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Diet & Headache, Migraine


Research Menu Page ||| Updated 11/01/2010

Listed in reverse date order:
Pelsser 2010     Effects of food on physical and sleep complaints in children with ADHD: a randomised controlled pilot study.
Inomata 2006  Multiple chemical sensitivities following intolerance to azo dye in sweets in a 5-year-old girl.
Millichap 2003The diet factor in pediatric and adolescent migraine.
Hadjivassiliou 2001   Headache and CNS white matter abnormalities associated with gluten sensitivity.
Newman 2001   Migraine MLT-down: an unusual presentation of migraine in patients with aspartame-triggered headaches.
Wendorff 1999Allergy effect on migraine course in older children and adolescents.
Alam 1997Platelet sulphotransferase activity, plasma sulphate levels and sulphation capacity in patients with migraine and tension headache.
Leira 1996Diet and migraine.
Anderson 1995Mechanisms in adverse reactions to food: The brain
Trotsky 1994Neurogenic vascular headaches, food and chemical triggers.
Vaughan 1994The role of food in the pathogenesis of migraine headache.
Novembre 1992   Unusual reactions to food additives.
Egger 1992Effect of diet treatment on enuresis in children with migraine or hyperkinetic behavior.
Lucarelli 1990Hemicrania and food allergy in children.
Egger 1989Oligoantigenic diet treatment of children with epilepsy and migraine.
Lipton 1989Aspartame as a dietary trigger of headache.
Diamond 1986   Diet and headache. Is there a link?
Mansfield 1985Food allergy and adult migraine: double-blind and mediator confirmation of an allergic etiology.
Carter 1985A dietary management of severe childhood migraine.
Egger 1985Controlled Trial of Oligoantigenic Treatment in the Hyperkinetic Syndrome.
Egger 1983Is migraine food allergy? A double-blind controlled trial of oligoantigenic diet treatment.
Ratner 1983Milk protein-free diet for nonseasonal asthma and migraine in lactase-deficient patients.
Seltzer 1982Foods, and food and drug combinations, responsible for head and neck pain.


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  1. Mechanisms in adverse reactions to food. The brain, Anderson JA, Allergy 1995;50(20 Suppl):78-81
    Specific chemical mediator release such as histamine and the prostaglandins (PG2a or PGD2) associated with headaches has been found in a few patients who were repeatedly challenged with specific foods, using DBPCFC [double blind placebo controlled food challenge] techniques.
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  2. Platelet sulphotransferase activity, plasma sulphate levels and sulphation capacity in patients with migraine and tension headache, Alam Z, Coombes N, Waring RH, Williams AC, Steventon GB, Cephalalgia 1997 Nov;17(7):761-4
    "Activity of both the M- and P-forms of sulphotransferase (ST) was measured in platelets from patients with migraine, tension headache and controls.... The results suggest that PST activity may be a factor in the aetiology of migraine."
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  3. A dietary management of severe childhood migraine, Carter CM, Egger J, Soothill JF. Human Nutrition Applied Nutrition 1985 Aug;39(4):294-303
    This study describes in detail a dietary treatment which has been shown to be effective in most children with severe migraine. "In the first stage very few foods are given, and if the child responds to this oligoantigenic diet, foods are reintroduced one by one at weekly intervals... Research is urgently needed to establish simpler empirical diets and diagnostic tests." [The Feingold Diet is a good place to start, and much easier]
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  4. Diet and headache. Is there a link? Diamond S, Prager J, Freitag FG, Postgrad Med 1986 Mar;79(4):279-86
    ... We recognize that a small group of patients will have migraine after ingesting certain foods with vasoactive properties or by missing a meal; thus, we suggest a nutritional course to limit this influence..."
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  5. Is migraine food allergy? A double-blind controlled trial of oligoantigenic diet treatment., Egger J et al., Lancet 1983 Oct 15;2(8355):865-9
    "93% of 88 children with severe frequent migraine recovered on oligoantigenic diets; ... the role of the foods provoking migraine was established by a double-blind controlled trial in 40 of the children. ... Associated symptoms which improved in addition to headache included abdominal pain, behaviour disorder, fits, asthma, and eczema. In most of the patients in whom migraine was provoked by non-specific factors, such as blows to the head, exercise, and flashing lights, this provocation no longer occurred while they were on the diet."
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  6. Controlled Trial of Oligoantigenic Treatment in the Hyperkinetic Syndrome, J.Egger, P.J.Graham, J.F.Soothill, C.M.Carter, D.Gumley, The Lancet, March 9, 1985
    62 of 76 selected overactive children (81.6%) improved; other symptoms such as headaches, abdominal pain, and fits, also improved.
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  7. Oligoantigenic diet treatment of children with epilepsy and migraine, Egger J, Carter CM, Soothill JF, Wilson J, Journal of Pediatrics 1989 Jan;114(1):51-8
    Of 45 children with epilepsy and recurrent headaches, abdominal symptoms, or hyperkinetic behavior, 36 [80%] improved on an oligoantigenic diet; 25 [55%] ceased to have seizures and 11 had fewer seizures during diet therapy. "Headaches, abdominal pains, and hyperkinetic behavior ceased in all those whose seizures ceased, and in some of those whose seizures did not cease." ..."Of 24 children with generalized epilepsy, 18 [75%] recovered or improved (including 4 of 7 with myoclonic seizures and all with petit mal), as did 18 of 21 [85%] children with partial epilepsy. In double-blind, placebo-controlled provocation studies, symptoms recurred in 15 of 16 children, including seizures in eight; none recurred when placebo was given. Eighteen other children, who had epilepsy alone, were similarly treated with an oligoantigenic diet; none improved."
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  8. Effect of diet treatment on enuresis in children with migraine or hyperkinetic behavior, Egger J, Carter CH, Soothill JF, Wilson J, Clinical Pediatrics (Phila) 1992 May;31(5):302-7
    "Twenty-one children with migraine and/or hyperkinetic behavior disorder which was successfully treated with an oligoantigenic (few-foods) diet also suffered from nocturnal and/or diurnal enuresis. [daytime or nighttime bed wetting] On diet, the enuresis stopped in 12 of these children and improved in an additional four. [76%] ... Enuresis in food-induced migraine and/or behavior disorder seems to respond, in some patients, to avoidance of provoking foods."
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  9. Headache and CNS white matter abnormalities associated with gluten sensitivity. Hadjivassiliou M, Grunewald RA, Lawden M, Davies-Jones GA, Powell T, Smith CM. Neurology 2001 Feb 13;56(3):385-8
    " The authors describe 10 patients with gluten sensitivity and abnormal MRI. All experienced episodic headache, six had unsteadiness, and four had gait ataxia. ... Symptomatic response to gluten-free diet was seen in nine patients. "
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  10. Multiple chemical sensitivities following intolerance to azo dye in sweets in a 5-year-old girl. Inomata N, Osuna H, Fujita H, Ogawa T, Ikezawa Z., Allergology International 2006 Jun;55(2):203-5.
    " ... We present a 5-year-old girl who suffered from recurrent reactions accompanied by urticaria, angioedema, headaches, dyspnea, loss of consciousness, and abdominal pain ... Her diet diary revealed that symptoms occurred after ingestion of colorful sweets such as candies and jellybeans. Open challenge tests with food additives and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) were performed after elimination of these items. ... Consequently, intolerance to azo dyes and NSAIDs such as aspirin was diagnosed.

    However, she appeared to react to multiple chemical odors such as those of cigarette smoke, disinfectant, detergent, cleaning compounds, perfume, and hairdressing, all while avoiding additives and NSAIDs. On the basis of her history and the neuro-ophthalmological abnormalities, a diagnosis of severe MCS was made and she was prescribed multiple vitamins and glutathione. CONCLUSIONS: The present results suggest that in pediatric MCS, food and drug additives containing azo dyes might play important roles as elicitors. "

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  11. Diet and migraine, Leira R, Rodriguez R, Revista de Neurologia 1996 May;24(129):534-8
    ".. an improvement in symptoms by eliminating some food(s) from our diet does not necessarily mean an immunologically based allergic reaction. ... substances in food may be the cause of modifications in vascular tone and bring migraine on in those so prone. Among such substances are tyramine, phenylalanine, phenolic flavonoids, alcohol, food additives (sodium nitrate, monosodium glutamate, aspartame) and caffeine. Another recognized trigger for migraine is hypoglycemia. Such foods as chocolate, cheese, citrus fruits, bananas, nuts, 'cured' meats, dairy products, cereals, beans, hot dogs, pizza, food additives (sodium nitrate, monosodium glutamate in Chinese restaurant food, aspartame as a sweetener), coffee, tea, cola drinks, alcoholic drinks such as red wine, beer or whisky distilled in copper stills, all may bring on a migraine attack. For every patient we have to assess which foodstuffs are involved in the attack ... to try to avoid their consumptions as a means of prophylaxis for migraine."
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  12. dietary trigger of headache. Lipton RB, Newman LC, Cohen JS, Solomon S. Headache. 1989 Feb;29(2):90-2.
    " ... Patients with migraine were significantly more likely to report alcohol as a triggering factor and also reported aspartame as a precipitant three times more often than those having other types of headache. The conflicting results of two recent placebo-control studies of aspartame and headache are discussed. We conclude that aspartame may be an important dietary trigger of headache in some people. "
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  13. Hemicrania and food allergy in children, Lucarelli S et al., Minerva Pediatrica 1990 Jun;42(6):215-8
    40 [87%] of 49 children with migraine who had positive skin tests to one or more foods improved after following an elimination diet for 4-6 weeks. They "were positive for at least one challenge test for the same types of foods which resulted in positive skin tests. Thirty-one children were cured following the elimination diet and 9 improved." The children were able to reintroduce the suspected foods 6 - 12 months after implementing the elimination diet.
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  14. Food allergy and adult migraine: double-blind and mediator confirmation of an allergic etiology., Mansfield et al., Annals of Allergy 1985 Aug;55(2):126-9
    "Foods as a cause for migraine attacks were evaluated in 43 adults with recurrent migraine. ... Thirteen subjects experienced 66% or greater reduction in headache frequency during a diet trial. Six subjects became headache free. ... Seven subjects agreed to double-blind challenges. In five of seven, at least one food provoked migraine. Placebo challenges did not provoke migraine. ... "
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  15. The diet factor in pediatric and adolescent migraine. Millichap JG, Yee MM. Pediatr Neurol. 2003 Jan;28(1):9-15.
    " . . . The diet factor in pediatric migraine is frequently neglected in favor of preventive drug therapy. . . Dietary triggers affect phases of the migraine process by influencing release of serotonin and norepinephrine, causing vasoconstriction or vasodilatation, or by direct stimulation of trigeminal ganglia, brainstem, and cortical neuronal pathways. Treatment begins with a headache and diet diary and the selective avoidance of foods presumed to trigger attacks. . . . Long-term prophylactic drug therapy is appropriate only after exclusion of headache-precipitating trigger factors, including dietary factors. "
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  16. Migraine MLT-down: an unusual presentation of migraine in patients with aspartame-triggered headaches. Newman LC, Lipton RB., Headache. 2001 Oct;41(9):899-901.
    " The Headache Institute, St. Lukes-Roosevelt Hospital Center, 1000 Tenth Avenue, Suite 1C10, New York, NY 10019, USA.

    Aspartame, an artificial sweetener added to many foods and beverages, may trigger headaches in susceptible individuals. We report two patients with aspartame-triggered attacks in whom the use of an aspartame-containing acute medication (Maxalt-MLT) worsened an ongoing attack of migraine. "

    Note: What could have possessed the good doctor to give a medication containing aspartame to a patient suffering from aspartame-induced headache in the first place?

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  17. Unusual reactions to food additives, Novembre E, Dini L, Bernardini R, Resti M, Vierucci A, Pediatria Medica e Chirurgica 1992 Jan-Feb;14(1):39-42
    "...In this study, we report two cases of unusual reactions to food additives (tartrazine and benzoates) involving mainly the central nervous system (headache, migraine, overactivity, concentration and learning difficulties, depression) and joints (arthralgias), confirmed with diet and double blind challenge. The possible pathogenetic mechanisms are also discussed."
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  18. Effects of food on physical and sleep complaints in children with ADHD: a randomised controlled pilot study., Pelsser LM, Frankena K, Buitelaar JK, Rommelse NN. European Journal of Pediatrics, 2010 Apr 17. [Epub ahead of print]
    "Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a common behavioural disorder in children, may be associated with comorbid physical and sleep complaints. Dietary intervention studies have shown convincing evidence of efficacy in reducing ADHD symptoms in children. In this pilot study, we investigated the effects of an elimination diet on physical and sleep complaints in children with ADHD. A group of 27 children . . . were assigned randomly to either a diet group (15/27) or a control group (12/27).

    The diet group followed a 5-week elimination diet; the control group adhered to their normal diet. Parents of both groups had to keep an extended diary and had to monitor the behaviour and the physical and sleep complaints of their child conscientiously. . . The number of physical and sleep complaints was significantly decreased in the diet group compared to the control group . . . Specific complaints that were significantly reduced were in three domains: headaches or bellyaches, unusual thirst or unusual perspiration, and sleep complaints. . . An elimination diet may be an effective instrument to reduce physical complaints in children with ADHD, but more research is needed to determine the effects of food on (functional) somatic symptoms in children with and without ADHD."

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  19. Milk protein-free diet for nonseasonal asthma and migraine in lactase-deficient patients, Ratner D, Shoshani E, Dubnov B, Israel Journal of Medical Sciences 1983 Sep;19(9):806-9
    "In a series of 48 patients suffering from either nonseasonal asthma or classic migraine, a marked clinical alleviation was obtained in 33 patients [69%] by removing all cows milk protein from their diet. All patients who responded to the diet had laboratory evidence of lactase deficiency. Lactase deficiency may be a useful indicator of milk allergy in asthmatic or migrainous patients."
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  20. Foods, and food and drug combinations, responsible for head and neck pain., Seltzer S., Cephalalgia. 1982 Jun;2(2):111-24.
    "The literature has been reviewed to uncover the existence of head and neck pain syndromes caused by foods and food and drug combinations. Knowledge of the etiology of such syndromes may help in their treatment. At least twenty-five syndromes have been described. These include those induced by coloring and flavoring agents, alcoholic products, chocolate, coffee and tea, foods containing tyramine, vitamins, minerals, pesticides, and several others. Where possible, the active ingredients and the minimal amounts responsible for the induction of pain have been identified."
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  21. Neurogenic vascular headaches, food and chemical triggers, Trotsky MB, Ear Nose Throat J 1994 Apr;73(4):228-30, 235-6
    "...Food and chemicals in foods can act as a precipitating factor in the food-sensitive neurogenic vascular headache patient. ... The food-sensitive migraine patient and cluster headache patient must give a good history and food diary to go along with active challenges and provocative testing in order to determine the causative foods. Any concomitant allergies of inhalants or environmentals must also be treated. The treatment modalities of elimination and rotation diets or provocation neutralization may successfully control the headaches without the need for continuous medications."
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  22. The role of food in the pathogenesis of migraine headache, Vaughan TR, Clinical Reviews in Allergy 1994 Summer;12(2):167-80
    "Recent textbooks of neurology and internal medicine cite food, or pharmacologic agents in foods, as provokers of migraine (1,2). Nevertheless, this area remains controversial. Many authorities recognize foods containing pharmacologic agents, such as tyramine, as possible provokers of migraine. However, the importance of foods lacking these properties is less clear." This paper reviews the general features of migraine, and then focuses on the link between food and migraine.
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  23. Allergy effect on migraine course in older children and adolescents. Wendorff J, Kamer B, Zielinska W, Hofman O., Neurol Neurochir Pol 1999;33 Suppl 5:55-65
    " ...The studied group comprised 30 children and adolescents aged 11-17 years with the diagnosis of migraine with or without aura by IHS criteria. ... two groups were isolated: with and without allergy. The allergic children were given antiallergic treatment for 6 months (pharmacological or diet restriction). RESULTS: In the allergy group the migraine index decreased significantly from 2.45 to 0.33. Headache intensity decreased as well. ..." "
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