Gluten-Free Celiac Disease Patients Experience Fewer Headaches

Giving up bread may not help cure every celiac disease symptom, but researchers found a relationship between a gluten-free diet and a reduction in headache frequency.

Giving up bread may not help cure every celiac disease (CD) symptom, but researchers found a relationship between a gluten-free diet (GFD) and a reduction in the amount of headaches.

The results of an online survey were presented at the 2015 annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology in Washington, DC. Around 1% of people in the world suffer from CD but there are still questions related to the illness that have yet to be verified.

“Its relation to neurologic disturbances is well demonstrated, while its association with headache and GFD is controversial,” lead author Ameghino LucÍa, of the Neurology Department at FLENI in Buenos Aires, Argentina and his colleagues wrote.

While 1,521 took the questionnaire, only 866 met the criteria. Out of the participants, 24% of them reported headaches as the main symptom after being diagnosed.The chi square test or Mann-Whitney test were used to analyze the survey, based on what was appropriate.

The subjects experienced different types of head pain including tension-type headache (TH, 52%), migraine with aura (MWA, 15.4%), and migraine without aura (MWOA, 32.5%).Upon further examination the researchers revealed that neurological symptoms were more often found in MWA patients than TH.

“Patients with severe headaches tend to have a better compliance to GFD (77%) in comparison to those with milder manifestations (66%),” the investigators explained.

Furthermore, the study revealed that those who complied with the GFD more closely experienced less severe and frequent headaches. Just those with MWA showed a 48% headache frequency improvement when they followed the diet.

“Our results suggest that the strict adhesion to a GFD could have a beneficial outcome amongst celiac patients,” the authors concluded. “However, more studies are required to determine GFD is beneficial for migraine.”