Migraine Mysteries

Many years ago, I once went to the doctor with complaints about my headaches. He prescribed pain killers and gave a lack luster talk about perhaps keeping a diary to try to find my triggers. It might have been an off day but he just seemed exasperated.

Unfortunately this is a pretty common experience for migraine sufferers. It doesn’t seem that our pain is taken seriously. Well, we now know that migraines are not harmless and can cause long term brain damage. More reason why we shouldn’t just stop at symptom control. There is an underlying cause, though it may be different from person to person, therefore requiring quite a bit of detective work.

Available trigger lists are a starting point but the answer is highly individual.

From casual observance I knew I was likely to get migraine after moderately intense exercise, watching a movie at the theater, and a few random cases after eating out. Generally symptoms were somewhat worse around my period and once migraine starts pain intensified under sun light. I usually had to lie down in a dark quiet room until the next day.

Mate’s cases usually happened after eating out.

In my case, migraine after exercise reduced by nearly 90% when I went gluten free. The other 10% or so disappeared when I eliminated tree nuts, soy, some seeds, and some beans (all seeds of plants, is there something to this??).

 

In summary our migraine triggers:

Me: food allergies (wheat, tree nuts, soy), combined with exercise/ free glutamate/ other highly stimulating environments (movies at the theater)/ hormones and/or NSAIDs.

Mate: amines? (tyramine, histamine?) mold? (Suspects are fermented soy, fish sauce…)

Both: fresh baked yeast bread

Exercise Induced Allergies

Exercise induced allergies are an example of symptoms being provoked only when two (or more) factors are present at the same time. This makes it much harder to tease out the cause(s).

Food dependent exercise induced anaphylaxis (FDEIA) was first described in a case study in 1979, which seems fairly recent by medical standards. In comparison, Aspergers (now high functioning Autism) was first described in 1944.

Wheat allergy and delayed migraine connection was first confirmed through DBPCFC (double blind placebo controlled food challenge: the “gold standard”) in 2006.

Other possibilities such as free glutamates (MSG), NSAIDs amplifying allergic reaction have been described.

A study of WDEIA (wheat dependent exercise induced anaphylaxis)* shows that both aspirin and exercise increase the presence of gliadin in the blood stream** and the chronic induced behavior may extend to NSAIDs, MSG, Benzoate and other synthetic chemical food additives.

*Or GDEIA (gluten dependent exercise induced anaphylaxis)

**Morita E, Kunie K, Matsuo H (2007). “Food-dependent exercise-induced anaphylaxis”. J. Dermatol. Sci. 47 (2): 109–17. doi:10.1016/j.jdermsci.2007.03.004. PMID 17507204.