Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Migraines: Triggers from Foods & Additives

Many of my patients with migraines recognize that certain foods are a trigger for them, but I found this list provided by Wikipedia to be especially thorough, so I thought I'd share it. If you suffer from migraines, it may be worthwhile to follow an elimination diet to avoid all of these toxins, and to slowly add them back in, one at a time, watching carefully for 72 hours for a migraine or other allergic response.

Besides food and additives, there are many other triggers for the migraine generator, including changing hormone levels (estrogen, progesterone, thyroid in particular the 7-10 days before menstruation and sometimes just after).

Gluten is a toxin for many of us, even if you don't have the classic allergic response of indigestion, diarrhea and bloating.

Check it out (and click here to go to Wikipedia to check out the citations).

Gluten One food elimination that has proven to reduce or eliminate migraines in a percentage of patients is gluten. For those with (often undiagnosed) celiac disease or other forms of gluten sensitivity, migraines may be a symptom of gluten intolerance. One study found that migraine sufferers were ten times more likely than the general population to have celiac disease, and that a gluten-free diet eliminated or reduced migraines in these patients.[21] Another study of 10 patients with a long history of chronic headaches that had recently worsened or were resistant to treatment found that all 10 patients were sensitive to gluten. MRI scans determined that each had inflammation in their central nervous systems caused by gluten-sensitivity. Seven out of nine of these patients that went on a gluten-free diet stopped having headaches completely.[22]
Aspartame While some people believe that aspartame triggers migraines, and anecdotal evidence is present, this has not been medically proven.[23]
MSG MSG is frequently reported as a dietary trigger (12%).[24] In a placebo-controlled trial, monosodium glutamate (MSG) in large doses (2.5 grams) taken on an empty stomach was associated with adverse symptoms including headache more often than was placebo.[25][26] However another trial found no effect when 3.5g of MSG was given with food.[27]
Tyramine The National Headache Foundation has a specific list of triggers based on the tyramine theory, detailing allowed, with caution and avoid triggers.[28] However, a 2003 review article concluded that there was no scientific evidence for an effect of tyramine on migraine.[29]
Other A 2005 literature review found that the available information about dietary trigger factors relies mostly on the subjective assessments of patients.[23] Some suspected dietary trigger factors appear to genuinely promote or precipitate migraine episodes, but many other suspected dietary triggers have never been demonstrated to trigger migraines. The review authors found that alcohol, caffeine withdrawal, and missing meals are the most important dietary migraine precipitants, that dehydration deserved more attention, and that some patients report sensitivity to red wine. Little or no evidence associated notorious suspected triggers like chocolate, cheese, histamine, tyramine, nitrates, or nitrites with migraines. However, the review authors also note that while general dietary restriction has not been demonstrated to be an effective migraine therapy, it is beneficial for the individual to avoid what has been a definite cause of the migraine.

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I'm an organic gynecologist, yoga teacher + writer. I earn a living partnering with women to get them vital and self-realized again. We're born that way, but often fall off the path. Let's take your lousy mood and fatigue, and transform it into something sacred and useful.