Why Does Chocolate Cause Migraine?


Chocolate can cause migraine for some while for others, chocolate can actually help with migraine. Knowing this is important as past studies have not shown a conclusive link between how chocolate causes migraine or helps migraine. This means it is not definitely proven that eating chocolate causes migraine. Nevertheless, it is still helpful to understand some key ingredients in chocolate and their correlation to migraine.

What Are The Ingredients Of Chocolate That Cause Migraine?

Chocolate is a complex food product. It contains sugar, milk, cocoa powder, and cocoa beans. Cocoa beans actually contain caffeine within them. This means that certain types of chocolates, such as dark chocolate will have a higher caffeine percentage compared to milk chocolate due to their higher ratio of cocoa bean composition.

Chocolate also contains tyramine and phenylethylamine (PEA). Tyramine, commonly found in aged cheeses and processed meats, has been associated with migraine symptoms because it can cause blood vessel constriction. PEA is also believed to have vasoactive properties that might affect blood flow and trigger headaches.

Does Dark Chocolate Cause Migraine?

This is quite a complex question! Dark chocolate can cause migraine as it contains higher content of caffeine compared to milk chocolate. This is important for migraine patients who have their chocolate cravings as caffeine can cause migraine for some people. If you cut chocolate out of your diet and still experience the same amount of migraine days and intensity of attacks, you may exclude chocolate as a migraine trigger. However, dark chocolate usually contains less sugar and lower levels of tyramine compared to milk chocolate. The best way to know whether dark chocolate can cause migraine is to use a food migraine tracker like Migraine Buddy can help.

Some chocolates may also contain artificial sweeteners. Artificial sweeteners like Aspartame may cause migraine. While the reason why aspartame cause migraine is not definitive, the American Migraine Foundation discourages migraine patient to consume artificial sweeteners in excess. Artificial sweeteners are synthetic alternatives to sugar that are created in a manufacturing process. Certain artificial sweeteners, such as sucralose, are derived from actual sugar, while others, like stevia, originate from plants. These sweeteners possess a higher level of sweetness compared to sugar, allowing for smaller amounts to be used in sweetening coffee, baked goods, and other consumables. Moreover, artificial sweeteners are nearly devoid of calories, making them attractive to individuals aiming to reduce their sugar intake or cut down on calorie consumption. Aspartame and saccharin are a couple of additional examples of artificial sweeteners.

Also, watch out for chocolates that contain alcohol too! Alcohol can cause migraine for some people.

The good news is that you can record your medication intake with Migraine Buddy to understand the efficacy. You can download Migraine Buddy on iOS and Android!

What Are The Ingredients Of Chocolate That Can Help With Migraine?

There is also a higher concentration of flavonoids and minerals found in dark chocolate. Cocoa is also a significant source of vitamins and minerals such as magnesium, zinc, and fiber. It also contains polyphenols which are often associated with its high content of antioxidants. This is helpful to know as magnesium is known to help with migraine relief.

Despite the potential benefits of the components of chocolate, it’s important to remember that chocolate is high in sugar and it’s best not to eat it in excess. Maintaining a healthy balanced lifestyle can help people manage migraine, and trying not to eat processed foods or refined sugars excessively keeps us healthy. For some migraine patients, sugar can cause migraine because sugar affects insulin levels and insulin fluctuations affect the brain.

For some of you, this means that you may have to avoid chocolate altogether if you have migraine.

The Relationship Between Chocolate And Migraine


Why Does Chocolate Cause Migraine Attacks?

There has been some feedback among individuals that when they consume chocolate they tend to have migraine attacks during the same period. One possibility could be the concentration of serotonin which is induced during a migraine attack. This is also more common for individuals who suffer from migraine aura as compared to those who don’t. It is also reported that chocolate is a trigger for migraine during the first 4 days of the menstrual cycle as compared to other days.

Why Does Chocolate Help With Migraine Symptoms?

However, some individuals also reported that chocolate helped with migraine symptoms. As mentioned, magnesium and riboflavin help to prevent migraine. Magnesium is a safe and inexpensive option for migraine prevention although it has limitations with tension and cluster headaches. As for riboflavin, it has been proven that consuming it helps to reduce migraine attacks to twice per month. Taking these vitamins and minerals found in chocolate helps to relieve the migraine pain experienced during migraine attacks.

Research On Chocolate And Migraine Symptoms

Research suggests that the relationship between chocolate and migraines may be more complex than previously thought. Some studies have found that chocolate consumption is no more likely to trigger migraines than any other food. Furthermore, a placebo-controlled study revealed that participants who believed chocolate triggered their migraines experienced more headaches even when given a placebo chocolate bar.

Chocolate: Migraine Cause Or Relief?

With current research results, it is difficult to single out chocolate as a significant migraine trigger. For some, having chocolate combined with other triggers might cause a migraine attack but for others, it has been proven to help with migraine attacks. It is important to understand migraine triggers and keep track of them in a headache diary or tracking app.

Did you know: 5.4% of our Migraine Buddy users have indicated that chocolate causes migraine? You may also track other trigger factors too, such as food items, stress, and so on. A tracking app like Migraine Buddy is helpful as an objective record for your neurologist or doctor.

Find out what are the other triggers and relief methods for migraine attacks in the Migraine Buddy app. Download your Migraine Buddy app now!

Jenny from Migraine Buddy

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