New migraine supplement reimagines ketosis

A new product aimed at migraine sufferers is based on the idea that in many people the condition is a result of a critical energy shortfall in the brain. The formula uses BHB to stimulate ketosis to help close that energy gap and alleviate symptoms.

Hank Schultz, Senior Editor

June 4, 2024

3 Min Read

At a Glance

  • Swiss supp aimed at migraines hits the U.S. market.
  • Formula based on novel idea around low energy reserves in brain.
  • BHB molecule used to stimulate ketosis provides energy to brain.

A new migraine product has launched in the U.S. market based on the founder’s personal journey to solve her own disabling headaches. The product is based on a newer understanding of the issue that posits migraine as a signal of energy deficiency in the brain.

Branded as MigraKet, the product is the brainchild of Elena Gross, Ph.D.  Gross is the founder of parent company BrainRitual, which is based in Basel, Switzerland.  The product started shipping to U.S. customers in May.

The discovery is personal

Gross is educated as a neuroscientist, and coincidentally suffered from debilitating migraines as a young woman. Her symptoms accelerated to the point where a professional career seemed increasingly out of reach.

“I got to the point where I had symptoms about 20 days out of 30,” Gross told Natural Products Insider. “You can only take pains meds for so long.

“I went to every specialist I could. They threw anticonvulsive meds and antidepressants at me,” she added.

Gross said that, during a study tour at Oxford University, she was exposed to the idea that energy imbalances in the brain could be connected to migraine symptoms in people who are genetically predisposed to that aspect of the condition.

“Migraine could be as much a metabolic as a neurological condition,” Gross said.

Gross, who is now associated with the University of Basel, co-authored a paper on the subject that found that ketone bodies could be a useful energy source for the brain and could forestall migraine symptoms in many cases.

“What I realized is that you can starve yourself of certain nutrients even if you are eating enough calories,” Gross said.

Ketosis seen as possible solution

“We knew there was evidence that ketogenic diets were helping epilepsy patients. But at the time there was zero data on ketosis as it relates to migraine symptoms,” she said.

Ketogenic diets aim to mimic the effects of fasting and ultra-low caloric intakes. The goal is to shift the way the body produces energy to utilize dietary fats and the body’s own fat reserves, resulting in the production of ketone bodies.

 Proponents of these diets argue about which are truly “ketogenic,” but they all share a common characteristic in that the intake of carbohydrates is severely curtailed. The diets are restrictive; too restrictive for many people, Gross said.

“The ketogenic diet was super hard for most people,” Gross said.

In her research, Gross sought a way to help the body produce ketone bodies to fuel the brain without asking patients to adopt a diet that statistics show most of them would ultimately fail at over the long term. She hit upon using beta hydroxybutyrate (BHB) as precursor to ketosis, and filed a patent on the method.

Gross said migraine is a multi-factorial condition, so not all sufferers will have a metabolic component to their conditions.

“We estimate that somewhere between 30% to 80% of patients will be in the metabolic migraine category,” she said.

The MigraKet formula features a hefty 4.3 gram dose of D-beta-hydroxybutyrate. It also includes a long list of vitamins and minerals featuring mega doses of vitamins B2 (riboflavin) and B12.

Medical food positioning

The product is being marketed as a medical food, as this positioning affords more leeway when it comes to what can be said about its effects. Gross said she’d been advised of the potential regulatory risks of this choice but felt that the structure/function claims that were available under a dietary supplement positioning, such as relieving neck tension caused by headaches, didn’t adequately convey how the product could benefit consumers.

“We were the first ones to do research on exogenous sources of these ketone bodies in connection with migraines. We showed that symptoms were reduced by about 60% over placebo,” Gross said.

“I have already won my brain back,” Gross said.  Now she wants to offer that to other people.

About the Author(s)

Hank Schultz

Senior Editor, Informa

Hank Schultz has been the senior editor of Natural Products Insider since early 2023. He can be reached at [email protected]

Prior to joining the Informa team, he was an editor at NutraIngredients-USA, a William Reed Business Media publication.

His approach to industry journalism was formed via a long career in the daily newspaper field. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin with degrees in journalism and German, Hank was an editor at the Tempe Daily News in Arizona. He followed that with a long stint working at the Rocky Mountain News, a now defunct daily newspaper in Denver, where he rose to be one of the city editors. The newspaper won two Pulitzer Prizes during his time there.

The changing landscape of the newspaper industry led him to explore other career paths. He began his career in the natural products industry more than a decade ago at New Hope Natural Media, which was then part of Penton and now is an Informa brand. Hank formed friendships and partnerships within the industry that still inform his work to this day, which helps him to bring an insider’s perspective, tempered with an objective journalist’s sensibility, to his in-depth reporting.

Harkening back to his newspaper days, Hank considers the readers to be the primary stakeholders whose needs must be met. Report the news quickly, comprehensively and above all, fairly, and readership and sponsorships will follow.

In 2015, Hank was recognized by the American Herbal Products Association with a Special Award for Journalistic Excellence.

When he’s not reporting on the supplement industry, Hank enjoys many outside pursuits. Those include long distance bicycle touring, mountain climbing, sailing, kayaking and fishing. Less strenuous pastimes include travel, reading (novels and nonfiction), studying German, noodling on a harmonica, sketching and a daily dose of word puzzles in The New York Times.

Last but far from least, Hank is a lifelong fan and part owner of the Green Bay Packers.

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