Chocolate can trigger migraines

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You should think twice before giving that someone special chocolates this Valentine’s day – it may just give them a migraine! And that’s not because they’re not in the mood; for the first time a scientific double-blind study shows chocolate can trigger migraines.

The London-based study, published in Cephalalgia, the official journal of the International Headache Society, was conducted on 20 migraine sufferers. Chocolate bars were given to the subjects and bars of carob were used as a placebo. The chocolate bars caused migraine in 8 of the 20 migraine subjects while the carob bars did not induce migraine in a single sufferer.

Dr. Elliot Shevel, South Africa’s migraine surgery pioneer and the medical director of The Headache Clinic, says the study clearly shows individuals who are prone to getting migraines should be careful when eating chocolates.

“The reason for this is chocolate contains a chemical called phenylethylamine which is thought to trigger migraines by affecting the arteries in the scalp which are the source of the pain. Unfortunately phenylethylamine is found in the cocoa bean which is what chocolate is made from,” he says.

Carob bars, available from your local health store may drastically improve your chances of getting lucky this Valentine’s Day! You’re welcome.

When do I consult with a medical professional about my migraines?

“People should not leave a migraine untreated,” says Dr. Shevel. “It is imperative that you undergo a multidisciplinary investigation to diagnose the specific factors behind the recurring headache.

“There are a number of healthier treatment options than medication available right here in South Africa. It is possible to get to the bottom of the problem and resolve the pain permanently without medication so that you can enjoy the quality of life you deserve.”

Dr. Shevel’s guidelines for when it might be time to consult a medical professional:

  • If you have to use pain killers regularly
  • If a headache persists or if you frequently get them.
  • If it interferes with your day-to-day activities.

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*Treatment results may vary from person to person.

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