Headache Chocolate

Many migraineurs automatically assume "headache chocolate" as in "if I have a headache it must have come from the chocolate!" I also hear the complaint that "Every time I eat chocolate, I get a headache right afterwards."

So many times I read articles on the internet about this subject. Even ones written by doctors (not headache specialists!) telling people not to eat this candy as it will bring on migraine headache symptoms. The truth is it all depends on how much you eat AND what type of chocolate. And it doesn't necessarily trigger a migraine, but enough of it could make one worse.

  • The Myth Of Chocolate

Let's talk about the MYTH OF CHOCOLATE causing migraine headaches. Not really all that true. Nope. Nada. Zip.

One recent study suggested that since chocolate contains copper, it may increase copper levels and then trigger a migraine. However, you would have to eat a LOT of it not just a few pieces to cause a headache.

Speaking of chemicals, one of the ingredients is PEA or phenyethylalanine which is a mild vasodilator...but again you would have to eat LOTS of it to cause a migraine, perhaps a pound or so.

So what's going on? Is there a headache chocolate connection?

Migraines have a pro-dromal phase where you "feel" something is coming one. During this time certain parts of the brain are firing off and one of them can stimulate food cravings, particularly sugar or sweets. Well we all loovve chocolate, right? Then after eating it, the headache always follows.

migraine phases

Therefore many assume that chocolate causes headaches. So next time, recognize this, it may be the beginning of a migraine phase. Still doesn't give you or me permission to eat a pound of the stuff but you get the idea.

This article discusses the facts more and is from the University of Pittsburgh. No evidence chocolate causes headaches.

  • Types Of Chocolate

Believe it or not, research has been done in this area in relation to the type of cocoa used and the amount of preservatives. Apparently it is true: dark chocolate is better for you than milk chocolate in terms of headache. There appears to be somewhat of a link between amount of cocoa used and headache. However, most candy on the market has 10% or less cocoa in it as the majority of it is fats, chemicals, sugar, vanilla and other artificial flavors.

  • Chocolate And Depression

Research in the field of depression has noted that chocolate can affect seratonin levels in the brain. Seratonin is highly involved in migraine, but again like PEA, theobromine and other psychoactive ingredients in chocolate, the amounts are so tiny that they most probably do not affect mood. Most researchers agree that depressive symptoms, combined with appetite cravings is a complex neurological process with no simple "single trigger" answer. (Just like a migraine right?) So the next time you feel the urge to eat some chocolate, recognize that you might be in the pro-dromal phase of a migraine, and keep your medication handy.

Ah well...there goes the "headache chocolate" theory.

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