Gluten Intolerance Can Trigger Migraine Headaches

December 12, 2011

If you suffer from migraine headaches, you may have already identified foods that you know can trigger a headache. But sometimes, the ingredients in foods can be a problem. Gluten is one of those ingredients — and more and more people are learning the hard way that they are gluten intolerant. Gluten is a protein found wheat, rye and barley. It is used to make bread rise, but many food manufacturers also use gluten to flavor, thicken and preserve processed foods. If you see “dextrin” on a food label, rest assured it is chock-full of gluten.

Individuals who are extremely sensitivity to gluten may have celiac disease — an autoimmune disease that can cause a litany of digestive, nerve and brain disorders. Now physicians in Italy have found a link between celiac disease and chronic migraine pain.

Maurizon Gabrielli, M.D., and his colleagues at Catholic and La Sapeinza universities in Rome, conducted a study that compared 90 migraine patients with 236 healthy blood donors. They found that the chronic migraine sufferers were 10 times more likely to have celiac disease. Since a gluten-free diet cures celiac disease, can it also help prevent migraine headaches?

Of the 90 patients in the study, four had undiagnosed celiac disease. All four went on a gluten-free diet, which cured one patient of chronic migraines. The other three reported fewer migraines, and when they did get a migraine, it was shorter and less intense.

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