will read tomorrow. I do use Himalayan salt already. But I do notice that when my migraine is gone I crave salty food.....

Tracey Pirie
Tracey Pirie 5pts

Mmhh interesting, might have to test that theory, I don't have any salt either in or on my food, Louise Adams Una Clohessy Donna Hall fancy testing this theory out ?

Forough Azimi
Forough Azimi 5pts

Aaaaaw tack gumman ska titta på den kanske hjälper med min migrän 😊

Paula Harris
Paula Harris 5pts

And so does coke with a pinch of salt. Recommended by the hospital. Rehydrates your body ! \U0001f44d

Sid Jeen
Sid Jeen 5pts

Put ice in a polybag n place it on the back side of ur neck n put ur feet in the water... miracle happens in few mins...