After learning about the health benefits of dark chocolate, I wanted to try as many as different dark chocolates as possible and share my findings with you my readers. As you can see from the accompanying pictures, I bought a number of high-percentage dark chocolates. However after consuming a bar of dark chocolate and cup of coffee every day for a week, I found myself wound up in the emergency room suffering from a bad headache, numbness and blindness in my right eye. I was diagnosed with a migraine and was told by my doctor that, although migraines are a genetic condition, there are certain potential triggers such as stress, dehydration, skipping meals, coffee or chocolate (especially dark chocolate).
I was very curious to know whether dark chocolate actually causes migraines, so I read some literature on that subject. Today I want to share with you the latest studies about migraine and dark chocolate.
Chocolate has been reported to cause migraine headaches, but scientific studies have not consistently demonstrated an association between chocolate consumption and headaches.
Some authors report that migraine-headache attacks might be provoked by foods including chocolate. According to an old study published in 1974, 75% of dietary related migraines are caused by chocolate—especially dark chocolate. It explains that this is because of tyramine amino acids found in chocolate. Tyramine causes norepinephrine secretion which in turn changes the size of blood vessels, thereby causing migraines.
There is also contrary evidence that chocolate does not trigger of headaches because there is too little tyramine in chocolate to do so. These studies say that while tyramine can precipitate migraine headaches, there is no evidence that consuming a low-tyramine diet can reduce migraine frequency.
There is also evidence that chocolate is able to cause a migraine attack in certain patients who believe themselves sensitive to it. A study showed that only 13 out of 80 people who consumed chocolate were then affected by a headache. This suggests that chocolate on its own is rarely a precipitant of migraines. But, as women tend to crave chocolate during stress and hormonal changes, both of which also may trigger headaches, there may be a non-causal correlation between consuming chocolate and being afflicted with a migraine.
Although the studies do not discuss this, I believe that the caffeine content of chocolate may cause migraines as well.
My understanding from these studies is that dark chocolate itself is not a cause of migraines. Hormonal changes, stress, dehydration, differences in sleep pattern and dietary triggers like chocolate, wine, cheese, and coffee may combine to cause migraines. In my condition I was tired and stressed, drank coffee and ate dark chocolate while skipping breakfast. However, despite what I’ve learned, I’m now refraining from eating dark chocolate just to be safe. But at least having this blog makes me feel connected to chocolate even if I’m too afraid to eat it (for now) !. Thanks!