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  • Jefferson Adams
    Jefferson Adams

    Higher Rates of Migraine Headaches in People With Celiac Disease and Inflammatory Bowel Disease

    Caption: Photo: CC--Bored-Now

    Celiac.com 04/10/2013 - People with celiac disease or inflammatory bowel disease have higher rates of migraine headaches than their counterparts without those conditions, according to a new study.

    Photo: CC--Bored-NowThe research team included Alexandra K. Dimitrova MD, Ryan C. Ungaro MD, Benjamin Lebwohl MD, Suzanne K. Lewis MD, Christina A. Tennyson MD, Mark W. Green MD, Mark W. Babyatsky MD, and Peter H. Green MD.

    A team of researchers recently set out to assess the rates of migraine headaches in clinic and support group patients with celiac disease and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and to compare those with a sample group of healthy control subjects.

    A number of European studies have shown higher rates of migraine headaches in patients with celiac disease and IBD compared with control subjects.

    For the study, participants all answered a self-administered survey containing clinical, demographic, and dietary data, as well as questions about headache type and frequency.

    They also used both the ID-Migraine screening tool and the Headache Impact Test (HIT-6).

    The research team analyzed five hundred and two subjects who met exclusion criteria. Of these, 188 had celiac disease, 111 had IBD, 25 had gluten sensitivity (GS), and 178 healthy subjects served as controls.

    Thirty percent of celiac patients, 56% of gluten-sensitive patients, 23% of IBD patients, and 14% of control subjects reported chronic headaches (P < .0001).

    Using multivariate logistic regression, the team found that all subjects with celiac disease (odds ratio [OR] 3.79, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.78-8.10), GS (OR 9.53, 95% CI 3.24-28.09), and IBD (OR 2.66, 95%CI 1.08-6.54) had significantly higher rates of migraine headaches than did control subjects.

    Migraine rates were influenced by female sex (P = .01), depression, and anxiety (P = .0059) were independent predictors of migraine headaches, whereas age >65 was protective (P = .0345).

    When it came to grading their migraines, seventy-two percent of celiac disease subjects reported having migraine that were severe in impact, compared with 30% of IBD, 60% of GS, and 50% of C subjects (P = .0919).

    The number of years on gluten-free diet had no influence on the severity of migraines.

    Migraine headaches were more common in people with celiac disease and IBD patients than in control subjects.

    The team points out that future studies should screen migraine patients for celiac disease and assess the effects of gluten-free diet on celiac disease patients with migraines.

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    I am a chronic sufferer of migraines. The migraines I experience from gluten contamination are completely debilitating and no migraine abortive works for this type of migraine in my experience of suffering for 25 years and diagnosed 15 years ago with celiac!

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    After a lifetime of migraines (from about age 11 until now, 65), they disappeared completely after going gluten-free last year!!

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    I find it interesting that "the number of years on gluten-free diet had no influence on the severity of migraines." The study should have looked at the frequency as well. For me, avoiding gluten results in fewer migraines (as well as less joint pain).

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    The study states,"The number of years on gluten-free diet had no influence on the severity of migraines." A migraine is the first clue I have been gluten, no gluten, no headaches. I have been gluten-free for 6 months.

     

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    I spent a lot of my childhood through to young adulthood with debilitating cramping sitting on a toilet and often not getting to sleep for many hours over many nights due to migraines.

     

    I cut gluten out of my diet at 22 and rarely if ever suffer gut pains or migraines today. Except for the surprise attacks when eating out and a chef has incorrectly listed ingredients or is ignorant to them though I find most eateries really know what they're about these days. Thankfully!

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  • About Me

    Jefferson Adams earned his B.A. and M.F.A. at Arizona State University, and has authored more than 2,000 articles on celiac disease. His coursework includes studies in biology, anatomy, medicine, science, and advanced research, and scientific methods. He previously served as Health News Examiner for Examiner.com, and devised health and medical content for Sharecare.com. Jefferson has spoken about celiac disease to the media, including an appearance on the KQED radio show Forum, and is the editor of the book "Cereal Killers" by Scott Adams and Ron Hoggan, Ed.D.

  • Related Articles

    Scott Adams
    Am J Gastroenterol. 2003;98:625-629
    Celiac.com 04/29/2003 – The findings of a recent study published in the March edition of American Journal of Gastroenterology indicate that around 4% of those who suffer from migraine headaches may have celiac disease, and in such cases a gluten-free diet can reduce or eliminate migraine symptoms. According to one of the researchers, Maurizio Gabrielli, MD (Gemelli Hospital in Rome, Italy), if further studies confirm these findings it could alter the current range of migraine treatments to include serological screening for celiac disease and the gluten-free diet for those with positive test results.
    Maurizio Gabrielli, MD and colleagues studied 90 patients who were diagnosed with idiopathic migraine, and found that 4.4% had celiac disease compared to 0.4% of 23 controls. The four migraine patients found to have celiac disease were treated for six months with a gluten-free diet and their symptoms decreased or were eliminated. The patients also showed an improvement in their cerebral blood flow on a gluten-free diet that was confirmed by using single-photon emission computed tomography scans.


    Jefferson Adams
    Celiac.com 10/10/2008 - New evidence suggests that children who suffer from migraines face a greater risk of developing celiac disease. Migraines have been previously tied to classic celiac disease, but have not been well studied in cases of asymptomatic celiac disease.
    Spurred by the fact that most people with celiac disease either have no symptoms at all, or present symptoms other than the traditional intestinal complaints, a team of Turkish researchers led by Dr. Fusan Alehan set out to study the connection between migraines and asymptomatic celiac disease.
    The team studied 73 migraine patients from 6 to 17 years old, along with 147 controls. Four of these migraine patients (5.5%) along with one of the control patients (0.6%) tested positive for serum tissue transglutaminase IgA (tTGA) antibodies, which is indicative of celiac disease.
    Two of the tTGA-positive participants declined biopsy, while three of the four migraine patients consented to a duodenal biopsy and were shown to have normal histology. As a result of these findings, the research team categorized them as having possible celiac disease.
    The researchers found that higher rates of tTG antibodies among migraine patients suggests that migraines and celiac disease might be linked in children, and that this likelihood merits further study.
    Cephalagia 2008; 28:945-949.


    Jennifer Arrington
    Celiac.com 01/11/2010 - When I first went on a gluten free diet, my migraines disappeared completely.Forfive wonderful years, I only felt the twinges of a migraine (or maybejust a blessedly “normal” headache) during those few times when Iinadvertently consumed gluten.Another thing also happened once I went on a gluten free diet – I got pregnant.
    But, five yearslater, I learned that there could be more than one trigger for mymigraines and unfortunately, gluten was only one of them.After two cycles of pregnancy and nursing, my hormones eventually normalized into a regular cycle.Now, that, in and of itself, amazed me, that for the first time in my life my body had learned to have a 4-week textbook cycle.But, along with those cycles came the worst migraines I had ever experienced in my life.I realized, sadly, that gluten wasn’t my only migraine trigger.I could avoid gluten, but I couldn’t avoid my cycle.Theirony of it all struck hard– the gluten free diet had made me healthyenough to have a regular cycle – a regular cycle attached with horrificmigraines.Once again, I was going from doctor to doctor,but this time (unlike the years until my celiac diagnosis), I receiveda fast diagnosis – menstrual migraine.The neurologistwho diagnosed me said that they were probably the worst type ofmigraine out there – very resistant to medication, fierce in theirstrength, and often lasting for days.Well, he hasn’t been wrong.
    Four years of migraines later, I honestly believe I may have tried every migraine treatment known to woman!I have been searching for a solution in the hope that if I could cure mine, anybody’s could be cured.However,along the way, many of the things I have tried that have temporarilyworked, have worked for others too, with more lasting results.Hence this article – why not share what I’ve learned in the hope that others can be helped?Maybe, too, in this process, someone out there will know of a treatment that I have not yet tried.
    Before I go on, I dowant to say that staying on the gluten-free diet is the only option tohaving a good life at all – even though it allows the cycles that bringthe migraines.Before going gluten-free, I was sick all the time with migraines.Now I am much healthier, but do get terrible cyclical migraines.I obviously choose the latter.
    This article focuses on migraine prevention.Ido have in my cabinet some very expensive, strong prescription triptans(Amerge works the best for me) and these are a necessity…simply becauseI do not want to land up in my local emergency room with a migrainethat feels like it’s killing me.I think of the prescriptions as my rescue doses, for those times when all the prevention and care in the world fails.
    I have tried many,many preventative treatments – supplements, herbs, Chinese medicine,bioidentical hormone pills, natural hormone creams, allergy treatments,massage, chiropractic, and even acupuncture.People swearby massage and acupuncture, I tried it some, but did not perceiveenough of a benefit to continue – the expense alone was giving me amigraine.
    To date, nothing has taken away my migraines, but the following items have definitely helped.And, the good news is that every item listed is affordable and completely doable! 
    Wakeup at the same time every day.  My neurologist has a beautifulexplanation as to why this can prevent a migraine, and it surprisinglyhas nothing to do with low blood sugar!  I cannot remember his eloquentexplanation.  But, many migraine sufferers will find they get amigraine on their day off – the “Saturday Migraine”.  Usually, it’sfrom sleeping in and messing up the sensitive sleep/wake cycle.  Myalarm has one setting – for week days as well as weekends.  If I’mtired later in the day from getting up early after a late night (whichwould usually happen on a weekend), I do my best to take a nap, but Irarely sleep in. B complex.  Every migraine guide you read anywhere, always mentions theB vitamins.  As I have already posted, and others have commented,celiacs have low absorption of the B vitamins since often the damagedportion of the small intestine is where absorption of B’s shouldoccur.  This can be overcome by taking large doses of B’s.  I finallyfound a B-complex I can tolerate, and that’s Solgar B50.  They have astronger dose, Solgar B100, but the B50 works for me.  B2 is oftensingled out for migraine sufferers, and Solgar makes an isolated B2,but this doesn’t work well for me.  It may for you, and at under $10,it’s certainly worth a try – in fact, I wish I could give you some ofmy almost-full bottle to try! Magnesium.  I’ve taken magnesiumall along, but recently, from a commercial on the celiac website in themigraine section, I read about Dermamag.  (My husband joked with methat purchasing a supplement from an online Ad, was akin to finding adate on the internet, but it does look like this has been a goodthing!)  The premise behind Dermamag, is that people with migraines arenot absorbing enough magnesium through their digestive systems (soundslike a celiac to me), and that their “patented” formula is the first ofits kind to deliver it through the skin.  Well, $29 and a few dayslater, my first bottle arrived, and I must say, I’ve been quitepleased.  It does sting my skin a bit, so I apply it to wet skin, butit has definitely stopped a few days from turning into migraine daysthese past few weeks.  I’m hoping that after a few months of use, theoverall benefit will increase.  It might work just as well to soak in abath of Epsom salts every night, and it would certainly be cheaper, butyou know, that isn’t a “patented” way to increase your magnesiumlevels!!! Lemon Juice.  About three years ago I read a littleside article in an educators magazine, of all places, that women intheir mid-thirties often start experiencing terrible cyclicalheadaches.  The article blamed this on our western acidic diets andwent on to say that one of the best ways to counteract an acidic dietis to squeeze lemon in your water.  Now, that made about as much senseto me as nothing – since lemons are acidic themselves, but lemons arecheap – much cheaper than the dozens of supplements I have tried overthe years.  I have since been told that although they are acidic, theirnet effect in the body is basic (?!!) but illogical logic aside, Istarted squeezing lemons into my water that same day and for THREEMONTHS I did not have one migraine.  Of course, you have to be carefulnot to overdo it – too much acid cannot be good for a sensitivestomach.  Currently, I consume at least one lemon every day – mostpeople go to the store when they run out of milk, I go when I run outof lemons.  I honestly think that at this point in my migraine journey,without “lemon-water” I would have a migraine every day. Vitamin D.  I actually break open my vitamin D capsule and rub it on myskin every other day.  I know the latest articles are pushing 4000 IU’sof vitamin D a day and higher, but if I take that much (orally ortransdermally) I get welts on my skin.  I showed the welts to a healthcare practitioner once and he immediately said they were from excessvitamin D.  I reduced my dose and find that 2000IU every other dayseems to be optimum for me. Evening Primrose Oil (EPO) fromHemp Oil.  I think, I hope, I pray, that this oil is turning into myown personal magic bullet.  A few months ago I purchased some ManitobaHarvest Hemp Oil on the advice of a friend and went 5 weeks without amigraine.  I had previously tried a great brand of EPO in the capsuleform, but honestly couldn’t afford to take it in the doses I required. The Hemp Oil, however, brings you the EPO in a nature-made n-3:n-6:n-9fatty acid ratio.   When I ran out of the Manitoba harvest, I couldn’tfind it locally, so I bought a different brand and my migrainesreturned.  Frustrated, I gave up on it, until just two weeks ago, whensomeone I had suggested try it raved on and on how it was helping themwith PMS.  I finally found my original brand, and have been back on itfor 10 days.  The difference so far has been amazing, I don’t even feellike I could get a migraine at all!  Obviously, time will tell, but fornow I’ll continue to be hopeful.  I actually take Nordic Arctic FishOil, too, so I mix a little of each and swallow the whole nasty mess. I have friends who mix it in juice or incorporate it in their food, butI don’t want to ruin the food I’m eating, so I just take it straightand get it over with.  A word of caution – EPO has been known to causeuterine contractions, so do not take it if you are pregnant! Finally, and I will not belabor this point since I have have mentionedit in another article, I do take Solgar’s prenatal multivitamin simplybecause it’s the only multi that I can tolerate.  And, I only take halfa dose.   Calcium, magnesium, vitamin D from Solaray. 
    That’smy personal regime.  I have come up with it by research, reading,severe trial and error, and much wasting of money.  Hopefully one ofthose items can help you in your quest to become migraine free.  Asalways, I would never try more than one new thing at a time, our bodiesare too sensitive and there needs to be time for us to gauge our ownreactions.  
    Good luck, God bless, and I would love to hear of anyof your own personal successes against migraines.  Maybe, between allof us, we can beat these things, and instead of counting the yearsuntil menopause, we can enjoy the intervening years gluten AND migrainefree!!!
     

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