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HeadWay, Issue #095 -- A Quick Guide to IBS and Migraine
May 29, 2012

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In this month's issue:

A Quick Guide to IBS and Migraine

Recently at Headache and Migraine News

Say what?!  mitochondrial dysfunction

A Quick Guide to IBS and Migraine

Back in 2006, the news was abuzz with the results of a large study of patients with IBS, or irritable bowel syndrome.  The study showed that those with IBS were 60% more likely than the general population to have migraine.

Irritable bowel syndrome commonly causes cramping, gas, diarrhea and pain.  Not what you need when you're already dealing with migraine.

We've known for a long time that IBS and migraine often go together.  So here's a quick guide for patients who have both.

Unwelcome Companions

Why do migraine and IBS go together?  At the time of the above study, Dr Reza Shaker of the Medical College of Wisconsin said that "Clinical observations of patients with pain syndromes indicate that we are dealing with a syndrome bigger than a single organ."  In other words, there may be an underlying disorder, probably neurological, which is causing both problems.

It's also no secret that migraine issues are very much related to issues in the gut.  Some supplements (such as Foreverwell) deal with gut issues in order to treat migraine.  Migraine often causes pain in the abdomen (particularly in abdominal migraine).

Another connection between IBS and migraine may be your mitochondria.  Mitochondrial dysfunction could be a key element behind both migraine and IBS.

Certain food allergies or food intolerance could also be a key connection to both. The antibody Immunoglobulin E (IgE) has been linked to migraine attacks, and elimination of related foods have helped people with IBS.

Fight IBS and Migraine - with Food

Avoiding certain types of foods could fight both IBS and migraine.  These include:
  • chocolate
  • caffeine
  • artificial sweeteners
  • chewing gum
  • cheeses (especially aged)
It's also wise to eat less more often (don't skip meals), and drink plenty of liquids.  A generally balanced diet, avoiding processed foods, is going to be great to fight both migraine and IBS.

(Remember, these are ideas to fight both IBS and migraine - there are specific diets for one or the other that you might want to try, but if you're dealing with both these are key tips).

Fight IBS and Migraine - Lifestyle

What lifestyle changed could fight both?  The biggest help here is exercise.  It doesn't have to be a lot - a few minutes a day to start with, even if it's just a short walk, can make a tremendous difference.

Fight IBS and Migraine - Medications

Make sure your doctor is aware that you suffer from both IBS and migraine.  It may help her to give you better medications without having to try some that won't work.

Be cautious of medications containing caffeine.  Many painkillers would be in this category.

The major category of preventatives that are prescribed for both migraine and IBS is antidepressants.  In the case of IBS, these are usually prescribed if you also suffer from depression.  However, they're prescribed for migraine whether you are depressed or not.  Tricyclic antidepressants and SSRIs are both prescribed.

There are also supplements that have been helpful to migraine and IBS patients.  A prime example are probiotics.  For mitochondrial disorders, common supplements include B complex vitamins, vitamin E, magnesium, and coenzyme Q10.

Gastric stasis may also play a part, meaning that the medications you take may not get into your system in time.  For migraine abortives, try a nasal spray, injection, or patch, to get the medication into your system without going through your gut.

For patients who take triptan medications for migraine, here's an interesting finding.  If the triptan is the first medication you take during a migraine attack every time, you're less likely to suffer from IBS and insomnia.

Using this information

Again, be sure that your doctor or specialist is aware that you have IBS.  If you're not sure, ask for a diagnosis (see here for more on IBS).

Pay special attention to things that can help with both conditions, and make it a priority to try these things first.  It may take time to treat IBS and migraine, but many patients have found relief for both.

Recently at Headache and Migraine News

Some recent articles you won't want to miss:

Say what?!  mitochondrial dysfunction

Your mitochondria provide energy to your cells.  Defects and damage in your mitochondria can, therefore, cause big problems.  Although we don't understand the impact of mitochondrial dysfunction, we do know that it's related to issues such as diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, stroke, and many more.  Mitochondrial dysfunction may also be related to gastric stasis, a key problem for migraine sufferers.

Thanks for reading!  Remember, if you have feedback or ideas for future issues, visit the HeadWay MailRoom.  Your password is nomoache.
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