Cocoa for Migraine Prevention?

September 28th, 2009

Results of a research study presented at the International Headache Congress in Philadelphia this month show preliminary indications that a diet rich in cocoa may aid in preventing Migraines. Animal studies suggest that cocoa supresses inflammatory responses in the trigeminal nerve, the main nerve involved in Migraine.

There’s some irony here as chocolate is identified as a common Migraine trigger food. This may be because of caffeine or tyramine content, however, rather than cocoa content. I don’t know whether the caffeine or tyramine are present in the cocoa, or in some other ingredient of chocolate. The researchers caution that these are early results. If see benefits in humans as well, maybe they will find a way to isolate the anti-inflammatory parts of the cocoa from any potentially triggering parts.

I would expect to see cocoa supplements or extracts coming down the pike. Since I have the good luck not to be triggered by chocolate (in fact, I get some relief from a Migraine by eating dark chocolate) I am going to start now. Cool weather is here – hot cocoa everyday? Why not! Mole sauce? Yum. I think I can come up with a diet rich in cocoa without too much trouble!

- Megan

Chocolate plate image courtesy of avlxyz/Alpha.

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Posted in Current Affairs, Medicine, Musings | Comments (3)

  • Diana Lee

    It’s so rare we actually have the chance to try something so enjoyable to help our migraines. Might as well embrace it if you can!

  • Maija Haavisto

    Cocoa is actually very low on caffeine, despite common misconception. It does contain theobromine, which is somewhat similar to caffeine, but is not a vasoconstrictor but a mild vasodilator.

    But chocolate is fairly rich in biogenic amines, which may trigger migraines. Though some researchers have suggested that people actually start to crave chocolate before a migraine and may thus erroneously identify it as a “trigger”.

    I would not recommend hot cocoa made with dairy, as studies show casein in dairy greatly reduces the absorption of beneficial flavonoids in both tea and blueberries, so it might have the same effect on cocoa. Non-dairy milks should be alright in this regard.

  • admin

    Diana I think anything that gives us pleasure and doesn’t hurt us or anyone else, we may as well go for – we have our pleasures so constrained already!

    Maija thanks for the tips!

    - Megan

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