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Are Bananas a Trigger for Migraine Headaches?

Aug 17, 2007
Migraine headaches seem to follow a characteristic pattern - from prodrome to postdrome - and the symptoms may differ from person to person. But in most cases, the patient may experience a throbbing pain in any one side of the head (sometimes it spreads to both sides as well), and the condition is usually accompanied by phonophobia, photophobia and nausea or sometimes vomiting.

As per the general conclusion reached upon and accepted globally by doctors and researchers (the exact cause of migraine is still under contention), migraines are caused by a reduction in blood flow to the brain cells. This in turn springs from the constriction of arteries, which is triggered by certain external factors.

There can be a number of factors that trigger the onset of migraines. One such factor is food triggers. Each of these food items triggers migraine due to some chemical compounds found in them. One such chemical is tyramine.

Even though the exact effect of tyramine or the genuinity of such an explanation is still a subject of debate, it is widely believed that an excess concentration of tyramine in a migraine patient's blood can cause vasoconstriction of the blood vessels in the brain. In addition, it appears that people with migraines caused by dietary factors appear to be deficient in enzymes needed to break down tyramine. Some drugs used to treat depression (such as Nardil, Marplan and Parnate) also interfere with the process of breaking down tyramine.

As tyramine is a predominant composition in bananas, bananas are considered to be potent trigger for migraine headaches.

The best form of treatment for migraines due to food triggers is prevention. Upon determining that you get severe migraine attacks due to sensitivity to a particular food, it is advisable to exclude it from your diet. Once set in, migraine can be very painful and can be difficult to treat. There won't be any reprieve for the patient until the pain subsides by itself.

Thus, closely monitoring your diet can be valuable in getting to the root of your headaches. Granted that it is not easy to find out what your food intolerances or allergies are. You may need to seek the help of a qualified professional for this process. However, if you are successful in determining any potential food triggers, you will reap the benefits of reducing the frequency and severity of your migraine headaches. Eliminating banana chocolate cake from your diet will not be such a bad idea after all!
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