4

votes

Does Gluten-free Make Migraines Worse? HELP!

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created December 21, 2011 at 2:46 AM

Hackers-I finally convinced my 80+ year-old grandma to go gluten-free in an attempt to lower the frequency of her lifelong, debilitating migraines. She went gluten-free and has been eating Paleo in general since December 1st. Well so far, she has had the absolutely worst month of her entire life and she is desperate for some answers. She is willing to stick it out if she knows how long she needs to endure this pain. I know there are no absolutes, but I am looking for any time frame from previous migraine sufferers who were helped by gluten-free. How long did it take? Also, any other tips for migraines. For instance, she asked me if corn had gluten and I told her no, so she had some corn chips. Could the inclusion of corn be making things worse or just the withdrawal of gluten or ??? Anything will help, thank you.

ADD: Overall, she is "healthy," slim, exercises and watches what she eats, but typical low-fat, whole-grain stuff. Since quiting gluten, she is eating meats, salads, fruit, etc., which is her normal fare, minus the gluten. She is underweight and doesn't ever eat much at all.

Double ADD: I should note that previously she has gone on strict elimination diets to narrow down the possibility of any foods causing or contributing to her migraines. No dice. The only thing she never tried was eliminating gluten.

6670b38baf0aae7f4d8ac2463ddc37c0

(3946)

on December 22, 2011
at 07:48 PM

Thank you egk, I will mention to her that she should stay away from the corn chips!

13c5a9f1678d75b93f269cdcf69f14d5

(2339)

on December 22, 2011
at 05:36 PM

Their "fact sheet" on migraines http://fedup.com.au/factsheets/symptom-factsheets/headaches-and-migraines

13c5a9f1678d75b93f269cdcf69f14d5

(2339)

on December 22, 2011
at 05:34 PM

More info on amines and salicylates in foods at failsafe or Feingold diet sites such as http://fedup.com.au/ You can get enzymes to help with these issues, such as Histame.

13c5a9f1678d75b93f269cdcf69f14d5

(2339)

on December 22, 2011
at 05:13 PM

Also, congrats to her for trying something! I think it can be very hard for an older person to eat as many calories as needed on a high fat diet. The satiety is just amazing. My MIL, 90, has moved lower carb, but I doubt she oculd ever get to ketogenic.

6670b38baf0aae7f4d8ac2463ddc37c0

(3946)

on December 22, 2011
at 03:38 AM

Yes, Melissa, I agree, but it is hard enough to get her to eat ANYTHING, there is no way her calories will be high enough. She is also buying into the low-fat, low-salt, whole-wheat crap. If she gets any results from the gluten-free, I will try to suck her in all the way.

6670b38baf0aae7f4d8ac2463ddc37c0

(3946)

on December 22, 2011
at 03:34 AM

Yes, Kelly, I agree. The problem is that she is over 80 and I have a hard time talking her back into "low carb" because of what happened.

6670b38baf0aae7f4d8ac2463ddc37c0

(3946)

on December 22, 2011
at 03:33 AM

Thank you Lady, great info.

6670b38baf0aae7f4d8ac2463ddc37c0

(3946)

on December 22, 2011
at 03:32 AM

Thank you Tea Elf. Much appreciated.

F0e558010a2ecb31fa37b7c491596b8e

(3850)

on December 22, 2011
at 12:49 AM

If she passed out from low carb, she may have just experienced dehydration due to low sodium/potassium. That can leave many people lightheaded when the body releases excess, and if she already had low blood pressure that could be it. Sodium/potassium supplementation would help a lot.

50e94d7b6b01e6cb87889c6541adc90c

(813)

on December 21, 2011
at 11:49 PM

Annie, so far I've never used an antihistamine. I "just" live and cook with the "don't eat this" lists, which I found on the internet. These lists tell all the foods, which contain either histamine, other biogenic amines or histamine liberators. If one follows those lists very strict, one ends up with meat, fat and some vegetables. I don't do fruits, because I've also trouble with salicylate and I also don't eat nightshades because I'm on the autoimmune protocol. Maybe your grandmother should try daosin, an enzyme... http://www.foodintoleranceawareness.org/useful_daosin.htm

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on December 21, 2011
at 10:28 PM

I have chronic low blood pressure too, but as long as you don't go too low carb, keep calories high, do some physical activity (even if it's just walking, which has kept my 93 year old gma wealthy), and eat a decent amount of salt, you should still be able to do moderate low-carb (50-100 grams a day).

6670b38baf0aae7f4d8ac2463ddc37c0

(3946)

on December 21, 2011
at 08:50 PM

Thank you for all of that information Isa. She passed out on low-carb, not from a specific food. She has done many elimination diets in an effort to find her triggers. I talked her into antihistamines a while ago, because I was CERTAIN that was the problem, I cannot remember which one she tried, but "they didn't work." If you have a specific antihistamine she should try, please let me know. I will check those links you provided, thank you.

6670b38baf0aae7f4d8ac2463ddc37c0

(3946)

on December 21, 2011
at 08:45 PM

Thanks Dragonfly, she I did talk her into trying the antihistamines a while back. I'm not sure how long she took them, but she found them ineffective.

50e94d7b6b01e6cb87889c6541adc90c

(813)

on December 21, 2011
at 08:23 PM

I also do lots of vitamin C to avoid the headaches which could follow a migraine aura.

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32556)

on December 21, 2011
at 07:38 PM

And see my comment about histamines, below.

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32556)

on December 21, 2011
at 07:37 PM

She probably needs more calories--have her add in some good fats.

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32556)

on December 21, 2011
at 07:36 PM

Second this. The only time I get migraines are eating eggs or mushrooms--and not all the time. Vitamin C (ascorbic acid powder or capsules) is a very handy natural anti-histamine to have on hand.

164ed7cd8d84c926bc66f366619bf853

(495)

on December 21, 2011
at 03:49 PM

I too notice my migraines are mostly weather related these days.

6670b38baf0aae7f4d8ac2463ddc37c0

(3946)

on December 21, 2011
at 05:51 AM

Melissa-the last time she tried even remotely low-carb we had to call the ambulance because she passed out. She already has the family low blood pressure and faints with low-carb. Any other ideas? Thank you.

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on December 21, 2011
at 04:31 AM

low-carb is probably going to have more of an effect than gluten free

6670b38baf0aae7f4d8ac2463ddc37c0

(3946)

on December 21, 2011
at 04:26 AM

Thanks Nance. She is in the 3rd-4th week. Trying to hang on.

6670b38baf0aae7f4d8ac2463ddc37c0

(3946)

on December 21, 2011
at 04:25 AM

Thank Lutfisk, good point.

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on December 21, 2011
at 03:50 AM

@Kasra, I don't know the incidence of weather as a trigger but older people have always said they "feel" a storm coming (in their trick knee or stiff neck, etc.) and I both feel them coming and get a migraine as they go through. In Wisconsin, which has changeable weather I had 2-5 days of migraine every week for 38 yrs; in Nevada, I have 2-4 attacks per year.

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on December 21, 2011
at 03:48 AM

@Annie, the first week or 2 I suffered from "low carb flu" but by 4-5 weeks in I felt fabulous and high energy.

5ef574d7893bc816ec52e04139e9bc09

(6097)

on December 21, 2011
at 03:18 AM

Is it common for bad weather to cause migraines?

6670b38baf0aae7f4d8ac2463ddc37c0

(3946)

on December 21, 2011
at 03:12 AM

Thanks Nance. If there was improvement, any idea how long it took to improve?

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9 Answers

best answer

3
Fb67dc30cead043d1d13ea503a3044dc

(3280)

on December 22, 2011
at 01:14 AM

Annie,

When I first went Paleo (and by default gluten-free), the first month was brutal. I don't know what it was; at the time I assumed it was blood sugar changes, but I don't know. All I know is that I was wretched with migraines, sometimes so bad all I could do was cry. I even considered going back to my SAD diet.

By the end of month two, though, it cleared out, gradually improving over those weeks, and now I only get a small one maybe once every month and a half or so. I still don't know my exact triggers, but often when I've had restaurant food I have a little migraine for 2-3 days.

I hope she feels better soon. Migraines are pure hell. :/

6670b38baf0aae7f4d8ac2463ddc37c0

(3946)

on December 22, 2011
at 03:32 AM

Thank you Tea Elf. Much appreciated.

4
96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on December 21, 2011
at 03:11 AM

Ancestral eating has definitely not aggravated my migraine. I'd have to say it's worked the other way, although storm fronts are a more powerful trigger for me than food.

Other than weather-triggered attacks, which were dramatically reduced by moving from Wisconsin to Nevada, the only migraine I've had since I started ancestral eating in April was in August when I foolishly ate some wheat-based foods. I handle stress much better than I did on SAD and my need for Advil has pretty much disappeared.

My best guess is the stress of trying to change her eating habits is a more likely trigger than the food itself. If she is able to relax about what she's eating and focus on doing things she enjoys and watching/reading things that make her laugh the migraine may just ease up.

6670b38baf0aae7f4d8ac2463ddc37c0

(3946)

on December 21, 2011
at 04:26 AM

Thanks Nance. She is in the 3rd-4th week. Trying to hang on.

5ef574d7893bc816ec52e04139e9bc09

(6097)

on December 21, 2011
at 03:18 AM

Is it common for bad weather to cause migraines?

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on December 21, 2011
at 03:50 AM

@Kasra, I don't know the incidence of weather as a trigger but older people have always said they "feel" a storm coming (in their trick knee or stiff neck, etc.) and I both feel them coming and get a migraine as they go through. In Wisconsin, which has changeable weather I had 2-5 days of migraine every week for 38 yrs; in Nevada, I have 2-4 attacks per year.

6670b38baf0aae7f4d8ac2463ddc37c0

(3946)

on December 21, 2011
at 03:12 AM

Thanks Nance. If there was improvement, any idea how long it took to improve?

164ed7cd8d84c926bc66f366619bf853

(495)

on December 21, 2011
at 03:49 PM

I too notice my migraines are mostly weather related these days.

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on December 21, 2011
at 03:48 AM

@Annie, the first week or 2 I suffered from "low carb flu" but by 4-5 weeks in I felt fabulous and high energy.

2
50e94d7b6b01e6cb87889c6541adc90c

on December 21, 2011
at 10:06 AM

Annie, being a migraine sufferer myself, I only have one thought: you have to find the trigger of your grandmas migraine.

Very often histamine is the devil. If your grandma passes out with a certain food, this sounds like an anaphylactic shock to me. I once experinced this myself with smoked salmon: total collaps because of an histamine overdose.

If someone has a specific food intolerance, he/she has to avoid those foods, which contain the devil (like histamine). I could not help my migraines until I found out: this is all about food intolerances (gluten etc.) BUT also histamine.

A paleo diet will not help if one suffers from special food intolerances. http://thatpaleoguy.blogspot.com/2011/04/histamine-intolerance.html and watch this too http://www.migracalm.net/eng/triggers.html

The best example of a paleo fail concerning migraine is the probiotic trap: don't do sauerkraut, because it's very high in histamine and really really makes heavy migraine !!! http://naturalhealthperspective.com/editorials/sauerkraut-trigger-headaches.html

50e94d7b6b01e6cb87889c6541adc90c

(813)

on December 21, 2011
at 11:49 PM

Annie, so far I've never used an antihistamine. I "just" live and cook with the "don't eat this" lists, which I found on the internet. These lists tell all the foods, which contain either histamine, other biogenic amines or histamine liberators. If one follows those lists very strict, one ends up with meat, fat and some vegetables. I don't do fruits, because I've also trouble with salicylate and I also don't eat nightshades because I'm on the autoimmune protocol. Maybe your grandmother should try daosin, an enzyme... http://www.foodintoleranceawareness.org/useful_daosin.htm

13c5a9f1678d75b93f269cdcf69f14d5

(2339)

on December 22, 2011
at 05:36 PM

Their "fact sheet" on migraines http://fedup.com.au/factsheets/symptom-factsheets/headaches-and-migraines

13c5a9f1678d75b93f269cdcf69f14d5

(2339)

on December 22, 2011
at 05:34 PM

More info on amines and salicylates in foods at failsafe or Feingold diet sites such as http://fedup.com.au/ You can get enzymes to help with these issues, such as Histame.

6670b38baf0aae7f4d8ac2463ddc37c0

(3946)

on December 22, 2011
at 03:34 AM

Yes, Kelly, I agree. The problem is that she is over 80 and I have a hard time talking her back into "low carb" because of what happened.

6670b38baf0aae7f4d8ac2463ddc37c0

(3946)

on December 21, 2011
at 08:50 PM

Thank you for all of that information Isa. She passed out on low-carb, not from a specific food. She has done many elimination diets in an effort to find her triggers. I talked her into antihistamines a while ago, because I was CERTAIN that was the problem, I cannot remember which one she tried, but "they didn't work." If you have a specific antihistamine she should try, please let me know. I will check those links you provided, thank you.

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32556)

on December 21, 2011
at 07:36 PM

Second this. The only time I get migraines are eating eggs or mushrooms--and not all the time. Vitamin C (ascorbic acid powder or capsules) is a very handy natural anti-histamine to have on hand.

50e94d7b6b01e6cb87889c6541adc90c

(813)

on December 21, 2011
at 08:23 PM

I also do lots of vitamin C to avoid the headaches which could follow a migraine aura.

F0e558010a2ecb31fa37b7c491596b8e

(3850)

on December 22, 2011
at 12:49 AM

If she passed out from low carb, she may have just experienced dehydration due to low sodium/potassium. That can leave many people lightheaded when the body releases excess, and if she already had low blood pressure that could be it. Sodium/potassium supplementation would help a lot.

1
13c5a9f1678d75b93f269cdcf69f14d5

(2339)

on December 22, 2011
at 05:12 PM

Corn chips might be gluten free, but they can also be produced in a shared facility. Can she read the labels; they are awfully small! That may be too much gluten exposure for her. It was for me at first but doesn't seem to be as much of an issue now.

13c5a9f1678d75b93f269cdcf69f14d5

(2339)

on December 22, 2011
at 05:13 PM

Also, congrats to her for trying something! I think it can be very hard for an older person to eat as many calories as needed on a high fat diet. The satiety is just amazing. My MIL, 90, has moved lower carb, but I doubt she oculd ever get to ketogenic.

6670b38baf0aae7f4d8ac2463ddc37c0

(3946)

on December 22, 2011
at 07:48 PM

Thank you egk, I will mention to her that she should stay away from the corn chips!

1
8508fec4bae4a580d1e1b807058fee8e

on December 22, 2011
at 12:44 AM

Robb Wolf's co-host in his Paleo Solution Podcast, Andy Deas's wife had severe migraines and was on the highest dose of Topamax (?200 mg/day) and she was eventually able to stop all medication - slowly dropping the dose on ketogenic Paleo!

See Pages 1-3 of Episode 8 in the Written Transcript

http://robbwolf.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/the-paleo-solution-episode-8.pdf

6670b38baf0aae7f4d8ac2463ddc37c0

(3946)

on December 22, 2011
at 03:33 AM

Thank you Lady, great info.

1
78537f0215b31ceb5a76cf218e90575d

on December 21, 2011
at 10:09 PM

I used to get frequent migraines. I stopped eating gluten seven years ago, and had 2 migraines in the first week, but then they completely and unexpectedly went away. I don't think many people are as lucky though.

1
3f5bbb444498a24f1a9720d75fa7c903

on December 21, 2011
at 08:46 PM

Gluten definitely = migraine for me. I would suspect another trigger if elimination of gluten didn't help her. Casein (dairy), lectins, citrus, etc.

1
Medium avatar

(2301)

on December 21, 2011
at 03:36 AM

More fat? My head works better when I eat more.

6670b38baf0aae7f4d8ac2463ddc37c0

(3946)

on December 21, 2011
at 04:25 AM

Thank Lutfisk, good point.

0
00fc8d6f0b6de1e4d7586cb6334c6781

on April 16, 2012
at 09:03 AM

I'm posting this on a couple websites, just because I really feel people should try going gluten free if you get as many migraines I did. And at least the result for me has been immediate. I'm only 25, pretty healthy, and started getting migraines when I was 21:

I have had migraines for the last few years, I've had to take about 22 migraine pills a month, which is the max amount I could get my insurance to pay for. I would get them at first between 1-3 times per week, and then consistently 3-4 times per week for the last couple years, then these last few months almost everyday. I went to a nuerologist and got an MRI to make sure nothing was wrong with me. They couldn't explain why I was getting them, but they had a feeling i was grtting rebound migraines because of the amount of migraine meds i was having to take, but like most people I work and I can't work with a migraine so I would take them as necessary. I am now day 8 on a gluten free diet and I have not gotten a single migraine. I know that seems like a very short time to say going gluten free has helped, but it's been 4 years since I have gone even 4 days without a migraine and I couldn't be happier! I had a few friends suggest going gluten free, but I always refused because I didn't want a diet restriction, and I love bread, and pizza and being able to eat what I want. I suggest to anyone having migraines to cut out gluten and see how it can help!

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