Gluten and Your Migraine
Can the gluten-free diet help the painful experience of a migraine?
[Updated May 22, 2015]
Karen Schmucker knows when a migraine is coming. Flashing specs of white light suddenly appear, gradually crowding her entire field of vision. This light show—known as an aura—ends after 15 minutes. Then the pain hits. “It feels like someone is slowly pulling on a nerve inside my head,” says Schmucker, a graphic designer from Bellevue, Washington. “It’s not the worst pain in terms of intensity but I feel like I’m going to lose my mind if I can’t stop it. And then there’s the nausea.” Smells, light and noise exacerbate the pain and nausea, forcing her to ride it out in a dark room with an ice pack pressed to her head.
Schmucker has suffered from migraines—both with and without aura—since she was 12. Now 61, she’s tried every pharmaceutical, diet and lifestyle intervention doctors have recommended. In 2006, on the advice of a naturopathic physician, Schmucker cut out gluten.
“After a few months off gluten, I realized it had been a long time since I’d had a migraine with aura—and for me, those are the worst,” she says. Still gluten-free today, Schmucker suffers far fewer debilitating migraines, although she’s not completely migraine-free.
Next: The Gut-Brain Link