Headaches can be triggered by:
- The amino acid phenylalanine
Phenylalanine is found in aspartame (NutraSweet, Equal), monosodium glutamate (MSG), and nitrites (preservatives found in hot dogs and luncheon meats, bacon and ham).
- Foods containing tyramine
Foods that contain tyramine include alcoholic beverages, bananas, cheese, chicken, chocolate, citrus fruits, cold cuts, herring, onions, peanut butter, pork, smoked fish, sour cream, vinegar, wine and fresh-baked yeast products (alcohol, chocolate and cheese are three of the main ones). Tyramine causes the blood pressure to rise, resulting in a dull headache.
- Vitamin B6 deficiency
- Caffeine (the most often stated cause of headaches)
- Low blood sugar
- Eat a high fibre diet
- Eat a well-balanced diet.
- Avoid chewing gum, ice cream, iced drinks, caffeine, salt and excessive sunlight.
- Herbs relieve headache pain include feverfew, goldenseal, lavender, rosemary, mint, marshmallow, thyme, fenugreek, burdock root, brigham, lobelia and skullcap.
- Essential oils of chamomile, lavender, peppermint, cypress, frankincense, sandalwood, rose, lemon, eucalyptus, basil, and marjoram can all be useful in different headache/migraine situations. Find an oil that suits you, and mix 2-4 drops with a carrier oil such as grapeseed oil or almond oil.
- Supplements which may help headaches include magnesium, riboflavin and coenzyme Q10. Magnesium, found in beans and whole grains, nuts, avocado and spinach is necessary and too little magnesium may cause headaches and migraines. Magnesium is also a muscle relaxant so can assist tension headaches. In addition, a B vitamin called riboflavin and coenzyme Q10 have also been shown to reduce headache occurrences. The results may not be immediate with studies showing decreased headaches and migraines after three months.
Try eliminating one food or food group for 3 months at a time to see if you notice a difference. Keep a food diary to note any patterns linking food to headaches. Kasey, our nutritionist can also help you with a food plan if you need a little extra help or advice.