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New Research Shows MSG or Chocolate Is Not a Trigger for Migraine Headache

By July 1, 2018April 29th, 2020News

Chocolate, MSG, nitrates, and other foods commonly thought to trigger migraine actually had little relationship to migraine headache onset when patients kept systematic track, according to new research presented at the American Headache Society annual meeting, in June 2018.

 migraine headache

According to MedPage Today, “A wide range of factors are thought to trigger migraine headache. Some, such as stress, lack of sleep, and hormonal fluctuations, are supported by considerable evidence. Others, such as specific food items, are more anecdotal and research has yielded mixed results. Digital tools that make it easier for patients to record their experience can help shed light on suspected associations.”

“We know that migraine and its triggers differ for every person,” said American Headache Society scientific program committee chair Peter Goadsby, MD, PhD, of King’s College London. “These data will hopefully help healthcare providers when evaluating the lifestyle and experiential factors of an individual patient’s life.”

In the study 385 individuals (52.6%) suspected MSG as a triggering factor, while 347 (47.4%) did not. Among the 227 people with analyzable data, MSG was found to be associated with increased risk for seven people (3.1%), decreased risk for two people (0.9%), and no association for 218 people (96.0%).

“Contrary to the widespread expectations of our study subjects, the data reveals that foods containing chocolate, MSG, and nitrates are rarely associated with migraine attacks and surprisingly, for a minority of individuals, they may be associated with a lower risk of attack,” N1-Headache founder and CEO Alec Mian, PhD, said.

More information: Patients Often Mistake Migraine ‘Triggers’

Related: In January 2018 the International Headache Society removed MSG from its list of causative factors for headaches. Previously, MSG had been listed as a substance attributed to headaches in the Society’s International Classification of Headache Disorders (ICHD). Now, in the ICHD 3rd edition, based on the latest scientific evidence MSG has been removed from this list.