Headaches (including Migraines)

Many people with chronic headaches suffer from them for years with no permanent relief. Whether or not you have migraine headaches, tension headaches, sinus headaches, or an undetermined form of headache, it is very possible that you are suffering from food allergy-induced inflammation. Recent research on migraines indicates that food allergies mediated by IgG-type antibodies are specifically to blame. (see below for research)

A headache is really a symptom of something else. It is obviously pain in the head, but the common factor is that headaches of all types usually involve inflammation. If the immune system reacts to one or more of the foods that you eat, then an inflammatory reaction is taking place that can potentially affect your head. Such reactions are far more common than many people realize.

The inflammation and thus the headache will resolve once the triggering food or foods are removed from the diet. Sometimes this is easier said than done, because the foods that we eat are often complicated combinations of numerous base foods. But once the problem is understood, the results can be dramatic.

To view a first hand account of a patient treated for chronic headaches, please watch this video:

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The Traditional Approach to Headaches

Headaches are considered by conventional medicine to be an inflammatory condition of unknown cause, or simply stress is blamed. This belief ignores a large volume of scientific evidence pointing to food allergies as a major cause of headaches. The medical community has focused almost solely on treating headaches with pain medication and anti-inflammatory medications, either prescription or over-the-counter. These medications offer temporary relief of the pain and inflammation, but they don’t prevent the headaches from recurring. Over the long term this type of treatment also comes with a host of side-effects.

Is It Possible to Eliminate the Pain and Inflammation without Drugs?

Very often it is actually possible to eliminate the cause of the pain and inflammation without resorting to drugs to suppress it. Inflammation is actually caused by the immune system, which then leads to pain. The important question is, “Why is the immune system creating inflammation?”

What Triggers the Immune System to Create Inflammation?

As you already know, bacteria, viruses, and parasites trigger an immune response. But anything that triggers an immune response also triggers inflammation. This includes foods that are incorrectly identified by the immune system as not belonging in the body. Therefore an allergic reaction to a food can result in inflammation.

What Foods Cause Headaches?

The body can be allergic to any food, therefore any food allergy is capable of causing inflammation and headaches. This is why it can be so difficult for one to recognize the relationship between their diet and their symptoms.

Let’s use a dairy allergy as an example. If you eat any form of dairy, be it milk, butter, cheese, yogurt, or even dairy in the form of casein or whey in another food product, such as bread or milk chocolate, then you can potentially trigger the symptoms of your food allergy, in this case a headache. You should also know that allergy symptoms may show up hours or even a day later, well after a food is absorbed into your system.

How Do I Determine if I Have a Food Allergy?

Most doctors are not well versed in evaluating patients for food allergies. Skin testing is inadequate, and many blood tests are not thorough enough to discover a food allergy. The best way to determine if you have a food allergy is to have your blood tested for both IgE and IgG antibodies to a variety of foods. This is done with an ELISA Food Allergy Panel, which measures your immune response to approximately 100 different foods. To have this testing done please call our office at 206-264-1111 to schedule an appointment.

Although there are other potential causes of headaches and not all patients with chronic headaches have food allergies, those that do can get substantial relief by identifying and avoiding the foods to which they are allergic.


Links to More research at The Innate Health Foundation.

Arroyave Hernández et. al. (2008). Food allergy mediated by IgG antibodies associated with migraine in adults. Rev Alerg Mex. 2007 Sep-Oct;54(5):162-8.
Pascual J, Leno C.(2005). A woman with daily headaches. J Headache Pain. 2005 Apr;6(2):91-2. Epub 2005 Apr 8.
Hadjivassiliou M, Grünewald RA, Lawden M, Davies-Jones GA, Powell T, Smith CM. (2001). Headache and CNS white matter abnormalities associated with gluten sensitivity. Neurology. 2001 Feb 13;56(3):385-8.
Stefanini GF, Marsigli L, Foschi FG, Emiliani F, Biselli M, Caputo F, Leefield GH, Castelli E, Gasbarrini G. (1996). Nonmigrainous headache from food allergy. Allergy. 1996 Sep;51(9):657-8.
Murray MT. (1995). Treating the cause--without causing the problem. Altern Ther Health Med. 1995 Mar;1(1):88, 87.
Zagórecka E, Kaczmarski M. (1995). Food hypersensitivity and headaches in children and youth. Rocz Akad Med Bialymst. 1995;40(3):550-6.
Cerrato PL. (1993). Headaches? Change your diet. RN. 1993 May;56(5):69-71.
Hill D. (1990). An allergy to wheat: case history of a sufferer. Health Visit. 1990 Nov;63(11):385.
Egger J, Carter CM, Soothill JF, Wilson J. (1989). Oligoantigenic diet treatment of children with epilepsy and migraine. J Pediatr. 1989 Jan;114(1):51-8.
Savi E, Ranzini C. (1989). Specific IgE antibodies in idiopathic headache. Boll Ist Sieroter Milan. 1989;68(2):152-5.
Mansfield LE. (1988). Food allergy and headache. Whom to evaluate and how to treat. Postgrad Med. 1988 May 15;83(7):46-51, 55.
Dockhorn RJ. (1987). Clinical studies of food allergy in infants and children. Ann Allergy. 1987 Nov;59(5 Pt 2):137-40.
Peatfield RC, Glover V, Littlewood JT, Sandler M, Clifford Rose F. (1984). The prevalence of diet-induced migraine. Cephalalgia. 1984 Sep;4(3):179-83.
Leviton A. (1984). To what extent does food sensitivity contribute to headache recurrence? Dev Med Child Neurol. 1984 Aug;26(4):542-5. Review.
Grant EC. (1979). Food allergies and migraine. Lancet. 1979 May 5;1(8123):966-9.
Pinnas JL, Vanselow NA. (1976). Relationship of allergy to headache. Res Clin Stud Headache. 1976;4:85-95. Review.
Crook WG. (1975). Food allergy - the great masquerader. Pediatr Clin North Am. 1975 Feb;22(1):227-38. Review.
Hilsinger RL. (1974). Allergic headaches. Otolaryngol Clin North Am. 1974 Oct;7(3):789-803.
Campbell MB. (1973). Neurologic manifestations of allergic disease. Ann Allergy. 1973 Oct;31(10):485-98.
Dalessio DJ. (1972). Dietary migraine. Am Fam Physician. 1972 Dec;6(6):60-5.
Bernard JG, Eterstein J. (1970). [Food allergy in extradigestive allergic manifestations] Rev Fr Allergol. 1970 Oct-Dec;10(4):283-92.
Taub SJ. (1969). Allergy in relation to Meniere's syndrome, labyrinthitis, and headache. Eye Ear Nose Throat Mon. 1969 Sep;48(9):550-1.
SHAPIRO RS, EISENBERG BC. (1965). ALLERGIC HEADACHE. Ann Allergy. 1965 Mar;23:123-6.


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