The Link Between Migraine and Hypothyroidism: Supporting Thyroid Health Naturally

Migraine and hypothyroidism are two common issues that can significantly impact your well-being. Recent research suggests a potential connection between migraine and an increased risk of developing hypothyroidism, showing that there is a possible link between migraine and hypothyroidism.

Today we’re exploring the relationship between migraine and hypothyroidism, the risk of thyroid dysfunction for migraineurs, how to get tested for hypothyroidism, and specific dietary choices that can support thyroid health naturally.

Quick disclaimer – this post is not a substitute for medical advice and does not claim to diagnose or treat any medical conditions. Please consult a member of your personal healthcare team before making any changes to medications, supplements, diet, or lifestyle. This post is for educational purposes only.

What is Hypothyroidism?

Hypothyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid gland fails to produce enough thyroid hormones, including thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). These hormones play a crucial role in regulating metabolism, energy production, and various bodily functions.

woman holding a cup of tea; hypothyroidism, migraine

Common symptoms of hypothyroidism include:

  • fatigue
  • weight gain
  • sensitivity to cold
  • dry skin
  • constipation

The condition can be caused by autoimmune diseases like Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, iodine deficiency, certain medications, or radiation therapy.

The Risk of Developing Hypothyroidism with Migraine

Studies have shown that individuals with migraine may have an increased risk of developing hypothyroidism compared to the general population.

A study published in the journal Headache found that a new diagnosis of hypothyroidism is 41% more prevalent in people with migraine than the general population. That’s a huge increase! Although the exact mechanisms are not fully understood, hormonal imbalances and shared genetic factors between migraine and thyroid dysfunction may contribute to this link.

So while more research is needed to establish a definitive connection, being aware of the potential risk can prompt migraineurs to seek early testing and necessary interventions.

Testing for Hypothyroidism

If you have migraine and suspect hypothyroidism, it is crucial to seek proper testing from a healthcare professional. The diagnostic process typically involves:

  1. Medical History and Physical Examination: Your healthcare provider will discuss your medical history and evaluate any symptoms or risk factors.
  2. Blood Tests: Blood tests to measure thyroid hormone levels, particularly Thyroid-Stimulating Hormone (TSH), T4, and T3, are essential for accurate diagnosis. These tests help assess thyroid function and identify any abnormalities. Other labs like thyroid antibodies can determine if your thyroid imbalance is autoimmune in nature.
  3. Ultrasound or Imaging: In some cases, an ultrasound or other imaging techniques may be used to evaluate the size and appearance of the thyroid gland.

Promoting Thyroid Health Naturally

Because of the increased risk of developing a thyroid condition, supporting thyroid health is important for all migraineurs and may help maintain optimal thyroid function. Here are specific foods that can be added to the diet to support thyroid health:

  1. Iodine-Rich Foods: Iodine is a crucial mineral required for the production of thyroid hormones. Incorporating iodine-rich foods into your diet can support thyroid function. Good sources of iodine include seaweed, iodized salt, fish, and dairy products.
  2. Selenium-Rich Foods: Selenium is another essential mineral that plays a role in thyroid hormone metabolism. Foods rich in selenium include Brazil nuts, seafood, poultry, and whole grains.
  3. Zinc-Containing Foods: Zinc is important for thyroid hormone synthesis and regulation. Foods high in zinc include oysters, beef, pumpkin seeds, and lentils.
  4. Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Consuming foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, and sardines), flaxseeds, and chia seeds, may help reduce inflammation and support thyroid health.
  5. Antioxidant-Rich Foods: Antioxidants can help protect the thyroid gland from oxidative stress. Add colorful fruits and vegetables like berries, spinach, and carrots to your meals to boost antioxidant intake.
  6. Cruciferous Vegetables: While there is a common belief that cruciferous vegetables may negatively impact thyroid function, their potential effect is only observed in very large quantities. Moderation is key, and these vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, and kale, are rich in nutrients beneficial for overall health.

Bottom Line for Migraine and Hypothyroidism:

Understanding the link between migraine and hypothyroidism can help you take proactive steps to support your thyroid health. The risk of developing hypothyroidism for migraineurs underscores the importance of early testing and necessary interventions.

Remember that individual health needs may vary, and it is always best to seek personalized advice from healthcare providers or registered dietitians when making significant changes to your diet or managing chronic health conditions.

Hey there, I’m Kelli!

I’m a dietitian who specializes in migraine (and I happen to have it myself). I take a whole-body approach to migraine that helps you uncover hidden imbalances that are lowering your migraine threshold – and address them so you can have an easier time managing migraine!

If you’re looking for support managing migraine holistically, you can learn more by about the work I do HERE.

References for The Link Between Migraine and Hypothyroidism:

  1. Groeneweg S, Peeters RP, Visser TJ, Visser WE. Thyroid Hormones, Migraine, and Their Interactions. Headache. 2020;60(10):2358-2366. doi:10.1111/head.13947
  2. Pearce SHS, Brabant G, Duntas LH, et al. 2013 ETA Guideline: Management of Subclinical Hypothyroidism. Eur Thyroid J. 2013;2(4):215-228. doi:10.1159/000356507
  3. El-Razek AEA, Mostafa TM, El-Hosseiny L, Zalat ZA, Attaallah AA, Hasan AA. Prevalence of Hypothyroidism among Migraine Patients. J Clin Neurol. 2017;13(4):366-371. doi:10.3988/jcn.2017.13.4.366
  4. Martin, A. T., Pinney, S. M., Xie, C., Herrick, R. L., Bai, Y., Buckholz, J., & Martin, V. T. (2016). Headache disorders may be a risk factor for the development of new onset hypothyroidism. Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain, 57(1), 21-30.

Published by Kelli Yates, RDN, LD, CLT

Kelli Yates, RDN, LD, CLT is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist specializing in holistic migraine management and fellow migraineur!

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