When headache derives from a simple sandwich

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13258361_mLet’s keep talking about food-related inflammation and about how science is gradually discovering the tight connection existing between migraine and food hypersensitivities.

For many years, the common saying was that the only link between food and headache depended on the triggering effect typical of foods like chocolate, wine or cheese; only few researchers mentioned the existence of a connection between food-triggered inflammation and migraine.

Today, instead, we know with absolute certainty that there exists a novel type of inflammation of the nervous tissue caused by substances part of the daily diet.

Cephalea, migraine and headache in general may be caused by the repeated ingestion of certain types of food, against which one may have developed a specific reactivity.

The breaking news was already published in the scientific magazine Neurology in 2001 (Hadjivassiliou M et al, Neurology 2001 Feb 13;56(3):385-388); the British scientists of the Department of Neurology of Sheffield University examined a group of celiac people (that is, with demonstrated hypersensitivity towards gluten, a protein found in wheat flour and other grains) also suffering from headache.

They were able to demonstrate that their ache was linked to a mild, but persistent, inflammatory condition of the nervous tissue (detected by magnetic resonance), which tightly depended on the ingestion of substances containing gluten.

The study was able to show that in nine out of ten people headache completely disappeared by following a gluten-free diet, while it reappeared if the inflammogen was reintroduced. The tenth subject was unassessable, since he simply refused to start the new diet!

This study, published in 2001 (as already mentioned), is already revolutionary on its own, since it does not understandably take into account all the most recent discoveries around gluten sensitivity, presented in the following years on many of the articles we have discussed in Docsalus.

In a study published in 2009 on Medical Hypotheses (Med Hypotheses. 2009 Sep;73(3):438-40), the existence of a tight connection between gluten and certain neurological symptoms like headache was proposed in such a convincing way, that led the author theorizing about the existence of “the gluten syndrome”.

Indeed in our practice (SMA Servizi Medici Associati), we have been following several patients affected by cephalea and/or migraine through tailored therapeutic courses ranging from the definition of the inner personal profile to keeping food-related inflammation under control.

These are pieces of information reopening certain questions around what are the causes and about the possibility to treat headache in ways that are not only drug-based:

  • Headache may depend on a persistent inflammatory event, even if light.
  • Such inflammatory event may derive from the active hypersensitivity towards one or more foods.
  • A correct diet may be able to rebalance the system and to support healing without the use of any medicine.

These three thoughts represent also real chances to offer novel avenues to millions of people, thanks to which one can appreciate his/her personal response, without merely relying only on pharmacological interventions.