Can Cookies Trigger Chronic Migraine?

June 1, 2012

It isn’t just a chocolate chip cookie, or a sinful snicker-doodle that can trigger your chronic migraine but pizza and bagels can set off the devastating symptoms of migraines also.  That is, if you are one of the 30 million migraine sufferers in the United States who has a condition known as celiac disease.  If you haven’t been able to successfully treat or manage your migraines, you may want to learn more about this common condition before considering an interventional migraine procedure.  If you do in fact have celiac disease, making dietary adjustments may go a long way in managing your migraine headache pain as well.

People with celiac disease experience an immune reaction within their small intestine, to the ingestion of the protein ‘gluten’.  Unpleasant symptoms include stomach and bowel upset.  The decreased absorption of nutrients eventually causes vitamin deficiencies, which affect many bodily functions including those of the brain and peripheral nervous system.  Gluten is found in products that contain wheat, barley and rye.  Foods to be avoided include cookies, pizza and bread.

U.S. News and World Report published an article on new research out of Columbia University Medical Center in New York City, which suggested that chronic migraine might be linked with celiac disease in some individuals.  For these people, there may be no need to undergo an interventional migraine procedure. The good news for these migraineurs is that an effective treatment may be as basic as adopting a gluten-free diet.  Not that giving up cookies, pizza and pasta is a fun thing for anyone.  However, the best supermarkets have been growing their gluten-free alternative offerings to the point where gluten tolerant shoppers are tempted by the exciting wheat substitutes!

The Columbia University study’s co-author, and neurology resident, Dr. Alexandra Dimitrova said, “Our findings suggest that migraine is a common neurologic manifestation in celiac disease, gluten sensitivity and [inflammatory bowel disease].” She also said they don’t know what the mechanism is.  The study analyzed data from 502 people and migraines were identified in 21 percent of those with celiac disease.

If you struggle with the disabling symptoms of chronic migraine and suspect that you may have gluten intolerance, you should discuss your condition with your physican, and ask to receive a screening for celiac disease.  Whatever the results are from this screening, you should feel better knowing that there are many migraine procedures, therapies and treatments available to manage your unique set of symptoms and condition.

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