Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Molybdenum and Migraines, part 1

During the summer of 2016, I was working on a hypothesis connected to “morning sickness” when I started noticing that trigger food categories for nausea and vomiting of pregnancy (NVP) often overlapped with reported migraine trigger foods.

One day I was talking with a friend who informed me that she often had horrible, disabling migraine headaches that medications did not relieve; the medications made her feel even worse than the migraines, so she had stopped taking the medications. As part of my research on NVP, I had formulated a hypothesis that dietary molybdenum intake in various regions was inversely correlated with the NVP burden observed in those locales.[i] So I suggested to my friend that she try molybdenum supplements for her migraines. She did try them, taking a capsule of 500 mcg of chelated molybdenum glycinate when a migraine first started coming on; it worked dramatically. She has since found molybdenum effective to not only stop a migraine as it starts but to help relieve a migraine after it has already become quite painful.

Why did it work for her? And for several other friends and friends-of-friends who have since used it to ameliorate or end their migraine suffering? (Molybdenum has also resolved migraine-related nausea in at least two other women, which could be due to the same mechanism behind molybdenum alleviating NVP, as mentioned above.) Below is an explanation of how I think molybdenum intake might help alleviate migraines.

The Molybdoenzyme Sulfite Oxidase

There are only a handful of known enzymes in the human body that incorporate element #42, molybdenum,[ii] an essential trace mineral in the human diet. The most interesting of these molybdenum enzymes to my research on NVP was sulfite oxidase. Sulfite oxidase catalyzes the conversion of sulfite to sulfate, which is then recycled or excreted from the body. Sulfite is toxic to humans; it was formerly used in salad bars to keep cut produce fresh-looking until it sent many restaurant patrons to the hospital with severe symptoms that included anaphylactic shock, nausea, abdominal pain, seizures, and death.[iii]

Feeding rats in such a way as to make them deficient in molybdenum results in a loss of sulfite oxidase activity.[iv] Supplementing them with molybdenum in turn increases sulfite oxidase activity up to a plateau.[v] Molybdenum is essential for human health, as was discovered when a man kept on molybdenum-less total parenteral nutrition developed headaches, vomiting, and heart rhythm abnormalities, and then became comatose; his condition was reversed when he was given molybdenum.[vi] A lack of sulfite oxidase in infants causes severe neurological damage and early death.[vii] [viii]

(to be continued)


[i] Taylor CE. A novel treatment for “morning sickness”: Nausea of pregnancy could be induced by excess sulfite which molybdenum can help alleviate. Med Hypotheses 2016;95:31-33.
[ii] Mendel RR. Cell biology of molybdenum. Biochim Biophys Acta - Mol Cell Res 2006;1763(7):621-635.
[iii] Yang WH, Purchase EC. Adverse reactions to sulfites. CMAJ 1985;133(9):865-867, 880.
[iv] Cohen HJ, Drew RT, Johnson JL, Rajagopalan KV. Molecular Basis of the Biological Function of Molybdenum. The Relationship between Sulfite Oxidase and the Acute Toxicity of Bisulfite and SO2. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 1973;70(12 Pt 1-2):3655-3659.

[v] Wang X, Oberleas D, Yang MT, Yang SP. Molybdenum requirement of female rats. J Nutr 1992;122(4):1036-1041.
[vi] Abumrad NN, Schneider AJ, Steel D, Rogers LS. Amino acid intolerance during prolonged total parenteral nutrition reversed by molybdate therapy. Am J Clin Nutr 1981;34(11):2551-2559.
[vii] Johnson-Winters K, Tollin G, Enemark JH. Elucidating the Catalytic Mechanism of Sulfite Oxidizing Enzymes using Structural, Spectroscopic and Kinetic Analyses. Biochem 2010;49(34):7242-7254.

[viii] Dublin AB, Hald JK, Wootton-Gorges SL. Isolated Sulfite Oxidase Deficiency: MR Imaging Features. AJNR 2002;23:484-485.

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