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Chocolate Covered Myth? The Truth About Migraine and Chocolate

migraine trigger

More than 37 million Americans suffer from the headache condition known as migraine annually according to the National Headache Foundation, and if you’re one of that unlucky population, you know you’d do anything to avoid the hours to days of debilitating pain, nausea, and light and sound sensitivity attributed to an episode.

Several migraine triggers have been identified, and although stress is the #1 culprit, food and beverage sensitivities may be responsible for up to 30% of the headaches according to some estimates. Chocolate is widely suggested as a top trigger for migraines, but is that common knowledge just a confused notion?

The real deal - is chocolate a migraine trigger?

On average, Americans consume 10-12lbs. of chocolate annually, so foregoing this traditional treat forever is a sacrifice many are loathe to make. In a double-blind study by the Pain Evaluation and Treatment Institute at the University of Pittsburgh however, the idea that chocolate is a strong migraine trigger was put to the test. For two weeks, 63 women with similar headache conditions followed a restricted diet, avoiding foods that can increase blood pressure. They were then provided with 2 samples of chocolate and 2 samples of carob in a random order, and the results demonstrated that chocolate was not more likely to induce a headache than carob in any of the groups. Further research suggests that the risk of headache from chocolate is at least 2 to 3-fold lower than exposure to more conventional triggers, like stress, fasting, fatigue and alcohol. If no clear link between chocolate and migraines has been established, then why the hype?

Is it the chocolate or the hormones?

Some theories regarding chocolate as a possible migraine trigger suggest that it’s not the sweet treat that’s initiating an episode, but the hormonal changes and stress that some women may experience that just so happen to correlate with the desire to eat chocolate. According to the Migraine Research Foundation, women experience migraine three times as often as men, and it is largely attributed to the regular hormone changes experienced.

There’s having chocolate, and there’s having CHOCOLATE

Many people have food sensitivities, and eating those foods in large quantities can be triggers of other health issues, as well as headaches. Experiment with the amount of chocolate you’re eating—does eating a couple Kisses seem to be a problem, or is it after a handful of candy bars that you notice an issue? Studies suggest that patients with the diets highest in fat tended to have more frequent headaches, leading to the notion that making healthy dietary changes (like checking those portions sizes) may be considered an effective, holistic migraine treatment.

Are You Experiencing Episodes?

At Envista Medical, we offer an effective, non-surgical migraine treatment for headache relief that combines the complementary approaches of using a nerve block and advanced physical therapy. If you are experiencing chronic headaches or migraine episodes, you may be a candidate for this innovative treatment program. We invite you to contact us today to learn more!