While rereading a review in Eat broccoli sprouts today, it occurred to me that I haven’t needed to take migraine medicine during the 9 weeks I’ve been eating broccoli sprouts every day. Since 14 weeks of lockdown overlap this period, it’s also possible that I’ve avoided triggering conditions. I look at brightly-lit screens all day, but don’t have cold air blowing on my head that’s the other half of my most common triggering condition.
I started having intermittent ~monthly episodes about ten years ago. I wouldn’t take sumatriptan unless I have a half-day-long headache that doesn’t respond to acetaminophen. It stops a headache from turning into a 3-day-long migraine.
I went over to PubMed and did a “sulforaphane migraine” search, which turned up exactly 1 (!!) result. A 2016 Chinese rodent study Activation of the nuclear factor E2-related factor 2/anitioxidant response element alleviates the nitroglycerin-induced hyperalgesia in rats found:
“Activation of the Nrf2/ARE pathway inhibited the activation of TGVS [trigeminovascular system] and prevented the induction of hyperalgesia. Sulforaphane might therefore be an effective agent for hyperalgesia.”
Plausible conclusion. Nitroglycerin definitely jolts a monster headache.
Two of the eleven papers citing this study were:
- A 2018 Spanish study Sulforaphane Inhibited the Nociceptive Responses, Anxiety- and Depressive-Like Behaviors Associated With Neuropathic Pain and Improved the Anti-allodynic Effects of Morphine in Mice and
- A 2019 review The neuroprotective mechanisms and effects of sulforaphane where the citation was in a Diabetes and Neuropathy section:
“AGEs are well-known neurotoxins that form due to high glucose concentrations as seen in diabetes mellitus (DM) and can cause peripheral neuropathy, cognitive dysfunction, and retinal damage. In animal models of DM-induced neuropathy, pain behavior is lessened with SFN administration. Protection from neuropathy due to other causes, such as the chemotherapeutic drug oxaliplatin- and nitroglycerin-induced trigeminal nerve pain, is also conferred by SFN. In the CNS, SFN prevents AGE formation and prevents memory dysfunction in DM animal models. Retinal degeneration due to AGEs is also reduced with SFN administration.”
There wouldn’t be any potential payoff for a company to be interested in studying a sulforaphane-migraine connection. What sponsor would be interested enough to double the number of studies in this area?
See Part 2 of Do broccoli sprouts treat migraines? for a follow up.