You know what, Wheat? You give me a headache!

Kathy posted this story of successful relief from decades of migraine headaches.

And, oh yes, she also lost 10 pounds in 3 weeks: no extreme exercise or calorie counting required!

Dr Davis, here is my story so far. Today, Sept. 9th, is the start of my fourth week on the wheat-free, grain-free way of life. I didn’t say “diet” because, when I tell you my results, you’ll understand why I’m not going back to eating foods that have been incapacitating me since the 1980′s.

I am almost 59 yrs old, 5’ 2 1/2″, and three weeks ago I weighed 160lbs. Ugh! I felt so tired and achy all the time and a typical day for me after work was to hit the couch and on weekends I had enough energy to just get a few things done and again spend most of the weekend laying around, wondering why I’m always so tired.

I have had migraine headaches since the 1980′s. Notice the date from above. I don’t mean just a little ol’ headache once in a while, but a head-pounding, hugging the toilet, F.M.L.A. from work, sicker-than-a-dog migraine. And almost always after taking the prescribed meds (Imitrex or Zomig or Maxalt), I felt so terrible I could barely function. And this was after the migraine was gone! At times I would take a Vicodin for the after-effects the medicine was causing, but never for the migraine itself because that just made them worse.

The first week I was detoxing from the wheat and other grains, I had a migraine every day for five days straight. Then on day six I woke up with a “headache” that OTC [over-the-counter] meds got rid of. That was a first for me! Now three weeks into this I have had three migraines, but I took the same amount of meds and something strange has been happening: The migraine goes away rather quickly and there are no after-effects at all. It’s like I never had one in the first place. I am completely stunned and can’t believe that getting rid of the junk I’ve been consuming has made this kind of difference.

If I had only known this 25 years ago! And by the way, I’ve lost 10 pounds in these last three weeks and I feel great! I hope that other people suffering with migraines will give this a try. Thank you so much!

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Comments & Feedback...

  1. Rachael

    I had a L5-L6 discectomy and fusion in 2006. Everyday since then I have had a left sided nerve related headache that was making me crazy and sad. I wondered how I was going to live the rest of my life with chronic pain. I started the Wheat Belly diet to lose weight and get healthy but as a byproduct I noticed that my headaches are gone! One day I was tired and didn’t feel like coming up with something to eat so I broke down and ate something processed that included wheat and the headaches were back within a few hours. I can’t say how much weight I’ve lost because I don’t weigh myself but I feel good and look good, IMHO.

    • Dr. Davis

      That’s terrific, Rachael!

      This thing called wheat had a grip on your mind and nervous system. It’s now gone!

  2. K-Lo

    Another semi-chronic headache sufferer here. Thought they were from stress, or allergies, or the weather – but it seemed that they weren’t really consistent & couldn’t figure out any common triggers among them. I have had them for years, complete with several weekly migraines for a while in my early-mid 20s. Prior to eliminating wheat, the headaches had returned – I thought they were related to a medication I was taking or due to a shoulder injury, or just having four kids! Since elimination, they’ve just been gone – and now it’s completely clear that they only come back – and FAST! – when I’ve had some accidental wheat.

  3. JIllOz

    That’s great Kathy!!
    It’s amazing how once you get rid of the wheat, even if you still have a”thing” ;), your medication is actually able to do what it’s supposed to!!
    That is such a relief.

  4. Laura F

    After giving up wheat I suddenly realized I had had a headache for as long as I could remember. A constant, low-level headache. I didn’t notice it until it was gone.

  5. JIllOz

    Dr Davis, I hereby name you the Anti-Borlaug. ;)
    While his Green Revolution may have helped hunger in a one-off crisis, it certainly did not and does not serve the day to day lives of human beings.
    Judging by the posts you receive and many reviews of your book, and including my experience, you are
    giving back normal day to day life to many people (notwithstanding those with underlying medical conditions) – hence, you are the anti-Borlaug. GRRRRRR!!!!

  6. Laura

    I know a lot of people with chronic pain issues, and I mention the wheat free diet. I also tell them you don’t know how bad you feel until you feel better.

  7. Trish

    Congratulations, Kathy! I am so thrilled to see the results you have gotten in just 3 weeks! Migraines are horrible for sure. I pray for more relief for you as you move on with this new way of life.

    I began this wheat-free lifestyle Oct 12, 2011 to see if it would help my migraines that I’ve had since childhood. When the Imitrex injections where released back in the early-mid 90’s I began using them. I called it “my miracle drug” because the migraine would be gone within 15 mins. I also took acetaminophen and ibuprofen like candy to ward off the frequent (3-5 per week) headaches before they turned into migraines. Since being wheat-free, the frequent headaches have become occasional (usually sinus related and maybe 1-2 times a month) and I’ve taken the shots about 4-5 times in the last 11 months. I am a 53 yr old grandmother, 5′ 2″ and weighed 130 lbs last year. I have lost 15 lbs that I had gained, probably as menopause’s last hurrah. I feel so much better than I have ever felt, have more energy, clearer skin, no-cause aches and pains are gone, significantly fewer sinus issues, bowels moving so much better and little to no flatulence. My temperament is so much more stable too!

    Who knew that wheat and grains were the cause of this horrendous experience? Thankfully, God led me to Dr Davis’ Wheat Belly book and I’ve learned the truth!

    • Wanda in Edmonton

      I have not had to take even one Axert since I went wheat free after reading Wheat Belly last winter. Plus I no longer have those cravings that sent me off on binges, eating everything within sight. I lost weight on the HCG Diet (which by the way is pretty much wheat free, by the way) and lost 57 lbs. By eating wheat-free, I have absolutely no problem in maintaining my goal weight. Thank you, Dr. Davis.

  8. Toni Wunder

    Today I have been wheat-free for one week; I was skeptical at first but I can say I am now convinced. I feel and look better already! Thank you Dr. Davis.

  9. yuma

    I suffer from periodic back spams that literally come out of the blue. For example, picking up something from the floor triggers one.

    Could this be wheat related?

    • Laura F

      Since wheat triggers inflammation in a lot of people, any pain you experience *could* be wheat related, or could be intensified by wheat.

    • Dr. Davis

      Well, there is a really easy, inexpensive test to find out: Eat no wheat for a minimum of 3 months! (It takes longer for large joint pain to respond.)

  10. Wheat elimination all but decimated my crippling migraines: lower back pain seems to be related to both wheat and sugar, for me. You may want to cut out wheat and cut back on sugar, and see what happens!

  11. Steve

    I’ve had similar relief from incapacitating migraine headaches. I used to get them nearly every other day (beginning in grade school — I’m now 40) and usually I would take a prescription medication (back then, Fiorinal, which is a barbituate) and space out for a couple hours.

    I first noticed headache relief after beginning CPAP treatment for sleep apnea, and then they really started to go away after removing wheat. Wish I knew about this 30+ years ago.

    • Dr. Davis

      Which is why you and I have to shout this message out as loud and as often as possible, Steve!

      There is little incentive to broadcast the health advantages of removing some component of diet. There is LOTS of incentive to talk about a new drug for migraines. Therein lies the hurdle.

    • Gretchen

      I’ve also had headaches since I was in my teens (30 years) that I couldn’t relieve, 3-4 times a week, and sometimes *lasting* for 3 days at a time. I had catscans, chiropractic adjustments, massage, tried avoiding sugar, wine, coffee. I would go through bottles of ibuprofen just to take the edge off, but as Steve said, the drugs they tried to give me like Fiorinal would turn me into a zombie! I ended up just coping with the pain because none of the prescription meds they tried to give me did anything to alleviate the CAUSE, and I didn’t want to live my life doped up. I wondered if it was my TMJ, sinus congestion, allergies, neck problems, stress, tight muscles, eyesight, maybe a tumor… you name it, I considered it! It made me feel like a hypochondriac, and maybe 10+ years ago I stopped looking for answers and just figured that was the way I was put together; headaches were my *normal*.

      Within a WEEK of going off wheat, the headaches were gone… though I didn’t notice immediately because the lack of pain slid quietly past me at first. I wondered if it was a coincidence, until week after week rolled by and I wasn’t having those headaches anymore! Now I may get a minor ache when the weather changes, but nothing at all like before, and I rarely take anything for it.

      I had given up thinking that anything would make them go away, and then something as simple as eliminating a FrankenFood, healed me! If you are on the fence about whether to give grain-free a chance, I urge you to do as Dr. Davis recommends, and go 3 months without.

      *** Also rid of chronic joint pain, sinus infections, tonsillitis, urinary tract infections, acid reflux, IBS is much better and I’ve lost 27 lbs. You can’t get THAT kind of result in a bottle of ANYthing!

      Thank you again, Dr. Davis… I’m one of your biggest fans!!

      ~ Gretchen

  12. Iris Alvares

    Dear dr Davis..
    I have been off wheat since the past 3 months and I feel good.. However, if I consume wheat unknowingly I seem to get a headache.. That completely frightens me.. I have become extremely careful while eating out.. I always check if anything has wheat and then avoid it.. I just say I am allergic to wheat..
    In my mind, wheat and headaches go hand in hand..

    • Dr. Davis

      Yup. I’ve come to a similar conclusion, Iris!

      Wheat has mind effects, the majority of them intrusive, painful, and undesirable!

  13. Elisa

    Wow, it’s amazing how destructive wheat can be. I suffered with severe headaches about 4 or 5 times a week. Some so severe I felt like I couldn’t think straight and it would often bring me to tears. Now that I’ve eliminated grains and sugar from my diet the headaches are gone and so is the fibromyalgia, arthritis, chronic fatigue, acid reflux, irritable bowel syndrome, ulcer, and eczema. I found that if I consume even the slightest bit of wheat I get a horrible headache and body aches and my acid reflux comes back. My symptoms will last five days. If I eat corn, my joints ache. Besides the health improvements, I’ve also lost weight (60 lbs. since February 2012). I now weigh 126 lbs., which is 4 lbs. less than my original goal. I’m 50 years old, but I feel better now than I did in my 20’s.

    • Dr. Davis

      That’s terrific, Elisa!

      You can see why it is truly no exaggeration to say that modern wheat is a chronic poison. How else can you describe the sort of experience you had?

      NO human should be consuming this trash product of genetics research.

      • Lisa

        That’s the thing, exactly! A chronic poison that we’re almost all of us eating on a regular basis so when we suffer from the effects we can’t tell what’s causing it!
        If it was something “in season” or rarely eaten – it would be easy to see what was making us ill.
        I wish I could say my headaches were gone. Must be eating something else and I’m guessing dairy.
        So many wonderful health benefits from dropping the wheat, though. I’ll never, ever go back! The thought of eating wheat makes me feel nauseous. I long felt nauseous and didn’t know why. Wheat.

  14. Tina

    I have been grain free since April 9, 2012. I too have suffered from chronic headaches that made life extremely difficult to handle. I was on several kinds of rx drugs that did not even help with the pain. I found a chiropractor and with treatments and being wheat free, I feel amazing. After my first couple of treatment there was no pain and I no longer take any of the medicines that were prescribed. When I do get an occasional muscle spasm , I take some over the counter medicine. I don’t have joint pain nor do I have eczema flare ups. There so many changes in my body that I could go on and on. I am just amazed and want to share with everyone, but there are a lot of skeptics out there. I just wish people would try giving up the wheat for 30 days and decide for themselves. Thank you so much for the information on wheat, Dr. Davis.

  15. Shirley

    I’ll call this “The pain is gone–but what was it?” I’m 61 and for at least 40 years I experienced colon/intestine(?) pain about 7 or 8 times a year. It was sharp and lasted only a couple of seconds. My doctor could not find any thing wrong. I went wheat-free Dec. 26, 2011 and the little phantom pain is no more.

    • Mama Kass

      I have an unusual problem… When I first started on the wheat belly way of life back in August of 2011 I could literally go for two days without eating. For the last two months I have been experiencing RAVENOUS hunger. I told my Endo and she just shrugged. ( I have zero confidence in her!) I only eat clean and healthy no grains whatsoever. Any ideas

      • Leslie

        Could be your thyroid regaining some function, or the conversion of t4 to t3 operating more effectively. I had this kind of ravenous hunger when I added t3 treatments to my t4 supplementation. I found I had to increase my carb intake by quite a bit, and started increasing my fat intake as well. The hunger leveled off after a few months, and I gained no weight. If you are taking supplemental thyroid, you may want to get your blood levels checked more often and also watch your body temp and pulse for signs of too much thyroid hormone.

  16. Doc.
    I don’t know how long i have been wheat free, probably going on four months. I notice my energy level is still up and down, l realize that with time this should get better. Doc i’ve had all kinds of achs and pains, especially from a knee injury i had about a year ago. I’am sure with time things will get better, I will not even entertain the thought, (although it is enticing sometimes) to try wheat out again, now matter how much i miss using this posion. That just goes to show how addictive wheat really is. I know some celicas and they eat no gluten, but their diet consists of high glycemic products, that spike blood sugar, and we all know the consquences of this, but oh how addictive wheat is, and the substitues that replace wheat, like the high glycemic index ones, that play havoc with the blood sugar. Thanks doc, l know that you probably have taken a lot of flake from dear knows who, on the education of the posions of wheat and what it does to a person system. Keep up the good work.

  17. Lorenzo Levi Brown

    Since I’m a shepherd, I have a simple question for Dr. Davis.
    Why, in wheat belly, on this blog do you NOT include lamb or mutton as edible meats?
    You also do not mention goat?
    search for both on this blog get any hits for either
    I see the industrial food troika of beef, chicken, pork, but NO mention of these tradional foods raised by transhumance methods.
    Sheep and Goats were domesticated long before beef, chicken and pork.
    And if i recall my history close the time when wheat was domesticate..
    Much of the world eats more sheep/goat then beef/pork.
    I find the negelet of these two protien sources sad…
    LL Brown
    A simple shepherd

    • Gretchen

      Hi LL,
      I’d have to look it up, but I loaned out my copy of WB… I do believe that Dr. Davis promotes other types of meat/protein as well, including lamb and sources of wild game in addition to the standards. Perhaps he doesn’t say much about it here because unfortunately, it’s not readily available to many of us. I’d love to be able to get lamb and mutton locally, and your post may have spurred me to go look for a source. I would think that the omission isn’t a stance against that form of protein at all, rather just speaking in the most common terms.


      • Susan Moles

        I would love to cook lamb more often. I have only had it one time, because it is so very expensive. Unfortunately, many people are in a similar position as I am and need to adhere to a family-food budget. For the same reason, I am unable to indulge in more seafood as well. Sigh. I suspect that this is why the less expensive proteins as discussed more often.

        Susan M.

    • Neicee

      Interesting your questioning about lamb and goat meats….I live in a very high state growing lamb especially. You think I can buy it commercially from stores? No, they only carry NZ lamb and even that is hard to find. Seems all of ours is shipped to the east coast for higher end markets there. Believe I’ve only seen goat one time in the stores as well. Both Texas and California sell goat meat – to the hispanic population and now the moslims in the area. In fact, in Texas the hispanics usually buy the goats alive and butcher them in their bathtubs. I have to call my brother-in-law and request they pull a really good sheep to butcher just for us before they sell off their lambs. It’s usually too much for us.

    • Carol

      Yes, I wondered the same thing because I eat a lot of lamb and since most of the lamb eaten in this country is imported, it is more humanely raised and without the antibiotics and growth hormones found in most American meats unless they are organic.

      On another topic entirely, I just read Dr. Davis’s latest post where he was taken to task by a doctor who claims to be a celiac expert. All you readers of this blog should know (because Dr. D. is probably too modest to tell you) that Wheat Belly had been the number one best seller on the NY Times list of advice books for the past seven weeks. I fear that word about his success is getting around in the medical profession and there are lots of docs who just want to continue on as they have been doing. lest their precious egos take a big hit. .

  18. HELEN

    I have been on wheat belly diet for 5 months now and have lost 22 lbs . I have much more energy and my I.B.S , is not so severe. This is the first eating program that I have been able to stick to. I don`t have cravings, don`t feel hungry between meals and I can resist the chocolates and cakes at work. I can see myself being able to stay on this programme for the future. Can`t wait for the cook book to come out.

  19. Kent

    Hi Dr Davis,

    I’m a long time follower from the Heart Blog. I’ve really missed your heart discussions, but do realize how busy you are.

    Anyway, I have been challenged by my Dentist brother-n-law to find any proof of your claim that gliadin was inavertently altered in the 1970’s. He believes this is just another fad to make money and has seen nothing to substantiate the claim about the gliadin claim. Can you provide me with something to share with him to show this is not something only you know about.


  20. Louise

    Hi Dr. Davis, I am on 5 dat of no wheat products and I am totally amazed. I have lost four pounds, don’t feel hungry and feel great! I am 51 years old and have been pretty healthy other than my belly area. I have been walking for a couple of years and my belly area was always the problem. My muffin top and love handles are slowly disappearing! The questions I have is I have some friends that have fibromialga and lupus and I am wondering is you have success stories with people that suffer from this and having gone wheat free they have experienced changes? Also do I need to take any supplements following a wheat free lifestyle.
    Thank you again Dr. Davis!

    • Dr. Davis

      Yes, inflammatory conditions of all colors frequently improve, not disappear entirely, with elimination of wheat. It continues to amaze me even to this day.

      RE: supplements. This is an entire conversation of its own. Perhaps a topic for a future blog post!

  21. james

    dear dr davis:

    I have been grain free for about 2 months and have shed 40 lbs and feel better than I have in quite a while. I would like some clarification on the vegetable yuca not yucca and its use as a potato substitute. I have also used jimica instead of chips for carrying dip. on the armstrong website he claims that yuca is as bad as white potatoes for it impact on the glycemic index yet I have had no craving after consuming either of the above. whole foods sells yuca under the name of yucca which of course is an entirely different root. we are fortunate to live in a town that has a significant puertorican population and therefore many of the roots used on the island are available to us but what do you think of these substitutions? I also make a flat bread of coconut flour and psyllium husk which makes a great sandwich.
    thanks for your discovery/

    • Dr. Davis

      Hi, James–

      Sorry, no insights into yuca or yucca beyond what you have been able to find.

      Jicama, however, is indeed a benign way to enjoy your condiments and dips.

  22. tina

    Hi Dr. Davis
    Just wondering how your bread that you are going to sell is coming along? I am very excited to try it.


  23. Elaine Tribelli

    I stopped eating wheat products last March. When I first stopped, I was in a daze for the entire week to the point where I couldn’t remember anything!
    Once that cleared up I noticed that I had dropped weight and to date dropped 27 lbs!

    The other thing I noticed, was that I do not get the daily headaches that I always had. I only had severe ones once in a while that sent me to bed. I did however, have daily headaches behind the eyes and in the face that I always attributed to barometric pressure/whether here in New England. One day I suddenly realized that they were gone.

    I then began to think – is it because I am wheat free? That’s what I really changed in my life. After much reading, I am beginning to think I have come upon something eye opening.

    • Dr. Davis

      Yup: It’s virtually certain that your headaches were part of your wheat syndrome, Elaine.

      I wouldn’t advise doing it on purpose, but you might re-experience them with wheat re-exposure. Then you will know for certain.

  24. Nadine Casella

    I’ve suffered with migraines for at least 15 years, just turned 51. I don’t recall my diet that many years ago, but I understand the wheat of today is different than it used to be. I had a root canal done and followed up with a crown prep and was given a temporary tooth until the permanent crown was ready. The dentist’s schedule conflicted with mine and I had to go a long time fearing the temporary cement wasn’t going to hold up, so I ate only soft foods. It turns out that after one week of eating only pastas and breads I was in excruciating head pain and soooo frustrated a loud bell went off. I never could get the to bottom of what caused this… WHEAT! I gave up all wheat and it has been 29 days and only one little headache (I think it was from painting that day) that went away with one pill. What a miracle! all the dollars I’ve spent on Dr.’s and meds and to think it was so simple. I’ve also lost 8 lbs. and have never had more energy or felt healthier. If this continues, believe me the thought of suffering with pain will keep me out of the wheat jar. Nadine
    PS My new crown is beautiful and I am definitely smiling more

    • Dr. Davis

      You discovered by accident the very same lesson we all learn here: Modern wheat is poison on the human brain!

      Very nicely done, Nadine!

  25. Karel Van Horn - Seldner

    Dr. Davis,
    I’ve been wheat-free [I think] and dairy-free for two months as a weapon against migraines. I’m knocking on wood but they are less frequent, less severe and often one Excedrin will knock out one that I feel is “coming on”. I am beyond thrilled. I’ve had bad migraines for 35 years; I’m 68. I just heard of your book several days ago and bought it. I saw the section in “Wheat Belly” about “hidden” gluten, etc. I really would like to bake my own bread; do you recommend King Arthur gluten-free bread flour? Thanks so much for your research and publication of your results.

    • Barbara in New Jersey


      Dr. Davis has a delicious recipe for bread (rye and pumpernickel) in his cookbook which is well worth buying. There is a recipe on this blog for Sunflower Seed Bread that is delicious too. We don’t use the “gluten free” flours like King Arthurs or CarbQuick because they are very high in carbs and raise blood sugar too quickly. We mostly use almond and coconut flour for baking. Also check paleo and primal web sites for recipes. Wheat Free Market Foods has terrific muffin, wraps and pizza mixes. Check them out!

      Congrats on your wonderful results so far. The longer you are grain and sugar free, the better your health becomes.