Food and migraine headaches

It's said that “plenty is no plague”, but it occurs that there are some exceptions from this rule. Excess amount of some food products in diet may increase the risk of migraine. At least, according to some biochemical evidence and observations. This topic is complex, but it's also very interesting, especially for people whose heads “are killing them”...

Migraine's basics

Many people seem to suffer from migraine headaches. In this group there are 25% of women and 9% of men. It is recognized and treated properly quite rarely. The main symptom of migraine is specific headache, usually one-sided, pulsating, often with nausea, photophobia, sensitiveness to smell and sounds. Unfortunately, the reason of this ailment is not known well, however this disease is mostly inherited. On the other hand, it is also known that many disorders and other diseases may lead to migraine. Pain may appear during hormonal disorders, it may be the result of injuries, and hunger and thirst foster it, too. It sometimes happens that people, who are permanently stressed, suffer from migraine during relaxation. As it turned out, also some food products matter for this ailment.

Food products causing migraine

Although this matter has not been researched well, there are reasons to believe that there are some food products, which may cause migraine. Most of all, these are:

  • ripened cheese,

  • red wine,

  • chocolate and cocoa,

  • food containing nitrates,

  • citrus fruit and juice,

  • probably large doses of monosodium glutamate and aspartame (they contain amino acids, which function as neurotransmitters).

Other food factors

The substance, which may influence the risk of occurrence of migraine is also caffeine, but in this case, the trigger may be the change in consuming it, e.g. resigning from drinking coffee by a passionate gourmand of this drink may cause headaches, analogically, drinking large amount of caffeine by a person who has no contact with this compound on everyday basis may result in similar symptoms.

Similar effect, like in case of caffeine, sometimes occurs when the daily intake of carbohydrates changes. Drastic limitation of consuming these nutrients, as well as fast increase of their supply, may cause headaches. You can sometimes observe migraines among competitors, who eat large amount of proteins, which is probably connected with overproduction of ammonia in the body.


Dehydration is another factor, which may cause migraine or non-migraine headache. Every person, who has ever experienced drinking too much alcohol at somebody's birthday, friend's wedding or because of any other reason knows how unpleasant it may be. “Heavy head”, which crushes skull since morning is an ailment connected, among other reasons, with dehydration.

Food compounds preventing from migraine

Apart from food factors, which are the “triggers” of migraine, there also exist such products, which decrease the risk of occurrence of this ailment. You can find here:

  • coenzyme Q10,

  • riboflavin (vitamin B2),

  • magnesium,

  • potassium,

  • omega-3 fatty acids,

  • ginger (to be precise, gingerols found in it).

The presence of the mentioned compounds in diet may be a good idea in case of people suffering from migraines.

In prophylaxis and when supporting the fighting against migraine, herbs, such as common butterbur (Petasites hybridus) and feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium) may be helpful. The latter plant confirmed its anti-migraine properties in double-blind randomize studies done on volunteers who suffer from migraines. It's worth the interest, because the references are quite good.


People suffering from migraine headaches should pay attention to their diet, as it may be connected with this type of ailments. Proper choice of food, beverages and herbs may become the underestimated weapon against this burdensome disease.