Randomised controlled trial of food elimination diet based on IgG antibodies for the prevention of migraine like headaches.

Nutrition journal. 2011;10:85
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The exact causes of migraine are unknown, but it is thought that it may be a culmination of several different factors, such as stress, altered sleep patterns, weather and hypersensitivity to foods. Testing for food intolerances is a challenging process and several methods can be employed to test. This study aimed to determine the effectiveness of using a type of testing known as the enzyme linked immune-sorbent assay (ELISA), which tests the body’s delayed immune reaction to foods, and whether eliminating foods based on results from this test would help migraine sufferers. The results showed that 4 weeks of eliminating foods based on the ELISA test decreased migraines, however this was not sustained to 12 weeks of food elimination. It was concluded that in the short-term, eliminating foods based on results from the ELISA decreased headache frequency, but this could not be sustained long-term. This study could be used by healthcare professionals to understand that diet elimination based on measuring the body’s delayed immune response may have limited effects on migraines.


BACKGROUND Research suggests that food intolerance may be a precipitating factor for migraine like headaches. AIM: To evaluate the effectiveness of the ELISA (Enzyme Linked Immuno-Sorbent Assay) Test and subsequent dietary elimination advice for the prevention of migraine like headaches. DESIGN Randomised controlled trial. SETTING Community based volunteers in the UK. PARTICIPANTS Volunteers who met the inclusion criteria for migraine like headaches and had one or more food intolerance were included in the study. Participants received either a true diet (n = 84) or a sham diet (n = 83) sheet. Participants were advised to remove the intolerant foods from their diet for 12 weeks. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES Number of headache days over a 12 week period (item A MIDAS questionnaire). Other measures includes the total MIDAS score and total HIT-6 score. RESULTS The results indicated a small decrease in the number of migraine like headaches over 12 weeks, although this difference was not statistically significant (IRR 1.15 95% CI 0.94 to 1.41, p = 0.18). At the 4 week assessment, use of the ELISA test with subsequent diet elimination advice significantly reduced the number of migraine like headaches (IRR 1.23 95%CI 1.01 to 1.50, p = 0.04). The disability and impact on daily life of migraines were not significantly different between the true and sham diet groups. CONCLUSIONS Use of the ELISA test with subsequent diet elimination advice did not reduce the disability or impact on daily life of migraine like headaches or the number of migraine like headaches at 12 weeks but it did significantly reduce the number of migraine like headaches at 4 weeks.

Lifestyle medicine

Fundamental Clinical Imbalances : Neurological ; Immune and inflammation
Patient Centred Factors : Triggers/Food sensitivity
Environmental Inputs : Diet ; Nutrients
Personal Lifestyle Factors : Nutrition
Functional Laboratory Testing : Blood

Methodological quality

Jadad score : 2
Allocation concealment : No


Nutrition Evidence keywords : Enzyme linked immo-sorbent assay ; ELISA ; Migraine ; IgG ; Immune reaction