• Matthew Hemmerle DC

Migraines: One Patient’s Road to Recovery

Chi Rho Chiropractic


Headaches and specifically migraines impact roughly 12% of the adult population with women being impacted 3x more than males. If you have ever had a migraine you know that these are much worse than your run of the mill headache and often times come out of nowhere. In fact, 90% of people who experience migraines report moderate to severe pain, 75% report an impaired ability to function and 33% report being bed ridden during these attacks (1).

While there are several causes of migraines, we will talk about one patient who came into the office suffering from daily migraines for over ONE YEAR! This patient that we will anonymously refer to as Brittany was a young college student that was working and going to school all while dealing with severe headache pain. She could not pin point a cause of these migraines nor could she continue to live with them.

A traditional medical approach according to the Mayo Clinic may include scans, lumbar punctures or even just a trial of medication. Medications being the primary intervention used in mainstream medical model can range from pain relievers, beta-blockers, vasoconstrictors, nausea medicine and even opioid drugs in some cases. (2)

Fortunately for Brittany she came to our office where we took a different approach. After the doctors examined her paperwork for any hidden causes, they talked with Brittany to get to know her entire case from health as a baby all the way to current diet, lifestyle, stressors and more. Through this thorough health history, several risk factors presented. We provided recommendations on stress management, appropriate exercise protocols, potential dietary triggers and recommended lab testing to help uncover potential causes that may be underlying. In this case we recommended testing of gut health and comprehensive blood work. Despite having previous bloodwork done at a hospital, there were several gaps in the data that left potential answers unknown.

For some individuals migraines can be caused by hormones, dehydration, environmental triggers, stress, infection, autoimmunity vascular/blood flow irregularities or even current/past head injury…but for Brittany, her blood testing revealed that she possessed the HLA DQ-2 and HLA DQ-8 polymorphism (genetic mutation) that makes her susceptible to Celiac Disease. While this does not indicate that she technically has the disease, as that requires duodenal biopsy, it is a strong indicator that her body does not do well with gluten. (3)

So how could gluten trigger migraines and why weren’t there gut symptoms, which would typically be associated with food sensitivities. A research paper in the American Journal of Gastroenterology concluded that was a significant relationship between gluten and migraines and recommended a dietary restriction of gluten as a first line approach to migraine management. (4) In fact another study published in the journal, Headache, concluded that those with migraines should be screened for gluten reactivity and Celiac Disease as an initial intake. (5)

After reviewing all of the test results with our patient, we recommended that she strictly avoid gluten containing foods and begin a foundational gut healing protocol. Within weeks of this patient completely avoiding gluten the migraines disappeared and have yet to return.

These results are happen frequently and are supported by several emerging and past research studies depicting the relationship between headaches/migraines and diet. Specifically, the ground breaking research being performed on Asymptomatic Celiac Disease. Severeal recent publications have discovered the effect of gluteomorphin, an opiod substance dervied from gluten that can actually exhibit the pain preventing/feel food feeling of an opioid thus masking actual damage or symptoms. This is how a person may experience no gut symptoms but actually be having a significant health risk from consuming gluten. (5)

This case study provides an example of how our unique approach to health can deliver results when other approaches have failed. Viewing a patient as a unique individual rather than an isolated symptom can reveal the cause of a symptom which will be more readily fixable than masking the symptom. If you or someone you know may be helped by our unique approach to healthcare you can learn more at: https://www.chirhochiropractic.com/newpatient

1. https://n.neurology.org/content/68/5/343

2. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/migraine-headache/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20360207

3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29146521

4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12650798

5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26825414


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