Histamines: A Migraine Trigger?

By Winslow

Histamines are defined as substances that cause allergic reactions, dilate blood vessels, and make the vessel walls abnormally react. Histamine is part of the body’s natural allergic response to substances. But… histamines can be a no-no for migraines.

According to Migraine.Com

  • Histamine can be a migraine trigger, even if a person has absolutely no allergies.
  • Some foods contain histamine.
  • Histamine is also always released as part of the digestive process.
  • A digestive enzyme called “diamine oxidase” (DAO) processes histamine, both what’s in food and what’s released as part of digestion.
  • Some people do not produce enough DAO.
  • Taking DAO as a supplement before eating and/or eating a low-histamine diet can reduce the frequency, severity and/or duration of a person’s migraine attacks.

About 25% of the population has a DAO deficiency and one study found that 87% of participants with migraine did not produce sufficient DAO. Another study tested a low-histamine diet for chronic headaches (migraine or not). On the low-histamine diet, 73.3% of patients “improved considerably,” according to the researchers, and 8 had no headaches at all.

High histamine foods are known to be possible migraine triggers. Although everyone is different, some migraine sufferers have found a decrease in their migraines by eliminating high histamine inducing foods.

Examples of high histamine foods are…

  • Alcohol
  • Artificial food coloring
  • Beans
  • Chocolate
  • Citrus Fruits
  • Matured cheeses
  • Nuts such as walnuts, cashew nuts
  • Pickled or canned foods
  • Processed foods
  • Ready meals
  • Sauerkrauts
  • Shellfish
  • Smoked meat products
  • Snacks and sweets with preservatives
  • Vinegar

Of course, everyone is different and may not have the same dietary triggers as another migraineur. Food sensitivities may not be as easily recognized as full blown allergic reactions because they are more subtle and food triggers can present several hours to days after ingestion. Symptoms of food intolerance tend to take longer to appear than symptoms of allergies and are not usually life threatening.

Symptoms can vary and can include:

  • Acid Reflux
  • Bloating
  • Brain Fog
  • Change in Heart Rate/Blood pressure
  • Cough/Congestion
  • Fatigue
  • Feeling “off”
  • Headaches
  • Hives
  • Irritable bowel/Upset Stomach
  • Migraines
  • Runny nose
  • Stomach Cramping/Pain

If you feel worse after ingesting certain foods, it is important to assess your diet and eliminate anything that may be causing your negative symptoms. Keeping a health log journal is essential to understanding what triggers your migraines.

A Personal Note…

For me, I discovered that dairy products were a major trigger for my migraines as well as for my myofascial pain. Dairy products tend to increase inflammation in patients with auto-immune issues. Food items like cheese, milk, and butter induced my migraines and raised my inflammation levels. When I realized the connection, I stopped eating dairy products and introduced alternatives such as almond milk.

This is your life, your health, and your diet. If you can decrease your pain simply by noticing triggers and eliminating certain foods, then it is worth it!

Don’t think about what you are having to give up, think about what you are gaining in terms of health! You are gaining better days, less pain, and more life experiences!

Keep a health log journal and figure out if foods are increasing your migraines.

Wishing you hope, happiness & healing,

Winslow E. Dixon 

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