what causes migraines?

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It might be surprising to find us writing about headaches, but they are so frequently caused by the same things that cause digestive problems that they have been begging for an article for many years.

Migraines and tension headaches, like Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), are often associated with stress. Also like IBS, they can come on for seemingly no reason at all and are often caused by problems far more specific than stress.

Whether or not you have digestive problems, you may be able to completely eliminate your headaches by simply changing your diet. And we can help you do it.

It is not unusual for patients to visit us for digestive problems only to find that after implementing their individualized treatment plan their headaches have also resolved.

Some patients do come to us specifically for the treatment of their headaches, whether they are migraine, tension, and even sinus headaches. Although patients tend to make a big distinction between migraine headaches and tension headaches due to a frequent difference in their severity, they can have the exact same triggers. Whether or not you are taking migraine medications such as Imitrex (sumatriptan) and Topamax, or you buy your NSAID pain medications in large bottles at Costco, the ability to resolve your headaches remains the same.

Food allergies are the number one cause of headaches of all types. These are not the kind of food allergies an allergist is going to diagnose because allergists don’t deal with headache-related food allergies. These are the “hidden” types of food allergies.


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Great study from National Institutes of Health.

Diet restriction in migraine, based on IgG against foods: A clinical double-blind, randomised, cross-over trial

Authors: Kadriye Alpay, Mustafa Ertaş, Elif Kocasoy Orhan, Didem Kanca Üstay, Camille Lieners, and Betül Baykan

It is well-known that specific foods trigger migraine attacks in some patients. We aimed to investigate the effect of diet restriction, based on IgG antibodies against food antigens on the course of migraine attacks in this randomised, double blind, cross-over, headache-diary based trial on 30 patients diagnosed with migraine without aura.

Following a 6-week baseline, IgG antibodies against 266 food antigens were detected by ELISA. Then, the patients were randomised to a 6-week diet either excluding or including specific foods with raised IgG antibodies, individually. Following a 2-week diet-free interval after the first diet period, the same patients were given the opposite 6-week diet (provocation diet following elimination diet or vice versa). Patients and their physicians were blinded to IgG test results and the type of diet (provocation or elimination). Primary parameters were number of headache days and migraine attack count. Of 30 patients, 28 were female and 2 were male, aged 19–52 years (mean, 35±10 years).

The average count of reactions with abnormally high titre was 24±11 against 266 foods. Compared to baseline, there was a statistically significant reduction in the number of headache days (from 10.5±4.4 to 7.5±3.7; P<0.001) and number of migraine attacks (from 9.0±4.4 to 6.2±3.8; P<0.001) in the elimination diet period.

This is the first randomised, cross-over study in migraineurs, showing that diet restriction based on IgG antibodies is an effective strategy in reducing the frequency of migraine attacks.

Image thanks to annabrixthomsen.com


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Headaches are considered by conventional medicine to be an inflammatory condition of unknown cause, or simply stress is blamed. This belief ignores a large volume of scientific evidence pointing to food allergies as a major cause of headaches. The medical community has focused almost solely on treating headaches with pain medication and anti-inflammatory medications, either prescription or over-the-counter. These medications offer temporary relief of the pain and inflammation, but they don’t prevent the headaches from recurring. Over the long term this type of treatment also comes with a host of side-effects.

Is It Possible to Eliminate the Pain and Inflammation without Drugs?

Very often it is actually possible to eliminate the cause of the pain and inflammation without resorting to drugs to suppress it. Inflammation is actually caused by the immune system, which then leads to pain. The important question is, “Why is the immune system creating inflammation?”

What Triggers the Immune System to Create Inflammation?

As you already know, bacteria, viruses, and parasites trigger an immune response. But anything that triggers an immune response also triggers inflammation. This includes foods that are incorrectly identified by the immune system as not belonging in the body. Therefore an allergic reaction to a food can result in inflammation.

What Foods Cause Headaches?

The body can be allergic to any food, therefore any food allergy is capable of causing inflammation and headaches. This is why it can be so difficult for one to recognize the relationship between their diet and their symptoms.
Let’s use a dairy allergy as an example. If you eat any form of dairy, be it milk, butter, cheese, yogurt, or even dairy in the form of casein or whey in another food product, such as bread or milk chocolate, then you can potentially trigger the symptoms of your food allergy, in this case a headache. You should also know that allergy symptoms may show up hours or even a day later, well after a food is absorbed into your system.

How Do I Determine if I Have a Food Allergy?

Most doctors are not well versed in evaluating patients for food allergies. Skin testing is inadequate, and many blood tests are not thorough enough to discover a food allergy. The best way to determine if you have a food allergy is to have your blood tested for both IgE and IgG antibodies to a variety of foods. This is done with an ELISA Food Allergy Panel, which measures your immune response to approximately 100 different foods. To have this testing done please call our office at 1-888-546-6283 to schedule an appointment.

Although there are other potential causes of headaches and not all patients with chronic headaches have food allergies, those that do can get substantial relief by identifying and avoiding the foods to which they are allergic.

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