"Roughly one-third of celiac disease or gluten-sensitive patients we see have some form of migraine," Fasano said. "That link with gluten-related disorders is very well known to us. We don't know why. What is the connection?"
Dimitrova said many patients reported major improvements in the frequency and severity of headaches once they adopted a gluten-free diet.
Fasano said he has seen it work the other way around, too, in that people with migraines often also complain of belly woes and some experience less digestive trouble when they go on gluten-free diets.
"One thing is for sure: Many people with migraines, when they go on a gluten-free diet, the migraines improve or go away," he said.
Migraine sufferers who don't get relief from treatments should ask their doctors about a celiac disease screening, Dimitrova said.
The researchers presented their findings last week at the American Academy of Neurology annual meeting in New Orleans. The data and conclusions should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.
The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about celiac disease.
SOURCES: Alexandra Dimitrova, M.D., resident, department of neurology, Neurological Institute, Columbia University Medical Center, New York City; Alessio Fasano, M.D., medical director, University of Maryland Center for Celiac Research, Baltimore; April 25, 2012, presentation, American Academy of Neurology annual meeting, New Orleans
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