Farewell advice from Rebecca Sterry 
As Rebecca moves on to new challenges she shares her thoughts on why the National Migraine Centre is so important, how we can help you manage your migraine and how you can help us to help others.

Migraine and Diet Resolutions for the New Year: by Dr. Nazeli Manukyan 
Advice to migraine sufferers who find dieting difficult

Hello to New Staff 

  • Charlotte Burr
  • Matthew Williams

Photographer Wanted 


    • Thanks to Esther Bijsmans
    • Thanks to Dr. Liza Kirtchuk


Make 2015 the Year to Tackle Your Migraine 

Should this year’s resolution be to take control of your migraine?

Reclaim your life from migraine and make an appointment with us, so we can help you manage your migraine and get your life back on track.  Call us on 020 7251 3322 and make 2015 the year you take back control.

Farewell advice from Rebecca Sterry

As I leave National Migraine Centre after four years I want to write a little about why I feel the charity is so special. The Centre constantly struggles to balance the books in order to not only carry out research and educate healthcare professionals, but to actually treat patients, something that most health charities do not do. This makes for a challenging business model as treating patients is costly, the easiest thing being to cease this expensive arm of the charity and concentrate efforts elsewhere, however we know the value of what we do and the demand for specialist migraine treatment, not available in a charitable setting anywhere else in the UK.

Our outcomes and feedback are astounding, and I can safely say that I have never worked in a place so highly regarded by its service users. I know that many who read this newsletter are seriously affected by migraine, so much so that it dominates everything that they do, or more often than not, don’t do. I am inundated with volunteers for research into new treatments because they will try anything in the hope that it works.

How we can help you

What surprises me however is how many research volunteers have never been to the Centre to receive our help first hand. Research is vital to improve the treatments that we provide, but there are many tried and tested treatments out there that our specialists use regularly, with life-changing results. I understand many feel that they have tried everything but our doctors have managed to help many who felt this way to finally find a treatment plan that works .

So as I bid farewell after what has been an extremely rewarding few years I urge those who have never been to the Centre to pick up the phone and book an appointment. You will not be disappointed.

Help us to help others

And if migraine has had a big impact on your life, or if you have received support from the us in the past, please consider making the National Migraine Centre your chosen charity to support long-term. NMC’s income is constantly fluctuating so a small monthly gift would allow the charity to plan into the future and constantly improve the service that it provides.

We keep costs low, running a tight ship with just 3 full-time members of staff and making good use of pro-bono support from outside agencies so that every penny you donate is carefully invested in patient care, research and sharing high quality information. But employing the best specialists and keeping clinically up to date and recognised by relevant authorities costs money, not to mention the unavoidable costs of lighting and heating the building.

With migraine being an invisible and often misunderstood condition, it is a difficult cause to fundraise for in the traditional sense so we are relying on migraine sufferers and their friends and families who understand the need for the service to support us into the future. Please think about how you can help, regularly or otherwise. You can visit the websitefor our suggestions.

Migraine and Diet Resolutions for the New Year: by Dr. Nazeli Manukyan

We are at a time when many of us are refocusing and setting resolutions for the year ahead. Of course, amongst them the most popular are weight loss plans.

Whilst preparing this article and researching the most beneficial and evidence-based diets, I got lost in the huge variety of options on the NHS Choices website. The Cambridge Diet, Slimming World, Atkins, Dukan, South Beach, Cabbage Soup… and the list goes on. This is followed by comments and claims from readers sharing their varied experiences and successes with all the different diets. More confusion builds whilst you have to choose between high or low protein, high or low carbohydrate, herbal pills, stimulant products, cleanses, and tonics. It is also often the case that as soon as you go off a particular diet you gain even more weight and the diet industry continues thriving on our failures.

There is no magic diet which works for everyone as our nutritional needs, taste and habits vary. What is really important for a successful weight loss is to be mentally ready to change your lifestyle and enjoy it by choosing a programme which can be maintained for the whole year and most likely whole life without damaging your health. The aim is not just restricting calories and food portions but also retraining your mind and metabolism, addressing food addiction without feeling deprived but also enjoying overcoming realistic challenges.

Migraine sufferers will find dieting and extreme calorie restriction particularly difficult to manage. There was a recent comment on our Facebook page from a 5:2 diet follower who had to quit after the first day because of severe migraine. The aim of this article is not to promote the best diet but to give some tips on preventing migraines with your own choice of weight loss plan.

  • Firstly, preparation, research and planning should form the start of your lifestyle change. It is not a good idea to start when you have runs of frequent headaches as any change in your routine and lifestyle is likely to trigger more and more migraines. Be realistic, introduce changes gradually and maybe consider preventive medication for that initial phase.
  • Don’t skip or delay breakfast as it is the most important meal of the day, preventing sugar dips and making early morning migraines less likely, especially in the case of calorie-restricted days when following an intermittent fasting plan. Most headaches start in the morning or build up in the afternoon because of dips of sugar level overnight, and migraineurs surprisingly get better with an early breakfast or late evening snack containing protein or low GI carb. Whilst restricting your calories, eat little but often and avoid long gaps between meals.
  • Drink plenty of water throughout the day. Dehydration is a trigger of migraine and adequate fluid intake will help prevent hunger pangs. Avoid fruit juices as they contain extra calories and sugar resulting in insulin spikes and glucose crashes in the blood.
  • Avoid too much caffeine as it is a well known culprit. Those who are sensitive to caffeine may want to wean themselves off it slowly well before going on a calorie restriction programme. The advice to drink plenty of tea and coffee to manage fasting days in 5:2 diet will not be suitable for migraine sufferers. Lots of water or green tea may be more beneficial.
  • Maintain a good sleep routine and body clock as it helps to cope with the added pressure of dieting and will help normalise hormonal balance and body metabolism. Minimise other known triggers of migraine which are under your control, such as stress, travel and alcohol.
  • Exercising in moderation is important for a successful weight loss programme. Avoid extreme workouts if you are not accustomed to them and build up your exercise programme gradually. Don’t exercise on an empty stomach.
  • Recognise the early signs of migraine and be prepared for a possible attack. Neck stiffness, food cravings, tiredness or yawning could mean that you are already brewing a migraine, so perhaps skip calorie restriction on that day. An anti-inflammaory, such as ibupofen or aspirin, taken at the onset of early signs or on a fasting day may help you manage that day better. Be flexible and easy on yourself and accept days of setbacks, having another attempt later.

If your migraines are still difficult to manage, then restrictive diets are probably not suitable for you. Do your own research and avoid fad diets with unrealistic quick-fix solutions. A balanced diet with lean protein and oily fish, slow-release carbohydrates, avoiding refined sugar, eating more fruits and vegetables and moving more is the way to go.

Be realistic and don’t expect a whole year ahead without a headache. Any changes in lifestyle will inevitably bring more migraines, but with perseverance and the above advice, I hope you can manage to reduce the frequency of migraines, boosting your motivation and commitment and making weight loss a positive and achievable challenge.

Happy New Year!

Hello to New Staff

Charlotte Burr

I have always wanted to work for a charity I felt passionately about and having seen many close family members and friends suffer terribly from migraine I am so pleased to be joining the National Migraine Centre.  Previously I was working as the Operations Manager for a conference company specialising in security, compliance and risk management, so this move has been a very different and rewarding new challenge for me.  I have been fortunate to have studied and worked in many different countries and am happy to have settled down in London, a fast paced and exciting city.  I look forward to building a career at the National Migraine Centre and helping the organisation grow, so we can treat even more people suffering from migraine and cluster headache.

Matthew Williams

Prior to joining NMC I worked for two-linked charities; the British Society for Couple Psychotherapists and Counsellors (BSCPC) and the Tavistock Centre for Couple Relationships (TCCR) as the Administrator and Reception Manager respectively. I particularly enjoy working in the charity sector and look forward to a long career with NMC.




We are in need of a photographer to take photos of our Centre and our team for our new website, which is about to be launched. These photos can be used to add to your portfolio and would help us out a great deal. If you are free to come in to the Centre on a Thursday and Friday to take some photos for us then please contact us on 020 7251 3322.





Our thanks go out to Esther Bijsmans (pictured above) who ran the New York Marathon for the National Migraine Centre. Esther ran the 26.2 mile race in tough, windy conditions and raised over £600 for us.

Esther is a fellow sufferer who spent 20 years with a chronic daily headache.  After visiting us at the National Migraine Centre our specialist doctors were able to give her the correct treatment plan and she has now been headache free for over 6 months!

If you would like to do a fundraising event for the National Migraine Centre, such as a 10km run or if you are feeling very daring like Esther a marathon, you can use Virgin Money Giving to raise even more money.  If you fancy a new challenge for this new year and want more information then please give us a call on 020 7251 3322. In Esther’s words ‘a few hours of pain is nothing compared to a 20-year-long headache’.


Our thanks go out to our very own Dr. Liza Kirtchuk (pictured above) who climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro to raise money for the National Migraine Centre. Liza trekked up the 5,895 metre mountain and raised over £500 for us.

Leaving a Legacy

Leaving a gift in your Will can help the National Migraine Centre in a number of ways.  It can help us carry on treating sufferers of migraine and cluster headache, it can help us develop research, and it can expand our education programme for healthcare professionals so that more doctors can provide better treatments to more people.

Legacies are a way that you can help support us in the future and not only will the gift benefit the National Migraine Centre, but it will benefit all our patients.  As migraine has a genetic element it can also make a difference to your children and their children’s lives. Legacies can also reduce your inheritance tax, as legacies to a charity are tax free.

In order to leave a legacy to the National Migraine Centre  you can simply incorporate it into your Will.  To add a legacy to an existing Will you can use the Codicil form, which can be found on ourwebsite.  It is important that you include our full name, address and charity number.

If you have any queries about leaving a gift in your Will to the National Migraine Centre then please give us a call on 020 7251 3322.