Aged Cheeses: Uncovering Links to Migraine Onset

Aged Cheeses: Uncovering Links to Migraine Onset


Many individuals who suffer from migraines struggle to identify their triggers. As someone who experiences frequent debilitating migraines, it is crucial to explore potential triggers that may contribute to your condition. Aged cheeses have been widely reported as a potential trigger for migraines, mainly due to their high tyramine content.

Understanding Migraines

Migraines are neurological conditions characterized by recurring headache attacks. They can cause severe throbbing pain, often accompanied by other symptoms such as nausea, sensitivity to light and sound, and visual disturbances. While the exact cause is not fully understood, certain triggers can contribute to the onset of migraines. These triggers can vary among individuals and may include hormonal changes, stress, and certain foods and drinks.

The Tyramine Connection

Tyramine is a naturally occurring amino acid found in aged and fermented foods, including aged cheeses. When consumed, tyramine can have a vasodilation effect, potentially triggering changes in brain chemistry that contribute to migraines. The tyramine content in aged cheeses increases as the cheeses age, intensifying the potential impact on susceptible individuals.

Research on Aged Cheeses and Migraines

Several studies have explored the association between aged cheeses and migraines. For example, a survey conducted among migraine sufferers found that 70% reported aged cheeses as a trigger for their migraines. This indicates that for a significant portion of the population, consuming aged cheeses may lead to migraine episodes. However, it’s worth noting that individual responses can vary, and some people may not have a strong reaction to tyramine-rich foods.

In controlled experiments, scientists have investigated the impact of tyramine on migraine onset. These studies suggest that tyramine can trigger migraines in susceptible individuals by promoting the release of neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, and inducing changes in blood vessel dilation. However, it is important to keep in mind that the threshold for tyramine-induced migraines can differ among individuals, and genetics and metabolic factors may influence individual sensitivity.

Identifying Personal Triggers

If you suspect that aged cheeses may be triggering your migraines, it is crucial to track your symptoms and episodes. By recording your cheese consumption and migraine episodes, you can establish a baseline and identify patterns or correlations. This information will prove valuable when discussing your condition with healthcare professionals.

An effective method for identifying personal triggers involves keeping a detailed migraine diary. Record the date and time of each migraine attack, the duration of each attack, and any associated symptoms. Additionally, note the types of foods, including aged cheeses, that you consume before a migraine episode. Over time, patterns may emerge that help you identify potential triggers and manage your diet accordingly.

Managing Cheese Consumption

If you suspect that aged cheeses may be triggering your migraines, you can employ strategies to manage your cheese consumption:

  • Elimination and reintroduction method: Temporarily eliminate aged cheeses from your diet and gradually reintroduce them to gauge your response. This method can help you identify your personal tolerance levels.
  • Limit portion sizes: If you choose to consume aged cheeses, limit your portion sizes to reduce the potential impact of tyramine. Small amounts may be better tolerated than larger servings.
  • Opt for fresh or low-tyramine cheeses: If you still want to enjoy cheese, consider opting for fresh or low-tyramine varieties. These options have lower levels of tyramine and may be less likely to trigger migraines. Examples of low-tyramine cheeses include mozzarella, ricotta, and cream cheese.

It is important to note that individual responses to various cheeses can vary. While some individuals may find relief after eliminating aged cheeses, others may not notice a significant difference. Discussing your experiences and concerns with healthcare professionals can provide guidance on managing your cheese consumption and identifying other potential triggers.

Additional Considerations

While aged cheese consumption has been identified as a potential trigger for migraines, it is essential to consider other factors that may contribute to your condition:

  • Alcohol and caffeine intake: Both alcohol and caffeine are known to trigger migraines in some individuals. Monitor your consumption and identify any patterns or correlations. Learn more about How Should I Know if Coffee is My Migraine Trigger?
  • Sleep patterns and stress levels: Poor sleep or high levels of stress can also contribute to migraines. Establishing healthy sleep habits and adopting stress management techniques may help reduce the frequency and intensity of your migraines.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can other fermented or aged foods trigger migraines?

Yes, other foods and drinks that undergo fermentation or aging processes, such as certain wines, pickled vegetables, and cured meats, may also contain tyramine and potentially trigger migraines in susceptible individuals. It is important to pay attention to your individual responses and track your symptoms.

2. Are all cheeses high in tyramine?

No, not all cheeses are high in tyramine. Fresh cheeses like mozzarella, ricotta, and cream cheese typically have lower levels of tyramine compared to aged and fermented varieties like cheddar, Swiss, and blue cheese. Choosing cheeses with lower tyramine content may help reduce the risk of triggering migraines.

3. Can gradual reintroduction of aged cheeses reduce migraine triggers?

For some individuals, gradually reintroducing aged cheeses into their diet can help them identify their tolerance levels. Starting with small servings and monitoring the body’s response can provide insights into the individual threshold for tyramine-induced migraines.

4. Should I completely avoid aged cheeses?

Completely avoiding aged cheeses may be a solution to reduce the risk of migraines in susceptible individuals. However, it is recommended to consult with healthcare professionals and discuss your specific situation. They can provide personalized advice and help you find the right balance between avoiding triggers and enjoying a variety of foods.

5. Can tyramine levels vary within the same type of cheese?

Yes, the tyramine content in aged cheeses can vary within the same type of cheese. Factors such as the length of aging, storage conditions, and specific manufacturing practices can influence the concentration of tyramine. It is essential to take these variations into account and monitor your body’s response.

6. Are there other potential triggers in aged cheeses besides tyramine?

While tyramine is a commonly discussed trigger in aged cheeses, other compounds found in cheese, such as histamines, may also contribute to migraines in some individuals. Histamines are naturally present in many fermented foods and can cause reactions in sensitive people. However, more research is needed to fully understand their role.

7. How long does it take for a migraine to occur after consuming aged cheese?

The timing of a migraine attack can vary among individuals. Some people may experience a migraine shortly after consuming aged cheese, while others may have a delay of several hours or even a day. It is important to track your symptoms closely to identify any potential correlations.

8. Can I substitute aged cheeses with vegan alternatives?

Yes, there are various vegan alternatives available that can mimic the taste and texture of aged cheeses. These alternatives are typically made from plant-based ingredients and do not contain tyramine. Exploring vegan options can be a suitable choice for individuals looking to avoid aged cheeses in their diet.

9. Can migraines be triggered by other factors in aged cheeses besides tyramine?

Yes, aged cheeses may contain other compounds besides tyramine, such as phenylethylamine, which have been proposed as potential migraine triggers. However, more research is needed to fully understand the role of these compounds in migraines.

10. What should I do if I suspect aged cheese as a trigger for my migraines?

If you suspect that aged cheese is a trigger for your migraines, it is important to consult with healthcare professionals. They can help you establish an accurate diagnosis, evaluate potential triggers, and develop a personalized treatment plan based on your specific needs and medical history.


Understanding the potential links between aged cheeses and migraine onset can help individuals manage their condition more effectively. By compiling a comprehensive symptom report, tracking triggers, and seeking proper guidance from healthcare professionals, individuals can develop personalized approaches to manage their migraines and improve their overall well-being.

Jenny from Migraine Buddy

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