Several years ago I learned that celiac disease can cause migraines, and can present without gastrointestinal issues. So I asked my neurologist to consider celiac disease as a possible cause, and he agreed to order a blood test to check for characteristic antibodies. It came back negative. I didn’t know much about celiac disease at the time; specifically, I didn’t know that the blood tests for celiac have a high false negative rate. So I assumed that the celiac disease had been tested and discarded, and I should look elsewhere for an explanation for my migraines. This was a mistake. It turns out that about 10% of celiac sufferers are antibody-negative. Further, gluten-intolerance (which is separate from celiac disease, and will also yield a negative antibody result) can also cause chronic migraines. I had dismissed a promising treatment option on the basis of an imperfect test.
When I learned this, I decided to go gluten-free (GF) and see if I improved at all. The catch is that it can take six months on a GF diet to see results (although most people see a difference sooner, some within days). Guess who took five months and three weeks to notice an improvement? (Sadly it did not make me feel completely better, but I’ll take what I can get!)
Keeping to a GF diet is not so hard when I eat in – there are lots of restricted foods, but lots of good alternatives. The toughest part is eating out – many servers at restaurants don’t understand which of their foods contain gluten, and many restaurants don’t have policies in place to prevent cross-contamination. But it is doable, and it is definitely worth some sacrifices to feel better. And when I mess up and accidentally eat gluten, the way it makes me feel reminds me why I do this.
In future posts I’ll give advice on maintaining a gluten-free diet, secret sources of gluten to look out for, and favorite GF products. If you are considering going GF, try and stick with it for a while. The results might not be immediate, but if you do see them, they are so worth it.
Please remember that this post is the opinion of the author and should not be replaced for actual medical advice or attention. Please learn more about celiac disease here and more about gluten here. Lacuna Loft supports healthy eating whether gluten-filled or gluten-free! Find what works best for you!