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HomeExclusiveCan Gluten Give You Migraines

Can Gluten Give You Migraines

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Joint And Muscle Aches

Can Gluten Cause Headaches?

Got joint and muscle aches? Glutens damaging inflammation in susceptible individuals can cause flares and pain. WebMD states that, Joint pain and inflammation are common symptoms of gluten sensitivity. And research does show links between the two diseases. The Arthritis Foundation has also published information regarding the link between gluten sensitivity, joint pain, and arthritis conditions.

Gluten Sensitivity Can Drive Or Worsen Immune Dysfunction

Gluten, on the other hand, is not a carbohydrate and often does not cause digestive symptoms.

Instead, gluten is a protein that can cause deep-seated immune dysfunction, even in trace amounts. But only in people with gluten sensitivity.

Tip: Wheat, spelt, rye, barley, and possibly oats contain gluten. Rice, corn, millet, quinoa, or potatoes do not contain gluten.

Gluten sensitivity can take the form of either celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity. Of the two, celiac disease is more severe and can be diagnosed with a blood test followed by an intestinal biopsy. Its important to have the blood test before eliminating gluten from your diet because avoiding gluten can cause you to test negative even if you have celiac disease.

Non-celiac gluten sensitivity , on the other hand, cannot be diagnosed by the celiac serology blood test.

What To Do About Food Triggers

In both gluten sensitivity, or celiac disease, and migraine, there is an inflammatory process occurring within the body. I hypothesize that the inflammatory response to gluten makes it easier to activate the trigeminovascular pathway, thus triggering a migraine. There has never been a large study of how exactly gluten triggers migraines, and this is something I hope to explore in future studies.

Typically, a food trigger will cause a migraine to start within 15 minutes of exposure to that substance.

If someone tests positive for celiac, or wheat allergy, then the answer is simple: remove gluten from the diet. So the question arises when someone tests negative should we still eliminate gluten? It is often worth a try, because there is a condition called non-celiac gluten sensitivity.

If someone does not have celiac disease but suffers from symptoms of gluten sensitivity, an elimination trial of gluten is often helpful for reducing migraine frequency or severity. The reason I suspect is that removing gluten will reduce chances of an inflammatory response that will activate the trigeminal nerves and trigger pain. Gluten elimination for migraines is still experimental.

We need to treat the whole person in medicine. This includes looking at potential triggers for headache and doing an elimination diet can be of benefit. There are so many gluten-free products currently on the market, it makes removing gluten from the diet easier.

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Plant Chat: Stephanie Weaver Mph Cwhc

Sharon Palmer

Published on

Updated on

I am so happy to have my friend Stephanie Weaver, MPH, CWHC on my weekly Plant Chat today! Stephanie is an author, blogger, and certified wellness and health coach. She has a Masters degree of Public Health in nutrition education from the University of Illinois. You can find more than 350 gluten-free recipes on her blog Recipe Renovator, suitable for many special diets. Weaver writes for The Huffington Post, and her recipes have been featured online in Cosmopolitan, Bon Appétit, Cooking Light, and Parade. She lives in San Diego with her husband Bob and their golden retriever Daisy. I was thrilled to contribute to Stephanies wonderful new book The Migraine Relief Plan. Continue reading to learn more about Stephanies new book and her best tips on managing migraines through diet.

What Is Your Personal Nutrition Philosophy

New Study Links Gluten And Migraine Occurence: Your Brain ...

Enjoy food! Deprivation doesnt work. Eat enough healthy fat, and as many vegetables as you possibly can. And, plan to fail. I have a whole chapter on failure, as I think diet books set an unrealistic standard for people. I will eat off my Plan sometimes, and so will you. Its okay. Its important to savor life.

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Our Wheat Is Different

Today, wheat is processed very differently from before the industrial revolution.

Our soils have less nutrition

We use more pesticides and herbicides

We use genetic modification that has made these proteins less recognizable by our bodies

We make wheat products differently

Our ancestors and even our grandparents would sour our doughs or just leave them over night so that the enzymes present in these live and unprocessed foods could break down the proteins before we ingested them.

This made it easier on our own digestion.

If our body is having trouble breaking the gluten protein down into amino acids that the body can use as building blocks, then gluten has a higher chance of getting through the gut and causing damage.

Seek Immediate Help If:

  • You have a headache after injury or trauma.
  • Your headache is accompanied by fever, stiff neck, visual changes, or neurologic symptoms such as numbness, weakness, visual changes, speech changes, or confusion.
  • The headache comes on abruptly and is so severe you may describe it as the worst headache of your life.
  • The pattern of your headaches changes.
  • I hope you have found this helpful, and you are on the road to a migraine-free future ahead!


    Dr. Amy Burkhart is a doctor , Registered Dietitian, R.D., and fellowship-trained in integrative medicine. She specializes in treating chronic digestive disorders from an integrative/functional medicine perspective.

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    Migraines Are More Frequent With Celiac Disease

    A recent meta-analysis looked at 40 scientific studies published since 1987 that discussed the connection between headaches and celiac disease. From the data, they determined that the prevalence of headache among those with celiac disease was 26% for adults and 18.3% for children. However, the prevalence of migraines among the general population including both adults and children is only 12%. Thus, these numbers suggest that migraines affect those with celiac disease more frequently than those without.

    In this study, researchers found that those with celiac disease were 4 times more likely to experience migraine headaches than a control group. And while migraines didnt last as long as the control group, they occurred 2.5 times more frequently than those without celiac disease. When put on a gluten-free diet, migraines disappeared in 25% of the celiac patients. And 38% experienced a reduction in severity and frequency of their headaches.

    How To Actually Determine If You React To Gluten

    Can Gluten Cause Migraine Headaches? What’s the connection?

    Unfortunately, its not as simple as getting a celiac screen from your doctor. Not being celiac does not give you free license to consume products containing gluten. A celiac screen tests for celiac disease. Nothing else. It does not tell you whether you have a gluten sensitivity or allergy.

    Read more about non-celiac gluten sensitivity.

    Lets assume that youve already had a celiac test and it came back negative. But you still feel tired after eating gluten. In this case, there are two primary ways of testing for gluten sensitivities.

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    Is There A Test To See If Gluten Makes You Tired

    To best way to determine whether gluten is causing your fatigue is via laboratory testing. There are many food sensitivity tests on the market and not all are created equal. In fact, at the time of this writing, there is only one lab known to offer a comprehensive test for gluten sensitivity.

    Testing is an objective means of determining whether a reaction to gluten exists. Labs will identify if your immune system is reacting to particular foods. In order for a test to be accurate, you need to eat the food being tested for about thirty days before doing the test.

    Why is there only one lab that offers comprehensive testing for gluten?

    Thats because grains consist of much more than just gluten. Gluten is one specific protein in wheat which is the most common form of ingestion. However, wheat contains other proteins for example, gliadin. For a more exhaustive look at all the proteins and peptides found in wheat, please see this post.

    You can react to one or any combination of proteins. As you are a unique individual, the way you react to wheat is likely different than anyone else . Accurate testing must look for a comprehensive array of wheat proteins and peptides.

    If your lab results show you have a sensitivity to gluten you can safely assume that yes, gluten is contributing to your fatigue. At this point you should switch to a gluten-free diet.

    Is There A Link Between Gluten And Migraine

    In people with celiac disease, yes there is a link between gluten and migraine.

    In a 2019 study, 32.5% of people who had celiac disease experienced migraine without aura, while 15.4% experienced migraine with aura. Aura are temporary sensory disturbances that can occur before a migraine attack.

    These percentages are higher than migraine prevalence in the general population. Researchers believe the link is due to celiac diseases impact on the gut-brain axis. Other studies have also found unusual changes to the white matter of the brain in people with both conditions.

    More research is necessary to understand how gluten contributes to migraine in people with and without celiac disease.

    While migraine is more common in people with celiac disease, research on whether it directly causes migraine episodes is inconsistent.

    A states that some studies have found a gluten-free diet reduces migraine headache frequency in people with celiac disease. However, a 2021 review notes that other studies found a gluten-free diet only led to significant improvements in some people.

    It is not clear whether a gluten-free diet has any effect on migraine in people who do not have celiac disease.

    Migraine triggers are complex. They make migraine headaches more likely, but they are not guaranteed to cause one. Sometimes, it depends on how much of a trigger food someone eats, or whether they have been exposed to multiple triggers that day.

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    Gluten Withdrawal Symptoms + How Long Do They Last

    Gluten is defined as a protein composite found in grains such as: barley, rye, and most commonly, wheat. The word gluten is derived from the Latin word gluten which roughly translates to glue. Gluten is what gives grain-based products a chewy texture and allows these products to maintain a specific shape. In addition to being used in foods, gluten is also an additive in many cosmetic and dermatology products.

    In the past, gluten was never considered a staple part of the human diet. Only in recent generations with the rise of high-carbohydrate diets has gluten consumption become problematic. The increased consumption of gluten has lead people to develop adverse reactions such as: celiac disease , gluten-sensitivity, leaky gut, and other wheat allergies. Many would also argue that since humans didnt evolve to eat gluten, its consumption may elicit detrimental effects on both bodily functions and cognitive performance.

    Due to rampant health concerns regarding gluten consumption, as well as an increase in science-based evidence suggesting that gluten may be problematic, some people have attempted to kick gluten from their diet. Although many people are successful in eradicating gluten from their diets, others end up experiencing severe withdrawal symptoms that makes it tough to stay gluten-free. One reason may be due to the fact that when digesting gluten, it breaks down into exorphins which bind to opioid receptors in your brain.

    The Gluten Migraine Connection

    Can gluten cause migraines and headaches?

    Gluten avoidance is extremely popular because so many individuals either have celiac disease or a gluten sensitivity. So what is gluten and how does it relate to headaches and migraines? Gluten is the protein found in numerous grains, including wheat, rye, and barley. Celiac disease occurs when the immune system reacts to gluten and begins to attack the body. Conversely, a gluten intolerance occurs when the digestive system cannot properly digest gluten, resulting in diarrhea, abdominal bloating, and stomach pain.

    According to the International Headache Society, 17.2 percent of females and 6 percent of males experience migraines. Although the exact cause of experiencing a migraine headache remains a mystery, there are some risk factors and triggers that increase the likelihood of having migraines. Those with a family history of migraines are at an increased risk. Individuals experiencing high stress situations, lack of sleep, or fatigue are at an increased risk of getting a headache. Certain foods and the weather can also increase the risk of a headache.

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    What Is Gluten Sensitivity

    One of the major digestive issues related to headaches and migraines is sensitivity to gluten. Individuals who have gluten sensitivity are unable to process and absorb nutrients in foods that contain gluten.

    Gluten is a substance found mainly in foods made of wheat, rye or barley, as well as some medicines, vitamins and supplements. It is composed of two proteins called glutenin and gliadin. Glutenin gives dough strength and elasticity, while gliadin is responsible for making bread rise during baking. Gliadin is also the protein that your gut reacts to negatively if you have gluten sensitivity.

    If you are sensitive to gluten, eating foods that contain it will cause your gastrointestinal tract to become inflamed. This results in digestive problems such as increased intestinal permeability, which prevents the proper absorption of nutrients into your bloodstream. Ingesting gluten is also dangerous if you have coeliac disease, an autoimmune disorder where your small intestine gets damaged after you consume gluten.

    Some of the symptoms of gluten sensitivity, such as fatigue and abdominal cramps, are similar to those of coeliac disease. The difference between the two is non-coeliac gluten sensitivity does not harm your small intestine in the long run. Headaches, heartburn, bloating, diarrhoea/constipation and vomiting are other known symptoms of gluten sensitivity.

    How To Assess For Non

    First, consider whether you or anyone in your family has any of the symptoms of non-celiac gluten sensitivity:

    • depression
    • osteoporosis
    • autoimmune disease.

    Hashimotos autoimmune thyroid disease, in particular, is strongly linked to gluten. A family history of thyroid disease is a good indicator that you could benefit from a trial of a gluten-free diet.

    Next, speak to your doctor about the celiac gene or celiac genotype blood test, known as HLA-DQ2 and HLA-DQ8. If you test positive for a celiac gene, you have a 4 percent chance of developing celiac disease but a much higher risk of developing other autoimmune conditions such as autoimmune thyroid disease. Testing positive for a celiac gene is another good indicator that you could benefit from a trial of a gluten-free diet.

    Finally, you could just try strictly avoiding gluten for at least eight weeks and see how you feel. Strictly avoiding means avoiding even trace gluten, which is different from just reducing wheat as you can do with FODMAPs. For conditions associated with gluten sensitivity , there is no such thing as partially gluten-free.

    Likely to require strictly gluten-free Unlikely to require strictly gluten-free
    endometriosis and adenomyosis
    premenstrual mood symptoms

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