Migraines Linked to Celiac Disease and Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity

May 23, 2012

Migraines Linked to Celiac Disease and Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity


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Study finds gluten-related disorders among people reporting chronic headaches.

Migraines are not always triggered by those 4 cups of coffee drank at 8 am or those 2 beers consumed at night. For some people, a gluten-related disorder may be the cause.

For the first time, American researchers have linked migraines to celiac disease and other bowel disorders. The Neurological Institute at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City conducted a study that leads them to believe that migraines in people with celiac disease are no coincidence; they just might be caused by the autoimmune disease.

The research team surveyed over 700 people through a four-page questionnaire and discovered that many of those reporting migraines that did not engage in migraine-triggering behavior (such as daily alcohol, caffeine and tobacco consumption), and had not experienced any head trauma, were diagnosed with celiac disease or inflammatory bowel disease or had non-celiac gluten sensitivity. Chronic headaches were reported in 56% percent of those with non-celiac gluten sensitivity, 30 percent of those with celiac disease, and 23 percent of those with inflammatory bowel disease. Only 14 percent of those in the control group reported headaches.

While researchers have yet to discover a definitive reason as to why there is this link between migraines and celiac disease, they do have some theories. Dr. Alexandra Dimitrova, a researcher behind the survey, says there is a possibility that migraines are triggered because of the inflammation of parts of the body, including the brain, due to celiac disease. Another possibility is that antibodies in celiac disease may attack the brain cells and membranes around the nervous system and somehow cause the migraines. Although the cause isn’t exactly clear, Dr. Alessio Fasano, medical director of the University of Maryland Center for Celiac Research in Baltimore says that those with celiac disease often experience migraine relief once they switch to a gluten free diet and vice versa.

The new findings were presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology; however the source of the original article, US Health News, cautions that this data should be considered preliminary until findings are published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Read the original article: Migraines More Likely for People with Celiac Disease, Study Says