Is Gluten Triggering Your Migraines? – EpiLynx


Did you think that gluten only affects your gut and is only bad for people with celiac or non-celiac gluten sensitivity? nope It can also affect your overall well-being and trigger migraines and headaches, even if you don’t have celiac disease.

Here’s an interesting study that might shed some light on gluten and migraines in general:

Gluten is a protein that you can find in grains like barley, rye, or wheat. People can avoid gluten for a variety of reasons. Most people who do not eat gluten have celiac disease. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system makes antibodies in response to gluten.


Other people may avoid gluten because they have an intolerance to the protein. If your body cannot tolerate gluten, the lining of your small intestine cannot absorb important nutrients. If you eat gluten and cannot tolerate it, you may experience the following symptoms:

  • Diarrhea
  • gas
  • weight loss
  • a general deterioration in your health

Most current research looks at the effects of gluten on celiac disease, but some recent studies suggest a possible link between gluten and migraines.


What are the symptoms of a migraine?

Some migraine sufferers experience what is known as an “aura” before the headache. During the aura, you can experience a variety of sensory disturbances. Some people see blind spots or zigzags. Others say they feel weird or have an odd sense of taste or smell.

Other migraine symptoms include:

  • fatigue
  • nausea
  • a loss of appetite
  • a fever
  • other uncomfortable feelings

See your doctor if you have extreme symptoms, especially if you have nausea and a fever.


No one knows why migraines occur, but there are some common triggers and risk factors. For example, a person with a family history of migraines is more likely to get migraines.

Some people can identify things that trigger a migraine.



Some people experience a migraine when the level of caffeine in their blood drops. This is more likely if you normally consume a lot of caffeine or are particularly sensitive to the chemical.

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For other people, caffeine helps reduce the pain of a migraine. Caffeine is an ingredient in some migraine medications. If caffeine is one of your triggers, ask your doctor or pharmacist if your medication doesn’t contain caffeine.


Food and drink preservatives such as monosodium glutamate (MSG) or nitrates can trigger migraines. Read food labels carefully. When ordering takeout, ask if the food is MSG-free.



Hormone fluctuations can cause migraines. Women can get migraines during their menstrual period. If you regularly have migraines around the time of your menstrual period, changes in your hormone levels can trigger them.


Weather changes can cause migraines. A change in barometric pressure, which can occur when a rain shower comes, or a change in altitude can trigger a migraine. Some people are also more prone to migraines in hot, humid weather, although dehydration may play a role in developing migraines in these people.

stress and fatigue

Difficult situations or extra pressure can trigger a migraine. Fatigue and lack of sleep can also play a role.

The link between gluten and migraines

Gluten can be a trigger for migraines in some people. A newer one to learn has suggested a link between celiac disease and migraines. Migraines can even be an early symptom of celiac disease in some people, although migraines are considered one rare complication from celiac disease.

Gluten can affect the nervous system in people with celiac disease and those with non-celiac gluten intolerance. Examples of conditions affecting the nervous system include:

  • learning disabilities
  • depression
  • migraine
  • headache

This means that gluten can trigger migraines in people who don’t have celiac disease but instead have a gluten sensitivity. Gluten sensitivity is not yet well understood. A person with gluten sensitivity may experience:

  • foggy thinking
  • stomach pain
  • Gastrointestinal problems such as diarrhea or constipation
  • headache
  • joint pain
  • gas
  • chronic fatigue

Gluten can be a trigger for migraines in some people, but more research is needed to understand this link.

How are gluten-induced migraines diagnosed?

Get tested for celiac disease

See your doctor if you’re wondering if your migraines might be gluten-related. Your doctor may do a blood test or endoscopy to test you for celiac disease. A blood test will indicate if you have higher levels of antibodies, which happens when you have a weakened immune system. Gluten can be the cause of this reaction. During an endoscopy, your doctor can examine your small intestine and check for damage. Damage can be a sign of celiac disease.

Follow an elimination diet

Doctors don’t have tests to diagnose gluten sensitivity. If your celiac disease test is negative, your doctor may recommend an elimination diet. During an elimination diet, you remove potential allergens from your diet and then slowly add them back, noting if and when your symptoms return. This can help determine what is triggering the migraine.

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Keep a migraine diary

Your doctor may also recommend keeping a food and migraine diary. In your journal, write down everything you eat and when you get migraines. This is how you can spot trends. For example, if you get frequent migraines the day after drinking red wine, red wine may be a trigger. Journaling can help you determine if gluten is causing your migraines.

How are gluten-induced migraines treated?

Avoid gluten

The most effective treatment for celiac disease is a diet where you eliminate all foods that contain gluten. Some gluten sources are:

  • Wheat
  • durum wheat
  • Farina
  • bulgur
  • barley
  • semolina
  • Spelt
  • rye
  • soy sauce

Learn more: Gluten Allergy Food List: What to Avoid and What to Eat »

It can be difficult to determine which foods you can and cannot eat while on a gluten-free diet. Here are some common foods you can eat and some to avoid:

Many types of pasta, granola and other staples are available in a gluten-free version. Check labels and look for items that state they’re made gluten-free.

Do you take any medicine

In addition to avoiding triggers like gluten, other migraine treatments include over-the-counter medications as well as prescriptions your doctor can give you if your migraines are intense and recurring. These medications can prevent migraine symptoms before they occur.

Make other lifestyle changes

You should also consider making other lifestyle changes, such as cutting out caffeine or alcohol, to see if these restrictions help prevent migraines.

How is the view?

It may take several weeks before you feel a difference in your body after starting a gluten-free diet. Stick with it and keep a log of your migraines to see if the diet changes are helping to improve them.

You can always try other migraine treatments or preventative medications if the gluten-free diet isn’t working. Alternative therapies such as acupuncture and massage therapy may also help treat migraines.

In the meantime, if gluten is indeed an issue, make sure you eliminate gluten from everything around you, from your food, makeup, skincare, etc!



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