Can Foods Trigger Migraines? Study says YES!

AAEM News: Foods Trigger Migraines. – Cephalalgia study says yes
Posted by: “Lawrence A. Plumlee”   laplumlee
Wed Jul 28, 2010 5:56 pm (PDT)
Big study in a prominent Journal.
Acknowledged by this Mayo Clinic doc in
the New York Times.
Elimination diets not so “crazy” now I
guess. I can hear Dr. Randolph chuckling.
Kathleen Flayherty

<http://consults. blogs.nytimes. com/2010/ 07/26/can- foods-trigger- migraines/ ?ex=1295755200& en=d0c1c5a01c082 c9d&ei=5087& WT.mc_id= NYT-E-I-NYT- E-AT-0728- L18>http://consults. blogs.nytimes. com/2010/ 07/26/can- foods-trigger- migraines/ ?ex=1295755200& en=d0c1c5a01c082 c9d&ei=5087& WT.mc_id= NYT-E-I-NYT- E-AT-0728- L18

Can Foods Trigger Migraines?

Which food may be setting off your headache?

Chris Warde-Jones for The New York Times Patients
and doctors have long recognized that certain foods may set off headaches.

Can allergies to certain foods trigger migraines?
What about food additives like MSG? Dr. David
Dodick of the Mayo Clinic– an-expert-about-migraine/
responds to readers’ questions about migraines.

Food Allergies and Migraines

I had a blood test for food allergens, cut them
out, and my migraines were greatly diminished in
frequency and intensity. Is this a common
experience? Are there good studies supporting this?
Bruno, Seattle

Dr. Dodick responds:

Another good question. The relationship between
certain foods as a migraine trigger has been
recognized by patients and physicians for
decades. Until recently, though, there was little
scientific evidence to support the connection,
and what was available was conflicting.

In a recent
well controlled study published in the journal
Cephalalgia, a group of migraine patients were
tested for IgG antibodies against 266 different
food antigens. The presence of antibodies
indicates an immune response to a specific food.
All patients were placed on a diet rich in foods
to which they had antibodies and then, at a later
time, a diet in which the foods to which they had antibodies were eliminated.

Compared with the usual baseline frequency and
severity of attacks for these individuals, there
was a significant reduction in both the number of
migraine attacks and the number of days spent
with headache when on the elimination diet. This
study supports the results of earlier research
and suggests that the relationship between
dietary triggers and migraine may be immunologic,
and that IgG-mediated food allergy could be one
mechanism. More work needs to be done, but there
is now good scientific evidence emerging that is
beginning to explain a longstanding, and sometimes hotly debated, observation.

Elimination Diets and MSG

I’d like to know what you think of elimination diets like 
the Buchholz diet as a potential cure for migraines.

MSG is a major trigger for me. Are there any
medications that would block the effects of the
MSG as a headache trigger? It is very hard to
avoid (among other things, it is added to a lot
of meat, which is not labeled as such, and a form
of it is sprayed on commercially grown food
plants — AuxiGro). I was reading about a
medication for alcoholism that blocked some of
the chemicals that MSG breaks down into, and it
sparked my interest as a possible solution.
missmandi, Carrboro

Dr. Dodick responds:

Regarding elimination diets, please see my answer
above regarding food allergens and migraine.
There is preliminary evidence that suggests that
when certain foods to which patients have
antibodies (IgG in particular) are eliminated
from the diet, migraine frequency is reduced.
Because dietary triggers vary significantly from
person to person, and because some individuals
have elevated antibodies to some foods while
others do not, the preferred approach may be to
follow a diet that is individualized and to
eliminate only foods that may trigger attacks for that individual.

MSG, or monosodium glutamate, appears to be a
trigger for a number of individuals with
migraine. There is no evidence that medications
that block the effect of glutamate are
specifically effective for MSG-induced attacks,
though this specific question has not been
properly studied. In general, however, when one
finds an effective preventive medication, one is
less vulnerable or susceptible to triggers, including dietary triggers.

For more on migraines, see Dr. Dodick’s responses
in the Related Posts section, below, and
The Times Health Guide: Migraine.